Posts for category: Women's Healthcare
Your OBGYN treats a number of common gynecological conditions, including irregular vaginal bleeding. It’s a concern that can be related to anything from stress, chronic conditions, or reproductive problems. Learn the common causes of irregular bleeding in gynecology, and how you can get your menstrual cycle back to normal.
Irregular Vaginal Bleeding
In their reproductive years, women menstruate about every 28 days as the uterine lining sheds itself. The bleeding is often moderate to heavy during the first couple of days, then tapers off during the next few days. A normal menstrual cycle lasts up to a week. If the process does not repeat every 28 days or so, or a cycle is missed, or the flow of blood is too heavy or too light, that is considered irregular bleeding. Additional symptoms may include poor mood, problems sleeping, and sharp abdominal pains.
You should talk to your OBGYN if your menstrual cycle starts to change or becomes irregular. Irregular bleeding can be caused by one or more of the following factors:
Certain medications (including birth control pills).
Endometriosis (tissue that’s supposed to be inside of the uterus grows on the outside).
Stress and lifestyle.
Blood clotting disorders.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (a hormonal problem).
Pelvic inflammatory disease (an infection usually caused by an STD).
Uterine fibroids (benign growths in the uterus).
Cervical or uterine cancer.
Chronic medical conditions (not necessarily related to the reproductive system).
Treatments for Irregular Bleeding
In some cases, irregular bleeding resolves on its own. For instance, if the irregularity is related to stress, de-stressing activities may help, like light exercise, dietary changes, or bed rest. If the problem is your birth control, your gynecologist will discuss other birth control options. If it’s related to another gynecological condition, the treatment may require an ultrasound and further testing. In more serious cases, surgery may be necessary.
See Your OBGYN
Schedule a visit to your OBGYN if you’re experiencing irregular bleeding. It could an easily treatable issue that your gynecologist can resolve with medications or a minor procedure.
If this is your first pregnancy you may certainly feel like you’re in uncharted territory. There are so many unknowns as you reach 40 weeks and your OBGYN is going to be a crucial part of guiding you throughout this journey into motherhood. An OBGYN will provide you with care, treatment, checkups, and support along the way. One question you may be asking yourself is: Can I exercise while pregnant?
The simple answer is that yes, exercise is part of maintaining a healthy pregnancy. It can help boost your energy and mood, especially during the earlier months when you may be feeling a bit tired and sluggish. Working out can even alleviate aches and pains throughout your pregnancy. In fact, regular physical activity could even be key to preventing gestational diabetes.
If you were working out prior to becoming pregnant then there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to continue working out; however, some things will need to change. While you may wish to workout at the same intensity and level you had been, your body is going through a lot of changes. Low-impact aerobic exercise such as walking or even swimming may be recommended by an OBGYN over high-intensity training.
What if you were a dedicated Crossfitter, HIIT queen, or marathon-running champ before getting pregnant? If you are a serious athlete, it’s even more important that your obstetrician works with you to create a training and workout program that will help you maintain what you’ve worked hard for while also being safe for both you and baby. This is particularly important for women who are personal trainers or professional athletes.
Starting Exercise While Pregnant
If you haven’t been working out prior to becoming pregnant you may want to take up a more regular exercise regimen to maintain good health throughout your pregnant. Before starting a new workout routine it’s important to consult your OBGYN. It’s important that you start out with slow, easy activities like a brisk walk through the neighborhood. You wouldn’t go from not being active to suddenly tackling a Warrior Run, so you certainly don’t want to do it when you’re pregnant, either. Err on the conservative side when choosing workouts to do while pregnant, especially if you are new to regular exercise. Your OBGYN can provide you with a list of pregnancy-approved exercises.
How Much Exercise is Enough?
Most pregnant women will reap the benefits of exercise if they participate in moderate exercise for at least 30 minutes a day most days of the week, as recommended by the American Academy of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Of course, if you have any health problems such as heart disease or asthma, it’s extremely important that you talk with your OBGYN before you start any workout routine.
Workouts to avoid include any contact sports, exercises that could lead to falls or abdominal injuries, as well as exercising in extreme weather conditions. If you have questions about exercise during pregnant, talk with your OBGYN today.
