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All Posts Tagged: Gynecologist Doctors in Chennai

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What is Dysmenorrhea?

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What is Dysmenorrhea?

Menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea) are throbbing or cramping pains in the lower abdomen. Many women have menstrual cramps just before and during their menstrual periods.

If you have painful periods because of a disorder or an infection in your female reproductive organs, it is called secondary dysmenorrhea. Pain from secondary dysmenorrhea usually begins earlier in the menstrual cycle and lasts longer than common menstrual cramps. You usually don’t have nausea, vomiting, fatigue or diarrhea.

Menstrual Cramp Symptoms

You may have:

  • Aching pain in your belly (sometimes severe)
  • A feeling of pressure in your belly
  • Pain in your hips, lower back, and inner thighs

When cramps are severe, symptoms may include:

  • Upset stomach
  • Vomiting
  • Loose stools

During your menstrual period, your uterus contracts to help expel its lining. Hormone like substances (prostaglandins) involved in pain and inflammation trigger the uterine muscle contractions. Higher levels of prostaglandins are associated with more-severe menstrual cramps.

Menstrual cramps can be caused by:

Endometriosis. The tissue that lines your uterus becomes implanted outside your uterus, most commonly on your fallopian tubes, ovaries or the tissue lining your pelvis.

Uterine fibroids. These noncancerous growths in the wall of the uterus can cause pain.

Adenomyosis. The tissue that lines your uterus begins to grow into the muscular walls of the uterus.

Pelvic inflammatory disease. This infection of the female reproductive organs is usually caused by sexually transmitted bacteria.

Cervical stenosis. In some women, the opening of the cervix is small enough to impede menstrual flow, causing a painful increase of pressure within the uterus.

When to see a doctor

See your doctor if:

  1. Menstrual cramps disrupt your life every month
  2. Your symptoms progressively worsen
  3. You just started having severe menstrual cramps after age 25
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What is Uterine Fibroid Utilization?

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What is Uterine Fibroid Utilization?

Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) is a minimally invasive treatment for fibroid tumors of the uterus. The procedure is also sometimes referred to as Uterine Artery Embolization (UAE) also.

Why it’s done

Uterine fibroids can cause severe symptoms in some women, including heavy menstrual bleeding, pelvic pain and swelling of the abdomen. Uterine artery embolization destroys fibroid tissue and eases these symptoms. And it provides an alternative to surgery to remove fibroids (myomectomy).

You might choose uterine artery embolization if you’re premenopausal and:

  • You have severe pain or heavy bleeding from uterine fibroids
  • You want to avoid surgery, or surgery is too risky for you
  • You want to keep your uterus
  • Optimizing a future pregnancy isn’t your chief concern

Risks

Uterine artery embolization is generally safe. Ask your doctor about these possible problems.

A risk for any anesthesia is having a bad reaction to the anesthetic that is used.

The risks for any invasive procedure are:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Bruising

The risks of uterine artery embolization are:

  • Injury to an artery or to the uterus
  • Complications with a future pregnancy. Some of these are intrauterine growth restriction (a condition that causes the baby to grow more slowly than usual in the uterus), preterm delivery (the baby is born early), bleeding after delivery, problems with the placenta, and miscarriage.
  • Pregnancy is not recommended after this procedure
  • Early menopause

Before the Procedure

Always tell your doctor or nurse:

  • If you could be pregnant
  • What drugs you are taking, even drugs, supplements, or herbs you bought without a prescription

Before your UAE:

You may be asked to stop taking aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), warfarin (Coumadin), and any other drugs that make it hard for your blood to clot.

Ask your doctor which drugs you should still take on the day of your surgery.

If you smoke, try to stop. Ask your doctor or nurse for help.

