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Women’s Health: Understanding Yourself as a Woman Gynecologists are medical practitioners licensed to diagnose and treat of different conditions of the female reproductive system. CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) reported the most common female reproductive health concerns namely endometriosis, uterine fibroids, gynecologic cancer, HIV/AIDS, interstitial cystitis, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and sexual violence. Let us talk about some of these health conditions affecting women’s reproductive system. Endometriosis is a chronic condition, often a painful disorder affecting a woman’s uterus, wherein the tissue lining the uterus grows somewhere else, commonly affecting the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the tissue around the pelvis. Endometrial tissues grow outside the uterus such as on and around the ovaries, the abdominal and pelvic organs, and rarely on other parts of the body. The exact cause of endometriosis is unknown, but it has been linked to family history, retrograde or backwards menstruation and metaplasia. The other possible causative factors that may predispose to endometriosis are having first period before 11 years of age, having first pregnancy at an older age, heavy bleeding more than five days, shorter regular menstrual cycles, immune cellular changes, low body weight ad alcohol use. The key factor in the diagnosis and an important symptom of endometriosis associated with the abnormal location of the endometrial tissue is pain. Pain occurs before and during a menstrual period, during and after sex, or when urinating and bowel movement. Bleeding is important in diagnosing endometriosis from other reproductive health conditions, wherein it may include heavy bleeding with or without clots, and it may also be irregular, with or without a regular cycle, longer than usual and may happen before a period is due. Other signs and symptoms include bladder and bowel problems, increased abdominal bloating, tiredness, moodiness, reduced quality of life and vaginal tightening and spasms. Polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS is caused by genetic and environmental factors, wherein a woman’s adrenal glands or ovaries produce more male hormones than normal, causing absence of ovulation, high androgen levels and ovarian cysts as detected by ultrasound. The signs and symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome are irregular or no menstrual periods, infertility, excess body and facial hair, acne, oily skin, dandruff, pelvic pain, baldness or thinning of hair, and patches of darker, thicker, velvety skin.
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On the other hand, uterine fibroids are caused by abnormal growth of muscle cells and tissues forming fibroids or noncancerous tumors in women’s childbearing age. Uterine fibroids’ signs and symptoms may include heavy or painful periods, bleeding between periods, feeling of fullness in the lower abdomen, frequent urination, pain during sex, lower back pain and reproductive problems such as early labor, multiple miscarriages and infertility.The Beginner’s Guide to Resources