Posts for category: Women's Health Care
Your OBGYN treats a number of common gynecological conditions, including irregular vaginal bleeding. It’s a concern that can be related to anything from stress, chronic conditions, or reproductive problems. Learn the common causes of irregular bleeding in gynecology, and how you can get your menstrual cycle back to normal.
Irregular Vaginal Bleeding
In their reproductive years, women menstruate about every 28 days as the uterine lining sheds itself. The bleeding is often moderate to heavy during the first couple of days, then tapers off during the next few days. A normal menstrual cycle lasts up to a week. If the process does not repeat every 28 days or so, or a cycle is missed, or the flow of blood is too heavy or too light, that is considered irregular bleeding. Additional symptoms may include poor mood, problems sleeping, and sharp abdominal pains.
You should talk to your OBGYN if your menstrual cycle starts to change or becomes irregular. Irregular bleeding can be caused by one or more of the following factors:
Certain medications (including birth control pills).
Endometriosis (tissue that’s supposed to be inside of the uterus grows on the outside).
Stress and lifestyle.
Blood clotting disorders.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (a hormonal problem).
Pelvic inflammatory disease (an infection usually caused by an STD).
Uterine fibroids (benign growths in the uterus).
Cervical or uterine cancer.
Chronic medical conditions (not necessarily related to the reproductive system).
Treatments for Irregular Bleeding
In some cases, irregular bleeding resolves on its own. For instance, if the irregularity is related to stress, de-stressing activities may help, like light exercise, dietary changes, or bed rest. If the problem is your birth control, your gynecologist will discuss other birth control options. If it’s related to another gynecological condition, the treatment may require an ultrasound and further testing. In more serious cases, surgery may be necessary.
See Your OBGYN
Schedule a visit to your OBGYN if you’re experiencing irregular bleeding. It could an easily treatable issue that your gynecologist can resolve with medications or a minor procedure.
Endometriosis is a female condition in which tissue that's similar to uterine lining begins growing on the outside of the uterus, often affecting the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and pelvic tissue. During your cycle, the endometrial tissue then becomes thicker until it breaks down and bleeds, and due to how this tissue can’t be removed from the body, it gets trapped. Over time, this can lead to scar tissue (known as adhesions) on the reproductive organs.
This condition affects as many as 11 percent of US woman between the ages of 15 and 44, most often affecting women in their 30s and 40s. This condition can also make it more challenging for women to get pregnant.
What are the symptoms of endometriosis?
The classic symptom of endometriosis is abdominal pain that is usually worse during your menstrual cycle. While a lot of women complain of some abdominal discomfort during menstruation, women with endometriosis often complain of very painful periods, which may even radiate to the lower back.
Women with endometriosis may also experience very heavy periods or breakthrough bleeding (bleeding between cycles). You may also notice pelvic pain during sex or with bowel movements, as well as bloating, constipation, diarrhea, nausea, or fatigue.
All symptoms will vary from woman to woman. For instance, some women may have very severe symptoms but only have milder cases of endometriosis, while those with more severe cases may experience little-to-no-discomfort. Everyone is different; however, if you are experiencing new, persistent, or worsening pelvic pain, it’s important that you talk with your gynecologist.
If you are trying to conceive you may also find it more difficult to do so. Sometimes women don’t often find out that they have endometriosis until they visit their OBGYN to discuss problems getting pregnant.
How is endometriosis diagnosed?
During your evaluation, your OBGYN will ask you questions about the symptoms that you are experiencing. From there, a couple of tests will be performed in order to pinpoint specific signs and symptoms of endometriosis. These tests include a traditional pelvic exam or an ultrasound. In some instances, an MRI exam or a laparoscopy (a minor surgical procedure that allows a doctor to examine the inside of the abdomen and uterus) may be recommended to make a definitive diagnosis.
How is this condition treated?
Since there is no cure for endometriosis the goal of treatment is to manage your symptoms. As with most conditions, we will recommend more conservative treatment options at first to see if they are effective. Common treatment options include,
- Pain medications (either over-the-counter or prescription-strength)
- Hormone therapy (e.g. birth control pills; progestin therapy)
- Fertility treatment (for women who are having trouble conceiving)
- Laparoscopic surgery to remove excess endometrial tissue
If you are experiencing symptoms of endometriosis, it’s important that you talk to a gynecologist as soon as possible.
If your OBGYN has recommended that you get a sonohysterogram done find out more about this procedure and what to expect.