On the day of your UAE:

  • You will usually be asked not to drink or eat anything for 6 to 8 hours before this procedure.
  • Take the drugs your doctor told you to take with a small sip of water.
  • Your doctor or nurse will tell you when to arrive at the hospital.
  • After Uterine Artery Embolization

After the Procedure

  • Women usually stay in the hospital overnight after UAE. Some women are able to go home a few hours after treatment, but this is less common.
  • You will receive pain medicine. You will be asked to lie flat for 4 to 6 hours after the procedure.
  • Pelvic cramps are common for the first 24 hours after the procedure. They may last for 2 weeks. Cramps may be severe and may last more than 6 hours at a time.
  • The treated fibroid tissue may pass through your vagina.
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What is Pelvic Inflammatory Disease?

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Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection of the female reproductive organs. It most often occurs when sexually transmitted bacteria spread from your vagina to your uterus, fallopian tubes or ovaries.

The signs and symptoms of pelvic inflammatory disease can be subtle or mild. Some women don’t experience any signs or symptoms. As a result, you might not realize you have it until you have trouble getting pregnant or you develop chronic pelvic pain.

Causes of pelvic inflammatory disease

Many types of bacteria can cause PID, but gonorrhea or chlamydia infections are the most common. These bacteria are usually acquired during unprotected sex.

Less commonly, bacteria can enter your reproductive tract anytime the normal barrier created by the cervix is disturbed. This can happen during menstruation and after childbirth, miscarriage or abortion. Rarely, bacteria can also enter the reproductive tract during the insertion of an intrauterine device (IUD) — a form of long-term birth control — or any medical procedure that involves inserting instruments into the uterus.

Symptoms of pelvic inflammatory disease

Some women with pelvic inflammatory disease don’t have symptoms. For the women who do have symptoms, these can include:

  • pain in the lower abdomen (the most common symptom)
  • pain in the upper abdomen
  • fever
  • painful sex
  • painful urination
  • irregular bleeding
  • increased or foul-smelling vaginal discharge
  • tiredness

Pelvic inflammatory disease can cause mild or moderate pain. However, some women have severe pain and symptoms, such as:

  • sharp pain in the abdomen
  • vomiting
  • fainting
  • a high fever (greater than 101°F)

If you have severe symptoms, call your doctor immediately or go to the emergency room. The infection may have spread to your bloodstream or other parts of your body. This can be life-threatening.

When to see a doctor

See your doctor or seek urgent medical care if you experience:

  • Severe pain low in your abdomen
  • Nausea and vomiting, with an inability to keep anything down
  • Fever, with a temperature higher than 101 F (38.3 C)
  • Foul vaginal discharge

If you have signs and symptoms of PID that aren’t severe, still see your doctor as soon as possible. Vaginal discharge with an odor, painful urination or bleeding between menstrual cycles can also be symptoms of a sexually transmitted infection (STI).

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Why Postmenopause Matters?

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Menopause commonly gets a bad rap as a point in life when hot flashes, overactive bladder, and other embarrassing symptoms begin. In fact, it’s during perimenopause (months or years before menopause occurs) when the main side effects happen. You achieve menopause itself 12 months after your final period, and you are then in the phase call postmenopause.

But as a result of several factors, including a lower level of estrogen, postmenopausal women are at increased risk for a number of health conditions, such as osteoporosis and heart disease.

How to identify Postmenopausal?

A woman is considered to be postmenopausal when she has not had her period for an entire year. Having your doctor measure your follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) level is another way to see if you are near menopause. FSH is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland (located at the base of the brain). Your FSH levels will dramatically rise as your ovaries begin to shut down; these levels are easily checked through one blood test. FSH levels can fluctuate during perimenopause, so the only way to know you are definitely postmenopausal is when you have had no period for a year.

HOW POSTMENOPAUSE AFFECTS THE BODY

We don’t fully appreciate the natural hormone estrogen until it’s gone. This humble hormone is essential for maintaining health throughout a woman’s body – not just the reproductive system. With a decrease in estrogen, your body’s major systems can be affected too.

Here’s how estrogen relates to the rest of your body once you’re postmenopause.

Heart/Cardiovascular System

Estrogen may have a positive effect on the inner layer of artery wall, helping to regulate blood flow. That’s why researchers believe a decline in estrogen after menopause may be a factor in the increase in heart disease among post-menopausal women, according to the American Heart Association. Even though heart disease risk goes up after menopause, taking estrogen as a medication can actually increase your risk further.