Have you been screened for STI's, or Sexually Transmitted Infections? Surprisingly, most Americans do not prioritize this important health testing. Plus, many health care providers do not routinely offer testing for STI's of any kind; so, patients must ask them about it, says the American Sexual Health Association.
How often should you be screened for STIs?
The short answer is that everyone from ages 13 to 65 should receive a baseline screening for HIV, or the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, states the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). STIs, including HIV, often show no symptoms but can cause serious health issues over time. Also, says the CDC, routine testing, treatment, and follow-up limits transmission of disease from sexual partner to partner. So, all adults should ask their doctors for testing once a year. In fact, they should insist upon it.
Who is at risk for an STI?
Potentially anyone is at risk. However, some populations definitely are more prone to infection. They include:
- Male homosexuals
- People who have several sexual partners
- Women under the age of 25
- Sex workers
- Individuals who have unprotected sex
Transmission of STIs is easier than most people realize. Oral, anal, or vaginal sex can spread the microbes or insect vectors responsible for these often dangerous and hard to treat diseases. While many people believe they cannot ever have a Sexually Transmitted Infection, WebMD says the vast majority of Americans actually have had an active form some kind of STI.
What do tests look for?
Screening tests look for:
- HIV, or Human Immunodeficiency Virus
- HPV, or Human Papillomavirus, which is linked to oral and cervical cancer
- Hepatitis B and C, caused by viruses
- Trichomoniasis, a parasite infection
Tests are simple, utilizing a urine sample, blood draw, or swab of oral or genital tissues.
Don't ignore the obvious or not so obvious
STIs can impact your health and interpersonal relationships. So, be sure you know where you stand. Women, talk to your OB/GYN about testing, and men, do the same with your primary care physician. It's what you do not know that can truly harm you and your loved ones.
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.
Endometriosis is a female condition in which tissue that's similar to uterine lining begins growing on the outside of the uterus, often affecting the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and pelvic tissue. During your cycle, the endometrial tissue then becomes thicker until it breaks down and bleeds, and due to how this tissue can’t be removed from the body, it gets trapped. Over time, this can lead to scar tissue (known as adhesions) on the reproductive organs.
This condition affects as many as 11 percent of US woman between the ages of 15 and 44, most often affecting women in their 30s and 40s. This condition can also make it more challenging for women to get pregnant.
What are the symptoms of endometriosis?
The classic symptom of endometriosis is abdominal pain that is usually worse during your menstrual cycle. While a lot of women complain of some abdominal discomfort during menstruation, women with endometriosis often complain of very painful periods, which may even radiate to the lower back.
Women with endometriosis may also experience very heavy periods or breakthrough bleeding (bleeding between cycles). You may also notice pelvic pain during sex or with bowel movements, as well as bloating, constipation, diarrhea, nausea, or fatigue.
All symptoms will vary from woman to woman. For instance, some women may have very severe symptoms but only have milder cases of endometriosis, while those with more severe cases may experience little-to-no-discomfort. Everyone is different; however, if you are experiencing new, persistent, or worsening pelvic pain, it’s important that you talk with your gynecologist.
If you are trying to conceive you may also find it more difficult to do so. Sometimes women don’t often find out that they have endometriosis until they visit their OBGYN to discuss problems getting pregnant.
How is endometriosis diagnosed?
During your evaluation, your OBGYN will ask you questions about the symptoms that you are experiencing. From there, a couple of tests will be performed in order to pinpoint specific signs and symptoms of endometriosis. These tests include a traditional pelvic exam or an ultrasound. In some instances, an MRI exam or a laparoscopy (a minor surgical procedure that allows a doctor to examine the inside of the abdomen and uterus) may be recommended to make a definitive diagnosis.
How is this condition treated?
Since there is no cure for endometriosis the goal of treatment is to manage your symptoms. As with most conditions, we will recommend more conservative treatment options at first to see if they are effective. Common treatment options include,
- Pain medications (either over-the-counter or prescription-strength)
- Hormone therapy (e.g. birth control pills; progestin therapy)
- Fertility treatment (for women who are having trouble conceiving)
- Laparoscopic surgery to remove excess endometrial tissue
If you are experiencing symptoms of endometriosis, it’s important that you talk to a gynecologist as soon as possible.