National Sexual Health Awareness Month

Sexual Health Awareness Month

Your Sexual & Reproductive Health: Common Concerns for Women

Busy lives often cause us to brush aside or pay little attention to our body’s signals, pushing them into the back of our minds as we juggle day-to-day responsibilities, activities and obligations with our families, work and friends.

However, not listening to our bodies or knowing the implications of these warning signals can lead us to experience subsequent serious health issues. Women particularly need to be mindful of these warning symptoms and signs, as they may have direct impact on not only our physical health and wellbeing, but also our gynecologic health. Left untreated, common women’s health concerns can become detrimental to your overall health. It’s important to be aware of your body’s signals to head off potential issues before they affect your health and quality of life.

September is designated National Sexual Health Awareness Month. Your local Capital Women’s Care team wants to share important information about common women’s sexual and reproductive health concerns, their symptoms and treatments so you can integrate awareness within your personal healthcare plan and help you to achieve and maintain optimal sexual and reproductive health.

Common Women’s Health Concerns

Women face specific gynecologic health concerns due to the complexities of the female reproductive system. It’s vital to take protective measures to avoid infection and injury which can prevent further long-term health problems, including infertility, kidney failure and cancer. Taking care of yourself and making healthy choices can help protect you and your loved ones. Protecting your reproductive system also means having control over your health should you decide to become pregnant.

There are several common women’s sexual and reproductive health concerns that can affect women throughout their lives, from the onset of menstruation through menopause. These concerns include:

Knowing your personal risk factors and recognizing the signs of these health concerns allows you to take charge of your gynecological health and wellbeing.

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) occurs when a woman’s ovaries or adrenal glands produce more male hormones than normal. One result of this hormone imbalance is that cysts (fluid-filled sacs) develop on the ovaries. Women who are obese or have a mother or sister diagnosed with PCOS are more likely to become diagnosed. Women diagnosed with PCOS face increased risk of developing diabetes, metabolic syndrome, heart disease and high blood pressure.

PCOS symptoms may include

  • infertility
  • pelvic pain
  • excess hair growth on face, chest, stomach, thumbs or toes
  • baldness or thinning hair
  • acne, oily skin, or dandruff
  • and patches of thickened dark brown or black skin.

To diagnose PCOS, your health care provider may do a physical exam, pelvic exam, blood tests, and an ultrasound.

There is no cure for PCOS, but diet, exercise, and medicines can help to control symptoms. Birth control pills help women have normal periods, reduce male hormone levels and clear acne.

Treatments for infertility caused by PCOS may include medicines, surgery, and in vitro fertilization (IVF).

Endometriosis happens when uterine lining tissue grows somewhere else within a woman’s body. Misplaced uterine tissues can grow on the ovaries, behind the uterus or on the tissues holding the uterus in place, on the bowels, or on the bladder. In rare cases, the misplaced tissue may grow on the lungs or in other areas of the body. Its cause is unknown.

There are several symptoms, including:

  • pain, usually occurring in the abdomen, lower back or pelvic areas
  • consistently heavy menstrual periods
  • infertility after attempting to conceive
  • painful menstrual cramps, which may get worse over time
  • pain during or after sex
  • pain in the intestine or lower abdomen
  • pain with bowel movements or urination, usually during your period
  • spotting or bleeding between periods
  • digestive or gastrointestinal symptoms
  • and fatigue or lack of energy.

Some women experience no symptoms at all, with having difficulties in becoming pregnant may be a first sign of having endometriosis.

It’s commonly diagnosed in women in their 30s and 40s, but it can affect any female who menstruates. Certain factors can raise or lower your endometriosis risk. You are at higher risk if:

  • you have a mother, sister, or daughter with endometriosis
  • your period started before age 11
  • your monthly cycles are short (less than 27 days)
  • and your menstrual cycles are heavy and last longer than 1 week.

You have a lower risk if:

  • you have been pregnant before
  • your periods started late in adolescence
  • you regularly exercise 4+ hours weekly
  • and you have a low percentage of body fat.

Your local Capital Women’s Care practitioner will ask symptom details, take your medical history, do a pelvic exam and order imaging tests if necessary.

Surgery via laparoscopy is the only means for diagnosing endometriosis. A laparoscope contains a thin tube with camera and light and is inserted through a small incision. Diagnosis is made based on the appearance of the endometriosis patches. A biopsy to obtain a tissue sample may also occur.

There is no cure for endometriosis, but there are treatments for its symptoms. Your Capital Women’s Care team can assist you with determining the best treatment for you.

There are several treatments for endometriosis pain, including pain relievers, hormone therapies and surgical treatments.

Treatments for female infertility directly attributed to endometriosis include:

  • laparoscopy to remove displaced endometrial tissue
  • and in vitro fertilization (IVF.)

Menstrual disorders are almost always caused by hormonal imbalances along with disorders related to clotting, cancer, ovarian cysts, uterine fibroids, genetics and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs.)

These gynecologic health issues are diagnosed based on your medical history, symptoms and tests, hormonal and blood tests, among others.

Some highly common menstrual disorders include:

Most menstrual disorders can be treated with any or a combination of surgery, medicine and changes in diet.

It’s important to relay noticed changes regarding your menstrual cycle during your annual well woman check with your local Capital Women’s Care practitioner to determine if you require treatment or further testing.

Gynecologic cancer is a collective group name for any type of cancer making its initial appearance within women’s reproductive organs.

Some common types of gynecologic cancers include:

Relay your family medical history, particularly any female relatives diagnosed with any type of gynecologic cancer, to your Capital Women’s Care practitioner during your yearly well-woman check-up.

Be sure to follow up and schedule recommended tests like Pap smears and HPV vaccine, which can eliminate cervical cancer risk. Keeping up to date with gynecologic health exams and tests gives you the best scenario possible for positive outcome should testing discover a serious developing health issue.

Menopause is characterized by the absence of periods and signifies the end of childbearing. Although menopause is not a disease, it can cause some problems due to its symptoms, which may begin a year before actual cessation of your monthly cycle.

Symptoms include:

If you’re having problems managing menopause symptoms, consult your Capital Women’s Care practitioner, who can work with you to determine the best treatment.

Your local Capital Women’s Care team offers you professional, comprehensive expertise in women’s gynecologic health, including all aspects pertaining to diagnosis, testing, treatment and follow-up care. Our goal is for you to achieve and maintain optimal health and wellbeing so you can enjoy a high quality, long life.


Our Mission

The providers of Capital Women's Care seek the highest quality medical and ethical standard in an environment that nurtures the spirit of caring for every woman.


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