Bone/Skeletal System

There is a direct relationship between the lack of estrogen after menopause and bone loss. Women who’ve gone through menopause are more likely to develop osteoporosis, a condition that causes bone to become brittle and weak.

Urinary System

Lower levels of estrogen may cause the urethra lining to thin. Also, the pelvic muscles around the urethra may get weaker due to aging or vaginal childbirth. This can increase the risk of bladder leakage (incontinence), urinary tract infections, and other urogynecology problems.

Sexuality

Estrogen helps maintain the natural lubrication in the walls of the vagina. Lowered estrogen during menopause causes the vaginal tissues to become thinner and more easily irritated during sex—or dry out. This can lead to an increase in urinary tract infections and genitourinary syndrome of menopause, also known as atrophic vaginitis or vaginal atrophy.

Metabolism

Reduced estrogen may lower your metabolic rate, which prompts your body to store fat instead of burning it. But menopause alone isn’t to blame. Age-related weight gain often occurs with a natural decrease in physical activity.

When to meet Doctor?

Even if you are postmenopausal, getting regular check-ups and preventive screening tests such as pelvic exams, Pap smears, breast exams, and mammograms are among the most important things you can do for yourself. How often you need a check-up depends on your health history. Talk to your doctor to determine how often you should be seen.

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Why Anemia is Common in Pregnancy?

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Every pregnancy is different. But there are a few things most women can expect. An increased risk for anemia is one of them.

When you’re pregnant, you may develop anemia. When you have anemia, your blood doesn’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen to your tissues and to your baby.

During pregnancy, your body produces more blood to support the growth of your baby. If you’re not getting enough iron or certain other nutrients, your body might not be able to produce the amount of red blood cells it needs to make this additional blood.

It’s normal to have mild anemia when you are pregnant. But you may have more severe anemia from low iron or vitamin levels or from other reasons.

Anemia can leave you feeling tired and weak. If it is severe but goes untreated, it can increase your risk of serious complications like preterm delivery.

Symptoms of anemia during pregnancy         

Early on, you may mistake symptoms of anemia for normal symptoms of pregnancy; some pregnant women are completely unaware they’re anemic until it’s revealed in a blood test. But as the condition progresses, you may experience:

  • Excessive tiredness
  • Weakness
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • A rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Numbness or a cold feeling in your hands and feet
  • A low body temperature
  • Pale skin
  • Chest pain
  • Irritability (due specifically to a B12 deficiency)

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms and are concerned it might be anemia, be sure to let your doctor know.

Types of Anemia during Pregnancy

Several types of anemia can develop during pregnancy. These include:

  • Iron-deficiency anemia
  • Folate-deficiency anemia
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency

Here’s why these types of anemia may develop:

Iron-deficiency anemia. This type of anemia occurs when the body doesn’t have enough iron to produce adequate amounts of hemoglobin. That’s a protein in red blood cells. It carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body.

In iron-deficiency anemia, the blood cannot carry enough oxygen to tissues throughout the body.

Iron deficiency is the most common cause of anemia in pregnancy.

Folate-deficiency anemia. Folate is the vitamin found naturally in certain foods like green leafy vegetables A type of B vitamin, the body needs folate to produce new cells, including healthy red blood cells.

Vitamin B12 deficiency. The body needs vitamin B12 to form healthy red blood cells. When a pregnant woman doesn’t get enough vitamin B12 from their diet, their body can’t produce enough healthy red blood cells. Women who don’t eat meat, poultry, dairy products, and eggs have a greater risk of developing vitamin B12 deficiency, which may contribute to birth defects, such as neural tube abnormalities, and could lead to preterm labor.

