Posts Tagged ‘Menstrual Cycle’
For generations, the differences between men and women were always defined from a social aspect. Historically speaking, men were considered superior over women, and it was this ideology that managed to rule the co-existences of the two sexes for hundreds of years. As the goal of equality has continued to become a reality in modern societies, many of the differences between men and women have evened out to an equal playing field. When it comes to the physical gap, however, there will never really be equality.
Men and women will always differ in shape, weight, height, and anatomy. Both will experience their own range of physical, emotional and health problems as they relate to the specific sex. They have different problems, with different needs.
It’s why at some point in time, men will look towards finding a qualified urologist or male specific physician they can trust, and why women look towards finding a resourceful women’s health center or gynecologist (doctor for a female who specializes in the health needs of women) so that the problems and needs specific to the male or female body can be addressed.
While heart disease, cancer, weight management, the risk for diabetes, and many other ailments are common concerns for both men and women, there are specific conditions related to the female anatomy that a man will never experience. It’s the reason why annual visits to a gynecologist are so crucial to the long-term health of a woman.
According to the Women’s Specialists of Plano, a women’s health center in Plano, TX, there are a handful of common problems that women will experience that a man never will. These conditions and reasons to visit a doctor for a female, specifically, are why millions of young women begin seeing a gynecologist at a relatively early age.
When a woman is on her menstrual cycle, PMS can kick in and for some, it is bad enough that all normal activities will come to a halt. The symptoms of PMS can range from mild to severe and will include (for most women) cramping, bloating, mood swings, headaches and fatigue. Experts believe that hormones play the biggest factor in the severity of symptoms associated with PMS. Once a woman is under the routine care of a gynecologist, these symptoms can often be treated and managed each month.
Endometriosis is somewhat common among women. It is a female health disorder that occurs when the cells that typically reside in the lining of the uterus, grow in other parts of the body. The most common symptoms are very heavy bleeding and cramping, irregular periods, long-lasting menstrual cycles, and problems getting pregnant (infertility). Many gynecologists offer specialized treatment for endometriosis such as endometrial ablation, hysterectomy, and other minimally invasive techniques.
- Ovarian Cysts
Ovarian cysts are very common among the female population. These are small, fluid-like sacs that develop and grow in the uterus. Many women may have these benign growths and not experience any symptoms, while other women may have problems associated with ovarian cysts such as bleeding, cramping, and rupture. Gynecologists treat ovarian cysts as a routine procedure and today, many progressive treatments are an option including laparoscopic surgery, and robotic surgery for hysterectomy.
- HPV Virus
Genital human papillomavirus is notably the most common sexually transmitted infection among young women. There are varying types of HPV that can lead to a myriad of symptoms including pelvic pain, genital warts, and other conditions that can lead to larger problems such as cervical cancer. HPV can be prevented and it is a topic of discussion among gynecologists and their female patients. These conversations generally involve the discussion of prevention and treatment.
- Vaginal Infections
Bacteria and fungi are the culprits that lead to vaginal infections among women. It is one of the most common reasons why a woman will visit her gynecologist outside of her annual visit. Discharge, itching, vaginal burning and irritation are the symptoms associated with a vaginal infection. Antibiotics can usually cure most vaginal infections effectively. A gynecologist will be able to discuss prevention techniques to help keep future infections at bay.
- Pregnancy Prevention
Something that will surely differentiate a man and a woman until the end of time is pregnancy. Millions of women in the United States visit their gynecologist each and every year to discuss pregnancy prevention, birth control, and pre-natal care for if and when a pregnancy occurs. It is a topic of discussion at most OBGYN visits until a woman has had all of her children and begins the next phase of life (menopause). A gynecologist is the best resource to discuss pregnancy and pregnancy prevention with a woman.
Thousands of women will undergo a hysterectomy in a given year. A gynecologist may recommend a hysterectomy for many reasons, including for the treatment of fibroid tumors, PID, ovarian cysts, and endometriosis. Today’s technology has allowed skilled gynecologists to do hysterectomies robotically which leads to quicker recovery and a decrease in unwanted side effects. Robotic hysterectomies are not yet offered by all gynecologists as it takes extensive training and time to be able to master the technology; it is becoming more popular and a preferred choice among women.
Every city and state has a women’s health center that can offer a doctor for a female’s medical needs. Sometimes referred to as a women’s health physician, gynecologist, or OBGYN, they all meet the same challenge—keeping a female healthy both physically and in some case, emotionally. It’s important to see your doctor annually and sometimes more often if problems or an untreated condition persists.
