Posts for category: Women's Healthcare
Dealing with abnormal or unusual bleeding
If you notice that your period has changed dramatically from one month to the next, your period has stopped, or you’re bleeding between cycles, we understand that you may be concerned (and rightfully so). Since irregular bleeding can be a sign of an underlying problem, it’s important that you turn to an OBGYN if you notice irregular bleeding.
What Causes Irregular Bleeding?
Some of the most common causes of irregular bleeding include,
- Birth control pills
- Intrauterine device (IUD)
- Hormonal imbalances
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
- Complications related to pregnancy (e.g., ectopic pregnancy)
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Premature ovarian insufficiency
What Is Bleeding Considered Irregular or Abnormal?
Since women are usually pretty familiar with their cycles, they know how heavy they get, when they should arrive and how long they typically last. While this can fluctuate a bit if you notice any significant changes, this could be considered an irregular bleed. Here’s when bleeding is considered irregular,
- Your period lasts more than seven days
- Your period is incredibly heavy (you have to change a tampon or pad every hour)
- Your period is barely there, light or disappears
- Your periods stop showing up
- You notice bleeding between periods
- You experience bleeding, and you are post-menopausal
- You experience severe pain, cramping or vomiting with your periods
- Your cycle is longer than 35 days or less than 21 days
When Should I See a Gynecologist?
If you stop having a period or have two periods in a month, it’s time to turn to your OBGYN to find out what’s going on. If you find yourself experiencing lightheadedness, dizziness or fainting upon standing, this should also be evaluated by a medical professional. If bleeding occurs during pregnancy or after menopause, you should also see your OBGYN as soon as possible to find out what’s happening.
You should also turn to your OBYGN if,
- You experience bleeding after sex
- You develop very heavy bleeding
- You notice any abnormal vaginal discharge along with bleeding
- Your bleeding is accompanied by severe abdominal pain
Don’t ignore your symptoms. If you develop any of these problems, an OBGYN can provide you with the information, diagnosis, support and treatment needed to control abnormal bleeding.
What Is PCOS?
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is both a hormonal imbalance and a metabolic disorder that can impact a woman’s general and reproductive health. It’s most common in women of childbearing age.
What are the signs and symptoms?
One of the most common signs of PCOS is an irregular menstrual period. This may mean that you experience a period too often or too infrequently. If your period is unpredictable it could be a sign of PCOS. Other warning signs include:
- Severe acne
- Hirsutism, or excessive hair growth (most common on the face, abdomen, and thighs)
- Oily skin
- Dark patches of skin
- Multiple cysts on the ovaries
What are the causes?
There is still so much that is unknown about PCOS, but it’s believed that this disorder may be the result of certain factors such as increased levels of the androgen hormone or insulin resistance.
How is PCOS treated?
An OBGYN will tailor their treatments to meet your needs, based on your symptoms, the severity of your condition, and whether or not you are planning to become pregnant (whether now or in the future). Treatment options may include certain lifestyle changes such as losing weight (if obese) by eating healthy and getting regular exercise. Some medications can help with irregular periods such as hormonal contraception. For women dealing with fertility issues, there are also medications (the most common is Clomifene) that can help women with PCOS get pregnant. Medications to control other symptoms such as excessive and unwanted hair growth can also be prescribed by your gynecologist.
If you are experiencing symptoms of PCOS, it’s important that you speak with your gynecologist to learn more. A gynecologist will be able to perform the appropriate tests to be able to determine what’s causing your symptoms and how to best treat the problem.
Vaginal Stones are Either Primary or Secondary
A primary vaginal stone typically develops after surgery, trauma, neurogenic bladder, vaginal stenosis, or vaginal outlet obstruction. Women with congenital genitourinary malformations or urethrovaginal fistulas are most at risk. If a woman is dealing with any of these issues their OBGYN must continue to monitor their condition through routine checkups so they can promptly find and treat vaginal stones if they develop. Secondary vaginal stones typically develop due to the presence of foreign bodies in the vagina, whether an IUD (intrauterine device) or surgical mesh.
Vaginal Stone Symptoms Aren’t Unique to This Condition
Vaginal stones do mimic symptoms of a urinary tract infection (UTI), so you may not be able to immediately spot a difference. Vaginal stones can cause an increase in urinary urgency and frequency. You may also experience vaginal pain, abdominal pain, and pain with sex or urination.
