All ArticlesGynecologyFertilityPregnancyBreast HealthSkinHormonesMental HealthCardiologyPelvic DysfunctionInfant CareGeneral Health
Uterine Fibroid Embolization
Authors: Dr. Sumeet Bahl, Nikhita YadlapalliMedically Reviewed by Dr. Sumeet Bahl, Interventional RadiologistUterine fibroid embolization and uterine artery embolization are treatments often talked about by physicians but it is difficult to find accurate information about the procedure.Uterine fibroids are the most common benign tumors in women of childbearing age. Most women develop fibroids by the age of 50, however, more than half of women do not believe they are at risk according to a survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of the Society of Interventional Radiology (1). Research has shown that uterine fibroids will affect 70 percent of white women and 80 percent of black women in the United States by the time they are 50 years old (2). These fibroids are made up of muscle cells and other tissues that grow in and around the wall of the uterus, or womb. They are typically not dangerous and do not spread to other areas of the body as with cancerous tumors. The cause of these fibroids is unknown. Risk factors include being overweight, African American, over the age of 40, high blood pressure, having no children, or a family history of fibroids (4). Many women show no symptoms when they have fibroids. However for some, symptoms may include heavy or painful periods, bleeding between periods, frequent urination, pain during sex, lower back pain, declining energy levels or feeling “full” in the lower abdomen. Women with reproductive problems such as infertility, multiple miscarriages, or early labor may also have fibroids (4). Fibroids may be identified during routine gynecological exams or during imaging tests. Since most women do not exhibit any symptoms, diagnosis may be confirmed using images of the pelvis, including ultrasound or MRI. Symptoms often resolve after menopause but that may be too long to wait for many women. One in five women believe that the only treatment is hysterectomy, or the complete removal of the uterus (1). If a woman wants to keep her uterus and have the fibroids removed, she may undergo a myomectomy. Other treatments include drugs that can slow or stop the growth of the fibroids, such as birth control pills. Women who experience no symptoms may not elect for treatment at all. For others, the symptoms may become debilitating to a point where the pain worsens quality of life. There is a minimally invasive alternative to hysterectomy and myomectomy, known as uterine fibroid embolization (UFE). A majority of women, about 62 percent, have not heard of this option despite its use in clinical practice for over 20 years (1). UFE is a non-surgical treatment option, performed by interventional radiologists. They perform this procedure through a small incision in the skin, where they enter an artery in the groin or the wrist. Using image guidance, a catheter is used to deliver particles to the fibroids that will then shrink the fibroids and cause them to die. This treatment option has a shorter recovery period in comparison to surgical treatments and produces less pain for patients. Typically, patients are sent home the same day with an oral pain medication regimen for a few additional days. Recovery time is usually about one week before patients can completely return to normal activity (2). UFE preserves the uterus while controlling the symptoms of uterine fibroids and improving overall quality of life. The risks associated with this procedure are uncommon and include bleeding, infection at the incision site or adverse reactions to the imaging agents used during treatment, and non-target embolization, meaning particles going to unintended locations (SIR). Some women may experience symptoms such as pelvic pain, cramping, nausea, vomiting, fatigue and discomfort within seventy-two hours of undergoing UFE. These symptoms usually resolve by themselves and should disappear within a week. Patients will be closely observed by the interventional radiologist for any signs of infection. Women who undergo UFE, who do not have previous infertility factors may demonstrate an encouraging capacity to deliver after the procedure according to a randomized controlled trial conducted in 2017 (3). Many women, who want to completely preserve their fertility may decide to live with their symptoms or consider myomectomy, depending on the number and location of their fibroids. UFE offers an alternative to hysterectomy that preserves their childbearing capacity. Despite the prevalence of the condition, more than a third of women have not been diagnosed or do not know of anyone who has been diagnosed with uterine fibroids (1). The lack of discussion surrounding the topic and limited awareness of treatment options pose a challenge in ensuring women are making informed decisions regarding their health.
4 min read
How Fibroids Are Removed
Fibroids are benign smooth muscle tumors that grow in a woman’s uterus. Another name for a fibroid is uterine myoma. When fibroids become very symptomatic, several different surgical approaches can be used to remove them. The procedure to remove a fibroid is called a myomectomy, and the approach to a myomectomy depends on several factors. Let’s break down how fibroids are removed by the symptoms a patient with fibroids experiences. People with fibroids can experience heavy and irregular menstrual bleeding. This is one of the most common symptoms caused by fibroids. In this case, fibroids are often found in the cavity of the uterus and are typically 1-3 cm in size. These fibroids can be removed via a procedure called a hysteroscopy. A hysteroscope is an instrument that is introduced through the cervix and unto the uterus to visualize the uterine cavity. Once the fibroid is seen, it can be shaved or chopped using specialized blades and removed from the cavity. This procedure lasts about 30-60 mins, and the patient can go home the same day. It can be performed under sedation in the operating room or even in the office in some cases.Hysteroscopy is also used prior to Invitro fertilization, to remove small fibroids or polyps that are inside the cavity. This is done to prepare the cavity for implantation of an embryo.Patients with fibroids can often feel pain or pressure in their pelvis. This can lead to urinating a lot, having gas pains, and having difficulty with bowel movements. In such situations, the fibroids are usually large and are either in the wall of the uterus or on the surface of the uterus. These fibroids can be removed laparoscopically, robotically, or via a larger incision in the lower abdomen called a laparotomy (similar to a c-section). Laparoscopic or robotic surgeries involve a few small incisions on the abdomen (about 5-8 mm in size) and the entire surgery is done using those small incisions. The fibroid is then placed in a bag and the incision around the belly button is enlarged to about 2 cm. The bag is brought to the surface of the abdomen and the fibroid is cut into pieces using a knife. This is called morcellation. It is important to remember that this type of morcellation is different than what used to be commonplace a decade ago. Gynecologic surgeons used to use a power morcellator which would cut up the fibroid, scattering small pieces of fibroids through the abdomen. Although rare, if the fibroid was cancerous, it could spread throughout the pelvis in this way. There was much controversy around power morcellation around year 2014, after which it has essentially become obsolete. Surgeons now use hand morcellation to remove the fibroid from the abdomen. If the fibroid is extremely large (greater than approximately 12 cm), or there are many fibroids (greater than 5-6) that need to be removed, a larger incision may be needed on the abdomen. This procedure is called a laparotomy or open surgery. This incision is similar to that of a c-section. Multiple fibroids can be removed this way in a safe manner. The recovery is also longer, there is more blood loss, and patients usually have a longer hospital stay. Fibroids can also prohibit a woman from getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy successfully to term. These fibroids can be located in the uterine cavity or in the wall. They can be seen on ultrasound and removed via a hysteroscope, laparoscopy, or robotics as outlined above. All of the procedures discussed thus far are attempts to remove a fibroid while preserving a woman’s uterus and her fertility. If these treatment modalities fail or a woman does not wish to preserve her uterus anymore, a hysterectomy is recommended. A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure that removes the uterus along with any fibroids contained in it. Fibroids can be removed using many different techniques. These include a procedure called a hysteroscopy, robotic surgery, laparoscopy, laparatomy, or even a hysterectomy. Each individual case is treated and handled differently. Sources:De La Cruz MS, Buchanan EM. Uterine Fibroids: Diagnosis and Treatment. Am Fam Physician. 2017 Jan 15;95(2):100-107. PMID: 28084714. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28084714/https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/uterine-fibroids
4 min read
Is Birth Control Effective?
YES! But, it is important to note that some methods of birth control are more effective than others. Also, you MUST use each type of birth control correctly and you must give yourself enough time to allow it start working. Let’s break down the different types of birth control, how effective they are, and how long they take to start working. Remember, that while you are in the window of waiting for your birth control to become effective, you should use a barrier method of contraception such as a condom.YES! Birth control pills are very effective at preventing pregnancy. But, they MUST be taken correctly, which means every day, without missing a day, and ideally at the same time each day. If you start taking birth control pills for the first time within the first 5 days of your period, they should be effective right away, but if started after this time period, a backup method should be used for at least 7 days. If taken as directed and without any missed doses, oral contraceptives are 99% effective in preventing pregnancy. However, for people who miss doses or fluctuate when they take their dose, the overall effectiveness can drop to 91%. Also, since oral birth control pills do not prevent sexually transmitted infections, many women choose to use barrier methods such as condoms in addition to birth control.IUDs are also very effective at preventing pregnancy. There are two types of IUDs - copper and hormonal. The copper IUD starts working immediately after it is inserted, while the hormonal IUD takes about 7 days to start working. If placed within first 7 days of menstrual cycle, backup may not be needed.The copper IUD has a pregnancy rate of approximately 0.8%, which means that anywhere from about 8 people out of 1000 people will become pregnant on this type of birth control. The hormonal IUD releases a small amount of progestin each day to keep you from getting pregnant. The hormonal IUD stays in your uterus for up to 3 to 6 years, depending on the device. It has a failure rate of between 0.1% and 0.4%. This means that anywhere from 1 to 4 people out of 1000 people will become pregnant on this type of birth control. There are other combined hormonal methods like the patch and the vaginal ring. They work similarly to combined OCPs and should be started in the same timeframe. This skin patch is worn on the lower abdomen, buttocks, or upper body (but not on the breasts), and it works by releasing progestin and estrogen into your bloodstream. With typical use, the average failure rate is 7%, which means about 70 women in 1000 could get pregnant while using the patch for birth control. The vaginal ring works similarly in that it also releases hormones into your blood stream. With typical use, the average failure rate is 7%, which means about 70 women in 1000 could get pregnant while using the patch for birth control. Nexplanon is a subdermal implant is a progestin containing contraception. The rod contains a progestin that is released into the body over 3 years. This has a failure rate of 0.1%, or 1 in 1000 people will become pregnant. If you have already had sexual intercourse and want to prevent pregnancy, emergency contraception, “Plan B,” or the “morning after pill” is your best option. Plan B also works through hormones which delay ovulation. It is more effective the sooner it is taken, so it should be taken as soon as possible, within 3 days of unprotected intercourse Plan B does not protect against HIV/AIDS or other STIs, and will not affect an existing pregnancy. The morning after pill is about 93% effective in preventing pregnancy. It is available at pharmacies without a prescription. The morning after pill came out in the 1990s and another emergency contraception pill called Ullipristal came out in 2010. It is also called Ella and it requires a prescription. Ullipristal can be used within 5 days (120 hours) of having unprotected sex and it is 98% effective at preventing pregnancy. Birth control pills need to be taken correctly in order to maximize their effectivity, which can be as high as 99%. IUDs are also very effective with a very low pregnancy rate that is between 1 and 8 pregnancies per 1000 people. Finally, if you need to take emergency contraception, it is important to take that as soon as possible after you have unprotected sex. Sources:https://www.acog.org/womens-health/infographics/effectiveness-of-birth-control-methodshttps://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/contraception/index.htm#Birth-Control-Methodshttps://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/birth-control-methods
4 min read
When Does Birth Control Start Working?