The gynecologists from the Women’s Specialist of Plano (OBGYN in North Dallas) contributed to this feature.
Coming of Age: The Importance of Women’s Health and Finding a Compassionate, Trusting OBGYN for Years to Come
Expert interviews conducted with the Women’s Specialists of Plano (OBGYN in Plano, TX)
By the time a female turns 21, her body has already experienced a myriad of emotional and physical changes. With the onset of cyclic hormone production from the ovaries, secondary sexual characteristics such as breast development and pubic hair growth begins.
Approximately 18 months after this, and at about 100 pounds, the menstrual cycle begins. Frequently, these developmental milestones create individual issues that require a specialist’s input. The adolescent time (pre-teen to age 21) may also require consultation regarding infection, vaginal discharge, and contraception. As women age, the body continues to change, making gynecological “well-woman” visits and a trusted resource regarding healthcare for women even more important. This article discusses the importance of healthcare for women, and more importantly, finding a trusted, skilled practitioner who is in practice solely for the health of a woman, and understands the issues, conditions, and underlying factors that ultimately affect the health and well-being of the female body.
According to the Women’s Specialists of Plano, a group of gynecologists in Plano, Texas who provide women’s healthcare throughout North Texas, new guidelines in the area of Pap smears have evolved over the past several years. However, many of the other guidelines surrounding well visits and women’s physical health remain the same.
The new guidelines in the area of gynecological care state that a woman should have her first Pap smear around the age of 21. During a routine Pap smear, a gynecologist will insert a small instrument called a speculum into the vagina to visualize the cervix and collect a sample of cells to be checked under a microscope. If a Pap smear appears abnormal once it is analyzed, additional tests will be needed to diagnose the underlying cause of the abnormality.
Most women will continue to have a Pap smear every year following the first, but after the age of 30, it may not be required as often and many will begin having one every other year, or at the advice of their physician. One known fact is that Pap smears are crucial to a woman’s health. Medical professionals state that the occurrence of cervical cancer is higher in patients in whom a Pap smear was not performed, with the majority of diagnosed cases being in patients who have not had a Pap smear test in five or more years.
Even though the first Pap smear may not take place until around age 21, it is recommended that teenage girls begin seeing a gynecologist around the age of 15 for problems related to the female organs and puberty. By this time, they have most likely started their menstrual cycle and it is a good time to begin establishing a relationship with a trusted resource and talk about questions regarding contraceptives, gynecological issues such as menstrual cramps, abnormal bleeding, and hormonally-related mood swings, as well as STD’s.
In time, before the first Pap smear, a routine pelvic exam will be performed. During a pelvic exam, a gynecologist will look and feel the external and internal reproductive organs. This exam helps to make sure that these organs are healthy and that no underlying condition exists. Many medical professionals recommend a woman have their first pelvic exam if they have not started their menstrual cycle by age 16, by the time they have become sexually active, or have reached the age of 18. If a woman is a virgin it is still important to have this exam. Problems with bleeding, cramping, pain, or discharge, can be diagnosed and treated with this exam will help determine if there is a medical problem.
Women’s Healthcare—What Next?
After the age of 21, a woman should visit her gynecologist every year. Topics surrounding healthcare for women will become very important in the years that follow as additional body changes occur, and the topic of pregnancy and childbirth become more relevant. Routine Pap smears, pelvic exams, breast exams, weight, blood pressure and nutritional health will be at the forefront of these visits. Some gynecological conditions, such as Endometriosis, are often detected in women who are in their 20s. Endometriosis is a condition in which uterine endometrial tissue grows outside of the uterus on the fallopian tubes and ovaries leading to abnormal bleeding and cramping, and in some cases, infertility. Vaginal infections such as yeast infections are also more prevalent in this age group.
By age 30, the body will continue to change. The transition into menopause can last more than 10 years, but the average age for perimenopause can start as early as 35. During a woman’s 30’s, estrogen begins to naturally decrease within the body. In addition, between the ages of 30 and 40, a good percentage of American women will develop fibroids—small, benign growths that develop inside the uterine wall. If a woman has given birth and had difficult deliveries, issues such as incontinence or pelvic floor dysfunction may also arise. The American Cancer Society recommends that women have their first baseline mammogram between the ages of 35-40. After the age of 40, a mammogram needs to be an annual, consistent test so that if breast cancer is detected, the chances for a cure can be higher.
