Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Women with PCOS produce higher-than-normal amounts of male hormones. This hormone imbalance causes them to skip menstrual periods and makes it harder for them to get pregnant. PCOS also causes hair growth on the face and body, and baldness. And it can contribute to long-term health problems like diabetes and heart disease. Polycystic ovaries contain a large number of harmless follicles that are up to 8mm (approximately 0.3in) in size. The follicles are under-developed sacs in which eggs develop. In PCOS, these sacs are often unable to release an egg, which means that ovulation doesn’t take place. The exact cause of PCOS is unknown, but it often runs in families. It’s related to abnormal hormone levels in the body, including high levels of insulin. Insulin is a hormone that controls sugar levels in the body. Many women with PCOS are resistant to the action of insulin in their body and produce higher levels of insulin to overcome this. This contributes to the increased production and activity of hormones such as testosterone. Being overweight or obese also increases the amount of insulin your body produces. Medications are also available to treat symptoms such as excessive hair growth, irregular periods and fertility problems. If fertility medications are ineffective, a simple surgical procedure called laparoscopic ovarian drilling (LOD) may be recommended. This involves using heat or a laser to destroy the tissue in the ovaries that’s producing androgens, such as testosterone
Cancer occurs when changes called mutations take place in genes that regulate cell growth. The mutations let the cells divide and multiply in an uncontrolled, chaotic way. The cells keep multiplying, producing copies that get progressively more abnormal. In most cases, the cell copies eventually form a tumor. Breast cancer is cancer that develops in breast cells. Typically, the cancer forms in either the lobules or the ducts of the breast. Lobules are the glands that produce milk, and ducts are the pathways that bring the milk from the glands to the nipple. Cancer can also occur in the fatty tissue or the fibrous connective tissue within your breast. The uncontrolled cancer cells often invade other healthy breast tissue and can travel to the lymph nodes under the arms. The lymph nodes are a primary pathway that helps the cancer cells move to other parts of the body. After skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in women in the United States. Breast cancer can occur in both men and women, but it’s far more common in women. Substantial support for breast cancer awareness and research funding has helped create advances in the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. Breast cancer survival rates have increased, and the number of deaths associated with this disease is steadily declining, largely due to factors such as earlier detection, a new personalized approach to treatment and a better understanding of the disease. Breast cancer is not a single disease; research evidence continues to indicate that there are a number of subtypes of breast cancer. They happen at varying rates in different groups and respond differently to treatments. Some are more aggressive than others and have very different long-term survival rates. Breast cancer occurs when certain cells in the breast become malignant and form a tumor. Breast tumors generally appear in the lobules or in the milk ducts that lead to the nipple. Breast cancer is being spotted earlier, and with quick treatment, the outlook for women with breast cancer is excellent. Male breast cancer is rare, but can also be cured or controlled if found early and treated right away
Abortion and Women Health
Women have unique health issues. And some of the health issues that affect both men and women can affect women differently. Unique issues include pregnancy, menopause, and conditions of the female organs. Women can have a healthy pregnancy by getting early and regular prenatal care. They should also get recommended breast cancer, cervical cancer, and bone density screenings. Women and men also have many of the same health problems. But these problems can affect women differently. For example,
- Women are more likely to die following a heart attack than men
- Women are more likely to show signs of depression and anxiety than men
- The effects of sexually transmitted diseases can be more serious in women
- Osteoarthritis affects more women than men
- Women are more likely to have urinary tract problems
There are two ways of ending a pregnancy: in-clinic abortion and the abortion pill. Both are safe and very common. A doctor, nurse, or other health care provider uses medical instruments and gentle suction to remove the pregnancy from your uterus. Medication abortion, also known as the “abortion pill,” is when you take medicines that you get from a trained doctor or nurse to end an early pregnancy. In-clinic abortion is done in a health center by a trained doctor or nurse. Both kinds of abortion are safe and effective. Unless there’s a rare and serious complication that’s not treated, there’s no risk to your ability to have children in the future or to your overall health. Having an abortion doesn’t increase your risk for breast cancer or affect your fertility. In fact, it’s possible to get pregnant quickly after you have an abortion, so it’s a good idea to talk to your nurse or doctor about a birth control plan for after your abortion
Reproductive and Sexual Health
Good sexual and reproductive health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being in all matters relating to the reproductive system. It implies that people are able to have a satisfying and safe sex life, the capability to reproduce, and the freedom to decide if, when, and how often to do so. To maintain one’s sexual and reproductive health, people need access to accurate information and the safe, effective, affordable and acceptable contraception method of their choice. They must be informed and empowered to protect themselves from sexually transmitted infections. And when they decide to have children, women must have access to services that can help them have a fit pregnancy, safe delivery and healthy baby. Every individual has the right to make their own choices about their sexual and reproductive health. UNFPA, together with a wide range of partners, works toward the goal of universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights, including family planning.
