Author Archives: Dr. Kelly Roy, MD

About Dr. Kelly Roy, MD

Founder and Medical Director of ARIZONA GYNECOLOGY CONSULTANTS Dr. Kelly Roy is a specialist in surgical gynecology and advanced laparoscopy (and hysteroscopy). She is a long-time resident of Arizona and obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in Biomedical Engineering at Arizona State University before finishing her Doctorate of Medicine at the University of Arizona in 1997. Dr. Roy completed her residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the then “Banner Good Samaritan Hospital” (now Banner University Medical Center), in Phoenix Arizona in 2001. Well known for her teaching and surgical ability, she is on the faculty at the residency program at both Banner University Medical Center and Saint Joseph’s Hospital in central Phoenix and is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, Phoenix Campus. Dr. Roy has taught advanced surgical techniques to medical students, residents, fellows and colleagues for over 15 years. Dr. Roy is also a consultant to the medical device industry and has participated in the design and clinical testing of many instruments and surgical devices available on the world-wide market today. Read More About Dr. Kelly Roy, MD   |   WebMD Profile   |   Health.USNews.com Profile

What Is Advanced Minimally Invasive Surgery for Women?

What Is Advanced Minimally Invasive Surgery for Women?

This entry was posted in Procedures and tagged on by .

Minimally invasive surgery is gaining popularity in gynecologic practices across the country. When performing a minimally invasive surgery, surgeons will first look for natural access points, such as through the vagina, in order to decrease incision sizes. When an incision is needed, the incision will be no greater than the size of a dime.[1]Mori, K. M., & Neubauer, N. L. (2013). Minimally invasive surgery in gynecologic oncology. International Scholarly Research Notices, 2013. http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/312982 This enables minimally invasive gynecological surgery patients to experience a more comfortable and less painful procedure, a shorter recovery time, a decrease in bleeding and scarring, and increased affordability.

What Can a Minimally Invasive Procedure Treat?

Minimally invasive procedures are becoming more common for treating a variety of gynecological issues. Procedures that once required large incisions and extensive recovery times are now being achieved through minimally invasive means, leading to a better experience for the patient. Depending on the issue you are experiencing, you may want to discuss minimally invasive options with your doctor and determine together if a minimally invasive gynecological surgery is right for you.

These are some of the most common gynecological issues that can be treated with minimally invasive procedures.

Ovarian Cysts

Developed in the ovaries, ovarian cysts can occur when abnormal ovarian pockets fill with fluid. Small cysts typically go away on their own, but larger cysts can cause irregular periods, pain during intercourse, chronic abdominal and back pain, and bloating. Larger ovarian cysts will often need to be surgically removed—potentially using a minimally invasive procedure.

Uterine Fibroids

Often found in women during their prime conception years, fibroids are noncancerous growths on the outside of the uterus. On some occasions, fibroids can cause heavy bleeding, causing the patient to become anemic. If you are considering having your fibroids removed, it is worth noting that uterine fibroid removal commonly utilizes robotic surgery.[2]Holloway, R. W., Patel, S. D., & Ahmad, S. (2009). Robotic Surgery in Gynecology. Scandinavian Journal of Surgery, 96–109. https://doi.org/10.1177/145749690909800205

Hysterectomy

A hysterectomy is a non-reversible sterilization surgery in which your doctor will remove part or all of the uterus. Often this surgery is performed to treat uterine conditions that have not responded to other types of treatment. A laparoscopic surgery is a common minimally invasive procedure used to perform a hysterectomy.

Vaginal Prolapse

A “prolapse” occurs in a woman’s body when their pelvic organs slip out of place. This can cause discomfort, pressure, a bulge in the vagina, or bladder incontinence. Both laparoscopic surgery and robotic surgery can be used as treatment.