By age 40 and 50, a woman will begin to slowly transition into menopause. Other factors such as diet and exercise, bone density, osteoporosis, hormone therapy, and other important issues in women’s health may become a more prominent topic of discussion.
A Healthy Future
Women’s healthcare will always be an important topic. While there are known facts that are able to help guide a woman through the stages of her life, as well as knowing the conditions and diseases that may occur, the most important aspect is education. Every woman should educate herself and understand the various transitions and common gynecological conditions so that each phase of life is healthy, productive, and happy.
For more information about finding the right OBGYN doctor in Plano to serve your specific needs, please contact the Women’s Specialist of Plano for a list of services and locations.
Photo Credit: Creative Commons, Mike Baird
When to go to the gynecologist for the first time is a question that women have been asking for years. Once upon a time the answer to this question was around 21. But because women are becoming sexually active at progressively younger ages this question does not have a definitive answer. According to the gynecologists that make up the Plano, Texas based Women’s Specialists of Plano, “The most important concept to remember is that once you become sexually active, at whatever age, it is important to begin receiving regular pap smears. A pap smear test is the only way to be sure that you are free of STDs, ovarian, cervical or uterine cancer, or any other issues or underlying conditions that may occur with the reproductive organs.”
Your first OB appt and first Pap smear test is a common fear for every young woman. Oftentimes, the fear and anxiety can be so great that young women will purposely put off making that very first appointment. Most women are anxious about exposing their most intimate parts to a stranger and are also afraid that there may be an amount of pain associated with the checkup. Both of these fears are normal thoughts.
Drs. Murray Fox, Daryl Greebon, Jules Monier, Dennis Eisenberg and Jennifer Newton (Plano, Texas gynecologists) answered several questions for this Q and A designed to help you decide when the best time is to visit an OBGYN for the first time.
Q. First OB appt: When should I go to the gynecologist for the first time?
A. You should see your gynecologist for the first time upon becoming sexually active. Other reasons to visits the gynecologist would be:
- Abnormal bleeding outside of your normal menstrual cycle
- Menstrual periods become longer
- Menstrual periods become heavier and more painful
- An overall change or disruption in your menstrual period
- Severe pelvic cramps outside of your normal menstrual cycle
- Infections such as a bacterial infection or yeast infection that would cause itching, redness, burning or unusual discharge
Q. At what age should I have my first pap smear test?
A. The recommended age for a woman to receive her first pap smear is at age 21. Keep in mind that this age applies to a woman who is not sexually active, and has had regular, similar periods since the beginning of her menstruation.
Q. Why is it important to get annual pap smears?
A. It is important to return to your gynecologist annually because there are complications that arise without symptoms. This means that something could be wrong with your reproductive organs though you have no symptoms and no reason to believe so. The early stages of ovarian and cervical cancer will cause your pap smear to test abnormally; through a routine pelvic exam which is usually also included in these annual appointments, such abnormalities as tumors and cysts can also be diagnosed. Annual pap smears and pelvic exams allow your doctor to catch specific conditions at early stages so that proper treatment can be implemented and fertility can remain healthy. In addition, your gynecologist will check your breasts for any abnormal lumps during each annual visit. This is important because most women do not begin receiving regular mammograms until they are in their forties. Your gynecologist may be able to help you detect breast cancer in its early stages at your annual.
Q. Does it hurt to have a pap smear?
A. No, pap smears do not hurt. There will be a mild discomfort during the exam and for most women the first check-up will be uncomfortable. However, the majority of the discomfort is the result of the unknown. There should be no pain associated with your pap smear and all future visits will become easier each and every time.
Q. What does the gynecologist do during a pap smear?
A. Before the check-up a nurse will bring you a sheet and ask you to undress waist down. As your doctor comes into the room you will be asked to lie down and place your feet in stirrups which will keep your feet in place during the exam. Your doctor will then use a lubricated speculum to gently open your vagina. It is important to relax and take deep breaths during this part. The more relaxed you are the less uncomfortable you are likely to be. Your doctor will then use a long q-tip to swab the inside of your vagina. This swab is what is tested to determine if the cells are healthy, or abnormal. After your doctor swabs you using the speculum, the tool is removed and the exam will be finished.
Most women find that their anxiety about their first pap smear test disappears just as quickly as the actually procedure. But for some the anxiety returns every year when they go back for their annual. It is important to remember that your health should be rated much higher than your fear.
