Posts for category: Women's Health
The human papillomavirus (HPV) is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases. According to the CDC, approximately 79 million Americans are infected with HPV. There are many strains of this infection, some of which can cause cancer. This is why it’s important that you visit your gynecologist once a year for annual checkups and screenings.
Symptoms of HPV
Unfortunately, men and women can have HPV and never know, since symptoms aren’t common with this STD. Some strains of HPV cause genital warts, a cluster of bumps that can be found on the vulva or cervix of a woman and may develop on the penis or scrotum of a man. Once infected, genital warts can appear as early as 3 months after exposure; however, it can sometimes take longer.
Since high-risk HPV (HPV that causes cervical cancer) doesn’t often cause symptoms this means that the best action you can take to protect your health is to visit your gynecologist once a year for an annual exam. During this exam, your OBGYN can perform a physical examination, as well as a PAP smear and HPV test to check for changes in cervical cells that could be a warning sign of cancer or pre-cancer.
While there is no test to determine if you have HPV or not, there are tests available that can check for cervical cancer that is most likely caused by HPV. These screenings usually begin around the age of 30. Of course, if you develop vaginal bumps, sores or other changes it’s important that you see your doctor right away.
During a Pap smear, your gynecologist will scrape cells from the cervix and send them to a lab, where they will look for any cellular changes. A Pap smear only takes a couple of minutes to perform and those who’ve never had abnormal results may only need to get a Pap smear every three years. Those who have had positive results in the past may need to get tested more regularly.
Luckily, there is now a vaccine available to protect against certain types of HPV, particularly the strains that are the greatest risk for developing cervical cancer. Before recently, the vaccine had only been approved for people ages 9 to 25 but now the FDA has approved the vaccine for adults ages 27 to 45. These vaccines only work on patients who’ve never had HPV before; this is why it’s important to vaccinate teens early on to protect against certain strains of high-risk HPV.
Is it time for your annual women’s appointment? If you are interested in getting tested for HPV, you can easily schedule an HPV screening to be performed during your next checkup.
Treating Irregular Periods
Irregular periods are common when you first start menstruating. It’s common for them to be early or late, but as you get older, your menstrual cycle should become more regular, with the average length of the cycle lasting 28 days.
You have chronic irregular periods if:
- The length of your menstrual cycle keeps changing
- Your periods are coming early or late
- You experience severe abdominal pain and very heavy bleeding during your period
There are many causes of irregular periods, including:
- Puberty, pregnancy, or menopause
- Contraceptive measures including the pill or intrauterine device
- Extreme weight fluctuations, excessive exercise, or stress
- Medical conditions including thyroid issues, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, or polycystic ovary syndrome
You should see a doctor if:
- Your periods are suddenly irregular and you are under age 45
- Your periods are more frequent than 21 days
- Your periods are less frequent than 35 days
- Your periods last longer than 7 days
- You have severe abdominal pain and heavy bleeding with your periods
- You are trying to have a baby, but you have irregular periods
There are several ways to treat irregular menstruation. The first step is determining what is causing it. If it is due to a medical issue like thyroid problems, medication or treatment of the underlying condition is vital. Additional treatment measures include:
- Losing weight, if irregular menstruation is due to being overweight
- Hormonal therapies, including birth control to regulate menstruation
- Surgical therapy, if irregular menstruation is due to uterine fibroids or other structural issue.
There is also a 5-year intrauterine device known as Mirena, which can lessen bleeding. It also works as a contraceptive. Your doctor can help you decide which treatment option is best for you.
Irregular menstruation may be self-limiting, but it may go on for months or years. It can affect your life, especially if you are trying to get pregnant. It can also be a sign of a serious underlying condition. It’s important to seek out your doctor to find the cause, protect your health, and give you peace-of-mind.
Bladder infections have a way of making themselves known. You may be making multiple trips to the bathroom, feeling like you constantly have to go again. But once you’re in there, you may feel burning or stinging every time you pee. That’s the most distinct sign of a bladder infection.
What is a bladder infection?
A bladder infection is a type of urinary tract infection or UTI. This is an infection anywhere in the urinary tract, like the bladder, kidneys, or urethra. Usually, bladder infections are acute, which means that they occur suddenly. They can sometimes be chronic, which means that they recur over a long term.
Bladder infections are caused by bacteria that enter through the urethra and move into the bladder. Normally, the body can remove the bacteria by flushing them out during urination. However, bacteria can sometimes attach to the walls of the bladder and multiply quickly. Infections can occur when bacteria from the stool get onto the skin and enter the urethra. This is common with women since the urethra is short and the outer opening isn’t far from the anus.