There are several forms of birth control, and when they start working depends on which method of contraceptive is being used. Barrier methods like condoms are most effective at the time of sexual intercourse and when used properly. For oral contraceptive medications, when birth control starts working is less obvious. Let’s break down the types of birth control and when they begin to work.Oral contraceptives are medications that contain a progestin and estrogen, hormones that are used to prevent pregnancy. They are the most common form of birth control. Oral contraceptives can be started at any time in the cycle and should be taken every day at the same time. This allows for a steady level of the hormones inside your body, which play a key role in preventing pregnancy. If started within the first 5 days of menses, they will be effective right away, but if started after, backup should be used for at least 7 days. If taken as directed and without any missed doses, oral contraceptives are 99% effective in preventing pregnancy. However, for people who miss doses or fluctuate when they take their dose, the overall effectiveness can drop to 91%. Also, since OCP’s do not prevent sexually transmitted infections, many women choose to use barrier methods such as condoms in addition to birth control.There are two types of birth control pills - those that contain both estrogen and progestin (a synthetic form of progesterone) and those that contain only progestin. Estrogen containing contraceptives are not recommended in people who have certain medical conditions like migraines with aura. Typically, a progestin only pill (also called a minipill) is used when a person is breastfeeding so that the birth control does not affect the breast milk supply. Progestin only pills may be appropriate for people who are unable to take estrogen but are not ready for a long acting contraceptive. Both combination and minipill contraceptives use hormones to prevent pregnancy by preventing ovulation and thickening the cervical mucus to block sperm. Combination pills usually come in cycles of 21 or 28 days and may also help with acne. There are two types of IUDs - copper and hormonal. The copper IUD starts working immediately after it is inserted, while the hormonal IUD takes about 7 days to start working. If placed within first 7 days of menstrual cycle, backup may not be needed. The copper IUD and 7 year progestin IUD may also be used as emergency contraception. There are other combined hormonal methods like the patch and the vaginal ring. They work similarly to combined OCPs and should be started in the same timeframe. Nexplanon which is a subdermal implant is a progestin containing contraception.If you have already had sexual intercourse and are trying to prevent pregnancy, emergency contraception, “Plan B,” or the “morning after pill” is your best option. Plan B also works through hormones which delay ovulation. It is more effective the sooner it is taken, so it should be taken as soon as possible, within 3 days of unprotected intercourse Plan B does not protect against HIV/AIDS or other STIs, and will not affect an existing pregnancy. The morning after pill is about 93% effective in preventing pregnancy. It is available at pharmacies without a prescription. The morning after pill came out in the 1990s and another emergency contraception pill called Ullipristal came out in 2010. It is also called Ella and it requires a prescription. Ullipristal can be used within 5 days (120 hours) of having unprotected sex and it is 98% effective at preventing pregnancy. If you are planning to be sexually active, it is a good idea to think about your birth control options and which ones are right for you. Planning ahead will give you ample time to start an oral contraceptive or to make an appointment to have an IUD placed. Discuss any medical conditions you have with your doctor that may make certain birth control options unsuitable.Sources:ACOG Practice Bulletin, Emergency Contraception: https://www.acog.org/clinical/clinical-guidance/practice-bulletin/articles/2015/09/emergency-contraceptionACOG Practice Bulletin, LARCs and IUDs: https://www.acog.org/clinical/clinical-guidance/practice-bulletin/articles/2017/11/long-acting-reversible-contraception-implants-and-intrauterine-devicesCurtis KM, Tepper NK, Jatlaoui TC, Berry-Bibee E, Horton LG, Zapata LB, Simmons KB, Pagano HP, Jamieson DJ, Whiteman MK. U.S. Medical Eligibility Criteria for Contraceptive Use, 2016. MMWR Recomm Rep. 2016 Jul 29;65(3):1-103. doi: 10.15585/mmwr.rr6503a1. PMID: 27467196.https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/rr/rr6503a1.htmTurok DK, Gero A, Simmons RG, Kaiser JE, Stoddard GJ, Sexsmith CD, Gawron LM, Sanders JN. Levonorgestrel vs. Copper Intrauterine Devices for Emergency Contraception. N Engl J Med. 2021 Jan 28;384(4):335-344. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa2022141. PMID: 33503342; PMCID: PMC7983017.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33503342/
4 min read
Best Period Tracking App
Tracking your period is important, but in your already busy schedule, it seems like another painful thing to add to your “to-do” list. Well, things are easier now than they use to be, and luckily there are tons of digital tools that can help with period tracking. So, what is the best period tracking app? We couldn’t pick just one, so we listed some of our favorites.This app allows you to share data with your partner which can help to plan sexual activity. Often times the burden of scheduling sex for the purpose of family planning falls on the female in the relationship. The Cycles app allows your partner to be aware of when your most fertile windows are. The period tracking app also can provide pill reminders, and also allow you to log other things like mood and ovulation.This app has an easy-to-use interface and that allows you to log your period as well as other symptoms. It also provides data on predicted ovulation. It has a free version as well as a premium version that users can upgrade to if they choose.Clue promises to be inclusive of all genders and ages. Like all the other apps, it allows you to track mood, sexual activity and also allows you to track your exercise (not a feature in all apps). It is also free with a paid upgrade available to unlock more features. All the period tracking apps mentioned above are free! While there are premium features you need to pay for, downloading and using the free versions are a no-brainer. Many of the apps also feature content on different aspects of the menstrual cycle to help you understand more about your body. Most of the interactive features of the apps mentioned above are only available through the premium versions. If you’re not sure which period tracking app you like the most, you can try out one or two and then use the one that best suits your needs.One of the biggest reason you should track your period is to ensure that you're actually having periods at all. Sometimes when women are on hormonal birth control, they can stop having full-blown periods and just get something called "breakthrough bleeding." Breakthrough bleeding means that your body is still getting all the hormones it needs from the hormones in your method of birth control—but it is not enough to create a fully-developed uterine lining (the lining gets shed during menstruation). Period tracking can help you to identify skipped periods which will then allow you to investigate why you have skipped a period. One of the first signs of pregnancy is a skipped period and other medical conditions like PCOS can also cause skipped or irregular periods. Additionally, extremely heavy periods could be a sign of fibroids or another medical issue. Being able to show your period data to your doctor can be very helpful in identifying a potential medical problem. So, what is the best period tracking app? It’s the one that works best for you! Check out the suggestions above to get started!
3 min read
What Is Douching And Why Is It Dangerous?
It’s extremely important to take care of your vagina, but is douching an appropriate precaution? The dangers of using a homemade douche and douching, in general, can be very serious. One way people try to clean their vaginas is through vaginal douching. This is when one washes the inside using a mix of water and fluids with a plastic bottle that sprays the fluid into the vagina. This is to help eliminate odors and further "clean" the vagina. This is not necessary because the vagina (the inside tube), as opposed to the vulva (the outside skin), does NOT need to be cleaned. The vagina is able to balance itself!Usually, for homemade douches, vinegar is mixed with water, with prepackaged douche products containing ingredients like baking soda, iodine, or even antiseptics and fragrances. While douching is not recommended, it is still a common cleaning method, with one in five women between 15-44 years old using douches, some even homemade, regularly.Many women choose to use a vaginal douche as a way to “cleanse” their vagina and rid it of odors. Others believe that douching can help prevent sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), rinse away blood from periods, and prevent pregnancy and infections. This is untrue. Douching isn’t necessary to further clean your vagina, nor will it protect you from STDs or pregnancy. In fact, the dangers of homemade douche may be even more severe. This is why the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology does not recommend the use of any douching products. The vagina needs a healthy pH balance and is naturally filled with critical bacteria, known as vaginal flora. The vagina has a balance of many different bacteria and yeast and the good bacteria want to flourish over the “bad” bacteria or opportunistic bacteria. The “good” bacteria helps to prevent irritation and stops infections by keeping the vaginal pH optimal and balanced. Anything that decreases or kills the “good” vagina flora can allow the opportunistic bacteria (the "bad" bacteria) to overgrow—causing discomfort and even possible harm.When you reduce the healthy bacteria in the vagina, then the problematic bacteria might flourish, leading to serious complications.Here are the specific risks associated with vaginal douching:Healthy pregnancies require many different things including the fallopian tubes’ ability to allow the sperm and egg to meet. Additionally, the uterine lining must be able to allow the embryo to implant safely. Vaginal douching can change these critical areas and this can potentially increase the risk of pregnancy complications like miscarriage, preterm deliveries, or ectopic pregnancies (where the pregnancy grows outside of the uterus, typically in the fallopian tube).As mentioned, a healthy balance of bacteria in the vagina can prevent the normal vaginal yeast from overgrowing. When you eliminate this natural pH balance by douching, the yeast flourish, causing an overgrowth of yeast and can lead to symptomatic yeast infections.Additionally, people who douche are 5 times more likely to develop infections like bacterial vaginosis (where the “opportunistic” bacteria overgrow and cause a bacterial infection associated with a watery fishy-smelling discharge) compared to those who don’t douche. And, for those who believe that washing the vagina can eliminate infection, this is wrong. Douching can actually worsen an infection. By douching, you could be spreading the bacteria to other parts of the reproductive system.Pelvic Inflammatory Disease is an infection of a woman's reproductive organs. It is usually caused by certain sexually transmitted infections, like chlamydia and gonorrhea. Because douching eliminates the “good” flora and allows the “bad” bacteria to overgrown, it makes the vagina, cervix and uterus more susceptible to STIs. If you have an STI (sexually transmitted infection) like gonorrhea or chlamydia, it can then travel from the vagina through the cervix and into the uterus and out of the tubes into the pelvis and lead to the more widespread infection called Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID). PID can be very painful and can lead to scarring of the uterine lining and the pelvis AND it can be very dangerous as well. Using a douche can increase the risk of this disease by 73%, and may also hinder your success conceiving.Cervicitis is the inflammation of the cervix. This inflammation is sometimes also caused by STIs. Women who douche are also more likely to develop cervicitis. It may also cause vaginal irritation, in addition to other uncomfortable pain.While douching is a common practice, you should NEVER do it. There are more risks than benefits. With many experts advising against douching, we have excellent evidence to prove that it causes harm without helping at all, so it’s best to stay away from the practice. Talk to your Gynecologist to learn how to clean your vagina properly and safely. Ultimately the best way to “clean” your vagina is to understand that it doesn’t need separate “cleaning”. You can use water on the outside (this part is called the “vulva”) BUT the vagina (the inside) itself does not need anything. If you notice an unusual odor, you should visit your Gynecologist to be evaluated for the source of the unusual smell (like a retained tampon or bacterial infection).
5 min read
What is Endometriosis?
Vaishnavi Purusothaman, MDMaddie Cheong Medically Reviewed by Dr. Vaishnavi Purusothaman, Ob-GynEndometriosis is a disorder where the tissue that is similar to the tissue lining the uterus, known as the endometrium, is found in places outside the uterus. Some common places that endometriosis implants can be found are the fallopian tubes, the ovaries, the bladder, and the colon (1). Endometriosis on the ovary is called an endometrioma, which is a fibrous cyst filled with old blood, similar to a “blood blister” (2). Endometriosis affects approximately 10% of women and is most commonly diagnosed between 30 to 40 years of age (1). Endometriosis is more common in some women than others. Women with a first- degree relative with a history of endometriosis or infertility are more likely to have endometriosis. Additionally, women giving birth for the first time after the age of 30 are also at greater risk of developing endometriosis (2). Menstrual cycles also play an important role in indicating the potential presence of endometriosis. Women experiencing short cycles (less than 27 days between periods) or unusually heavy cycles that last more than 7 days are also at a greater risk of having endometriosis (3). Symptoms of endometriosis are often concentrated in the pelvis, and can include pain during your period, pain during or after sex, and pain during bowel movements or urination. There are many ways in which endometriosis can cause pain. Just like the endometrium found in the uterus, endometriosis tissue found in other areas can also bleed once a month, causing inflammation and pain. Another reason for the pain may be due to endometriosis lesions pressing against nerve cells, relaying pain signals to the brain. Finally, it is also possible that chemicals released by the endometriosis lesions may cause pelvic organs to stick to each other and create scar tissue, which can also cause pain. However, it is important to note that the size or number of endometriosis lesions in the pelvis do not correlate with the severity of pain (4). Moreover, not all women with endometriosis will display symptoms: approximately 25% of women with endometriosis are asymptomatic (5).About 40% of women with endometriosis experience infertility (1). Women with infertility are 6-8 times more likely to have endometriosis, and 30-50% of women with infertility have endometriosis (5). Endometriosis likely affects fertility through many mechanisms. Endometriosis on the ovary (also known as an endometrioma) has been shown to affect egg production and ovulation. Additionally, the inflammatory environment produced by endometriosis lesions has been shown to affect the quality and function of eggs, sperm, and embryos. Transport of the gametes (egg and sperm) is also affected by this inflammatory environment. The inflammation can alter motility in the fallopian tube and the uterus, which affects both fertilization of the egg and embryo implantation. Finally, endometriosis is thought to potentially alter the uterine lining by making it less receptive for an embryo to implant (6). Treatment of endometriosis often depends on the severity and frequency of symptoms. Mild symptoms can often be treated with over the counter pain medications, such as ibuprofen, that work to combat the inflammation caused by endometriosis. Another option is hormonal birth control, which can work to quiet the endometriosis lesions and make them inactive. There are also injectable and oral medications known as gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists and antagonists that have been shown to alleviate pain. While these GnRH based treatments are very effective, they can be associated with side effects including hot flushes, vaginal dryness, and decreased bone density. These effects can be mitigated by using add-back hormonal therapy and using shorter durations of treatment (7). Surgery is also an option for management of endometriosis. Surgical options can range from minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery to remove endometriosis lesions/implants to open abdominal surgery to do the same. Definitive surgical treatment of endometriosis involves removal of the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries, and is used to treat patients with severe endometriosis who have not responded to other therapies (2). However, surgical treatments do not guarantee patients a complete eradication of symptoms; about 15% of women experience a recurrence of endometriosis related symptoms even after definitive surgical treatment (7). References
5 min read
HPV vs Herpes: What Are the Differences?
