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

Hot Flashes

A hot flash is a brief feeling of intense warmth and sweating. Hot flashes commonly occur in women around the time of menopause. Researchers do not know exactly what causes hot flashes. Current theories suggest hot flashes are due to a menopause-related drop in the body's level of female hormones called estrogens. This drop affects the hypothalamus, an area of the brain that regulates body temperature. In a hot flash, the hypothalamus seems to sense that your body is too hot even when it is not, and tells the body to release the excess heat. One way the body does this is to widen (dilate) blood vessels, particularly those near the skin of the head, face, neck and chest. Once the blood vessels return to normal size, you feel cool again. Although hot flashes usually are considered a female problem, men can have hot flashes if their levels of the male sex hormone testosterone drop suddenly and dramatically. For example, hot flashes occur in 75% of men with prostate cancer who have surgery to remove the testes (orchiectomy) or who take medication to decrease testosterone levels. Symptoms that mimic hot flashes can occur in both men and women who have a tumor of the hypothalamus or pituitary gland, certain serious infections such as tuberculosis or HIV, alcoholism or thyroid disorders. Symptoms that are similar to hot flashes also can be a side effect of the food additive monosodium glutamate (MSG), or of certain medications, particularly nitroglycerin (sold under many brand names), nifedipine (Procardia, Adalat), niacin (numerous brand names), vancomycin (Vancocin) and calcitonin (Calcimar, Cibacalcin, Miacalcin). (Locked) More »

Uterine And Bladder Prolapse

The uterus and the bladder are held in their normal positions just above the inside end of the vagina by a "hammock" made up of supportive muscles and ligaments. Wear and tear on these supportive structures in the pelvis can allow the bottom of the uterus, the floor of the bladder or both to sag through the muscle and ligament layers. When this occurs, the uterus or bladder can create a bulge into the vagina. In severe cases, it is possible for the sagging uterus or bladder to work its way down far enough that the bulge can appear at the vagina's opening or even protrude from the opening. When the uterus sags downward, it is called uterine prolapse. When the bladder sags, it is called bladder prolapse, also known as a cystocele. (Locked) More »

Vaginal Atrophy (Atrophic Vaginitis)

Vaginal atrophy is a change of the vagina that develops when there is a significant decrease in levels of the female hormone estrogen. The condition also is called atrophic vaginitis. Estrogen, which is produced by the ovaries, plays a vital role in keeping vaginal tissues lubricated and healthy. When levels of estrogen are low, vaginal tissue becomes atrophic — thin, dry and shrunken. The vagina may become more prone to inflammation in an atrophic state. Common conditions with low estrogen levels that cause vaginal atrophy include: Menopause, when normal, age-related body changes cause the ovaries to decrease their production of estrogen Breastfeeding Surgical removal of the ovaries before the age of natural menopause, which can be done at the same time as a hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) Treatment with medications used to decrease estrogen levels in women who have conditions such as uterine fibroids or endometriosis Premature menopause, which occurs before age 40, a younger age than is considered normal for the average woman. Vaginal atrophy typically develops so slowly that a woman may not notice any symptoms until five to ten years after menopause begins. (Locked) More »

Hirsutism

Hirsutism is excessive hair growth in certain areas of a woman's face and body, such as the mustache and beard area, that creates a "male pattern" of hair. Women normally can have fine, pale, faintly visible hair in these areas, but heavy hair growth in a male pattern with coarse or colored hair is not expected. (Locked) More »

Caesarean Section

A cesarean section, also called a C-section, is surgery to deliver a baby through the abdomen. It's used when: It's impossible or not advised to deliver the baby through the vagina, or Continuing in labor seems to present a greater risk to the health of the baby or mother, even if the plan was a vaginal delivery. A C-section sometimes is scheduled in advance. But it may also be unscheduled as circumstances change in the course of labor and delivery. An unscheduled cesarean is not the same as an emergency cesarean, which is done when there is immediate risk to a mother or baby that cannot be resolved without immediate delivery. In the United stated, about 32% of all births are delivered by C-section. The procedure is done less often in most other countries. For example, about 15% of births are delivered via C-sections in the Netherlands, and 25% are delivered that way in England, Wales and Canada. (Locked) More »

Abortion (Termination Of Pregnancy)

Abortion is the removal of pregnancy tissue, products of conception or the fetus and placenta (afterbirth) from the uterus. The terms fetus and placenta usually are used after eight weeks of pregnancy, while the other terms describe tissue produced by the union of an egg and sperm before eight weeks. Each year approximately 1.2 million women in the United States choose to end a pregnancy. Other terms for an abortion include elective abortion, induced abortion, termination of pregnancy and therapeutic abortion. (Locked) More »

Cystourethrogram

By filling your bladder with a liquid dye that shows up on x-rays, your doctor can watch the motion of your bladder as it fills and empties and can see if your urine splashes backwards toward your kidneys as the bladder muscle squeezes. This kind of test can help your doctor to better understand problems with repeated urinary tract infections or problems involving damage to the kidneys. It can also be useful for evaluating urine leakage problems. (Locked) More »

Cervicitis

The cervix is the donut-shaped opening to the uterus. Cervicitis is an inflammation and irritation of the cervix. Symptoms of cervicitis can be similar to vaginitis, with vaginal discharge, itching or pain with intercourse. Cervicitis can be caused by a sexually transmitted infection. Most common are chlamydia and gonorrhea. Trichomoniasis and genital herpes can also cause cervicitis. In some cases, cervicitis is not caused by infection. It may be due to trauma, frequent douching or exposure to chemical irritants. (Locked) More »

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

Pelvic inflammatory disease is an infection of the uterus, fallopian tubes or ovaries. It is the most common serious infection among young women, with approximately 1 million new cases diagnosed in the United States each year. It usually affects sexually active women during their childbearing years. About one in every seven women receives treatment for pelvic inflammatory disease at some point in her life. (Locked) More »

Miscarriage

A miscarriage is a loss of a pregnancy. The term is generally used when the loss occurs before the fetus might be able to survive outside the womb, so before about 22 to 24 weeks of gestation. Other terms that are used for such losses include spontaneous abortion and early pregnancy failure. (Locked) More »