How to prevent anemia when you’re expecting

While not all cases of anemia are preventable, getting enough iron in your diet goes a long way in helping you to avoid the condition. Before you’re pregnant, that means consuming 18 mg of iron per day; once you do conceive you should aim for 27 mg. While prenatal vitamin covers your bases — along with your requirements for other important nutrients like folic acid and vitamin B12 — you should also try to eat a variety of healthy foods that are high in iron. These include (note all measurements are approximate):

  1. Liver (5 mg in 3 oz of beef liver)
  2. Beans and legumes (4 mg in 1/2 cup of white beans; 3 mg in 1/2 cup of lentils)
  3. Green leafy vegetables (6 mg in 1 cup cooked spinach)
  4. Seeds and nuts (2 mg in 1 oz or 18 cashews)
  5. Dark chocolate (7 mg in 3 oz)
  6. Iron-fortified cereal (18 per serving)
  7. Baked potato (2 mg for a medium spud)

Cooking in cast iron cookware may also help give your iron intake a little boost, since foods absorb some of the iron from the pan. Also note that animal-based (meat) iron is absorbed by the body better than plant-based iron.

Though anemia during pregnancy can be scary, rest assured it’s also easily diagnosed and treated.

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Top 10 Health Checks for Women

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Regular health exams and tests can help find problems before they start. They also can help find problems early, when your chances for treatment are better. As a woman, you need some special exams and screenings. Below mentioned are list of test you should undergo for sure .

Blood Pressure.

Elevated blood pressure increases the risk of heart attack, stroke and kidney disease.  All adult women should know their blood pressure. At older ages, and for those with conditions like obesity that put them at increased risk for hypertension, annual screening is recommended.

Blood Glucose Test

Women who are overweight or obese, are of ethnicity that is at higher risk, or have a family history of diabetes or history of gestational diabetes, need to have their blood glucose checked periodically and get medical advice.

Body Mass Index (BMI)

Your body mass index (BMI) is a measure for obesity.  While there are no hard and fast guidelines for how often should take this measurement, it’s an important number. Your BMI indicates whether or not you are overweight or obese, a condition that raises your risk of serious health problems like diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.

Bone Density Screening

Women should start getting screened for osteoporosis at age 65 but those with risk factors for osteoporosis, such as fractures or low body weight, should be screened earlier.

Breast Cancer Early Detection

Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer cases and deaths in women. Early detection of cancer can save lives. Common symptoms include lumps, asymmetry, and skin or nipple retraction, changes or bloody discharge. If available in your country, participating in a breast cancer screening programme can be beneficial. Screening is done by mammography. The starting age can vary and is generally 50 years and repeated every two years.  If you have a family history of the disease, or other concerns, talk to your doctor about starting screening earlier.

Colon Cancer Early Detection

Colorectal cancer is the second most common cancer among women. Early detection of cancer can save lives. It is important to be aware of common symptoms such as change in bowel habits, blood in the stool or unexplained weight loss. If available in your country, participating in colorectal cancer screening is recommended. Screening generally begins at the age of 50 years and can be done through stool-based tests (to test for blood in the stool) or endoscopy (to examine the intestines using a lighted tube and camera). If you have a family history of the disease, or other concerns, talk to your doctor about starting screening earlier.

Lipid Profile Check

This is a tool used to assess your risk of developing heart disease or stroke. If you are at risk for heart disease or stroke, discuss with your doctor regarding the frequency of this blood test. For adults aged 40 years or older, and for those with conditions like obesity or diabetes it is preferable to have the lipid profile which includes total cholesterol and other lipids.

Cervical Cancer Screening (PAP Smear & HPV Testing)

During a Pap smear, your doctor uses a speculum to widen the vaginal canal, takes cells from the cervix with a small brush, and examines those cells under a microscope for changes that may lead to cervical cancer. Screening should start at 30 years of age, if the test is negative you can have the test every three to five years. Alternatively, an HPV test can be used to detect Humanpapillomavirus, one of the most common sexually transmitted infections that can lead to pre-cancer and cancer when persistent. The sample will be also taken from the cervix or from the vagina if you use self-sampling. Screening should also start at 30 years of age (earlier for women with HIV) and you can re-do the test after a minimum of five years if the test is negative.