When talking about sexual health and sexually transmitted disease (STD), there is no question that is too specific or 'dumb' to ask. The more you ask, the more you learn about sexual health to prevent any negative consequences. Among all the different questions asked, one of the most common is regarding the differences between HPV vs herpes. This is actually a frequent question since HPV and herpes are the two most common STDs. Almost 80 million Americans have human papillomavirus (HPV), while 1 in 8 people between 14-49 years old has genital herpes. To learn more about the difference between these two conditions, read on! The reason why many people are unsure of what they have (HPV or herpes) is because both are common STDs that have many similarities. Both of them cause genital lesions or have no symptoms at all. With that in mind, here are some of their key differences: Those who have HPV don’t usually experience any symptoms at all. You might not even realize you have it! However, the most common symptom is warts, though since there are over 150 HPV types, the symptoms depend on the type you contracted. Some can cause warts, others may increase the risk of you developing HPV-related cancer. Warts can occur in the genital area or the mouth and throat, growing as single growths or a cluster of growths, even looking like a cauliflower. As for herpes, there are two types: HSV-1 and HSV-2. Both types can affect parts of your body, causing either oral or genital herpes. Similar to HPV, herpes might not have symptoms or very mild to unnoticeable symptoms that you may confuse with other things, like ingrown hairs, skin conditions, or the flu. The symptoms depend on where herpes affects you. Either way, you are most likely to experience flu-like symptoms, redness, swelling, itching, or pain in the infected area, blisters or cold sores, among others. The way it was spread is also different. With HPV, it is through skin-to-skin contact with an infected person through vaginal, anal, or oral sex. With herpes, it can either be skin-to-skin contact or through saliva.To diagnose HPV, you can undergo an HPV test, which is also sometimes used during Pap tests. Or, visual examination of warts may diagnose certain cases. For herpes, physical exams are done if there are lesions taken. Samples may be taken to the lab to diagnose the viral cultures. When treating HPV, the virus can't be cured, though you may be prescribed drugs for warts, or they can be removed when necessary. HPV that was noted from a pap test may have to be managed differently. The same goes for herpes, as the virus can’t be permanently cured as well. There are antiviral drugs that can treat symptoms and reduce any outbreaks. Prevention is similar for the two sexually transmitted diseases. While there isn't a way to eliminate the risk of the conditions, you will need to practice safe sex and make sure to get routine screenings. Make sure to practice safe sex not just for anal or vaginal sex, but for oral sex as well. Hopefully, you were able to learn more about your sexual health and learn the differences between HOV and herpes. This will help you learn how to observe the symptoms and know what to tell your doctor in case you suspect an STD. Make sure that you use protection and safety precautions before intercourse to prevent this from happening, though! If you have any questions or would like to share your knowledge on sexual health and STDs, do comment below, all your thoughts are greatly appreciated.
4 min read
Why is my Vaginal area Dark
With time we all expect to see a few age spots, sometimes called liver spots, or a darkening are usually on the hands, face, arms, or other areas that were overly exposed to the sun. However, it may come as a surprise if you see the area around your genitals becoming darker. While it is gradual, it may be a bit shocking when you finally notice it. The good news is that it is this is usually a normal process in aging and there is nothing to be concerned about. It is called hyperpigmentation. The color can be slightly different from one woman to another and women with paler skin tend to have less differentiation than others. Darker skin will appear more brown. It will affect the labia, scrotum, and anus. • Hormones – The skin naturally produces melanocytes which, in turn, forms melanin, which is the same stuff that gives our hair, eyes, and skin its color. In the genital area, this substance is particularly sensitive to hormones. As our hormones change during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause, the color can increase. In addition to the genital area, it can also cause darkening around the areolae of the breasts and even your anus.• Friction – Intercourse creates friction and that will cause the melanocyte to increase in activity, creating more dark areas. Skin folds in the groin can also become darker from daily rubbing against each other. Some hair removal products and shaving will have the same effect. If the area becomes inflamed like from a yeast infection or ingrown hair, this can have the same color change.• Age – While it may seem like a fallback excuse, the fact is that getting older changes a lot of things, including pigmentation. It is an accumulation of repeated trauma from shaving or intercourse and hormonal changes through the years. As a preventive measure, you can try to lessen the friction to minimize the darkening. Some suggestions are:• Avoid tight clothing especially underwear• Moisturize your skin• Limit the amount of sweat wicking clothing you wear• Avoid excessive hair removal including waxing and shaving. This can cause inflammation and folliculitis (red bumps or pimples caused by bacteria or infection). As mentioned, this is not dangerous in any way. If you think it is due to some inflammation, keep close watch to be sure there is no infection. Keeping the area clean and dry will help. However, any sudden or drastic change should warrant a phone call to your doctor's office. They will probably run some tests to rule out any drastic systemic changes or pathology that caused the unexpected occurrence. If there is itching it could be a reaction to some product or an infection. If you feel compelled to pursue this further, check with a dermatologist about safe options. This is not a time for home remedies or suggestions from the internet. Also, be sure it is your sole decision and not because someone else didn't care for it.
3 min read
The Types of Fibroids You Should Be Aware Of
Fibroids are abnormal growth which develops in or on a women's uterus. These tumors may sometimes grow large, causing abdominal pain and heavy periods. Other times, they may not come with any signs or symptoms at all.Fibroid growths are usually benign or noncancerous, with the cause unknown. They are also known as myomas, fibromas, leiomyomas, or uterine myomas. Up to 80% of women may experience this by the turn they turn 50 years old, with most of them now having any symptoms, thus not knowing they have it. There are even different types of fibroids one must be aware of. So read on to find out what fibroid types are there. There are four types of fibroids, with each type developed depending on the location in or on one’s uterus. · Intramural fibroids are the most common type, appearing within the uterus’ muscular wall. They might grow larger, stretching the womb.· Subserosal fibroids would form outside the uterus, which is known as the serosa. They might grow big enough to the point your womb appears larger on one side.· Pedunculated fibroids are subserosal tumors that develop stems, which is a slender base supporting the tumor.· Submucosal fibroids are tumors that develop in one’s middle muscle layer, called the myometrium, of the uterus. However, these aren’t as common compared to the other types mentioned. While the causes of fibroid development are unknown, several factors may influence its formation, such as: Hormones produced by the ovaries, estrogen, and progesterone, would cause your uterine lining to regenerate every menstrual cycle. This may stimulate fibroid growth.Fibroids might run in your family, especially if your grandmother, mother, or sister has this condition.Pregnancy will increase the production of estrogen and progesterone in the body, which is why fibroids might develop and grow rapidly during this time. · Pregnant women· Those with a family history of fibroids· Women over 30 years old· African American women· Those with a higher body weight The symptoms experienced depend on how many tumors one has, as well as their size and location. For example, submucosal fibroids would cause heavy menstrual bleeding, with women having issues conceiving. For very small tumors or women going through menopause, you might not experience any symptoms, as fibroids would shrink during and after the stage. Women who experience menopause will experience a drop in their hormone levels, which are the ones that stimulate fibroid growth. Besides this, here are a few common symptoms of fibroids: · Menstruation lasts longer than what you’re used to, or heavy bleeding during your periods, including blood clots· Pain in the lower back or pelvis· Increased menstrual cramping · Frequent urination· Pain during intercourse· Feeling fullness or pressure in the lower abdomen· Feeling an enlargement or swelling in the abdomen If you experience any of these symptoms, do have it checked by your gynecologist, who will perform a pelvic exam. Your doctor may also have you go through other tests, such as an ultrasound or pelvic MRI. Fortunately, there are medications and home remedies you can follow to help with the symptoms. Wrapping It UpI hope that this article helped you learn more about the types of fibroids and what the condition is. Do become more acquainted with similar conditions so you know when you need to see a doctor to get checked. Stay healthy! If you have any questions or want to share your knowledge on fibroids, share them in the comments section below. All your thoughts are much appreciated.
3 min read
Endometriosis Bloating: What is Endo Belly?
If you’re familiar with the condition Endometriosis, then you are probably aware of one of its symptoms: Endometriosis bloating. In fact, it’s one of the most common symptoms, to the point that people call it the “endo belly”. For those who aren’t aware of endometriosis and the bloating associated with it, read on to find out. Endometriosis is a condition that causes the endometrial tissue, which would line one's uterus, to develop outside one's uterus. This may cause chronic pain, infertility, as well as heavy or irregular periods. Those who have it have reported bloating and weight gain as well, among other uncomfortable symptoms. More than 10% of reproductive-aged women are affected by endometriosis. Endometriosis bloating, or endo belly is the term that describes the uncomfortable and painful swelling and/or bloating associated with the condition. Causes and SymptomsWith endometriosis, the tissue located in places out of the uterus would act the way the endometrium does. It will build up and break down, bleeding every month, similar to your uterus lining. However, the tissue won’t have a way to leave the body, so it becomes trapped. The tissue surrounding it becomes irritated and inflames, causing scar tissue to form. It may also cause tissue in the pelvis to stick together. As mentioned, bloating and fluid retention are some of the more common symptoms of endometriosis. An older study showed that 96% of women with the condition have experienced belly bloating, compared to the 64% who don’t have the condition. · The buildup of the endometrial-like tissue may cause inflammation in and around your abdomen, resulting in bloating, swelling, and/or water retention.· Endometrial-like tissue may cover and/or grow into your ovaries. The trapped blood may form cysts, causing the bloating.· Women with endometriosis are more susceptible to small intestinal bacterial overgrowth and fibroids, conditions that may cause bloating.· The condition usually causes digestion issues, including constipation and gas. The main symptom of endometrial bloating is severe bloating, particularly during or before one's period. This is when your abdomen will fill up with air or gas, looking larger. The belly may also feel tight and/or hard. Such bloating may cause pain and discomfort, along with pressure on the back and abdomen. It may last for a few hours, or even days and weeks. There are self-care measures you can follow to help reduce the pain and bloat, mainly improving your diet. Make sure you avoid inflammatory foods and test out a low FODMAP diet, which can ease bloating and gas. It’s also best to increase your fiber intake, which prevents constipation, as well as drinking plenty of water. However, if your endometriosis bloat gets so painful or happens frequently, lasting for long periods, it’s best to get checked with your doctor right away. They will find the reason behind your bloating, as there may be cysts, scars, or other issues that require medical intervention.Hopefully, you found insight into what endometriosis bloating is and the ways to treat it. If you suspect you have endometriosis and suffer from bloating, do talk with your doctor about it to find the right solution. Stay healthy!
3 min read
The Unplanned Part of Your Trip: Honeymoon Cystitis
Sometimes called “Honeymoon Disease” is cystitis (bladder infection) that occurs as a result of sexual activity. Cystitis can be triggered by other actions in addition to sexual relations and all the symptoms are about the same. It is basically a urinary tract infection (UTI).Usually there is a burning sensation during urination and feeling the need to use the bathroom excessively. The intensity can vary from one flare up to another. Call the doctor or visit a clinic if symptoms worsen or prolong, or include:If you have had a UTI in the past and you now see the symptoms resume, contact your doctor, especially if the urge to urinate lasts for several hours and is painful. If you notice blood in the urine, don't hesitate to contact a medical professional.Also, if you completed a course of antibiotics and still have the symptoms or they return quickly, you may need a different type of prescription.Cystitis can also be chronic and is usually called Interstitial Cystitis. This is a bladder condition and is mostly painful pressure or burning in the pelvic area accompanied by a frequent need to use the bathroom. This mimics a UTI but is more serious. It is often difficult to diagnose and treat.Chronic cystitis is an inflammation of the bladder that can last for quite some time. It begins as a normal UTI when bacterial start in the urethra, grow and then spread to the bladder. If this infection moves into the kidneys, there is a serious problem that can eventually lead to sepsis, which can be deadly. There is still much to be learned about chronic cystitis including its exact cause. However, we do know some of the triggers like:It has also been noted that the cystitis is associated with the menstrual cycle as well as wearing form fitting, tight pants.If you develop chronic cystitis, your doctor will probably recommend some options to improve your daily activities and to better manage the condition. These include lifestyle changes, medication and sometimes physical therapy.Lifestyle includes modification of your diet, staying hydrated, increasing physical activities, and reducing stress, when able. Some physicians will also suggest bladder training techniques. Some of these options include being sure your bladder is full before using the restroom and keeping a record of the incidents.If you suspect that the UTIs are a symptom of chronic cystitis, discuss options with your doctor, starting with a urinalysis to see if there is an infection. If there is, antibiotics are the first line of defense. If conditions persist, it may be necessary to perform a cystoscopy. This is a minimally invasive procedure where the doctor inserts a very thin tube with a camera through the urethra and into the bladder to get a better idea of the condition of the organs.