Are you dealing with abnormal between-cycle bleeding, infertility or repeated miscarriages? While ultrasounds are often the first diagnostic test performed, if an ultrasound has come back normal and you’re still experiencing symptoms, then a gynecologist may recommend getting a sonohysterogram.
What can a sonohysterogram detect?
This procedure still uses an ultrasound to examine the inside of the uterus, but instead of just an ultrasound a saline solution is administered in the uterus beforehand. By injecting this solution inside the uterus we can obtain more details of the uterus that you wouldn’t be able to see with a regular ultrasound alone. A sonohysterogram can often be performed right in your gynecologist’s office and it usually takes about 15 minutes to complete.
When will a sonohysterogram be performed?
For obvious reasons this procedure will be performed when you don’t have your menstrual cycle, since bleeding could make it more difficult to see the uterus. This test isn’t performed on women who are pregnant or could be pregnant, as well as women with pelvic infections.
What should I expect from my procedure?
During the first portion of your treatment we will perform a regular transvaginal ultrasound. Then the solution will be injected into the uterus, and the ultrasound will be performed again.
After your procedure it is normal to experience some slight cramping and spotting, but most women are able to return to their normal activities the very same day as their procedure. But if you are having any symptoms that are concerning, you need to call your OBGYN.
If you are dealing with unusual uterine bleeding or having fertility issues, it’s certainly time to talk to a OBGYN specialist who can help provide you with the answers you need.
Affecting over 80 percent of women by the time they reach age 50, fibroids are abnormal uterine growths that can cause great discomfort, heavy periods, and abdominal pain. Luckily, there is a number of treatment options available to the millions of women who suffer from this condition. Read on to learn more about fibroids and how your local OBGYN can help ease your symptoms!
As mentioned above fibroids are typically non-cancerous tumors that develop within the uterine line. Although it is officially unclear on what exactly causes them to grow, experts generally agree that fibroid growth is influenced by a few factors, including hormone production, family history, a history of pregnancy, and being overweight.
While some people with fibroids report feeling no effect from their presence, other women report a range of different symptoms, such as:
Heavy and extended menstrual flow
Pelvis and lower back pain
If you suspect that you may have fibroids, schedule an appointment with your local OBGYN to undergo a pelvic exam.
Once your gynecologist has discovered the presence of fibroids, a specific treatment plan can be crafted specifically for you based on your age, your fibroid size, and the overall status of your health. Some possibilities for mild fibroids include:
Applying heat to the areas that are experiencing cramps
Losing weight, if you are overweight
Dietary changes, such as avoiding meat and high-calorie foods
For more serious cases, hormone regulating medications such as Lupron will cause your estrogen to drop, and thus cause menstrual cessation and fibroid shrinkage. If a patient’s fibroids are very large, a hysterectomy may even be in order.
Concerned? Give Us a Call!
If you suspect that you may have fibroids, don’t wait for the condition to get worse—contact your local gynecologist to seek relief and boost your health!
Why are Pap Smears Necessary?
If you are age 21 or older, you may be asked to get a pap smear. It’s also called a pap test, and it’s a common procedure used to test for cervical cancer in women. It is a routine procedure performed in the office during which cells are collected from your cervix.
Cervical cancer is a serious condition which often has no symptoms initially, until it’s in the later stages. A pap smear is a vital tool in detecting cervical cancer in the early stages, when treatment outcomes are much better. A pap smear can also find changes in your cervical cells which may indicate cancer developing at some point in the future.
When you reach age 21 or older, your doctor may recommend a pap test, usually performed along with a pelvic examination. In some cases, the pap test is combined with an HPV (human papillomavirus) which is a sexually transmitted condition known to cause cervical cancer.
The pap smear recommendations for healthy women are:
- The first pap smear at age 21
- A pap smear every 3 years if you are ages 21 to 65
- A pap smear every 5 years if combined with an HPV test and you are age 30 or older
Having more frequent pap smears may be indicated if you have risk factors, including:
- An HIV infection
- An abnormal pap smear showing precancerous cells
- A history of smoking
- A weakened immune system due to organ transplant, chemotherapy, or corticosteroid use
To get ready for a pap smear, there are certain guidelines you should follow. Remember to:
- Avoid having sexual intercourse, using a douche, or any vaginal medications or spermicidal products including foams, creams, or gels for at least 2 days before your test.
- Avoid scheduling a pap smear during your menstrual period
A pap smear is a necessary part of protecting women’s health. The test is important because it is the only definitive way to diagnose cervical cancer in the early stages. Early diagnosis is critical to early treatment, which can lead to a better outcome for you.