It is important to receive your checkup annually. But it is important to call your gynecologist sooner if:
- Your periods become irregular or cease
- Your periods become heavy
- You experience odor and/or discomfort
- If intercourse becomes painful
- If you think you may be pregnant
When the examination portion of your appointment is complete, your gynecologist will most likely meet with you and discuss a health follow-up with you and answer any questions you may have about such topics as birth control, etc. Finding the right OBGYN is just as important as going every year. Some women see the same doctor through their twenties, the birth of their children and into their mid-life years. If the time is now for you to find and visit an OBGYN, ask around to friends and family for a solid recommendation and make the appointment sooner than later.
The stage of life between a young woman’s fertility, and the menopause of a woman’s later years is called peri-menopause. Peri-menopause begins in a woman’s late 30s to early 40s and can last 3-15 years. According to Drs. Fox, Greebon, Monier, Eisenberg and Newton, Plano, TX gynecologists that make up the Women’s Specialists of Plano (972.379.2416), “This number is different for every woman, but one fact that remains the same is that during this phase, undesirable effects will take place to a woman’s body.”
Peri-menopause is onset by the fluctuations of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone. These normal hormone changes are the result of the ongoing decrease of eggs inside a woman’s ovaries. As these eggs decrease, there is no more cyclic estrogen and progesterone production. The symptoms a woman will experience during due to these biological changes most often reflect peri-menopause. The most obvious sign that a woman may be in peri-menopause is the change in her menstrual cycle. It is important to highlight what a normal period looks like for most women:
- The start of one period to the start of the next should be at least 21 days
- Periods should last less than 10 days
- There is no spotting in between periods
- Periods should be no further apart than 90 days
Because all women’s cycles are unique, peri-menopausal bleeding changes will be unique to each woman. Some women notice a very heavy period one-month, followed by the absence of a period the next month. Others may experience more frequent periods that appear less than the average 28-32 days apart. Some woman may only spot during their period for several months, while others notice heavier bleeding throughout. Only you will know if your cycle has changed. The sporadic distribution of estrogen and progesterone is to blame for menopausal bleeding changes and is inevitable.
The natural hormonal imbalance that takes place inside of a woman’s body may cause other undesirable symptoms. Some of the symptoms of peri-menopause include:
- Hot flashes
- Sleep problems (which affects 75% of all peri-menopausal women)
- Mood changes
- Vaginal dryness
- Bladder problems
- Decreased fertility
- Increase in bad cholesterol
- Loss of bone mass
- Weight gain
Other common symptoms of peri-menopause include bouts of depression; it is also very common for a woman in these years to suffer from a loss in libido and decreased sexual arousal.
The Transition from Peri-Menopause to Menopause
Every woman is born with a certain amount of eggs. She will not produce anymore throughout her life. As a woman ages, so do the ovaries which is where the eggs reside. During pre-menopause the fluctuation of hormones within a woman’s body begin to make it difficult for the eggs to reach the point of ovulation, causing the above mentioned symptoms for a peri-menopausal woman. As it becomes increasingly difficult for an egg to reach ovulation, ovulation begins to cease. After an egg is no longer able to reach ovulation at all, ovulation ceases completely and so does a woman’s cycle. It is at this time that a woman’s transition from peri-menopause to menopause is complete.
It is important to remember that peri-menopause is the stage before menopause and does not mean that you have crossed over the bridge. A woman in peri-menopause has a decreased likelihood of getting pregnant, but it is still possible. A woman is not considered menopausal until she has been without a cycle for a full 12 months. If you are peri-menopausal and aspire to have a child, talk to your doctor about your options.
Peri-menopause shows itself differently in every woman. Some may find it alarmingly obvious that their body is changing, while others may soar through peri-menopause into menopause without ever noticing a single hot flash. However it is important to note that if you are noticing that the symptoms of peri-menopause are beginning to affect parts of your daily life you need to speak with your doctor. He or she will discuss your options with you and help you to find comfort during this transition.
There are several approaches to easing the transition from peri-menopause to menopause; only your doctor will be able to decide what option is best for you. Some methods that women have found helpful to help minimize the symptoms of peri-menopause include:
- Low dose birth control, for the relief of hot flashes and the changes associated with menopausal bleeding.
- Exercise, which is good for your health and known to help a woman receive better rest.
- Vaginal lubricants and sex therapy, to help recover the loss of libido.
- A diet full of calcium, to help protect against the loss of bone mass.
- Anti-depressants, to help control the mood swings and bouts of depression.