3 min read
Adenomyosis is a benign condition in which tissue from the endometrial layer, or the innermost layer ofthe uterus, grows into a layer of muscle in the uterus. The uterus is a muscular organ with three layers:the endometrium (inner lining), the myometrium (middle muscular layer) and serosa (outer smoothlayer that covers the uterus) . When the endometrial tissue grows into the muscle, it causes theuterus to enlarge. It is unknown what causes this condition; however, the most likely theory is that smallareas of trauma and inflammation in the myometrium causes the endometrium to grow into themuscular layer . Adenomyosis can cause painful and distressing symptoms; however, it is a benigncondition that does not cause or increase the risk of cancer .Painful periods can be caused by several medical conditions, and adenomyosis often will present bypatients complaining of painful menstruation; however, some patients who have adenomyosis may notexperience any symptoms at all. The most common symptoms of adenomyosis are usually painfuland/or heavy bleeding during periods, chronic pelvic pain and irregular bleeding from the uterus.Abnormal uterine bleeding is when bleeding from the uterus happens at irregular times (not associatedwith periods) or there is bleeding for prolonged periods of time. Infertility may occur; however, theassociation is still unclear .The first step of diagnosing adenomyosis is to collect information on symptoms as well as pastmedical and surgical history. When a physician examines the uterus by gently palpating the pelvic area,the uterus typically feels soft and is symmetrical. Irregularities on the exam may include an abnormallylarge uterus, firmness, a palpable mass or even tenderness felt by the patient during the exam. Ifadenomyosis is suspected, a transvaginal ultrasound is then recommended to evaluate and diagnoseadenomyosis.There are multiple treatment options to help with symptoms. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs(NSAIDS) can help improve pain and inflammation, and these include common over-the-countermedications such as ibuprofen. Other medication options include hormone therapy or oralcontraceptives. Specific hormones can decrease estrogen in the body, which is important since estrogencauses the endometrial layer to grow. These medications can limit the overgrowth of the endometriallayer of the uterus. The combined oral contraceptive pill is a combination of progestin and estrogenwhich works by decreasing ovulation and estrogen production within the body, working similarly todecrease endometrial growth .Surgical treatment can include a hysterectomy, or removal of the uterus, which is usuallydone in patients with severe symptoms or in patients who do not wish to become pregnant.Another method, known as uterine artery embolization, uses a procedure to blockuterine blood vessels in order to stop blood flow to this area. This will cause the tissue to die andprevent it from overgrowing. In patients who desire future pregnancy, it is possible to remove either thefocal adenomyosis or diffuse area around the uterine wall  while still keeping the uterus intact.Fibroids, also known as uterine leiomyomas, are very common benign growths of smooth muscle cells ofthe muscular layer of the uterus (myometrium). Between 40% and 60% of women can develop fibroids,though only 20% to 50% of patients with fibroids have symptoms [2,6]. Symptoms are similar toadenomyosis, with the most common being heavy or abnormal bleeding. Infertility is possible but rare(about 1% to 3% of infertility cases are due to fibroids) . On pelvic exam, the uterus will be enlarged invarious locations and small, smooth masses can be felt. This is different from adenomyosis, where theentire uterus is enlarged. After an exam by your physician, fibroids are confirmed by a diagnostictransvaginal ultrasound. Treatment is similar to the treatment of adenomyosis with hormonal options.For women desiring future pregnancy, myomectomies (surgical removal of the fibroid only, whilekeeping the uterus intact) can be performed.Endometriosis is a condition in which the inner lining (endometrium) grows outside the uterus, asopposed to adenomyosis where the endometrium grows into the muscular layer in the uterus only anddoes not extend past this area. Tissue can grow on fallopian tubes, ovaries, bowel, appendix, bladderand other structures. It can cause painful periods, pain during intercourse, uncomfortable bowelmovements and even infertility. Infertility is more common with endometriosis than with fibroids oradenomyosis. Pelvic examination by a physician may demonstrate tenderness in the pelvic region, painwith movement of the uterus, or even an immobile uterus. However, many patients may not have anyabnormal findings. Diagnosis is usually made with laparoscopy, a procedure where a small camera isplaced inside the abdomen to look for endometrial tissue at internal structures such as the uterus,fallopian tubes, ovaries and bowel. Treatment is similar to adenomyosis with anti-inflammatorymedication to help with pain and hormonal methods to suppress tissue growth. Surgical treatmentincludes removing or destroying the abnormal tissue. As with adenomyosis, if a patient does not desireto have future pregnancy or has severe symptoms, surgery to remove the uterus, fallopian tubes, andovaries may be performed [2,5,7].Adenomyosis, uterine fibroids and endometriosis are common conditions that can cause no symptomsat all or become severe enough to cause significant pain and distress. This can depend on various factorssuch as age, ethnicity and location/extent of the abnormal tissue. While moderate to severe symptomscan be concerning for patients, they are typically benign conditions. However, there are several medicaland surgical treatment options available to help with these conditions. If you think you are experiencingsymptoms of adenomyosis, please consult your physician for a treatment plan that is right for you.AUTHORS: DR. ERIKA ARAGONA, SRIJAA KANNANResources:1. Anatomy of the uterus. (n.d.). Retrieved March 26, 2021, fromhttps://www.saintlukeskc.org/health-library/anatomy-uterus#:~:text=The%20uterus%20has%203%20layers,Myometrium2. Dougherty M.P., &amp; DeCherney A.H. (2019). Benign disorders of the uterinecorpus. DeCherney A.H., &amp; Nathan L, &amp; Laufer N, &amp; Roman A.S.(Eds.), CURRENTDiagnosis &amp; Treatment: Obstetrics &amp; Gynecology, 12e. McGraw-Hill. https://accessmedicine-mhmedical-com.proxy.unthsc.edu/content.aspx?bookid=2559&amp;sectionid=2069646443. Stewart, Elizabeth et al. (2021). Uterine adenomyosis. UpToDate. Accessed on March 26,2021.4. Harada, T., Khine, Y. M., Kaponis, A., Nikellis, T., Decavalas, G., &amp; Taniguchi, F. (2016).The Impact of Adenomyosis on Women&#39;s Fertility. Obstetrical &amp; gynecologicalsurvey, 71(9), 557–568. https://doi.org/10.1097/OGX.00000000000003465. Benign uterine pathology. Hoffman B.L., &amp; Schorge J.O., &amp; Halvorson L.M., &amp; HamidC.A.,&amp; Corton M.M., &amp; Schaffer J.I.(Eds.), (2020). Williams Gynecology, 4e. McGraw-Hill. https://accessmedicine-mhmedical-com.proxy.unthsc.edu/content.aspx?bookid=2658&amp;sectionid=2180953336. Stewart, Elizabeth et al (2021). Uterine fibroids (leiomyomas): Epidemiology, clinicalfeatures, diagnosis, and natural history. UpToDate. Accessed on March 26, 2021.7. Schenken, Robert, Barbieri, Robert, Eckler, Kristen (2021). UpToDate: Endometriosis:pathogenesis, clinical features, and diagnosis. UpToDate. Accessed on March 26, 2021.
6 min read
About Vulvar Varicosities: The Important Things to Know
Varicose veins appear when parts of your veins become dilated, enlarged, twisty, and/or overfilled with pooling blood. Because of this, you may feel pain, pressure, or discomfort in affected areas. Vulvar varicosities are varicose veins developed in the vulva, which is the external genital area in women. Many women would experience vulvar varicosities while pregnant, due to changes in their blood flow and the increased hormone levels causing veins in the vulva to grow. Fortunately, vulvar varicosities would disappear after childbirth, usually without treatment. If not, or you experience these symptoms outside pregnancy, there are treatments you can do to minimize the symptoms. Continue reading and learn more about vulvar varicosities. Here are the causes of vulvar varicosities: · Pregnancy due to the hormonal changes and blood flow as well as pressure during childbirth· Aging due to the veins becoming less efficient in function and structure, which causes the venous blood circulation to slow down· Family history of varicose veins· You are overweight· Having pelvic varicose veins Varicose varicosities would usually occur on the labia major and labia minor, along with the vulva's lips and skin folds. You may notice that veins are appearing twisted and bulging out from the skin, which is soft and blue or purple. Other women may experience other symptoms, such as: · Pain or pressure in the vulva· Having a full feeling or heaviness in the vulva· Discomfort while walking and/or pain during sexual intercourse· Itchiness Your doctor would diagnose vulvar varicosities by asking about your symptoms and a physical examination. Sometimes, an ultrasound might be required to diagnose it to identify the varicose veins and their severity, such as blood clotting or flowing to the wrong area. There are also other tests to determine the condition, especially if it is suspected that you have a larger venous condition. They may order the following tests to get a diagnosis: · Heart scan or CT scan of the pelvic· Selective venography· Magnetic Resonance Angiography There are at-home treatments that your doctor will recommend, such as: · Applying an ice pack to the affected areas· Propping up your hips while lying down to improve blood flow· Changing positions to relieve pressure on the body· Wearing support garments and/or compression garments If even the symptoms are severe or you have other conditions, then your doctor might have these recommendations: · Use smaller amounts of gentle soap when bathing the vulvar area, then applying topical corticosteroid cream after bathing for itch relief.· Taking prescription medication in case there is a blood clot in the vulvar varicosities to prevent blood clots and to break down existing blood clots.· There are other aggressive treatments your doctor may perform, such as sclerotherapy, echosclerosis, phlebectomy, or transcatheter embolization. Wrapping It UpVulvar varicosities are difficult to go through because of the pain and discomfort that is sometimes experienced. Usually, they would disappear within months after childbirth, and if the condition developed outside of pregnancy, it may need treatment. Fortunately, there are procedures to help alleviate its symptoms. If you experience vulvar varicosities, do have it checked with your doctor to receive proper treatment and ensure there are no additional conditions from it.
3 min read
How Accurate is a Pregnancy Test
Pregnancy tests are readily available at drug stores or through your doctor’s office, but just how accurate is a pregnancy test?Each type of pregnancy test is a reliable indicator, if used correctly. Common errors include using a test that has expired or not following the instructions. So, be sure to check the expiration date on the package and read all the directions and follow them as indicated.When a fertilized egg attaches to the lining of a uterus, human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) is produced. This hormone enters the bloodstream and is expelled through urine (pee). When you urinate on the stick in a home pregnancy test or the doctor checks your urine sample in the office, it will either be positive (you are pregnant) or negative (you are not pregnant). Some home pregnancy tests state that they are accurate as early as the first day of a missed period but it is probably a good idea to wait at least a day or so before testing to be sure your results are correct. Ovulation may vary from month to month, even if you are very regular. The egg can therefore implant at different times. A good interval is about a week after a missed period.HCG production increases quickly, usually doubling every two or three days. So, if you are a bit patient, you will get a more accurate reading. If the test is positive, you should follow up with a medical professional for a second test of urine and/or blood work. This professional lab work will be able to determine the level or amount of HCG and provide a closer due date.Most home pregnancy tests tell you to place the end of the stick in the urine stream or to dip the stick into a container that has collected the urine. Instructions usually give you a timeframe about how long to wait before checking the results, which is generally two minutes or more. Most tests have an indicator, like a line or symbol, to show that the test is working. If you don’t see that control indicator, the test is not performing correctly. You should likely take another test.Some tests are more sensitive to the amount of HCG than others. This is another reason to wait a day or so before taking the test to confirm the results more accurately.The ultimate results are shown as either a plus or minus sign, or the words “pregnant” or “not pregnant”. There are some medications or fertility treatments that contain HCG and can affect the read out. However, generally antibiotics and birth control pills do not affect the accuracy. Yes, it is possible to get a false positive result. This could be if you take the test too soon after starting fertility treatments, menopause, or problems in the ovaries. Negative results can also be incorrect if you take the test too early in the pregnancy and the test is unable to detect the HCG. Be sure to wait the allotted time to check the results; set a timer. It is also best to take the test the first thing in the morning because your urine will be more concentrated.
3 min read
Heavy Periods - What Are The Common Causes?
