Posts Tagged ‘menstruation’

Endometriosis Awareness Month

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

My daughter has endometriosis and it has caused her a bunch of problems over the years.  She went through horribly uncomfortable periods, painful ovulation, bouts of diarrhea contrasted with constipation… For years she was not a happy camper.

Endometriosis, aside from making one feel lousy, can interfere with fertility and make having a child difficult.  Read more about endometriosis in our previous post.

My daughter ultimately had surgery to “clean up” as much unwanted tissue in her abdomen as possible.  Happily, she now has two daughters and far fewer discomforts every month.  If you have symptoms and think you may have endometriosis, talk to your doc about it.  Don’t suffer in silence.   Although you can’t get rid of it all together, there are ways of treating it.

Functional ovarian cysts

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs that form on or in the ovaries.  The most common type of ovarian cyst is a functional cyst.  Unfortunately, they cannot be prevented, but they usually go away on their own over time and are not cancerous.  Functional cysts usually form during normal menstruation and can be of two types: follicle cysts or corpus luteum cysts.

During a normal menstrual cycle, a follicle sac breaks open and releases an egg that travels down the fallopian tube to the uterus. The remains of the broken sac dissolve.  Follicle cysts occur when the sac doesn’t rupture to release an egg but continues to grow.   They usually disappear after a month or two.  Corpus luteum cysts occur after the egg is released if the sac doesn’t dissolve.  The sac closes and fluid builds up.  They usually go away within a few weeks, but sometimes they can swell up to 4 inches in size and cause pain and bleeding.  Functional cysts occur during a normal menstrual cycle and do not cause infertility.

While functional ovarian cysts usually have no symptoms, occasionally they can, so let your health care provider know if you experience any of the following:
• Pain during sex
• Pressure, bloating, swelling or pain in the abdomen
• Dull ache in the lower back or thighs
• Pelvic pain
• Abnormal bleeding

Functional ovarian cysts usually do not need treatment.  Sometimes birth control pills are used to regulate a woman’s cycles and decrease the development of functional cysts.  Complex cysts that do not go away usually are surgically removed.

There are other types of ovarian cysts (endometriomas, dermoid cysts, cystadenomas or polycystic ovarian cysts).  Functional ovarian cysts are not the same as ovarian tumors (including ovarian cancer) or cysts due to hormone-related conditions such as polycystic ovary disease.

Researchers examine the benefits of hormonal contraceptives

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

birth-control-pillsAccording to a publication by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) in the Jan. issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology, “the benefits of hormonal contraceptives may extend beyond pregnancy prevention.” Benefits of hormonal contraceptives (pills, patches, injections, implants, vaginal rings, etc.) include the effective treatment of difficult and painful, heavy or very long periods. They may reduce symptoms of premenstrual discomfort, and may offer a “lower risk for the development of endometrial cancer…ovarian cancer,” and “colorectal cancers.” 

The bulletin also states that “combined contraceptives block androgen production and may therefore reduce hirsutism (excessive bodily and facial hair) and acne,” and may even help prevent “menstrual migraines,” treat “pelvic pain caused by endometriosis,” and treat “uterine bleeding from fibroids.” A note of caution about migraines: “combined [oral contraceptives] have been associated with possible increased stroke risk in women with migraine who are 35 years or older, who smoke, or who have focal neurologic signs. Combined OCs should therefore be avoided in these women.”

If you face some of these issues and are not trying to get pregnant at this time, you may want to have a talk with your health care provider about possible treatment benefits of hormonal contraceptives.  If you are hoping to become pregnant but have excessively long or heavy periods, your provider may suggest trying to regulate your periods first with hormonal contraceptives.  It’s worth a conversation.

Fertility tracking methods

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

If your periods are irregular and you want to figure out the best time to try to conceive, try a fertility tracking method. They can help you determine when you’re ovulating. Talk to your health care provider about the most effective ways to use them.

The temperature method – use a basal body thermometer to take your temperature every day before you get out of bed. Your temperature will rise one degree as you ovulate. Having intercourse as close as possible to this temperature rise improves your chances of getting pregnant.

The cervical mucus method – pay attention to the mucus in your vagina. It gets thinner, slippery, clearer and increases just before ovulation

Ovulation prediction kit – Ovulation prediction kits test urine for a substance called luteinizing hormone (LH). This hormone increases each month during ovulation and causes the ovaries to release eggs. The kit will tell you of your LH is increasing. You can purchase ovulation prediction kits at pharmacies.

If you use the temperature or cervical mucus method, begin tracking changes a few months before you want to conceive. If you’re using an ovulation predictor kit, begin using it about ten days after the start of your last period.