Women's Health

Women have many unique health concerns — menstrual cycles, pregnancy, birth control, menopause — and that's just the beginning. A number of health issues affect only women and others are more common in women. What's more, men and women may have the same condition, but different symptoms. Many diseases affect women differently and may even require distinct treatment.

We tend to think of breast cancer and osteoporosis as women's health diseases, but they also occur in men. Heart disease in a serious concern to both men and women, but risk factors and approaches to prevention are different. Women may also have specific concerns about aging, caregiving, emotional health issues, and skin care.

Women's Health Articles

Hormones and breast cancer: What you should know

Hormone therapy is linked to a higher risk of breast cancer. A new study shows that risk is higher with both estrogen-only hormone therapy and progesterone-estrogen combination therapy. In addition, women who take hormones for a longer time have a higher risk of developing breast cancer. If a woman opts to take hormone therapy, it should be for as short a period as possible to manage symptoms. (Locked) More »

Hot flashes and heart health

Results of a recent study suggest a link between frequent and persistent hot flashes and a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. However, even among women who had more hot flashes, the overall odds of having a heart-related event was still low. Since most women experience hot flashes around the time of menopause, more research is needed to better define the frequency and severity of hot flashes that would warrant extra attention to cardiovascular risk. (Locked) More »

Breast Ultrasound

Ultrasound uses sound waves instead of radiation to generate snapshots or moving pictures of structures inside the body. This imaging technique works in a manner similar to radar and sonar. Ultrasound was developed in World War II to detect airplanes, missiles, and submarines that were otherwise invisible. The doctor or ultrasound technician first coats a small area of your skin with a lubricant to reduce friction. He or she then places an ultrasound transducer, which looks like a microphone, on your skin and may rub it back and forth to get the right view. The transducer sends sound waves into your body and picks up the echoes of the sound waves as they bounce off internal organs and tissue. A computer transforms these echoes into an image that is displayed on a monitor. A breast ultrasound can indicate whether a breast lump is caused by a fluid-filled cyst or a solid mass, such as cancer. (Locked) More »

Excisional Biopsy of the Breast

In an excisional biopsy of the breast, the surgeon makes an incision in the skin and removes all or part of the abnormal tissue for examination under a microscope. Unlike needle biopsies, a surgical biopsy leaves a visible scar on the breast and sometimes causes a noticeable change in the breast's shape. It's a good idea to discuss the placement and length of the incision with your surgeon beforehand. Also ask your surgeon about scarring and the possibility of changes to your breast shape and size after healing, as well as the choice between local anesthesia and general anesthesia. You'll undergo a breast exam and possibly a mammogram before the biopsy to determine where the lump is located. If you are having a sedative with local anesthesia, or if you are having general anesthesia, you'll be asked not to eat anything after midnight on the day before the surgery. Tell your doctor if you're taking insulin, NSAIDs, or any medicine that can affect blood clotting. You might have to stop or adjust the dose of these medicines before your test. (Locked) More »

Hysteroscopy

Hysteroscopy is a procedure that allows a gynecologist to look inside your uterus. The hysteroscope is a long tube, about the size of a straw, which has a built-in viewing device. Hysteroscopy is useful for diagnosing and treating some problems that cause infertility, miscarriages, and abnormal menstrual bleeding. Sometimes other procedures, such as laparoscopy, are done at the same time as hysteroscopy. The time that you schedule this test can be important. Your gynecologist is able to get the best view of the uterine lining during the week that follows your period. If you have regular cycles, it is helpful for you to anticipate the timing of your next period and plan to have the hysteroscopy done in the following week. Tell your doctor ahead of time if you have ever had an allergic reaction to lidocaine or the numbing medicine used at the dentist's office. Discuss different options for anesthesia with your doctor in advance. (Locked) More »

Pelvic Ultrasound and Transvaginal Ultrasound

Ultrasound uses sound waves instead of radiation to generate snapshots or moving pictures of structures inside the body. A radiologist or ultrasound technician applies lubricant to your skin to reduce friction. He or she then places an ultrasound transducer, which looks like a microphone, on your skin and moves it back and forth to get the right view. The transducer sends sound waves into your body and picks up the echoes of the sound waves as they bounce off internal organs and tissue. A computer transforms these echoes into an image that is displayed on a screen. Pelvic organ ultrasound is used to monitor pregnancy, find cysts on your ovaries, examine the lining of your uterus, look for causes of infertility, and find cancers or benign tumors in the pelvic region. Depending on the view needed, the ultrasound sensor is placed either on your abdomen (pelvic ultrasound) or in your vagina (transvaginal ultrasound). Your doctor might ask you to drink a few glasses of water before the test because a full bladder lifts your intestines out of the way and provides a clearer view of your pelvic organs. If you're having a transvaginal ultrasound and have a tampon in place, you'll need to remove it before the test. (Locked) More »

Testing for Vaginitis (Yeast Infections, Trichomonas, and Gardnerella)

Vaginitis is inflammation or an infection of the vagina; symptoms usually include itchiness or irritation, abnormal discharge, and an unpleasant odor. Diagnosing the cause of vaginitis involves a simple examination of the vaginal fluid under a microscope or sending the sample to a laboratory for a culture. Because douches or vaginal creams can make it hard for the doctor to interpret test results, don't use these products before the test. No other preparation is necessary. You'll have a pelvic examination. The doctor uses a cotton swab to collect a sample of the fluid that moistens the lining of the vagina. This swab is rubbed against two glass slides, and a small drop of fluid is placed on each slide to mix with the vaginal fluid. If your doctor is testing for infection with gonorrhea or chlamydia, he or she might use a second cotton swab to take a sample of mucus from the middle of the cervix. (Locked) More »

If you have diabetes, a crop of new medicines may help your heart

New diabetes medications can help individuals at high risk for a stroke or heart attack. The benefit is primarily for people who have had a heart attack or stroke in the past or are at very high risk because of other factors. While these medications can benefit some individuals, they do have a number of side effects, are costly, and are not recommended for most people with diabetes. (Locked) More »