Heavy periods, called Menorrhagia in medical terms, can occur due to a variety of factors. Menorrhagia refers to menstrual periods with prolonged or abnormally heavy bleeding. If not managed properly, women with heavy periods may develop more than normal blood loss due to which their risk of anemia, fatigue, and infertility can increase considerably. It may also cause significant mental stress and make them prone to depression. Hence, there is a need to understand why heavy periods occur so that they can be managed in an appropriate manner. Here is a brief discussion about the common causes of prolonged and heavy periods and heavy periods with clots. Hormone imbalances caused due to conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), insulin resistance, obesity, and thyroid problems can lead to heavy periods. Ovarian dysfunctions can prevent the release of an egg during menstrual cycles. As a result, the body does not produce adequate levels of a hormone called progesterone during menstrual periods. This can lead to hormone imbalances and result in menorrhagia.Polyps are tiny growths that occur along the lining of the uterus due to which women may get heavy and prolonged menses.Uterine fibroids are a common causes of heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding.Fibroids are the noncancerous or benign tumors formed in the uterus. These abnormal growths usually appear during the childbearing years of women. In some women, heavy periods can occur due to adenomyosis, a condition that occurs when the glands in the endometrium become embedded within the uterine muscles. Women with adenomyosis may also experience severe pain during menses. Heavy and prolonged menses could also be a side effect of nonhormonal intrauterine devices (IUDs) used for birth control. However, you may choose alternative birth control measures if you develop heavy periods due to IUDs. A single menstrual cycle with the heavy and late flow could be due to a miscarriage. Women may also develop heavy vaginal bleeding during pregnancy due to the unusual location of the placenta or something more dangerous like an abruption. It may occur as a result of conditions like placenta previa or low-lying placenta. If you have any vaginal bleeding when pregnant head to an emergency room or your obstetrician's office right away In elderly women, extensive vaginal bleeding may occur due to uterine or cervical cancer. It is more common in postmenopausal women. Diagnostic methods like Pap smear or a biopsy can help in the detection of these cancers at an early stage. While vaginal bleeding due to cancer can not be considered heavy periods, any bleeding after menopause must be checked out for the correct diagnosis of the underlying causes. Endometriosis, a disorder caused due to the abnormal presence of the tissue lining the uterus called endometrium outside the uterus, can cause heavy and painful periods. Depending on the cause of heavy periods, women may be advised to use medications such as hormonal or other medications in order to treat the underlying cause and symptoms. ConclusionHeavy periods can be treated by identifying the underlying abnormality responsible for it. The treatment should be aimed at eliminating the cause if at all possible. Getting this treated as soon as possible reduces the risk of anemia, mental stress, emotional distress, and other complications related to menorrhagia and even increase the chances of conception in women of childbearing age. Also, it is always good to make sure your symptoms are not caused by something more serious so always call your doctor when you have concerns. References:1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/menorrhagia/symptoms-causes/syc-203528292. https://www.health.harvard.edu/womens-health/heavy-bleeding-fibroids-and-polyps3. https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=90&contentid=p024374. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/heavy-periods/5. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/menorrhagia/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20352834
4 min read
Hormone Imbalance: Causes, Symptoms, and More
Hormonal imbalances occur if there are too much (or little) hormones in your bloodstream. Since they are a crucial part of your body, even the smallest changes and imbalances can cause discomfort and symptoms. Read on to learn more about hormonal imbalance, from its causes and symptoms, down to what you can do to remedy it. Everyone experiences hormonal imbalance or fluctuations during various parts of their life. There are cases unique to women, related to their reproductive hormones. Such causes include: However, there are also other common causes, such as: The symptoms of hormonal imbalance depend on the glands and hormones affected. The common symptoms include: If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s best to get checked with your doctor for a diagnosis. There is no single test for medical professionals to diagnose hormonal imbalances. During your check-up, you will need to prepare a list of all your medications, vitamins, and supplements you currently take. Furthermore, you will need to describe your symptoms, as well as their timeline. Your doctor will then suggest you take a few diagnostic tests: There are also home testing kits that measure follicle-stimulating hormones in your urine. These levels would increase as you enter menopause, usually rising and falling during your normal menstrual cycle. This won’t be able to show if you have any serious hormonal imbalance issues, but it can tell whether or not menopause might have begun. Treatments for hormonal imbalance would depend on its cause. Here are some of the treatment options available: There are also various lifestyle changes and natural remedies you can try to treat hormone imbalance. You don’t need to suffer through the pain and discomfort of hormonal imbalance. For those who are experiencing any of these symptoms, do check yourself with a medical professional.
3 min read
Reverse Tubal Ligation: What You Need to Know About the Process
Have you had a tubal ligation procedure for contraception but changed your mind after a few years? If that’s the case, you may be able to undergo a tubal ligation reversal. As the name suggests, a tubal ligation reversal would reconnect your fallopian tube’s blocked or cut areas. Surgeons would either reopen, reconnect, or untie your tubes, increasing your chances of conception and having a baby naturally. Unfortunately, not all women are able to have their tubal ligation procedure reversed. Your doctor needs to consider various factors before deciding whether you’re a good candidate or not: • The type of tubal ligation you had before, as some types aren’t reversible • How much of your fallopian tube is undamaged. There is more success if there are more healthy fallopian tubes • Your age, as the procedure is more successful when you’re younger • Body Mass Index, as being obese or overweight will make the procedure less successful • Your general fertility. If you have fertility issues, the reversal may be less successful • If you suffer from other health conditions like autoimmune diseases, which affect conception and/or pregnancy • Your birth history, if you have given birth before and its successIf you have had only a small part of your Fallopian tube removed or if they were closed using clips or rings, you may be a good candidate. The best candidate for the reversal is those younger than 40 years old when they had a tubal ligation after childbirth.The average cost of the procedure in the US is about $8,700. But this can go higher and lower, depending on where you live, the tests required, and the hospital you visit. The costs can range between $5,000 to $21,000.Unfortunately, insurance doesn’t cover the surgery, but the hospital may offer payment plans to make it easier on the wallet.The entire procedure will take between 2-3 hours, requiring general anesthesia. Your surgeon will remove damaged sections of the Fallopian tubes, as well as other devices used for the tubal ligations. They will then stitch the undamaged ends of the Fallopian tubes. If the surgery was successful, you’re able to go home 3 hours after your surgery. The recovery time can take between 1-2 weeks. You may feel some pain and tenderness around your abdomen, which can be remedied with pain medication. Also, you need to avoid sexual activity or heavy lifting, and to wait for two days before taking a bath. Visit your doctor for follow-up checkups weekly until you have completely recovered. When you have recovered, you have a 50-80% chance of a successful pregnancy. BUT, this depends on other factors, like your age, sperm count, and quality, the healthy Fallopian tubes left, sterilization type, among others.Just like any other surgical procedure, the reversal may have complications due to the anesthesia, bleeding, or any infections. However, these are rare and you will discuss such risks with your doctor before the procedure.Besides that, the reversal may increase the risk of an ectopic pregnancy, with the rate being 3-8%. That's why you will need to consider your options carefully.There are also other alternatives to get pregnant, such as in vitro fertilization (IVF). Some evidence supports IVF as being the better choice compared to the reversal in women over 40 years old. The same study also shows that the reversal may be better for women under 40 years old. If you’re considering tubal ligation reversal, talk with your doctor about it to see if this is a good procedure for your future.
4 min read
Where Are Your Ovaries?
There is so much to learn about our bodies, with one thing women might want to know more about being their ovaries! With the many processes and cycles experienced, it can get confusing figuring out certain things about this important part of our bodies.One thing women question is, ‘where are your ovaries?’ While it may sound like an odd question, it’s actually a good one! So read on to find out more about the ovaries are and their amazing function.An ovary is a ductless reproductive glans where female reproductive cells are produced. Females will have one pair of ovaries, which is held by a membrane that's beside the uterus on each side of one's lower abdomen. What connects the uterus to our ovaries is the fallopian tubes, with the ovaries located on the upper right and left part of the uterus. Scientifically speaking, ovaries are paired with the oval organs part of the posterior surface of our uterus' broad ligament, beside the mesovarium, which is the fold of the peritoneum and continuous with outer surfaces of your ovaries.The ovary is required when reproducing as this is what produces female reproductive cells, known as the ova. Furthermore, they also produce sex steroid hormones, which are estrogen and progesterone, as a response to pituitary gonadotropins. This part of our body is also a part of the endocrine system since they produce female sex hormones. As mentioned, the ovaries are located on our lower abdomens. They are usually firm and smooth, being the size of an almond. While small, they play a huge role in our bodies, having three histological features, which are the surface, cortex, and medulla. Two peritoneal ligaments are attached to our ovary, which is the suspensory ligament and ligament of the ovary. During ovulation, a follicle, which is the small cavity in our ovary, will expel an egg through the stimulation of the gonadotropic hormones that were released by our pituitary gland, which is the luteinizing and follicle-stimulating hormone. The rest of the follicle, which is the corpus luteum, will secrete sex hormones, estrogen, and progesterone. These sex hormones will regulate menstruation and control sex organ development.Both these hormones will interact with one another to help control the menstrual cycle. As the egg matures, it will then be released, passing to the fallopian tube then the uterus. If the ovum will be fertilized by a male reproductive cell or the sperm, then conception occurs, and pregnancy begins.Wrapping It UpThere is still so much to learn about the ovaries, and that is just one part of our bodies that help women reproduce! But at least you now know where it is located, so in case you feel pain around the lower abdomen, it can help you identify the root cause, may it come from the ovaries or other organs in the area. Remember, it is important to be in sync with your body, especially because among the different reproductive tract cancers, ovarian cancer is prevalent in females. I hope you learned more about your bodies and that this article answered the question, ‘where are your ovaries?’ Now that you know even more about the ovaries, it’s time to begin knowing more about how your bodies reproduce. Do you have further questions or want to share your knowledge about the reproductive and endocrine systems? Let us know what you think in the comments section below, I appreciate all of your thoughts and insights!
3 min read
Top 5 Causes of Vaginal Itching
Vaginal itching is an uncomfortable and sometimes painful condition that mainly arises due to benign causes like yeast infections. But, there are many other potential causes of itching in the vaginal area. While vaginal itching can often be treated with over-the-counter remedies, the condition can sometimes grow more serious if overlooked. So, it is important to be familiar with possible reasons for itching other than yeast infection: Genital itching is one common symptom of many STDs. STDs can occur due to sexual contact with a person who has an infection of some type. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), STDs occur at a very high rate, with millions of cases reported annually. People can reduce the risk of suffering from STDs by: ● Having safe sex (using barrier precautions) ● Getting yourself tested for STDs before having sex● Preventative measures like the HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine BV is a common bacterial infection that often affects women after puberty. It occurs when the healthy bacteria in the genitals become unbalanced. Many times, BV does not show any symptoms. But, it can cause watery vaginal discharge with a bad odor and a burning sensation around the vagina.Some known causes of BV are:● Smoking● Douching (can upset the vagina’s natural bacteria)● Bathing with antibacterial or antiseptic products● Using scented products in the vagina or surrounding areas● Using harsh clothing detergentsBV can be dangerous to pregnant women and their fetuses. So, pregnant women must see their gynecologist for any vaginal itching or discharge. The feeling of bugs crawling around any part of your body is really disturbing. This is sometimes caused by public lice, an easily transmittable infestation of tiny, crab-like creatures can make your vagina itch like crazy. Public lice may attach to any body areas covered in hair. Bites or eggs from these bugs can cause vaginal itching and irritation in the surrounding areas. You can treat public lice using store-bought lice-killing lotions. In severe cases, you may need prescription medication.Hormones fluctuate during menstrual cycles and pregnancy. This can lead to drier vaginal tissue than normal, which can result in itching. Besides, perimenopause - the time period before menopause starts, causes a dropped level of estrogen. This can further lead to dryness and itching in the vagina. OTC moisturizers that are gentle and unscented can treat vaginal itching. Your physician may prescribe you an estrogen cream for external vaginal itching if they feel it is caused by your hormones or menopause. Women sometimes have procedures like waxing done to have less hair on their vulvar area. Due to these treatments, you can develop irritation, skin injury, rashes, and ingrown hairs which can all cause itching.If you are using any new treatment for hair removal, consider that they may be causing your itching. The Bottom LineOverlooking vaginal itching is never a good idea, as you may miss a serious cause. So, it is important to consult with your physician in a timely manner to get the appropriate diagnosis and treatment. Everyone's vagina is a bit different, if you're concerned about something with your vagina, learn more about whats normal about it.
3 min read
Essential Oils for Hot Flashes? The Experts Say Probably Not.
A hot flash is an abrupt sensation of extreme heat. It starts when blood vessels located near the surface of the skin widen in an attempt to cool themselves. At that point a woman will frequently start to sweat and her face can sometimes also turn red. It can also be accompanied by an increase in the heart rate and sometimes even chills. Essential Oils for Hot Flashes have not been shown to be effective, though they may smell nice and be a good distraction from the discomfort. We don’t know exactly what causes the hot flash to start but it is thought to be related to circulation. It appears that the hypothalamus section of the brain that is involved in thermal control sends out a signal for the blood vessels to expand. The body reacts to the rise in skin temperature by producing sweat to cool down. We do know that hot flashes occur in women as a symptom of menopause, when estrogen levels drop, or medical procedures that cause decreases in those hormones like ovary removals. For men who receive androgen deprivation as a treatment for prostate cancer, they can also experience hot flashes. More than two-thirds of women experiencing menopause and perimenopause report hot flashes and 70% to 80% of males on androgen deprivation report them. Some women don’t experience hot flashes at all but for those who do, they can span a few months or up to 11 years. The average is 7 years. For men, since it is medication induced, they subside when the treatment is over. If you are going to have a hot flash, there is little to stop it, but there are certain triggers to avoid. These include stress, caffeine, alcohol, spicy food, tight clothing, and tobacco smoke. There are also some actions you can take to help with the problem. Your gynecologist may also consider some prescription medications like fluoxetine, clonidine, or hormone therapy. Before you add any supplements or over the counter products, consult with your primary care physician and gynecologist. Used in combination with other medications or treatments they can cause side effects that are far worse than hot flashes.
