Five of the Most Common Gynecological Problems
Abnormal Uterine Bleeding
Abnormal uterine bleeding is a broad term used to describe irregular vaginal bleeding. The definition of abnormal uterine bleeding changes in each phase of a woman’s life. For example, any type of bleeding is considered abnormal for pre-pubescent girls, pregnant women or women who have gone through menopause.
For women of menstruating age, abnormal bleeding can entail excessive bleeding during menstruation, bleeding outside of menstruation or not bleeding at all.
Symptoms of abnormal uterine bleeding include:
- Spotting between periods
- Periods that last longer than seven days
- Severe pain during menstruation or sexual intercourse
- Menstruation that requires more than one pad or tampon per hour for several hours
- Periods that are longer than 38 days or shorter than 24 days apart
Endometriosis is a common gynecological problem that occurs when endometrial tissue, which should only line the inside of a woman’s uterus, is misplaced outside the uterus. If a woman does not become pregnant during her monthly cycle, the endometrial lining is shed during her period each month.
For women who have endometrial tissue outside the uterus, the tissue sheds but has nowhere to go, resulting in painful inflammation and scar tissue.
Symptoms of endometriosis include:
- Long-term pelvic pain, especially just before and during the menstrual period
- Pain during or after sexual activity
- Pain during bowel movements
- Pain when urinating
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths of the uterus. They can occur at any age but are most common in women aged 30-40 years and occur more often in African American women. The main types of uterine fibroids include:
- Submucosal fibroids, which develop under the lining of the uterus
- Subserosal fibroids which grow on the outside of the uterus
- Intramural fibroids which grow within the uterine wall
Symptoms of uterine fibroids include:
- Extended, heavy periods
- Pain in the lower back
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Frequent need to urinate or difficulty urinating
- Abdominal pressure
Pelvic Organ Prolapse
Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) occurs when the connective tissues and ligaments in place to support the vagina, bladder, rectum and uterus become damaged or weakened. This causes the pelvic organs to sink down or fall out of place.
Symptoms of pelvic prolapse include:
- Pressure in the vagina or rectum
- Organs bulging outside the vagina
- Difficulty completely emptying the bladder
- Difficulty with urination and bowel movements
Urinary incontinence occurs when the ability to control the release of urine is lost, and is common in women age 35 and older. Though the condition is prevalent, there are a wide range of treatment options available, and it shouldn’t be accepted as normal.
There are three types of urinary incontinence:
- Stress urinary incontinence, which can occur during physical activity such as walking, running or exercising. Leaks may also happen when coughing, sneezing or laughing.
- Urgency urinary incontinence, occurs when urine is released after a strong, sudden need to urinate.
- Mixed incontinence includes symptoms of both types of urinary incontinence.
Countless women struggle with the above conditions, but thankfully, there are a range of treatments for common gynecological problems – and finding them begins with seeing a gynecologist. Learn more about how you can find a gynecologist you trust, and why you should make an appointment with them at least once a year. If you don’t already have a gynecologist, request an appointment with one of our experts at Baptist Health.