5 Medical Conditions Women Need To Be Aware Of
Women and men have many of the same health problems, but they can affect women differently. For example, women may have different symptoms of heart disease. Some diseases or conditions in women, such as menstrual problems, obesity and depression are complex and difficult in treating and some conditions, such as menopause and pregnancy, are unique to women. Here’s an overview of 5 medical conditions in women.
Endometriosis is an often painful disorder in which tissue that normally lines the inside of uterus – the endometrium – grows outside the uterus. Endometriosis most commonly involves ovaries, bowel or the tissue lining of pelvis. Rarely, endometrial tissue may spread beyond your pelvic region.
This process can cause pain, sometimes severe, during period and intercourse. Fertility problems also may develop. A process called retrograde menstruation is a likely explanation for endometriosis. In retrograde menstruation, menstrual blood containing endometrial cells flows back through the fallopian tubes and into the pelvic cavity instead of out of the body. The displaced endometrial cells stick to the pelvic walls and surfaces of pelvic organs, where they grow and continue to thicken and bleed over the course of the menstrual cycle.
About 30 to 50 percent of women with endometriosis have difficulty getting pregnant. Such women are advised not to delay starting family as the condition can worsen with time. While different treatments are available, early diagnosis and treatment is better for good results.
Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous growths of the uterus that often appear during your childbearing years. Also called fibromyomas, leiomyomas or myomas, uterine fibroids aren’t associated with an increased risk of uterine cancer and almost never develop into cancer.
As many as 3 out of 4 women have uterine fibroids but most are unaware of them because they often cause no symptoms. Fibroids may be detected incidentally during a pelvic exam or prenatal ultrasound. In general, uterine fibroids seldom require treatment. Medical therapy and surgical procedures can shrink or remove fibroids if you have discomfort or troublesome symptoms. Although rare, fibroids may require emergency treatment when they cause sudden, sharp pelvic pain or profuse menstrual bleeding. Most common symptoms of uterine fibroids include:
- Profuse menstrual bleeding
- Prolonged menstrual periods (7 days or more of menstrual bleeding)
- Pelvic pressure or pain
- Frequent urination
- Difficulty emptying your bladder
- Backache or leg pains
Rarely, a fibroid can cause acute pain when it outgrows its blood supply. Deprived of nutrients, the fibroid begins to die. Byproducts from a degenerating fibroid can seep into surrounding tissue, causing pain and fever. A fibroid that hangs by a stalk inside or outside the uterus (pedunculated fibroid) can trigger pain by twisting on its stalk and cutting off its blood supply.
Menstrual cramps (dysmenorrheal) are dull, throbbing or cramping pains in the lower abdomen. Most women experience menstrual cramps just before and during their menstrual periods.
For some women, the discomfort is merely annoying. For others, it can interfere with everyday activities for a few days every month.
Menstrual cramps may be caused by identifiable problems, such as endometriosis or uterine fibroids. Treating the underlying cause is the key to reducing the pain. Menstrual cramps that aren’t caused by some underlying condition tend to lessen with age and often disappear once a woman has given birth.
During menstrual periods, the uterus contracts to help expel its lining. Hormone-like substances (prostaglandins) involved in pain and inflammation trigger the uterine muscle contractions.
Higher levels of prostaglandins are associated with more severe menstrual cramps.
Many experts believe that severe contractions constrict the blood vessels feeding the uterus.
The resulting pain can be compared to the angina that occurs when blocked coronary arteries starve portions of the heart of food and oxygen.
Menstrual cramps also may be caused by:
Endometriosis – In this painful condition, the tissue that lines your uterus becomes implanted outside your uterus, most commonly on your fallopian tubes, ovaries or the tissue lining your pelvis.
Uterine fibroids – These noncancerous growths in the wall of the uterus rarely may be the cause of pain.
Adenomyosis – In this condition, the tissue that lines your uterus begins to grow into the muscular walls of the uterus.
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)- This infection of the female reproductive organs is usually caused by sexually transmitted bacteria.
Cervical stenosis – In some women, the opening of the cervix may be so small that it impedes menstrual flow, causing a painful increase of pressure within the uterus.