Dental Check up

Poor dental health doesn’t just affect your teeth. Tooth and gum infections can negatively impact your well-being so it’s important to look after your teeth. Brush regularly, avoid smoking and sugary foods and make a trip to the dentist every 6 months to keep your mouth healthy.  Through regular dental checkups, which involve cleaning and examining the teeth, along with X-rays, your dentist can spot early signs of decay and any other problems.

Skin Examination

Women can monitor their skin, carefully inspecting the skin all over your body, looking for any new moles or changes to existing moles which can be early signs of skin cancer.  Sunburn can cause melanoma and other skin cancers so protecting against sun burn is important for all ages. If you notice any changes to moles see your doctor as soon as possible.

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Heart Burn, Acid Reflux During Pregnancy

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Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid leaks out of the stomach and up into the esophagus. The primary symptom is heartburn, which is an uncomfortable, burning sensation in the chest. Pregnant women are particularly prone to acid reflux and heartburn.

Uncomfortable and frustrating, it bothers many women, particularly during pregnancy.

Symptoms of Heart Burn

The primary symptom of acid reflux is heartburn, which is a burning sensation in the middle of the chest. It may accompany a feeling of heaviness or fullness in the chest or stomach.

A person may be more likely to experience heartburn:

  • after eating a meal or drinking
  • when lying down
  • when bending over

Heartburn can affect anyone at any time, but it is particularly common during pregnancy.

Other potential symptoms of acid reflux include:

  • a bitter taste in the mouth
  • sore throat
  • cough
  • bloating
  • belching
  • nausea
  • vomiting

Does pregnancy cause heartburn?

Pregnancy increases your risk of heartburn or acid reflux. During the first trimester, muscles in your esophagus push food more slowly into the stomach and your stomach takes longer to empty. This gives your body more time to absorb nutrients for the fetus, but it can also result in heartburn.

During the third trimester, the growth of your baby can push your stomach out of its normal position, which can lead to heartburn.

However, each woman is different. Being pregnant doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have heartburn. It depends on many factors, including your physiology, diet, daily habits, and your pregnancy.

Can I make lifestyle changes that help make it stop?

Relieving heartburn during pregnancy typically involves some trial and error. Lifestyle habits that can reduce heartburn are often the safest methods for mother and baby. The following tips may help relieve your heartburn:

  • Eat smaller meals more frequently and avoid drinking while eating. Drink water in between meals instead.
  • Eat slowly and chew every bite thoroughly.
  • Avoid eating a few hours before bed.
  • Avoid foods and beverages that trigger your heartburn. Typical culprits include chocolate, fatty foods, spicy foods, acidic foods like citrus fruits and tomato-based items, carbonated beverages, and caffeine.
  • Stay upright for at least one hour after a meal. A leisurely walk may also encourage digestion.
  • Wear comfortable rather than tight-fitting clothing.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Use pillows or wedges to elevate your upper body while sleeping.
  • Sleep on your left side. Lying on your right side will position your stomach higher than your esophagus, which may lead to heartburn.
  • Chew a piece of sugarless gum after meals. The increased saliva may neutralize any acid coming back up into the esophagus.
  • Eat yogurt or drink a glass of milk to quell symptoms once they start.
  • Drink some honey in chamomile tea or a glass of warm milk.

Alternative medicine options include acupuncture and relaxation techniques, such as progressive muscle relaxation, yoga, or guided imagery. Always check with your doctor before trying new treatments.

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What is a miscarriage?

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A miscarriage is the loss of a baby before the 20th week of pregnancy. The medical term for a miscarriage is spontaneous abortion. But it isn’t an abortion in the common meaning of the term.

As many as 50% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage — most often before a woman misses a menstrual period or even knows she’s pregnant. About 15%-25% of recognized pregnancies will end in a miscarriage.

More than 80% of miscarriages happen within the first 3 months of pregnancy. Miscarriages are less likely to happen after 20 weeks. When they do, doctors call them late miscarriages.

