Posts for: August, 2018
As you might imagine, women’s bones are smaller than men’s, which puts women at a risk for developing osteoporosis, a chronic condition that causes a loss of bone density and can leave women prone to fractures. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, 80 percent of Americans with osteoporosis are women and half of women over the age of 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis.
Why does osteoporosis mostly affect women? During childbearing years, your body produces estrogen, a hormone that is not only implemental in your reproductive and sexual health but also serves to protect your bones; however, as women approach menopause their estrogen production decreases drastically, which makes women prone to fractured and broken bones.
Fortunately, your gynecologist and women’s health team are instrumental in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of osteoporosis. Bone density is influenced by many factors including hormone levels, lifestyle, nutrition, medications, health problems, and genetics. Common risk factors include:
- Family history
- History of broken bones/fractures
- Poor nutrition
- Heavy alcohol consumption
- Lack of calcium or other vitamins in your diet
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Low body mass index (BMI) and weight
The good news about osteoporosis is that it can be prevented through proper screenings and medications/therapies used to slow the progress of osteoporosis. Your initial screening will provide the information you need to help you and your gynecological team make an informed decision about the type of treatment options available to you. An X-ray is the most common diagnostic tool for checking the density level of your bones.
Getting an osteoporosis screening is highly recommended for all postmenopausal women (women 65 years old or older). If a woman is at an increased risk of developing osteoporosis, she may want to consider getting screened even earlier.
Osteoporosis treatment will include lifestyle changes along with medications/treatments. Simple everyday measures you can take to lessen your chances of bone fractures include:
- Making sure you get enough Vitamin D and calcium in your diet
- Reducing alcohol consumption
- Exercise regularly (include both cardio and strength training)
- Quit smoking
There are also a variety of different prescription medications on the market (also known as bisphosphonates) that can aid in preventing bone loss. Along with medications, your gynecologist may also recommend hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which will supply your body with the estrogen it needs to both prevent and treat osteoporosis.
Find out what screenings are available to check for HPV and HPV-related disease.
The human papillomavirus (HPV) is a virus that affects millions of Americans most often during the late teen years and early 20s. With the rise of HPV infections over the years it’s now more important than every for women to get routine screenings to check for HPV-related diseases such as cervical cancer. This is yet another reason why young women should visit their OBGYN at least once a year for routine checkups.
What are the symptoms of HPV?
Some types of HPV cause genital warts, a cluster of small bumps that appear in the genital area. They often appear weeks or months after being exposed to the virus. Genital warts may go away on their own without treatment or they may get worse; however, genital warts aren’t usually cancerous.
Unfortunately, most people will never know that they HPV because the viral infection usually does not cause symptoms. The body will often just shed the infection after a couple of years; however, there are certain HPV infections that can affect the cells and lead to cervical cancer.
What goes into getting an HPV screening?
There are two types of tests that your gynecologist can perform during your next visit to look for warning signs of HPV. The most common test is a Pap smear, which involves collecting cells from the cervix to check for changes or abnormalities. If pre-cancerous lesions are present or if cervical cancer is found early enough, treatment is very successful.
A Pap smear is performed right in your gynecologist’s office and it only takes a couple of minutes to collect the cells necessary for analysis. It’s important that you talk with your gynecologist about getting a cervical cancer screening and how often you should get screened. Women who’ve had abnormal Pap smear results in the past may need to be screened more regularly than women who’ve never had abnormal results. Your age will also dictate how often you should be screened.
HPV co-testing can be performed at the same time as the Pap smear. The only difference is that when the cells are collected the test will check for the presence of the virus rather than detecting changes in the cervical cells.
What does the HPV vaccine protect against?
According to the CDC, approximately 32,500 men and women are diagnosed with HPV-related cancers. By getting the HPV vaccine you could prevent cancer from happening to you. This vaccine could also prevent the need for HPV testing every year. Since it can be difficult to screen for certain cancers caused by HPV (particularly cancer of the rectum or throat), getting vaccinated could protect your teenager from these cancers in the future.
Do you have questions about getting the HPV vaccine for you or your teenager? Need to schedule your annual gynecological checkup? If so, turn to your OBGYN today and ask whether an HPV vaccine is a good option for your health.
Do you deal with ovarian cysts often? Wondering if this is the cause of your abdominal pain?
All women will experience abdominal pain at some point during their lifetime. Most of the time it’s due to menstruation; however, there are other causes that could be to blame for your abdominal pain. When this happens it can be a bit unsettling, especially if you’ve never experienced abdominal pain before; however, your OBGYN is here to tell you whether your pain could be due to ovarian cysts.
Ovarian cysts are very common, affecting most women during their childbearing years. Most of the time they are completely harmless (it is very rare that an ovarian cyst is cancerous).
Often, ovarian cysts develop and you don’t even know they are there; however, some women experience a sharp or dull pain in the abdomen when an ovarian cyst is present. If the cyst becomes large enough it could cause the ovary to twist, which can cause sudden but intermittent pain on one side. If the cyst bursts, this can result in sudden and severe pain.
If your gynecologist suspects that your symptoms could be due to ovarian cysts the best way to diagnose these cysts is through a pelvic exam or by performing an ultrasound. The ultrasound will allow your doctor to examine the abdomen in detail to see if cysts are present.
How are ovarian cysts treated?
Most of the time your doctor will just monitor your condition and tell you to come back in if the pain gets worse or changes. Sometimes you’ll come back in for repeat imaging tests to see if the cyst has gotten larger. Most of the time these cysts will just go away on their own after a month or two.
However, if the cyst is very large or if it’s causing severe pain and other symptoms then it may need to be removed. This is something your OBGYN will discuss with you. A cystectomy is a minimally invasive surgery that is done laparoscopically, in which a small incision is made in the abdomen and performed through a very small fiber-optic instrument that boasts smaller incisions that traditional surgery and a faster recovery time.
If you are dealing with unexplained and persistent abdominal pain it’s important that you have a gynecologist you can turn to for answers. It’s always best to get a medical opinion if you are concerned about any new pain or discomfort. A doctor will be able to determine if it’s an ovarian cyst (or something else) and help you create an effective treatment plan that will manage your pain.