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

Intracranial Aneurysms

Arteries are tunnels that blood travels through to get from the heart to various parts of the body. An aneurysm is a bulge in an artery, similar to the bulge that appears at a weak spot of a hose, where the water pressure pushes out to create a bubble. Like the hose bubble, the area of an artery where an aneurysm appears is weak and has the potential to burst. Aneurysms most frequently occur in the arteries that bring blood to the brain. Brain aneurysms are also known as intracranial aneurysms or berry aneurysms (because most of the time they look like little round berries). They occur in up to 6% of people. In general, most brain aneurysms are small, rarely cause symptoms and have a very low risk of rupture. (Locked) More »

Lupus (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus)

Lupus is thought to develop when your body's immune system mistakenly attacks the body's own tissues. . Immune proteins called autoantibodies attack many different parts of the body, causing inflammation and tissue damage in many parts of the body, including the joints, skin, kidney, nervous system (brain, spinal cord and nerves), blood, heart, lungs, digestive system and eyes. Autoantibodies also can attach themselves to body chemicals, forming abnormal molecules called immune complexes that trigger additional inflammation and injury when they are deposited in various organs and tissues. The exact cause of lupus remains a mystery, although scientists are investigating many different possibilities and believe several factors may play a role in the development of the disease. Since 90% of all lupus patients are women, usually of childbearing age, researchers think hormones may be involved. Lupus tends to run in families, so genetic factors may play a role. There is some evidence that the illness may be more common in people of African, Native American, West Indian and Chinese descent. Some researchers think lupus may be triggered by a virus or another type of infection in people who are genetically susceptible to the disease. (Locked) More »

Painful Sexual Intercourse (Dyspareunia)

Pain during or after sexual intercourse is known as dyspareunia. Although this problem can affect men, it is more common in women. Women with dyspareunia may have pain in the vagina, clitoris or labia. There are numerous causes of dyspareunia, many of which are treatable. Common causes include the following: Vaginal dryness Atrophic vaginitis, a common condition causing thinning of the vaginal lining in postmenopausal women Side effects of drugs such as antihistamines and tamoxifen (Nolvadex and other brands) An allergic reaction to clothing, spermicides or douches Endometriosis, an often painful condition in which tissue from the uterine lining migrates and grows abnormally inside the pelvis Inflammation of the area surrounding the vaginal opening, called vulvar vestibulitis Skin diseases, such as lichen planus and lichen sclerosus, affecting the vaginal area Urinary tract infections, vaginal yeast infections, or sexually transmitted diseases Psychological trauma, often stemming from a past history of sexual abuse or trauma (Locked) More »

Vaginal Yeast Infection

Vaginal yeast infections, also called "Candida vaginal infections," typically are caused by the Candida albicans fungus. During a lifetime, 75% of all women are likely to have at least one vaginal Candida infection, and up to 45% have two or more. Women tend to be more likely to get vaginal yeast infections if their bodies are under stress from poor diet, lack of sleep, illness, or when they are pregnant or taking antibiotics. (Locked) More »

Colposcopy

Colposcopy is an examination of a woman's vagina and cervix using a colposcope, a portable instrument with a light source and magnifying lenses. This instrument lets your doctor examine the cervix and vagina for cancer and abnormal areas that may become cancer. Colposcopy takes about 15 to 30 minutes and doesn't require anesthesia. (Locked) More »

Vaginal Discharge

Normally, vaginal discharge is clear or white. It may become stretchy and slippery during ovulation, about two weeks after your menstrual period. A change in the color or amount of discharge, accompanied by other symptoms, may indicate that you have an infection. The vagina normally contains bacteria. Bacterial growth is controlled and affected by many different factors, such as acid level (pH) and hormones. Anything that upsets this balance may increase your risk of infection or overgrowth of any of the normal bacteria or by yeast.  (Locked) More »

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 »