Our practitioners and doctors have listed answers and helpful links to common gynecology questions. For more personal advice relating to your needs, or if you have questions that we have not addressed here, please contact us to set up an appointment.
I’m only 45, but I think I’m having hot flashes. Is it too early for menopause? What can I do?
Your hot flashes could be a menopausal symptom. The average age to stop periods is 52, but symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, moodiness, etc. can start a decade or more before your periods actually cease. Also, menopausal symptoms can mimic other disorders such as high or low thyroid and sugar imbalance. If this is a new symptom for you, consult your gyn provider. It would be wise to have a thorough check-up to determine what is causing your hot flashes so that appropriate therapy can be instituted.
What is depression? I have been feeling really down lately. I cant’ tell if I’m tired, it’s my hormones, or what.
Clinical depression effects twice as many women as men around the world.It is estimated that one out or every seven women suffers from depression some time in her life. The cause of depression usually has multiple factors – biological, genetic, psychological and social. Sometimes it is hard to figure it all out and when you are feeling down you won’t have the insight or energy to do it. That is what professionals are for. Start with a visit to your gynecologist or primary care provider to rule out hormonal or other medical causes. They may prescribe medication that will help, but there may also be psychological contributors to the problem. Many women are lonely, stressed out, exhausted, and have a sense of hopelessness about how to change these things. A good counselor can really help. Contact us to set up an appointment ith one of our easy-to-talk-to practioners.
My mother has osteoporosis. She has one of those dowager’s humps. I am afraid I might get it. What should I do? Should I be tested?
Osteoporosis can be hereditary. If you’re still having normal, regular periods at the age of 50, you may have the benefit of producing estrogen longer than most women. This will help keep your bones strong. However, having a Dexa scan (or densitometry) will indicate if your bones are starting to thin (osteopenia), or if you have osteoporosis. You should have a review of your scan to determine if you need medication to improve the density of your bones. Regardless of your results, 1200-1500mg of calcium citrate is recommended every day along with weight-bearing or resistance (such as swimming) exercise three to five times a week. Contact us to set up an appointment to review your bone scan density.
I have frequent headaches. They seem to be getting worse. Is there anything that I can do?
Until puberty, boys and girls are equally likely to have headaches. After puberty, female headache sufferers outnumber males in all age groups. Hormonal changes in a woman’s body are known to cause migraine headaches. If you think that this could be your problem, you should talk to your GYN provider. One of the best things that you can do to prepare for that visit is to keep a headache diary. Record each headache rating them from 1-10 with 10 being the most severe. Keep track of your menstrual periods on the same calendar. Doing this will help your provider determine the cause and treatment for your headaches. Other common types of headaches are sinus headaches, tension headaches, headaches related to dietary intake and medicines (both prescription and over-the-counter). Again, keeping a record of your activity, intake, and stress levels can help determine the cause. In rare cases, the cause of an unremitting severe headache could be life threatening. If you have such a headache, you should seek help at an urgent care facility or emergency room. Contact us to set up an appointment to discuss your headaches.
I have really bad PMS. Can you help me?
There is a lot that can be done to help. One of the things that you can do before your visit is to chart your symptoms for a couple of months. For example, get a calendar and write down when your periods are and if they are light, heavy or moderate. Then think of your symptoms (for example, anger, depression, easily hurt feelings, bloating, fatigue) and record them also. When you come for your appointment bring the calendar and show it to your practitioner. We can help determine if it is PMS or some other kind of depression or stress reaction.
Meanwhile, here are some things that you can do. Try to get exercise everyday, even if you don’t feel like it. Take 1500mg of calcium a day as research indicates that it helps with PMS. Try meditation, or listening to soothing music to help you relax at least 15 minutes every day. Acknowledge to your friends and family that you know this is a problem and that you are addressing it. Ask for their help and understanding.
I have heard some women are going on continuous oral contraceptives. Is it really okay to go without a period?
Yes, it is okay to not have a period. More and more often oral contraceptives are being prescribed on a continuous basis (without a pill-free interval). For some women, this method is used simply for convenience to temporarily suppress menstrual bleeding for such events as vacations or honeymoons. For others, it is prescribed to help treat conditions such as endometriosis, menstrual migraines, menstrual irregularities and PMS. Absent menstruation in women using hormonal contraceptives reflects endometrial suppression, not a gynecologic problem. If you feel you may benefit by using continuous oral contraceptives, contact us to set up an appointment.
I have always had terrible periods. Sometimes I’m in bed for two days. The bleeding is pretty heavy, but I’m more worried about the pain. Motrin or Midol don’t help, Could it be endometriosis? What is that?
Severely painful and heavy periods may be something you have always had and seem normal to you, but they are not something that you have to live with and are definitely something you need to see your gyn provider about. Painful periods could be caused by endometriosis, a common disorder among women, or the pain could also be caused by some other condition.
Endometriosis is a condition in which microscopic bits of the endometrium (the lining of the uterus that sheds every month when you have your period) are found in the pelvis. We don’t know why this happens to some women. There are several research projects going on to investigate the problem and some results seem to suggest that it may run in families. These tiny cells of endometrial tissue bleed each month just like the rest of the lining of the uterus. This process causes pain, inflammation, and eventually causes scar tissue and adhesions.
Endometriosis doesn’t lead to cancer or anything life-threatening, but it can cause other serious problems besides painful periods. The most common are pain with sex, infertility, irregular bleeding and painful bowel movements.
There is only one way to diagnose endometriosis definitely and that is with laparoscopy. This is a one-day surgery preformed by a gynecologist examining the inside of the pelvis through a fiber optic scope. Oral contraceptives or other hormonal medication can be used to decrease the pain of periods and hopefully stop the spread of the disease. It is very important to contact us to set up an appointment soon if you have these symptoms.
I was just diagnosed with HPV on my pap test. I read that this is the same as venereal warts. I have no idea how this happened and am really upset. What does this mean?
Many women are told that they have HPV (Human Papillomavirus) when they get the results of their pap smears. This is the virus that causes genital warts, but actual warts may never develop. Most women are confused by the news of having HPV, wondering how they acquired this virus. Statistics show that 60 – 70% of the population has at least one of the strains of HPV. Many sources will relate that it is considered a sexually transmitted disease and for most people HPV probably is transmitted through intimate contact. Some recent investigation has determined that people who have never been sexually active also have the virus, indicating that there must be other ways to get HPV. Your gyn provider has probably recommended more frequent pap smears, or a colposcopy. It is important that you follow this advice and not delay having pap smears as scheduled.