3 min read
5 Vulvar Pain Causes You Should Know About
The vulva is the area of tissue around your vagina’s opening, including the outer folds of skin. It is not uncommon to experience the occasional pain or discomfort around this area, such as during your period. However, if you have been experiencing pain without any apparent cause, or if it is too painful to bear, this may be due to an underlying health condition. But why would you experience it? Read on we show you some possible causes of vulva pain. As with most skin and deeper infections, a yeast infection can cause irritation, itching, pain, and discomfort. Symptoms, other than pain, include rash, discharge changes, itching, redness, burning, and inflammation. The vulvar area and its nerve endings may become damaged from sexual activity (such as rough intercourse, sexual activity without enough lubrication), childbirth, or other activities. Other activities may cause vulvar pain, especially when it puts pressure on your vaginal region. Activities like cycling, spinning, horseback riding, and other similar activities may harm your nerve endings and tissue, resulting in pain. Some people may have genetic differences, which case their cells to overreact to hormones or inflammation. This can cause pain, especially when the inflammation occurs around the vulvar area. The inflammation would cause the tissue to swell and fill up with more blood than required, resulting in a hot and sore feeling. Those with chronic pain conditions are also at higher risk of vulvodynia (vulva pain). Women with these types of conditions are up to three times more likely to have other chronic pain conditions as well, such as fibromyalgia or irritable bowel syndome - IBS. Some studies have suggested that these might be inflammatory related diseases, which is why some types of vulvar pain may be related to inflammation. Products you use around your vaginal region can cause vulvar pain as well, due to sensitivity or even an allergic reaction. This is because allergic reactions can cause irritation and inflammation, leading to pain. Avoid irritants if at al possible. If you use any soaps, gels, lotions, lubricants, or feminine deodorants, it’s best to stop applying them and introducing such products one by one to see if one of the products is causing the allergic reaction. Childbirth, pregnancy, nerve injuries, obesity, pelvic surgery, and trauma to the area can all cause pelvic floor dysfunction. Pelvic floor dysfunction can cause bowel and bladder issues, pelvic organ prolapse, and pain in the vulva as well as the lower back or pelvic area. It is also possible that a UTI could cause some pain similar to vulvar pain or radiating to that area, as could a kidney or bladder stone. Wrapping It UpFortunately, treatment for vulvar pain exists, which is why you’ll need to visit your gynecologist to address the issue for suitable therapy or medications. Furthermore, you can also make a few lifestyle changes to try to treat and also prevent vulvar pain from happening again. Make sure that you wear comfortable clothes and underwear, use products that are safe and non-irritating, and minimize activities that worsen your pain. By following your doctor's instructions and proper hygiene habits, you will be able to find the cause and hopefully treat the pain effectively.
3 min read
Female Orgasm: 3 Myths Debunked by an ObGyn
Amongst friends, the conversation about sex always seems to go to “The Big O.” We want to talk about sex, with our girlfriends, with our hairdressers, but not with our doctors. Why are we hesitant to discuss our sexual health with our providers, when nearly 43% of all women struggle with sexual dysfunction? Yet, as a sexual health physician, these are all things I have heard in my office, behind closed doors in a safe space. “It takes forever to have an orgasm. What is wrong?”“I have never had an orgasm. Why?”“Ever since I started my Zoloft, I cannot have an orgasm.”“My orgasm feels so different; it’s almost not there.”“My partner does not know how to touch me - I can only orgasm by myself.”“I am broken;I have never had an orgasm during sex.” Sexual dysfunction can include problems with desire, arousal, pain or orgasm. The topic we talk most about, within the media and with our girlfriends: orgasms. However, there are many myths about the female orgasm. We have all heard these myths or seen them on full display in the movies as characters are ripping off their clothes and instantaneously aroused, almost immediately orgasming on screen. Without any safe places to discuss sexuality, this leads to a conundrum of misinformation. So, I am here to set the record straight. First, let’s talk about why these myths about the female orgasm spread like wildfire. Up until now, there have been so many healthcare barriers women have had to face, specifically for sexual dysfunction. There is a profound lack of research, funding, female leadership, and trained sexual health providers. Women often live in the shadows as invisible patients, often dismissed even if they have had the courage to come forward to discuss these very personal issues.Currently there are no FDA approved treatment options for the millions of women who suffer from orgasm dysfunction. ISSWSH( International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual health) describes orgasm dysfunction as: Problem with orgasm lasting 6 months or greater, that is distressing to the patient, and may be a problem with frequency, timing, frequency and pleasure. A woman may describe an orgasm that has muted intensity, never occurs, is devoid of pleasure or is delayed. Myth #1 - Most women can orgasm from penetrative sex.False. I see women on a weekly basis in my office who genuinely think there is something wrong with them because they require some type of clitoral stimulation to have an orgasm. A comprehensive analysis of 33 studies over 80 years found that during vaginal intercourse just 25% of women consistently experience an orgasm, about half of women sometimes have an orgasm, 20% seldom or ever have orgasms, and about 5% never have orgasms.Let’s review some basic anatomy to understand why most women require some clitoral stimulation to orgasm. Only a small portion of the clitoris is visible or external, the hood and the body. The bulbs (erectile tissue) and the crura (wings) of the clitoris which wrap around the vaginal opening are internal. The glans of the clitoris - the external visible portion is the most responsive to sexual stimulation and is the most densely innervated part of the human body. With all of those nerve endings, the clitoris is crucial to sensation, pleasure and orgasm. Most women will require stimulation of the clitoris to achieve orgasm; this can be attained with digital or oral stimulation or clever positioning during intercourse.A study that examined the size and location of the clitoris and its effect on the ease of ability to achieve orgasm was performed. They found that a woman with a smaller clitoris that was located further from the vaginal opening struggled more with achieving orgasm with intercourse. Another study found that women who reported that orgasm was a goal were more likely to report success in achieving orgasm during their most recent sexual encounter.Myth #2 I CANNOT ORGASM BECAUSE IT’S ALL IN MY HEAD AND THERE IS NOTHING I CAN DO ABOUT ITFALSE. There are a multitude of reasons that may cause a woman to have problems with orgasm. The most important piece of the puzzle is to determine why there is an issue with orgasm. A visit to a provider that specializes in sexual health will often help.A thorough medical exam and history with review of medications is part of the work up. Problems with hormones, a side effect of a medication, menopause, problems with nerves, blood flow, the spinal cord, neurotransmitters, a brain injury or dermatologic or anatomic problems can render problems with orgasm. A provider can check hormonal levels and order imaging as needed.Once a determination is made as to the etiology, or cause, of the orgasm dysfunction, a treatment option can be offered. Currently, there are no FDA approved treatment options for orgasm dysfunction, but there are many treatment options. Treatment options can include hormones or off-label medications (an off -label medication is one that is FDA approved for a different reason, but has evidence that it can help with orgasm dysfunction). Sometimes surgery or a procedure is required to help with orgasm dysfunction.How do providers measure the level of orgasm dysfunction or response to medications? There is a survey that women can fill out that measures all the domains of sexuality, including orgasm. This survey is called the Female Sexual Function Index, or FSFI. The survey is scored and responses to medications/treatments are measured and compared to pre-treatment levels. MYTH #3 ALL WOMEN CAN HAVE MULTIPLE ORGASMSFalse. To understand this, we must explore the typical phases of an orgasm. In studies, about 15 - 42% percent of women report having experienced multiple orgasms.Let’s examine the data that exists; women that report multiple orgasms experience more than 1 orgasm in a single session in succession; timing between orgasms may be a few seconds to a few minutes. Masters and Johnson’s model further broke this down into women that experienced either repeated (multiple) or sequential orgasms. Repeated orgasms are described as orgasms separated by a rest period that does not fall below plateau; sequential orgasms are repeated orgasms without a plateau. In a large data review of multiple orgasm the working definition was of 2 or more orgasms in a single sex session. What were the findings in women that report multiple orgasms? So, yes, while it is possible for women to have multiple orgasms, this does not hold true for the majority of women. The ability to have multiple orgasms is determined by both biology, brain chemistry, anatomy and circumstance. If achieving multiple orgasms is something you desire, there are ways to to increase your chance of multiple orgasms through exploration and play with your partner. JD Salinger once wrote that “a woman’s body is like a violin; it takes a terrific musician to play it right.” With knowledge of our bodies and anatomy we can gain a better understanding of what we respond to and what will help us achieve orgasm. Self exploration can help in this - and, as we discover, we can guide our partners to be that terrific musician and help us reach orgasm.
7 min read
Vulvar Dystrophy: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment
Vulvar dystrophy refers to a medical condition that changes the skin of the vulva. Vulvas are skin folds around the opening of the urethra and the vagina.Different types of dystrophy exist that may cause grey or white patches on the skin. Some dystrophy types may cause skin thickening or thin, itchy skin patches, grey skin patches, or painful sores. It left untreated; dystrophy can scar or shrink the inner folds of the vulva. As a result, the opening of the birth canal can get smaller and may even get closed. Thus, it would help if you had the right treatment for Vulvar Dystrophy at the right time.Though there are no clear causes of vulvar dystrophy, it can result from skin irritation. Irritation can result from douching, bike or horseback riding, poor personal hygiene, wearing wet underwear for a long time, and a yeast infection. Skin irritation in the vulva can also result from wearing synthetic underwear, incontinence, or swimming in chlorinated water. Certain vaginal hygiene products can also cause skin irritation. These include topical vaginal creams, laundry detergents, vaginal sprays or douches, perfumed or colored toilet paper. Some other medical factors can be diabetes, herpes, dermatitis, and pubic lice, causing vulvar dystrophy.Patients with vulvar dystrophy may experience symptoms, including:To diagnose, your physician may discuss the symptoms you might be experiencing. A physical examination of your body will help provide accurate insight into this condition. They may perform urinary tests to check out the causes of similar symptoms, such as yeast infection and discomfort in the vagina. Many times, the diagnoses involve a biopsy that takes a sample of your vulvar tissue. The treatment of this condition depends on the type and severity of the dystrophy you have. Usually, your physician will prescribe an impactful steroid cream. You can apply or put this cream on your vulva area. Make sure you use steroid medicine in the same way as your healthcare provider prescribes. Never use less or more of it than prescribed by the doctor. Also, do not use it for more than the prescribed duration of time. Also, avoid using a steroid without the approval of your physician.Note that practicing good vaginal hygiene is always helpful in reducing symptoms. Use unscented soaps. Rinse your genital area thoroughly after toileting. Keep your vaginal area as dry as possible, and use underwear made of cotton material to make this area breathe easily. Some other ways to take care of you and to avoid or treat vulvar dystrophy are:By following these tips, you can prevent or reduce the symptoms of vulvar dystrophy.
3 min read
Do Women Have A Prostate? A Review Of Female Pelvic Anatomy
The quickest answer is yes! Women have two small anatomical structures called the Skene's glands. These glands are referred to as the female version of a prostate. Skene’s glands are located on either side of your urethra and link your urethra with the vagina. The fluid released by the Skene glands lubricates urethra’s opening. The fluid has antimicrobial properties, and it protects the bladder and urinary tract from potential bacterial infections. However, it is important to note that these glands drain into small ducts in urethra. Like male’s prostate gland, these glands also keep infection under the bay to prevent it from affecting other body parts from infections. Since the Skene glands are situated in the pelvic, it is important to understand female pelvis anatomy. So, let’s get started: Female Pelvis Anatomy The lower part of the torso between the legs and the abdomen is called pelvis. Pelvis supports intestines and contains reproductive organs, bladder, and the Skene’s glands. Parts of female pelvis anatomy are: ● Hip bones: Our body has two hip bones, one on the right side and the other on the right. Hip bones form one part of the pelvis known as the pelvic girdle, and they join to the skeleton’s upper part through attachment at the sacrum. Each hip bone consists of three smaller bones, including Ilium, Pubis, and Ischium.● Sacrum: The sacrum is connected to the vertebrae’s lower part. It consists of five vertebrae, all fused together. The thick sacrum supports our overall body weight.● Coccyx: Also known as the tailbone, coccyx is connected to the sacrum’s bottom by several ligaments. It consists of four vertebrae, all fused into a triangle-like shape.● Levator ani muscles: These are the largest muscles in the pelvis for supporting several functions, such as supporting the pelvic organs. It is a group of three different muscles, including Puborectalis, Pubococcygeus, and Iliococcygeus. ● Coccygeus: It is a small pelvic floor muscle that originates at the ischium. This muscle connects to the coccyx and sacrum. Organs in Female Pelvic Some organs found in the female pelvic are: ● Uterus: This thick-walled, hollow organ is the place where the baby develops. During the reproductive years, the uterus’ lining sheds during menstruation until pregnancy.● Ovaries: Uterus has two ovaries located on either side. This part produces eggs and releases hormones, including progesterone and estrogen. ● Fallopian tubes: Fallopian tubes in women’s bodies connect ovaries to the uterus. Cilia, specialized cells in the fallopian tubes direct eggs from the ovaries toward the uterus.● Cervix: Cervix widens to allow sperms to pass into the uterus. It also produces mucus that prevents bacteria from reaching the uterus.● Vagina: It connects the external female genitalia and the cervix. Also known as the birth canal, the baby passes through the vagina during birth. Final Words To sum up, women have a female version of the prostate that is called the Skene glands. These glands produce the same hormones that men's prostate glands produce. It plays a crucial role in our reproductive systems by working with the pelvic.
