Gynecological problems are disorders that affect the female reproductive system. The female reproductive system includes the breasts, uterus (womb), ovaries (egg-producing organs), fallopian tubes (tubes carrying the eggs from the ovaries to the uterus), and external genitalia or vulva (the accessory structures of the female reproductive system which lie external to the vagina).
Most women suffer from some kind of gynecological problem at some point in their lives. Gynecological problems can affect a woman’s sexual function and her ability to produce children. In some cases, gynecological disorders may be life-threatening.
In this article, we will be discussing in detail the common gynecological problems in females.
- What are the Common Gynecological Problems in Females?
- What are the various diagnostic tests for gynecological screening?
- How to prevent the Common Gynecological Disorders in Females?
What are the Common Gynecological Problems in Females?
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome or PCOS
- This is a condition in which a woman may suffer from infrequent or prolonged menstrual cycles. This condition occurs due to the appearance of several follicles on the ovaries, leading to a hindrance in releasing the egg.
- Increased levels of androgen (male sex hormone) in the body
- Excessive insulin in the body
- Increased Risk of diabetes
- Menstrual problems
- Medications for symptomatic relief
Inflammation in the vagina, which is commonly seen in women of reproductive age is known as vaginitis.
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Taking antibiotic medications
- Fluctuations in hormone levels
- Use of spermicidal creams (as a birth control method)
- Pain on urinating
- Vaginal irritation
- Vaginal itching
- Foul-smelling vaginal discharge
- Prescription medications
Dysmenorrhoea (Painful periods)
When a woman experiences pain during her menstrual cycles, the condition is known as dysmenorrhoea.
- Primary dysmenorrhoea: This condition is not associated with pelvic (area below the stomach region) diseases.
- Secondary dysmenorrhoea: This condition is associated with underlying pelvic disorders.
The cause of primary dysmenorrhoea is:
- Prostaglandins (the natural chemicals in the body)
- Causes of secondary dysmenorrhoea include:
- Fibroids (non-cancerous masses that form inside a woman’s uterus)
- Endometriosis (a condition in which the tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside the uterus)
- Adenomyosis (a condition in which an endometrial tissue exists and grows into the muscular uterine wall)
- Intense abdominal pain, sometimes extending up to the lower back
- Painkiller medications
- Treatment for the cause of dysmenorrhoea
Urinary tract infection or UTI
It is one of the most common gynecological problems faced by women of all age groups. This condition normally occurs when the bacteria that are present in the vagina or anus (from where the stools are passed out), move up to the urethra (duct from where the urine is passed from the bladder to outside the body) and bladder (where the urine is stored), and sometimes even the kidneys.
- Problems with the pelvic muscles or nerves
- Narrow urinary tract
- Blockage in the bladder, urethra, or kidneys
- Burning sensation on urination
- Cloudy urine
- Strong odor
- Blood tinge in urine
- Antibiotics, the dosage, and duration depending on the severity of the infection
These are muscular, mostly non-cancerous tumors that can form in the uterus of a woman. They usually vary in size, shape, and location.
- No known cause
- Genetics or hormones may be responsible for fibroid formation
- Heavy periods
- Pain during sex
- Pressure in the lower abdomen (stomach) region
- Bleeding in between the menstrual periods
- Surgery to remove the fibroids
This condition occurs when the tissue that is normally lining the uterus, grows outside the uterus.
- Hormonal disorders
- Genetic factors
- Immune (disease-fighting) system disorders
- Menstrual flow problems
- Painful menstrual cramps
- Digestive problems
- Bleeding or spotting between menstrual periods
- Painkiller medications
- Hormonal therapies
This is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that is characterized by blister and sore formations. It is a type of viral infection.
- Vaginal, oral, or anal sex with an infected partner
- Flu-like symptoms
- Muscle pain
- Sores or blisters on or around the genital organs
- Oral medications
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
This condition affects the upper genital tracts of a woman’s body, including the uterus, fallopian tubes, pelvic peritoneum (a membrane lining the pelvic cavity), and other surrounding structures.
- Multiple sexual partners
- History of pelvic inflammatory disease
- Use of intrauterine contraceptive device (IUCD) (a plastic or copper implant placed in the uterus to prevent pregnancy)
- Lower abdominal pain
- Pain during sex
- Abnormal discharge from the vagina
- Vaginal bleeding
- Antibiotic medications
Dyspareunia (Painful sexual intercourse)
Pain during sex may occur due to structural problems in the female body or due to psychological reasons.
- Narrow vagina
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Infection of the vulva
- Thick hymen (a thin piece of tissue that covers the external vaginal opening)
- Pain during sexual penetration
- Pain that lingers for a couple of hours after intercourse
- Get sexual education
- Treatment depends on the cause of pain
Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled pouches or sacs present in the ovaries. They are very common and affect women of any age group.
- Severe pelvic infections
- Hormonal disorders
- Pain in the abdominal region
- Swelling in the abdominal region
- Oral medications
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 is 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.
What are the various diagnostic tests for gynecological screening?
- Physical examination: The patient should be examined clinically. This includes noting down the symptoms of the patient, medical history, and family history of the patient.
- Breast examination, abdominal examination, and pelvic examination: The doctor should examine the breasts, external genitalia, rectum, inside of the vagina, and cervix (the lower end of the uterus) thoroughly.
- Pap smear: Vaginal and cervical smears are taken by the doctor to check for cervical cancer.
- All sexually active women above the age of 21 should be screened regularly, once every six months.
- Imaging tests: Imaging tests like x-rays, CT scans, MRI scans, and pelvic ultrasounds may be recommended to obtain clear images of the female reproductive organs.
- Urine tests: These tests help in diagnosing any underlying infections.
How to prevent the Common Gynecological Disorders in Females?
Common gynecological disorders can be prevented by:
- Have protected sex
- Eat a healthy diet
- Take proper rest
- Exercise regularly
- Manage stress
- Get adequate sleep
- Maintain vaginal hygiene
- Wash genital area with warm, clean water and then dry it well every day
- Change the underwear regularly
- Avoid tight-fitting underwear
- Change sanitary pads every 4 hours during menstruation
- Do not share your underwear and towel
- Do not clean deep inside the vagina
- Do not use strong washes for cleaning the genital
- Take regular screenings and go for periodic gynecological checkups