The Women’s Specialists of Plano in Plano, Texas include Dr. Murray Fox, Dr. Daryl Greebon, Dr. Jules Monier, Dr. Dennis Eisenberg, and Dr. Jennifer Newton. They offer adolescent gynecology, obstetrics and treat women even past the menopausal years. As a woman’s body goes through the myriad of changes from teenage to menopause, it’s important to have a trusted resource to answer questions and receive regular well checks. Peri-menopause, while it can be a troublesome condition for many women, is treatable on some levels. Contact your physician today to learn more.
Jules Monier, MD of Women’s Specialists of Plano was interviewed for the below article originally published in Articlesbase on September 2.
Endometrial Ablation: The Simple Way to End Heavy Periods (Menorrhagia) Without a Hysterectomy
Author: Kristy Theis
If you are a woman who dreads her monthly menstrual cycle because of a relentless, long and heavy flow, you are not alone. In fact, more than 1 in 5 women experience a persistent and abnormal menstrual flow every month, a condition known as menorrhagia.
Is My Period Normal?
Each month, as a woman’s body prepares itself for a possible pregnancy, the hormone levels estrogen and progesterone rise thus thickening the uterine lining in order to protect the egg released by the ovaries. If fertilization does not occur, a woman will shed this lining which will be visible as blood indicating the start of her period.
As the time nears for a woman to have her period, those suffering from menorrhagia will dread the days leading to the very first sign of blood that will eventually appear. A normal period is usually marked with less than 10 tablespoons of blood lost and a manageable flow for up to 4-7 days. When a woman has a consistently long and heavy period every month—severe enough to cause nausea, fatigue, moodiness, or a complete interruption of daily life, it might be time to check into a menorrhagia treatment in order to resolve the problem.
Curing Heavy Periods
Endometrial ablation is one such menorrhagia treatment procedure that can radically improve the symptoms associated with a prolonged and unrelenting menstrual flow. During the procedure, the endometrial lining is removed either by using freezing temperatures or a heated fluid. The removal of the lining, in essence, prevents the flow of blood to occur.
According to Dr. Jules Monier, a Gynecologist in Plano, Texas, “Endometrial ablation has been around in some form for more than 20 years. The procedure has been perfected and now an unprecedented number of women can enjoy normal menstrual cycles with a much lighter flow accompied by the usual, mild symptoms associated with having an average period.”
The NovaSure® method, an approved endometrial ablation procedure designed specifically as a menorrhagia treatment option over more drastic procedures such as a hysterectomy, uses radio frequency energy to permanently remove the lining of the uterus, which reduces, or eliminates, future bleeding. The procedure, which is carried out under local anesthesia, usually takes under an hour to complete and is typically performed either in the office on an out-patient basis or in a hospital as a day surgery procedure.
Dr. Jules Monier performs the procedure in his Plano, Texas office on a routine basis and consistently receives satisfactory feedback from the patients who have opted to have the treatment. “More than half of my patients experience a total absence of a period after the procedure is performed. Most others see a significant improvement in their menstrual flow and the symptoms that follow. I like to refer to the procedure as it’s like having a hysterectomy without having a hysterectomy.”
For the women that have visited this Plano, Texas office and the thousands of others who have undergone the NovaSure® procedure, 97% say they would recommend the treatment to their friends.
Who is the right candidate for this procedure?
Although the chances for pregnancy reduce greatly after the NovaSure® endometrial ablation procedure has been performed, it is still possible to become pregnant. Any woman who has completed child-bearing or who is menopausal can be a candidate for the treatment. Prior to performing the NovaSure® method, your gynecologist will do a sonogram and in some cases, an endometrial biopsy to ensure there is not another underlying condition present. Light cramping and bleeding may occur in the days or weeks following the procedure but will then disappear allowing the majority of women to enjoy either a normal or an absent menstrual flow.
To learn more about what may be causing you to have a consistently heavy period and to look at the treatments that are available, such as the NovaSure® method, be sure to discuss all of your options with your gynecologist.
About the Author:
Dr. Jules Monier was interviewed for this article and has been practicing gynecology in the Plano, Texas area for 25 years. He is currently in practice with Women’s Specialists of Plano. http://www.obgynplano.com/
Kristy Theis is a Plano, Texas-based communications freelance writer specializing in b2b, consumer and vertical trade copy suitable for both print and Internet. She has over 14 years experience in the fields of marketing, PR and copywriting and currently serves as the content editor for emedicalmedia.com.