Miscarriage Symptoms

Symptoms of a miscarriage include:

  • Bleeding that goes from light to heavy
  • Severe cramps
  • Belly pain
  • Weakness
  • Worsening or severe back pain
  • Fever with any of the symptoms listed above
  • Weight loss
  • White-pink mucus
  • Contractions
  • Tissue that looks like blood clots passing from your vagina
  • Fewer signs of pregnancy

If you have these symptoms listed above, contact your doctor right away. They’ll tell you whether to come to the office or go to the emergency room.

Miscarriage Causes and Risk Factors

Most miscarriages happen when the unborn baby has fatal genetic problems. Usually, these problems are not related to the mother.

Other problems that can increase the risk of miscarriage include:

  • Infection
  • Medical conditions in the mother, such as diabetes or thyroid disease
  • Hormone problems
  • Immune system responses
  • Physical problems in the mother
  • Uterine abnormalities
  • Smoking
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Using street drugs
  • Exposure to radiation or toxic substances

A woman has a higher risk of miscarriage if she:

  • Is over age 35
  • Has certain diseases, such as diabetes or thyroid problems
  • Has had three or more miscarriages

Miscarriage types

There are many different types of miscarriage. Depending on your symptoms and the stage of your pregnancy, your doctor will diagnose your condition as one of the following:

  • Complete miscarriage: All pregnancy tissues have been expelled from your body.
  • Incomplete miscarriage: You’ve passed some tissue or placental material, but some still remains in your body.
  • Missed miscarriage: The embryo dies without your knowledge, and you don’t deliver it.
  • Threatened miscarriage: Bleeding and cramps point to a possible upcoming miscarriage.
  • Inevitable miscarriage: The presence of bleeding, cramping, and cervical dilation indicates that a miscarriage is inevitable.
  • Septic miscarriage: An infection has occurred within your uterus.

How to Prevent Miscarriage

Not all miscarriages can be prevented. However, you can take steps to help maintain a healthy pregnancy. Here are a few recommendations:

  • Get regular prenatal care throughout your pregnancy.
  • Avoid alcohol, drugs, and smoking while pregnant.
  • Maintain a healthy weight before and during pregnancy.
  • Avoid infections. Wash your hands thoroughly, and stay away from people who are already sick.
  • Limit the amount of caffeine to no more than 200 milligrams per day.
  • Take prenatal vitamins to help ensure that you and your developing fetus get enough nutrients.
  • Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet with lots of fruits and vegetables.

Remember that having a miscarriage doesn’t mean you won’t conceive again in the future. Most women who miscarry have healthy pregnancies later.

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What is Perimenopause?

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Perimenopause, or menopause transition, begins several years before menopause. It’s the time when the ovaries gradually begin to make less estrogen. It usually starts in a woman’s 40s, but can start in her 30s or even earlier.

Perimenopause lasts up until menopause, the point when the ovaries stop releasing eggs. In the last 1 to 2 years of perimenopause, this drop in estrogen speeds up. At this stage, many women have menopause symptoms.

Perimenopause occurs during the 40s for most women, but some notice changes as early as their mid-30s. As estrogen hormones rise and fall, periods grow longer or shorter and women experience menopause-like symptoms. Perimenopause is a natural part of the aging process, although some medications, cancer treatments and ovary surgery can speed up the process or cause menopause sooner.

What Are The Stages Leading Up To Menopause?

After puberty, there are three other phases of female fertility:

  • Pre-menopause: Women have full ovarian function, regularly produce estrogen and ovulate.
  • Perimenopause: The ovaries begin to fluctuate in their ovulation and production of estrogen, which can result in unpredictable menstrual cycles and symptoms.

Menopause: When the ovaries have shut down. Someone would be in menopause after 12 months without menses.

What Are The Symptoms Of Perimenopause?

During perimenopause, you can experience a variety of symptoms. The reason: Your ovaries have been making estrogen since your first period. During perimenopause, the estrogen production decreases substantially. Your body has to adjust to functioning with less of the hormone, putting you into estrogen withdrawals. The type and intensity of symptoms vary greatly among women – some just feel a little off or don’t notice anything at all.