Menorrhagia (heavy menstrual bleeding) –
Menorrhagia is the medical term for menstrual periods with abnormally heavy or prolonged bleeding. Although heavy menstrual bleeding is a common concern among premenopausal women, most women don’t experience blood loss severe enough to be defined as menorrhagia.
With menorrhagia, every period you have causes enough blood loss and cramping that you can’t maintain your usual activities. If you have menstrual bleeding so heavy that you dread your period, talk with your doctor. There are many effective treatments for menorrhagia.
In some cases, the cause of heavy menstrual bleeding is unknown, but a number of conditions may cause menorrhagia. Common causes include:
Hormonal imbalance – If a hormonal imbalance occurs, between estrogen and progesterone, the endometrium develops in excess and eventually sheds by way of heavy menstrual bleeding. When ovulation does not occur in a menstrual cycle, progesterone is not produced. This causes hormonal imbalance and may result in menorrhagia.
Uterine fibroids – These noncancerous (benign) tumors of the uterus appear during your childbearing years. Uterine fibroids may cause heavier than normal or prolonged menstrual bleeding.
Polyps – Small, benign growths on the lining of the uterine wall (uterine polyps) may cause heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding. Polyps of the uterus most commonly occur in women of reproductive age as the result of high hormone levels.
Adenomyosis – This condition occurs when glands from the endometrium become embedded in the uterine muscle, often causing heavy bleeding and painful menses. Adenomyosis is most likely to develop if you’re a middle-aged woman who has had children.
Intrauterine device (IUD) – Menorrhagia is a well-known side effect of using a non-hormonal intrauterine device for birth control. When an IUD is the cause of excessive menstrual bleeding, you may need to remove it.
Pregnancy complications – A single, heavy, late period may be due to a miscarriage. If bleeding occurs at the usual time of menstruation, however, miscarriage is unlikely to be the cause. An ectopic pregnancy – implantation of a fertilized egg within the fallopian tube instead of the uterus – also may cause menorrhagia.
Cancer – Rarely, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer and cervical cancer can cause excessive menstrual bleeding.
Inherited bleeding disorders – Some blood coagulation disorders – such as von Willebrand’s disease, a condition in which an important blood-clotting factor is deficient or impaired – can cause abnormal menstrual bleeding.
Medications – Certain drugs, including anti-inflammatory medications and anticoagulants, can contribute to heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding. Improper use of hormone medications also can cause menorrhagia.
Other medical conditions – A number of other medical conditions, including pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), thyroid problems, endometriosis, and liver or kidney disease, may be associated with menorrhagia.
Polycystic ovary syndrome
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormonal disorder among women of reproductive age. The name of the condition comes from the appearance of the ovaries in most, but not all, women with the disorder – enlarged and containing numerous small cysts located along the outer edge of each ovary (polycystic appearance).
Infrequent or prolonged menstrual periods, excess hair growth, acne and obesity can all occur in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. In adolescents, infrequent or absent menstruation may signal the condition. In women past adolescence, difficulty becoming pregnant or unexplained weight gain may be the first sign.
Early diagnosis and treatment may reduce the risk of long-term complications, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Polycystic ovary syndrome signs and symptoms often begin soon after a woman first begins having periods (menarche). In some cases, PCOS develops later on during the reproductive years, for instance, in response to substantial weight gain.
When to see a doctor
Talk with your doctor if you have infrequent periods, prolonged periods, no menstrual periods, – excess hair on face and body or acne. Early diagnosis and treatment of PCOS helps reduce risk of long-term complications, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. Excess insulin, low-grade inflammation, heredity and abnormal fetal developmentplay a key role.
Women health is the way to a happy healthy family therefore their health issues should never be neglected. Prevention is always better than cure .Early diagnosis and management should be advocated.
Women, make your health a priority!Plan for pregnancies early. Have PAP smears and monthly self breast examinations
Undergo regular checkups and screenings as early detection is important for treating breast, cervical, uterine and ovarian cancer
Recognise early symptoms and get treated at the earliest.