- Voluntary, informed, and affordable family planning services;
- Pre-natal care, safe motherhood services, assisted childbirth from a trained attendant (e.g., a physician or midwife), and comprehensive infant health care;
- Prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV and AIDS and cervical cancer;
- Prevention and treatment of violence against women and girls, including torture;
- Safe and accessible post-abortion care and, where legal, access to safe abortion services; and
- Sexual health information, education, and counseling, to enhance personal relationships and quality of life.
Effects of Drugs on Pregnancy
A portion of everything that a pregnant woman consumes goes towards the nourishment and development of the fetus. As a result, anytime she uses drugs, her body sends some of these chemicals to the fetus. The placenta, which was once considered a barrier that protected the fetus from anything harmful the mother might consume, is actually more like a filter that allows drugs and other harmful substances to pass through. The NIDA also enumerates some of the specific health effects that certain drugs have on pregnant women and their children:
- Cocaine: premature delivery, low birth weights and smaller size for gestational age
- Methamphetamine: increased risk of premature birth, placental abruption, slowed fetal growth and heart and brain abnormalities
- Inhalants: fetal malformation and spontaneous abortion
- Opioids: low birth weight and spontaneous abortion
Illegal drugs are not the only danger to pregnant women, though. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains that some prescription medications can also be harmful or potentially fatal to fetuses. The effects of medications taken during pregnancy are affected by several factors, including:
- Medication dosage
- The time during the pregnancy that the medication is taken
- The woman’s other health conditions
- Other medications the woman takes during the pregnancy
More research is needed to clearly show which medications should or shouldn’t be taken during pregnancy, but overall, a women who is pregnant or wants to become pregnant should talk to her doctor about any medications she is currently using or might be prescribed in the near future. Together they can work out a plan to both treat any health issues and make sure that the baby is healthy and safe.
Menopause is the time that marks the end of your menstrual cycles. It’s diagnosed after you’ve gone 12 months without a menstrual period. Menopause can happen in your 40s or 50s, but the average age is 51 in the United States. Menopause is a natural biological process. But the physical symptoms, such as hot flashes, and emotional symptoms of menopause may disrupt your sleep, lower your energy or affect emotional health. There are many effective treatments available, from lifestyle adjustments to hormone therapy. Periods usually start to become less frequent over a few months or years before they stop altogether. Sometimes they can stop suddenly. The menopause is a natural part of ageing that usually occurs between 45 and 55 years of age, as a woman’s estrogen levels decline. In the UK, the average age for a woman to reach the menopause is 51. However, around 1 in 100 women experience the menopause before 40 years of age. This is known as premature menopause or premature ovarian insufficiency. Most women will experience menopausal symptoms. Some of these can be quite severe and have a significant impact on your everyday activities.
Infertility & Related Disorders: Diagnosis, Treatment & Management
The most common disorders that leads to infertility include uterine fibroids, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), primary ovarian insufficiency and endometriosis. Uterine fibroids, or leiomyoma are the common non-cancerous tumor cells grow in the walls of the uterus and is more common in women with child bearing age (25-44). Uterine fibroids lead to abnormal bleeding from uterus and sever pain. Uterine fibers present in uterus leads to infertility by hindering the pregnancy process. Hysterectomy is the only curing option of fibroids. Endometriosis is another condition in which there are abnormal growth of cells inside the uterus and these cells grow outside of uterus resulting pain and leads to infertility. In case of Primary ovarian insufficiency (POI), the ovaries stop functioning normally before the age of 40. It hinders the ovulation process and leads to infertility. Uterine fibroids, Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), Ovarian and cervical cancers, Turner syndrome, Rett syndrome
Infertility is “a disease of the reproductive system defined by the failure to achieve a clinical pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sexual intercourse (WHO-ICMART glossary*). There are two kinds of infertility – primary and secondary:
Primary infertility means that the couple has never conceived. Secondary infertility means that the couple has experienced a pregnancy before and failed to conceive later. Globally, most infertile couples suffer from primary infertility.
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are the leading preventable cause of infertility by causing 70% of pelvic inflammatory diseases responsible for tubal damage. Low fertility is becoming more common worldwide, particularly in many urban settings where women are planning their first babies at older ages.