Vaginal Stones Can Be Removed
The best way to treat vaginal stones is to have them removed. This will require surgery. The procedure itself may employ extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy, the same treatment used to break up kidney stones. This surgery is performed under anesthesia. Any urethrovaginal fistulas should not be repaired at the time of surgery, but rather corrected months after the stone has been removed. Patients with serious health complications, as well as older patients, may do better with an open cystostomy, a surgical procedure that is sometimes used to remove large bladder stones as well.
If you are at risk for vaginal stones, it’s important to speak with your gynecologist. Many other conditions can lead to abdominal pain and vaginal bleeding, so it’s important to turn to an OBGYN who can provide you with the answers and treatment you’re looking for.
There are Different Kinds of Vaginal Cysts
Most vaginal cysts can be found under or within the lining of the vagina. Types of vaginal cysts include:
- Inclusion cysts: this most common type of vaginal cyst develops in the back of the vaginal wall
- Bartholin’s gland cysts: cysts that develop in the Bartholin’s gland, which are found on either opening of the vagina
- Gartner’s duct: this congenital malformation occurs when ducts that are supposed to disappear in-utero don’t, which may result in vaginal cysts developing later on
- Müllerian cysts: these cysts that develop around the vaginal wall form in areas that were left behind after the development and birth of a baby
There are several reasons a vaginal cyst may develop. Trauma is most common in cysts that develop in the vaginal walls. This may be the result of childbirth or surgery.
Cysts that develop on the outer area of the vagina such as a Bartholin’s gland cyst, may be the result of a bacterial infection or a sexually transmitted disease. Sometimes clogged glands or ducts are also to blame.
Vaginal Cysts Don’t Often Cause Symptoms
Unless you’re dealing with an infected Bartholin’s gland cyst, you probably won’t even know if you have a vaginal cyst. Most of the time, these cysts are detected by a gynecologist during a routine exam. Most cysts aren’t painful; however, some may cause pain with sex. If you’re dealing with a painful lump, this could be a sign of infection.
Most Vaginal Cysts Don’t Need Treatment
Since most vaginal cysts remain small and don’t cause problems they often don’t need to be removed; however, if the cyst continues to grow, cause pain, or show signs of infection, then you’ll want to see your gynecologist. External vaginal cysts can be eased with simple home care such as a warm soak or sitz bath. If the cyst is infected, antibiotics may be prescribed. Sometimes the cyst will need to be drained to heal (this is more common in Bartholin’s gland cysts). Most of the time surgery is not recommended for removing a vaginal cyst.
If you notice any unusual lumps, bumps, or lesions in the vaginal areas, it’s always a good idea to turn to your OBGYN to find out what’s going on.
Osteoporosis can happen to anyone
You don’t have to have a family history of bone disease to be impacted by osteoporosis. While a family history of bone disease can certainly put you more at risk, we also see many otherwise healthy women develop osteoporosis during their perimenopausal and menopausal years.
Other risk factors for osteoporosis include:
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Sedentary lifestyle
While not all menopausal women will develop osteoporosis, one in two postmenopausal women will have osteoporosis. This is because estrogen protects the bones, and as estrogen production drops this also increases the chances for osteoporosis. It’s also important that women during this stage of life are getting enough calcium to keep their bones healthy.
If you aren’t sure that you are incorporating enough calcium into your diet, it’s important to talk with your OBGYN about whether or not to supplement. The body also needs enough vitamin D to absorb calcium, and with the number of Americans with vitamin D deficiency and suboptimal levels, it’s also important that you have your vitamin D levels checked regularly to make sure you are getting enough.
There are preventive measures you can take now
Most women assume that once they have osteoporosis there is nothing they can really do to prevent permanent damage. This is simply not true! Ways of strengthening and supporting good bone health include:
- Getting regular exercise that includes weight-resistance training
- Eating a healthy diet that includes enough calcium and vitamin D, as well as protein, magnesium, vitamin C, and vitamin K
- Quitting smoking, if you are currently a smoker
- Limiting alcohol consumption or avoiding it altogether
If you are experiencing symptoms of menopause, you must have an OBGYN that you can turn to for care, support, and answers during this time. An OBGYN can also provide you with the right treatment options to help prevent and manage osteoporosis.