3 min read
PCOS is the most common cause of female infertility. During each menstrual cycle, the ovaries release an egg into the womb. This ovulation process occurs once a month. But women with PCOS fail to ovulate or ovulate infrequently, which means absent or irregular periods and difficulty getting pregnant. In women with PCOS, the ovaries develop multiple small follicles that appear as cysts, hence the term “polycystic.” These cysts are immature ovarian follicles that failed to ovulate. Thus, most women discover they have PCOS when they try to get pregnant unsuccessfully.PCOS requires immediate medical attention because, in the long-run, it could lead to health risks, such as depression, high blood pressure, lipid abnormalities, obstructive sleep apnea, and diabetes to name a few. Getting treatment at the right time can reduce or prevent these risks. So, it is important that you know some symptoms of PCOS.While irregular periods and pregnancy failure are the most common signs of PCOS, you may experience random, unrelated symptoms as well. Since it mainly affects your hormones, women with PCOS may experience all or some of the following symptoms:1. Abnormal Hair Growth After puberty, if you experience heavy hair growth in uncommon body parts, including face, belly, chest, lower abdomen, and back, it could be a warning sign of PCOS. This condition is termed as Hirsutism. More than 70 percent of women with PCOS grow excessive hair on their body. Making the matter worse, excessive levels of male hormones have opposite effects on the scalp. That means it lleads to hair loss or thinning hair on the scalp, causing male-pattern baldness. 2. Excessive Weight GainWhen you have PCOS, our body has difficulty using the hormone insulin, causing insulin resistance. Insulin helps convert starches and sugars obtained from foods into energy. PCOS makes the body resistant to insulin. As a result, insulin, sugar, and glucose build up in the bloodstream.Combining this with high androgens levels leads to weight gain, especially around our abdomen and waist. That’s why women with PCOS have more of an apple body shape instead of peach shape. 3. Anxiety And DepressionAbout 40% women, particularly young girls, with PCOS experience anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions. Although there is less or no evidence supporting the direct connection between PCOS and depression, it could be due to the combination of several factors. For instance, one study shows that people with insulin resistance report frequent symptoms of depression, stress, and anxiety.PCOS patients with anxiety may have lower levels of neurotransmitters like serotonin, GABA and acetylcholine, thus worsening the situation. 4. Abnormal Oily Skin and Acne Problems Higher levels of androgens among women play an important role in acne development. It is because androgens cause sebaceous glands in the skin to produce an excessive oily substance called sebum. In order to produce the right amount of progesterone, testosterone, and oestrogen, our body depends on signals from the pituitary gland. PCOS interrupts these signals, leading to increased testosterone levels. It further enlarges sebaceous glands and the production of too much oily sebum. 5. Heavy Menstrual BleedingBlood clots during periods are normal. But, if you regularly and abnormally have blood clots the size of 10p piece or larger, it could be a warning sign of PCOS. PCOS also causes heavier blood flow during periods. It is because the uterine lining builds up for longer, causing periods heavier than normal. It can lead to other conditions, including anaemia, fatigue, and bleeding between periods.First of all, see a doctor as soon as possible, especially if you’ve had difficulty getting pregnant, excessive hair growth, and diabetes symptoms. Next, make the necessary diet and lifestyle changes and get regular exercise.
4 min read
IUDs For Birth Control: 10 Questions Answered By An Expert Doctor
IUD stands for “intrauterine device”. It is a small device that is shaped like a “T” and is inserted in the uterus to prevent patients from becoming pregnant . There are different types of IUDs: hormonal and non-hormonal (copper-based called Paragard). The hormonal IUD contains a hormone called progestin or levonorgestrel. The progestin is released by the IUD and thickens the cervical mucus which can disrupt implantation of the egg and can prevent fertilization, and sometimes can even prevent ovulation . These types of IUDs usually last 3-7 years depending on the brand (Mirena, Liletta, Skyla, and Kyleena) . The other type of IUD is a copper IUD. The exact mechanism of action is unknown, but it is thought to kill sperm, interfere with fertilization and can stop sperm movement . This is usually effective for up to 12 years. IUD insurance coverage can vary but usually IUDs are fully or partially covered by Medicaid, most health insurance plans, and other government programs. This depends on the type or brand of IUD. If you are interested in an IUD, please be sure to contact your insurance provider to see what your options are. If your plan does not cover the hormonal IUD your doctor recommends, you can request a waiver or exemption from your insurance plan [1,4]. The cost of an IUD without insurance can range from $600-1,400, and includes the cost of the exam, necessary testing, and the cost of the IUD itself. The price can vary depending on the type of IUD you get . Typically, there is a pre-insertion STD testing that costs $25- $200. There is a pregnancy test that needs to be done prior to insertion which is $20 or less. The cost of the IUD is about $400-$1,000. The cost of insertion/removal is $125-$400 . All these costs together can amount to about $1400. IUD insertion can cause cramping and pain, but usually will not last for too long. Physicians often may advise taking ibuprofen or other nonsteroidal antiinflammatory medication before insertion to help with these symptoms. Less often, your doctor may inject lidocaine, which is a numbing medicine, on the cervix if the cervix needs to be dilated or moved during insertion of the IUD . Cramping and mild bleeding can occur after IUD placement but should improve with time. IUD removal is quick and usually painless. Your provider will retrieve the IUD strings with a device called a forceps and pull the IUD out gently and swiftly. Some cramping or spotting is normal during removal, but again it should be for a short duration after the removal. Both types of IUDs (hormonal and non-hormonal) are long-acting, reversible and more than 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. The copper IUD is also the most effective method of emergency contraception. It is > 99.9% effective at preventing pregnancy within 5 days after unprotected intercourse . IUDs are usually placed by a physician in an outpatient clinic. The doctor begins by examining your vagina, cervix, and uterus. They then put a speculum into the vagina to look at the cervix. The physician then dilates the cervix, measures the size of the uterus, and then uses an inserter to place the IUD into the uterus. IUDs can be placed and taken out at any point in your menstrual cycle . Although it is possible, it is not likely to become pregnant with an IUD in place. With the non-hormonal copper IUD, the chances of becoming pregnant over time are between 1%-1.8%. With the hormonal progestin IUD, the chances of becoming pregnant overtime are between 0.6-1.6% . Compared to other forms of reversible contraception, these are among the most effective. Condoms, when used correctly, are supposed to be effective 98% of the time; however, due to human error and condom breakage, the actual effectiveness of a condom is around 82%. Combined oral contraceptive pills, if used properly every day without missing a dose, are effective 99.7% of the time. However, due to patients missing doses, the actual effectiveness across the population is about 91% . The actual versus theoretical effectiveness of IUDs are around the same at about 99%. Overall, after placing an IUD, the risk of pregnancy is low. Overall, IUDs are a safe and effective way to prevent pregnancy. Though rare, there is a small but serious risk of uterine perforation or the uterus being pierced and damaged by the IUD. Uterine perforation due to an IUD is seen in 0.05 to 13 cases out of 1000 IUD placements . This is a medical emergency. Other unlikely complications include an infection from IUD placement or the IUD slipping out of the uterine cavity. Remember to ask your doctor about your personal risk for any complications related to IUDs before having one placed so you can make an informed decision. Before making the decision to have an IUD placed, discuss contraception options with your doctor to find the best type of birth control for you. Sources:
6 min read
Sleep Hygiene Checklist: Tips to Getting Restful Sleep
Instating a sleep hygiene checklist that incorporates both physical and emotional habits that will lead to high quality sleep on a consistent basis. Sleep is important to everyone in order to maintain good mental and physical health. Sadly, many people have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. A good rest will improve productivity and make you feel better in general.You can develop your own sleep hygiene checklist or routine to improve your sleep habits. It may be that you are already practicing some of these items. If you need to alter your pattern, just change one or two things at a time. It will make the transition easier. You may also need to be patient; it can take several days or weeks for the changes to reflect in your life.Sleep hygiene is the good sleep habits can help you get a good night’s sleep.It may seem odd but a good night’s rest is partially dependent on your daily activities. An orderly process can create a rhythm for your body to understand it is time to go to sleep.Sometimes it is difficult to actually drift off, or you will wake in the middle of the night and find it hard to return to sleep.
3 min read
What is Libido? A Quick Review
What is Libido?The term "Libido" simply means the desire for sex. In women and men, libido is linked to androgen hormones. As men have about 40 times as much androgen as women, they often have a more intense sexual drive. According to WHO (World Health Organization), sexual health is a state of physical, mental, social, and emotional well-being in sexuality. That's why libido is now considered a critical indicator of the quality of life and general health. Undoubtedly, sexual health varies from person to person and may even fluctuate in the same person too. Everything from your lifestyle, personal preferences to health history, hormone levels, and medications can impact your libido. Familial responsibilities, job stress, and friend dynamics can also affect libido. While natural fluctuations of libido are normal in everyday life, abnormal libido levels can be a concern. There are both physical and psychological causes of low libido. Physical causes include low testosterone, too much or too little workout, prescription medicines, and excessive substance abuse. Psychological issues include relationship or social difficulties, depression, and stress. Other causes of low libido include aging, chronic illnesses, and dyspareunia. Nearly 4 in 10 men over age 45 experience low libido, while about one-third of women ages 18-59 suffer from the lost sex drive. Clearly, there is no single reason behind the lost sexual desire. It is best to discuss the issue with your doctor for the best advice. If sex is center in your mind every minute, then you probably have a high libido. Though having such a high libido may not be a bad thing, it becomes an issue if it causes problems with your sex life and life beyond sex. High libido can be termed as hypersexuality, sexual addiction, or compulsive sexual behavior. And, there could be some physical and even mental conditions behind hypersexuality. Many people with anxiety can consider sex as a form of self-medication. Deeply entrenched feelings, like low confidence and unresolved embarrassment, can increase sex drive. Moreover, certain drugs may also cause sky-high libido. Drugs like crystal meth, cocaine, caffeine, and ecstasy can jolt your brain like over-the-counter stimulants. Wellbutrin also causes increased libido as its side effect. Treatment of Libido When it comes to low libido, testosterone replacement therapy is considered to be effective. In addition, depending on the actual cause, the following treatments could help: ● Improve your diet● Healthier lifestyle choices● Regular exercise● Proper sleep● Reduce stress● Quit smoking, alcohol, and substance abuse● Change to a new medication● Counseling If you experience high libido, you can try out things like interrupting your sexual urges, use your energy to other areas, find satisfying sex, or talk to someone about this. Your physician may recommend mental therapies in case of a psychological cause. These sessions and therapies can sort out the issues and let you enjoy a happy and satisfactory sexual life. The Bottom Line Understand the behavior of your body and discuss your feelings with your doctor transparently. That’s the only best way to know the root cause of the problem - physical, emotional, social, or if it’s something else.