Women and Mental Health
Gender is a critical determinant of mental health and mental illness. The patterns of psychological distress and psychiatric disorder among women are different from those seen among men. Women have a higher mean level of internalizing disorders while men show a higher mean level of externalizing disorders. Gender differences occur particularly in the rates of common mental disorders wherein women predominate. Differences between genders have been reported in the age of onset of symptoms, clinical features, frequency of psychotic symptoms, course, social adjustment, and long-term outcome of severe mental disorders. Women who abuse alcohol or drugs are more likely to attribute their drinking to a traumatic event or a stressor and are more likely to have been sexually or physically abused than other women. Girls from nuclear families and women married at a very young age are at a higher risk for attempted suicide and self-harm. Social factors and gender specific factors determine the prevalence and course of mental disorders in female sufferers. Low attendance in hospital settings is partly explained by the lack of availability of resources for women. Around two-thirds of married women in India were victims of domestic violence. Concerted efforts at social, political, economic, and legal levels can bring change in the lives of Indian women and contribute to the improvement of the mental health of these women. Mental disorders can affect women and men differently. Some disorders are more common in women such as depression and anxiety. There are also certain types of depression that are unique to women. Some women may experience symptoms of mental disorders at times of hormone change, such as perinatal depression, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, and perimenopause-related depression. When it comes to other mental disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, research has not found differences in rates that men and women experiences these illnesses. But, women may experience these illnesses differently – certain symptoms may be more common in women than in men, and the course of the illness can be affected by the sex of the individual. Researchers are only now beginning to tease apart the various biological and psychosocial factors that may impact the mental health of both women and men.
Cervical Cancer & Treatment
The stage of a cervical cancer is the most important factor in choosing treatment. But other factors can also affect your treatment options, including the exact location of the cancer within the cervix, the type of cancer (squamous cell or adenocarcinoma), your age and overall health, and whether you want to have children. Cervical cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the cervix. Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is the major risk factor for cervical cancer. There are usually no signs or symptoms of early cervical cancer but it can be detected early with regular check-ups. Signs and symptoms of cervical cancer include vaginal bleeding and pelvic pain. Tests that examine the cervix are used to detect (find) and diagnose cervical cancer. Certain factors affect prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options. Cervical cancer usually develops slowly over time. Before cancer appears in the cervix, the cells of the cervix go through changes known as dysplasia, in which abnormal cells begin to appear in the cervical tissue. Over time, the abnormal cells may become cancer cells and start to grow and spread more deeply into the cervix and to surrounding areas. Cervical cancer that is detected early is more likely to be treated successfully. Most guidelines suggest that women begin screening for cervical cancer and precancerous changes at age 21.
Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility
A Reproductive Endocrinologist is a fertility specialist that specializes in the following fields of study: Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
Hypothalamic pituitary dysfunction
A congenital adrenal hyperplasia
Tubal factor infertility
Male factor infertility
In vitro fertilization (IVF)
Congenital uterine anomalies
Other disorders of the female reproductive tract
Collectively, this field is called Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility. Most of the patients seen by Reproductive Endocrinologists are experiencing fertility related problems
Ovarian cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the ovaries. The female reproductive system contains two ovaries, one on each side of the uterus. The ovaries — each about the size of an almond — produce eggs (ova) as well as the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Ovarian cancer often goes undetected until it has spread within the pelvis and abdomen. At this late stage, ovarian cancer is more difficult to treat and is frequently fatal. Early-stage ovarian cancer, in which the disease is confined to the ovary, is more likely to be treated successfully.
Surgery and chemotherapy are generally used to treat ovarian cancer
Types of ovarian cancer
The type of cell where the cancer begins determines the type of ovarian cancer you have. Ovarian cancer types include:
- Epithelial tumors,which begin in the thin layer of tissue that covers the outside of the ovaries. About 90 percent of ovarian cancers are epithelial tumors.
- Stromal tumors,which begin in the ovarian tissue that contains hormone-producing cells. These tumors are usually diagnosed at an earlier stage than other ovarian tumors. About 7 percent of ovarian tumors are stromal.
- Germ cell tumors,which begin in the egg-producing cells. These rare ovarian cancers tend to occur in younger women.
Each type of gynecological cancer has different symptoms, some of which may be difficult to recognize. While women should be familiar the symptoms associated with gynecological cancer, it is just as important for women to pay attention to their own bodies and take note when something is “off” or not normal. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed a symptoms diary that women can use to keep track of any unusual symptoms they may experience so they can share this in detail with a healthcare provider. The PSA from CDC also explains some warning signs to be aware of. Gynecological cancers are those that develop in a woman’s reproductive tract. Cervical cancer is only one type of gynecological cancer. Other types include:
There are different risk factors for each of these cancers, including, in some cases, heredity. But many women who develop cancer without being considered high risk. It’s important for women to be aware of the types of gynecological cancer, symptoms and potential warning signs to watch out for, and screening and prevention strategies.
Assisted Reproductive Technology
Radiation Therapy in Gynecology
Pediatric allergy and Asthma