Symptoms of perimenopause may include:

  • irregular periods
  • periods that are heavier or lighter than normal
  • worse premenstrual syndrome (PMS) before periods
  • breast tenderness
  • weight gain
  • hair changes
  • heart palpitations
  • headaches
  • loss of sex drive
  • concentration difficulties
  • forgetfulness
  • muscle aches
  • urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  • fertility issues in women who are trying to conceive

About 80 percent of women will experience some form of a hot flash during perimenopause or menopause. Hot flashes happen when your brain has trouble regulating your internal temperature, which is a common response to having less estrogen. The shift in temperature may not be noticeable. Or, it may feel like someone cranked up the thermostat on your core body temperature. You suddenly feel uncomfortably hot and sweaty, or you may wake up drenched in sweat (called night sweats).

When to call a doctor

You don’t necessarily have to call your doctor to obtain a perimenopause or menopause diagnosis, but there are instances when you should definitely see your OB-GYN.

Call right away if you experience:

  • spotting after your period
  • blood clots during your period
  • bleeding after sex
  • periods that are much longer or much shorter than normal

Some possible explanations are hormonal imbalances or fibroids, both of which are treatable. However, you also want to rule out the possibility of cancer.

You should also call your doctor if the symptoms of either perimenopause or menopause become severe enough to interfere with your daily life.

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What is Vaginal Yeast Infection?

A vaginal yeast infection is a fungal infection that causes irritation, discharge and intense itchiness of the vagina and the vulva — the tissues at the vaginal opening.

Also called vaginal candidiasis, vaginal yeast infection affects up to 3 out of 4 women at some point in their lifetimes. Many women experience at least two episodes.

A vaginal yeast infection isn’t considered a sexually transmitted infection. But, there’s an increased risk of vaginal yeast infection at the time of first regular sexual activity. There’s also some evidence that infections may be linked to mouth to genital contact (oral-genital sex).

Medications can effectively treat vaginal yeast infections. If you have recurrent yeast infections — four or more within a year — you may need a longer treatment course and maintenance plan.

Symptoms of Vaginal Yeast Infections

Itchiness and discomfort are the main symptoms of a yeast infection, but there are others. You may also experience any or all of the following:

  • Burning, redness, and swelling of the vagina and the vulva (the outer part of the female genitals)
  • Pain or burning when you pee
  • Pain during sex
  • A thick, white, odorless discharge, similar to cottage cheese

If you think you have a yeast infection, see your doctor before treating yourself. The symptoms of yeast infections are similar to other, more serious conditions, including sexually transmitted infections and bacterial vaginosis (bacterial overgrowth in the vagina). An accurate diagnosis is important so you can get the best treatment.

Causes of Vaginal Yeast infections

There are many reasons you could get a yeast infection, including:

Hormones: Changes during pregnancy, breast-feeding or menopause (or if you’re taking birth control pills) can change the balance in your vagina.

Diabetes: If your diabetes is not well-controlled, the increase in sugar in the mucus membranes (moist linings) of your vagina can create a place for yeast to grow.

Antibiotics: These drugs can kill off many of the good bacteria that live in your vagina.

Douches and vaginal sprays: The use of these products can change the balance in your vagina.

A weakened immune system: If you are HIV-positive or have another immune system disorder, the yeast may also grow uncontrolled.

Sex: Though a yeast infection is not considered a sexually transmitted infection, it can be passed from person to person through sexual contact.

Prevention

To reduce your risk of vaginal yeast infections, wear underwear that has a cotton crotch and doesn’t fit too tightly.

It might also help to avoid:

  • Tight-fitting pantyhose
  • Douching, which removes some of the normal bacteria in the vagina that protect you from infection
  • Scented feminine products, including bubble bath, pads and tampons
  • Hot tubs and very hot baths
  • Unnecessary antibiotic use, such as for colds or other viral infections
  • Staying in wet clothes, such as swimsuits and workout attire, for long periods of time

When to see a doctor

Make an appointment with your doctor if:

  • This is the first time you’ve had yeast infection symptoms
  • You’re not sure whether you have a yeast infection
  • Your symptoms aren’t relieved after treating with over-the-counter antifungal vaginal creams or suppositories
  • You develop other symptoms
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