3 min read
Sleep and Weight Loss
Losing weight isn’t just about eating properly and working out more. It’s also about getting enough sleep! Researchers report that women who sleep less than five hours a night weigh more compared to those who sleep for seven to nine hours a night. Furthermore, those who sleep six hours a night are 12% more likely to experience weight gain, and 6% have a higher risk of obesity, compared to those sleeping seven hours a night. These are such numbers we can’t ignore, showing how crucial sleep is for weight loss and overall health. But how does it work? Read on as we answer the question, “does sleeping more help you lose weight?” While most people don’t know it, sleep is actually the foundation we need to help support our healthy eating and exercise habits. Here are some points you should consider when it comes to sleep and weight loss: When we don't get enough sleep, it will be challenging to control our behavior and energy levels. Lack of sleep would strengthen the want for rewards, leading to unhealthy eating and to replace exercise for quick fix rewards like watching television. To be more specific, fewer hours of sleep can affect hormones that regulate your appetite. With less sleep, your hormones will stimulate cravings for high-carb food. Plus, the more time we are awake, the more waking time we have to eat! Our sleep would also affect our cortisol levels, which usually spike in the morning for better energy throughout the day. With poor sleeping habits, the cortisol levels are elevated, which negatively affects weight loss and disturbs your sleep cycle. This then makes it difficult to implement and act on a good weight loss program. Furthermore, less sleep can also have us feel more stressed and exhausted, especially when we have to work while lacking sleep. This would have us stress eat or skip workouts from feeling too tired or tense! While lack of sleep can affect your weight, so can TOO MUCH sleep. Sleeping more can help you lose weight if you were previously lacking it. But if you are sleeping for over ten hours a day, this can be a problem. Just like sleeping for less than seven hours daily, it affects your hormone levels, having you crave for carb-rich food. Furthermore, it gives you less time to focus on your work for the day, resulting in skipped workouts and exercise. Now that we know how too little or too much sleep leads to poor eating and exercise habits, how can you sleep well for better weight loss results? Here are some tips to follow to avoid poor sleep habits: • Keep a consistent sleep schedule that allows you at least seven hours of sleep a night • Prioritize relaxing and doing stress-free activities, especially during the evening, which can help wind you down for sleep • Do not perform any stimulating or exciting activities and avoid electronics an hour before bedtime • Reduce or eliminate alcohol and caffeine consumption. Also, consume your last meal two to three hours before bedtime Wrapping It UpSleep affects many aspects of your lifestyle, from weight loss to health. With better sleeping habits, you are more inclined to eat healthier and exercise more, making you feel happy and reach your weight goals! So make sure that you learn more about how you can sleep better and create a consistent schedule to achieve more. Start now, we wish you the best of luck!
4 min read
What is Dyspareunia: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments
Dyspareunia is the recurring genital or pelvic pain that occurs when sexual intercourse or other related activities are attempted. Women with dyspareunia may feel a sharp or intense pain in the vagina, labia, or clitoris. The pain can occur during, before or after sexual intercourse. Though both men and women can experience dyspareunia, women are more likely to suffer from it. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, up to 75 percent of women experience it during intercourse at some point. In this post, we will briefly discuss the common causes, symptoms, and treatment of dyspareunia. The intensity of dyspareunia pain varies among women, depending on various factors. Women with this condition may feel superficial pain at the vagina’s entrance, or deeper pain when penis penetrates or thrusts. Pain may occur: ● in the urethra, bladder, or vagina.● during or after intercourse● during penetration● in the pelvis during sex● only during specific circumstances or with specific partners● when using tampon ● feelings of burning, aching, or itching● stabbing pain, or pain like menstrual cramps For some women, dyspareunia can be a sign of a serious health problem. That’s why it is important to understand the underlying causes of dyspareunia. Causes vary based on whether the pain is deep or superficial. The Vagina feels dry when it secretes less fluids and this can cause pain. Also, as women grow older, the vagina’s lining becomes thinner and dry due to decreased estrogen levels. Other causes of superficial pain may include: ● Increased genital sensitivity to pain ● Genital inflammation or infection ● Inflammation of the urinary tract● Genital injuries ● Radiation therapy can cause changes in the vagina that can cause pain● Involuntary contractions of the vagina called vaginismus● Congenital abnormality or a hymen being present● Narrowed vagina due to surgery or injury Deep pain occurs during or after sexual intercourse and can be due to: ● Infection or inflammation of the uterus, cervix, ovaries or fallopian tubes ● Endometriosis● Pelvis tumors and ovarian cysts● Scar tissue between organs in the pelvis Besides these, emotions can also affect sexual activity and pain. Emotional factors of dyspareunia include psychological issues, such as anxiety, depression, and relationship problems. Stress and history of sexual abuse can also cause this pain. There are several ways to treat dyspareunia. Pain caused by underlying infection or conditions can be treated with things like moisturizers, antibiotics, antifungal medicines, and topical corticosteroids. There are several home remedies you can try out: ● Use water-soluble lubricants.● Empty your bladder before sex.● Have sex when both of you are relaxed.● Calm burning after sex by applying an ice pack to the vulva. ● Take a store-bought pain reliever before sex. Make sure you consult with your physician if you feel intense pain. In more severe cases, doctors may recommend therapies, such as sex therapy, vaginal dilation, or desensitization therapy. Though there is no particular prevention of dyspareunia, you can make some changes to try to reduce the pain. After childbirth, do not perform sexual intercourse for at least six weeks to avoid any injury or infection. Use proper hygiene and get adequate medical care. Use condoms to prevent sexually transmitted diseases, and use vaginal lubrication. If required, seek medical care before the issue begins to affect your life and relationship.
3 min read
What is Vaginismus - and Why Does it Occur?
Vaginismus occurs due to the spasm or squeezing of the muscles in a woman’s vagina. It typically occurs when something is inserted into the vagina such as the penis during intercourse or a tampon. Vaginismus can be mildly uncomfortable or extremely painful. The most obvious sign of vaginismus is painful sex, also called dyspareunia. The pain occurs most commonly during penetration and usually goes away or reduces after withdrawal. However, in some cases, the pain may persist for a some time after the withdrawal of the penis or other object. Dyspareunia is often described by women as a burning sensation or a feeling as if the penis is hitting a hard wall.It is also common for women with vaginismus to experience discomfort while inserting a tampon or having a pelvic examination at the doctor’s office.Some other common symptoms that can occur due to vaginismus include:· Fear or anxiety of pain · Anxiety before sexual activity · Inability to have penetrative sex · Difficulty in inserting a tampon · Loss of sexual desireThese symptoms tend to be involuntary, which means a woman can not avoid them without proper treatment.While the exact cause of vaginismus is not known, it is believed that it might occur due to the fear and anxiety around sexual activity. However, in many cases, it becomes difficult to ascertain what came first: the anxiety or the vaginismus. Some physical health problems such as infections and excessive dryness of the vagina or cervix can also lead to painful intercourse and cause vaginismus. Physical therapy, sometimes called pelvic physical therapy, involves training the women to control the spams of the vaginal or pelvic floor muscles and it can be highly effective for the management of vaginismus. Exercising at home can also help women to learn to control the contractions of the muscles in the vagina and pelvic floor. This is known as progressive desensitization that allows women to avoid anxiety and gradually feel more comfortable during activities requiring vaginal penetration.Progressive desensitization involves strengthening the pelvic floor muscles by practicing Kegel exercises. This is followed by the insertion of one finger into the vagina, up to the first knuckle, while doing Kegel exercises. Women may apply a lubricant on the fingers before insertion to avoid pain. Starting with inserting one finger, they can work their way up to inserting two and later, three fingers until they can feel comfortable.Once they find the insertion of 3 fingers to be comfortable, they can try putting specially designed inserts called vaginal dilators into the vagina to help the muscles get accustomed to pressure and size. This therapy can be helpful for women who suffer from vaginismus due to fear or anxiety. ConclusionIt is possible to treat vaginismus by identifying the possible causes such as anxiety, infections, or dryness and seeking appropriate treatment. Physical therapy or exercising the vaginal muscles can help to relieve the spasms and provide considerable amount of relief from vaginismus.References:1. aafp.org/afp/2011/0915/p705.html2. nhs.uk/Conditions/Vaginismus/Pages/Introduction.aspx3. mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/painful-intercourse/symptoms-causes/syc-203759674. https://www.webmd.com/women/guide/vaginismus-causes-symptoms-treatments#15. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5913379/
3 min read
Can You Catch HPV From A Toilet Seat?
HPV is referred to as the human papillomavirus; it is a widespread and common virus. It is easily spread, but the question is, can you get HPV from a toilet seat? There are about 200 types of HPV that affect different parts of the body. Some low-risk types can cause only genital warts. And the high-risk types can cause oral, anal, cervical cancer. Genital warts are the skin growths in the groin, genital, or anal areas. They can vary from different sizes and shapes. There is no known treatment for HPV, but a vaccine can protect against some of the strains of viruses of HPV. In women, genital warts most often appear on the vulva, around the vagina, on the groin, and the cervix. For males, it can occur on the testicles, anus, penis, tongue, and top of the mouth and around thighs and groin.These warts do not hurt, but they can increase your risk of cancer on the skin surrounding areas of infection. To reiterate, HPV is not cancer, but it can cause types of cancer and pre-cancers, which is one of the reasons the vaccine against HPV was created.The risk of becoming infected with HPV by sitting on a public toilet seat seems frightening, and the answer is generally no. It is exceedingly rare to catch HPV from touching surfaces like doorknobs and toilet seats or even towels or clothing. There have been cases where transmission has happened on wet fabrics such as a wet towel, but again it is extremely rare. Usually it is transmitted by skin-to-skin contact with someone who is infected. HPV can also spread from one area to another on the body, such as from the genitals to the mouth. HPV is incredibly common, nearly 80 million people at some point get HPV. Many people don’t know they are infected because it can show no symptoms until many years after exposure. HPV should be taken seriously because it can even increase your risk of certain types of cancers. The HPV vaccine is extremely effective and is recommended to all girls and boys around the age of 9- 12.HPV screening can be done with few tools and the naked eye to detect the abnormalities taking place on the person's skin before it develops into cancer.Practicing safe sexual intercourse, using condoms, and limiting your number of sex partners can help you reduce your risk of HPV.Exercising regularly, eating healthy, avoiding smoking, and maintaining good hygiene with regular health care checkups can prevent you from transmitting HPV or developing cancer from HPV.Maintaining proper sanitation and hygiene practices in general is crucial as this can prevent you from getting this virus and save your life. Use your own towels and clothing, particularly if they are wet and have been recently used by someone else. Wash hands regularly, and don’t touch your face or mouth after using the bathroom or have contact with your genital area unless you have washed your hands thoroughly.Please talk with your health care professional if you have any questions or concerns about HPV.
3 min read
Vaginal Atrophy Treatment: Different Remedies You Can Try
Vaginal atrophy, known as atrophic vaginitis, refers to the drying, inflammation of one’s vaginal walls. This may happen when a woman’s body has or produces less estrogen, occurring most often after going through menopause. There many vaginal atrophy treatments, both medical and natural. So read on to learn more about this condition and how you can remedy its symptoms! Vaginal atrophy is caused by a decrease in estrogen production. With less estrogen, it makes the vaginal tissues more fragile and less elastic, feeling thinner and drier. The drop in estrogen may happen due to the following: • Before or after menopause • After the surgical removal of both ovaries • During breastfeeding • Adjustments in medications that affect estrogen levels, like birth control • After chemotherapy or pelvic radiation therapy for cancer • A side effect of hormonal treatments for breast cancer There are also risk factors, such as smoking, having no sexual activity, or no vaginal births. • Vaginal dryness, burning, discharge, and/or itching • Burning urination, as well as frequent and urgency with urination • Urinary incontinence • Recurrent urinary tract infections • Discomfort and/or light bleeding during or after intercourse • Decreased vaginal lubrication during intercourse • Vaginal canal shortens and tightens Vaginal atrophy may increase your risk of urinary problems and vaginal infections, which is why it’s best to have it checked and diagnosed with your doctor if you feel any of the symptoms mentioned above. Fortunately, there are ways to treat vaginal atrophy, such as: 1. Natural RemediesThere are a few lifestyle changes you can follow, which are: • Give up smoking • Staying sexually active can help to increase blood flow to your genitals • Avoid using perfumed products, including deodorants, douches, powders, soaps, and certain perfumed spermicides or lubricants • Keep hydrated and drink eight glasses of water a day to maintain your body’s moisture levels • Exercise regularly and maintain good physical activity to help with hormone balance 2. Your DietRight now, there is still little evidence to support claims about how dietary changes help with vaginal atrophy. However, it’s still best to maintain a healthier diet and if you choose to use herbal supplements and vitamins, check with your doctor beforehand. Some have reported positive effects when consuming probiotics, which can help with urinary problems and vaginal dryness and infections. While further research needs to be done, you may try incorporating probiotics to your diet. 3. Using Moisturizers and LubricantsLubricants can soothe and lubricate your genitals safely. You can try using the following: 4. Medical Treatment Besides lifestyle changes and the mentioned remedies, some medications may help treat vaginal atrophy: • Use topical estrogen cream to the vagina for symptom relief and to reduce exposure of bloodstream to estrogen • Oral estrogen or an estrogen-releasing ring to release hormones properly • Systemic estrogen therapy, which comes as a skin patch, tablets, topical gel, or as an implant under your skin. However, this may have side effects you’ll need to talk about with your doctor Make sure to check with your doctor before putting any products into your vagina or ingesting any supplements or medications. Vaginal atrophy is uncomfortable but treatable and manageable. Try any of these safe treatments under the guidance of your doctor and see what works best for you now!
3 min read