Symptoms of Bladder Infections
The symptoms of a bladder infection may vary between people, depending on the severity of the infection. Some common symptoms include:
- Pain or burning while urinating
- Cloudy or bloody urine
- Frequent urination
- Foul-smelling urine
- Cramping in the lower abdomen or lower back
Treating and Preventing Bladder Infections
Bladder infections are treated with antibiotics to kill the bacteria causing the bladder infection. Your doctor may prescribe medication to help relieve the symptoms associated with the bladder infection.
There are many things that you can do in order to prevent bladder infections, such as:
- Drink six to eight glasses of water daily
- Drink cranberry juice daily
- Urinate as soon as you feel the need, don’t hold it
- Take showers instead of baths
- Wear cotton underwear and loose-fitting clothes
- Avoid using a diaphragm or spermicide
See Your Doctor Today
Don’t live with the pain of a bladder infection any longer. Call your doctor today to schedule an appointment or ask any questions about bladder infections!
Endometriosis is a gynecological condition affecting millions of American women of child-bearing years. An extreme overgrowth of the lining of the uterus (endometrium), this painful and persistent malady leaves some women infertile, in pain and even debilitated from the symptoms. Are you one of them? A visit with your OB/GYN doctor will uncover the reasons and treatments for your endometriosis.
Symptoms of endometriosis
The most frequent symptom is severe cramping before, during and after menstruation. Periods may be unusually long in duration or very short. Lower back pain and migraine headaches occur through out the monthly cycle, and many women report difficulty with bowel movements and a feeling of "heaviness"in the lower abdomen.
Some sufferers of endometriosis experience weight gain and unfortunately...infertility. Endometriosis can block the fallopian tubes and interior of the uterus so sperm cannot reach and fertilize eggs. Endometrial tissue often appears in odd areas such as on the ovaries or the bowel.
Who gets endometriosis?
The Office on Women's Health reports that a full 11 percent of women between the ages of 15 and 44 suffer with endometriosis. The condition appears to run in families, and it is common among women who have never had children. Autoimmune conditions such as allergies, MS and Lupus often co-exist with endometriosis.
Finding and treating endometriosis
Reporting your symptoms of endometriosis to your obstetrician/gynecologist is critical to diagnosis and treatment. He or she will perform a pelvic examination and may do ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging.
Treatment options vary, but frankly, surgery usually is not a first choice. Medical management with hormones and pain medications is preferable. Your OB/GYN will want to monitor your symptoms and treatment plan closely to help you manage this often-frustrating condition.
In addition, many women experience significant symptom relief if they:
- Exercise regularly.
- Deep breathe through periods of abdominal or lower back pain.
- Manage stress levels and the amount of cortisol, the stress hormone, in the bloodstream.
- Eat more vegetables and fruits, and reduce gluten and refined sugars which produce inflammatory reactions in the abdomen.
Need a colposcopy? If your pap test results are abnormal, your doctor may ask you to have a colposcopy. Colposcopy is an effective and safe procedure. It's important to attend your colposcopy appointment even if you do not have any symptoms. Read to to learn more about colposcopy.
What is colposcopy?
A colposcopy is a simple procedure that lets your healthcare provider get a good look at your cervix. The procedure involves looking at the cervix through a lighted magnifying instrument. It shines a light into the vagina and cervix. This examination allows your doctor to find problems that cannot be seen by the eye alone. The exam takes 5 to 10 minutes. Sometimes the exam may need to be performed more than once.
Why is colposcopy done?
The procedure is done in a doctor's office. Colposcopy is performed when results of pap smear tests show abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix. The exam provides more information about the abnormal cells. Colposcopy is also used to further assess other problems, including pain, genital warts on the cervix, bleeding, cervicitis, and benign growths.
How is the procedure done?
During the procedure, you will lie on your back with your feet raised and placed on footrests. Your doctor will use a medical tool to hold apart the walls so the inside of the vagina and cervix can be viewed. The lighted magnifying instrument placed outside the opening of your vagina. A mild solution will be applied to your vagina and cervix. This solution makes abnormal areas on the cervix easy to see.
When is a biopsy done?
Sometimes, a biopsy is done during a colposcopy. During colposcopy, your healthcare provider may see abnormal areas. A biopsy of these areas may be done. During a biopsy, a small piece of tissue is removed from the patient's cervix. The sample is removed with a special device. Sometimes, the biopsy is also your treatment. That's because your healthcare provider may be able to remove all of the abnormal cervical cells during the biopsy. If so, you will not need further treatment.
What is recovery like?
If a biopsy is not done during the colposcopy, you should feel fine afterwards. You may have a little spotting for a few days. If you a biopsy is done, you may have pain for one or two days. You may have some bleeding. You may also have some discharge from your vagina. While your cervix heals, you will be told not to put anything into your vagina for a short time. Test results from the exam can take some time to be returned, but rest assured that your doctor will call as soon as the results are in.