Vaginal Reconstruction

As the vagina endures the effects of childbirth and menopause, skin tissue can loosen, causing changes in vaginal appearance, lowering libido, and creating bladder incontinence. If you have recently given birth or are experiencing a lack of confidence in your sexuality due to the appearance of your vagina, talk to your doctor about vaginal reconstruction. These types of surgeries can address both medical and aesthetic issues, leading to better quality of life and even increased self-confidence.[3]Karcher, C., & Sadick, N. (2016). Vaginal rejuvenation using energy-based devices [Review of Vaginal rejuvenation using energy-based devices]. International Journal of Women’s Dermatology, … Continue reading

Cervical Dysplasia

Cervical dysplasia is caused by the growth of precancerous cells on the surface of the cervix that are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). There are no symptoms for cervical dysplasia, but if left untreated, precancerous cells can spread and multiply, leading to cervical cancer.[4]Klobucar, A., Hrgovic, Z., Bukovic, D., Caric, V., Grgurevic-Batinica, A., & Hrgovic, I. (2004). The treatment of cervical dysplasia with laser. Medicinski Arhiv, 58(6), 355-357. … Continue reading Multiple minimally invasive treatments are available to treat cervical dysplasia. Talk to your doctor to determine which one is right for you.

Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a very painful condition in which tissue is formed on the outside of the uterus instead of the inside. Most commonly, endometriosis can be treated with a non-invasive laparoscopic surgery. Your doctor will determine which non-invasive surgery is right for your needs.

What Are the Most Common Gynecological Surgeries?

Common Gynecological Surgeries

If you have a qualifying gynecological issue, you and your doctor will discuss your options and decide which treatment plan is best suited for your needs. If a gynecological surgery is necessary, your doctor will likely suggest a minimally invasive procedure to improve your recovery time and your outcome. However, there are a variety of technologies and techniques your doctor may recommend when formulating your treatment plan.

These are some of the most common gynecological surgeries.

Hysteroscopy

In this minimally invasive procedure, doctors are able to see inside your uterus by inserting a scope for visualization into your vagina, through your cervix, and into your uterus. This procedure does not require any incisions and can be performed for both diagnostic and treatment purposes, including the treatment of polyps, female genital abnormalities, scarring or other abrasions, issues relating to contraception or following a miscarriage, and abnormal bleeding.[5]Centini, G., Troia, L., Lazzeri, L., Petraglia, F., & Luisi, S. (2016). Modern operative hysteroscopy. Minerva Ginecologica, 68(2), 126-132. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26930389/

In many cases, only local anesthesia is needed for this procedure, if any is needed at all. However, in some rare cases, general anesthesia may be needed. Patients are typically able to leave shortly after the procedure with only minimal side effects, such as cramping or light bleeding.

Vaginal Surgery

Vaginal surgery is the least invasive form of minimally invasive surgery. It is typically used for woman who have experienced damage to the vaginal area after giving birth or women who are going through menopause and are looking to restore elasticity. This type of surgery utilizes the vaginal opening to repair or reconstruct the vagina. Results from this surgery could include an improved vaginal appearance, a reduction of pain, or increased functionality. With this method of surgical procedure, doctors will not need to make any incisions and there is an overall lower risk of surgical complications.

What Is Advanced Minimally Invasive Surgery?

Advanced minimally invasive surgery is a specialized form of surgery that requires the use of advanced equipment and technology. These devices often require additional specialization and training on the part of the surgeon and are only available at select surgical centers. These are the most common advanced minimally invasive surgeries.

Robotic Surgery

This advanced form of minimally invasive treatment allows your surgeon to operate with greater precision and accuracy. In a robotic-assisted surgery, your doctor will use a control console to control a human-like robotic hand, which is able to perform more precise movements with a much greater range of motion than an actual human hand. While the procedure is in progress, the doctor will be able to see your anatomy on a 3D screen, allowing for much greater visibility.

Laparoscopic Surgery

Most often performed during the removal of the uterus or during a hysterectomy, a laparoscopic surgery is a minimally invasive procedure in which your doctor will make a few very small incisions into your abdominal region. Through these incisions, your doctor will then insert tubes, which will be used as tools during the procedure. These tubes have cameras attached to them, providing your doctor a full view of your internal organs, leading to better accuracy and less opportunity for error. Once the doctor is completed with the operation, the small incisions can easily be sutured and treated for a seamless recovery.

In comparison to a typical hysterectomy, laparoscopic surgery is much quicker and requires less recovery time and a decreased hospital stay. On average, a patient will only need to spend one day in the hospital after the procedure and will be almost fully recovered two weeks after surgery compared with the eight weeks that is typical of a conventional hysterectomy. Patients will also experience much less pain and lose less blood, decreasing the risk of complications and increasing patient satisfaction. A shorter recovery time and quicker hospital stay also allows patients to get back to their daily routines much more quickly. In addition, due to the smaller incisions, patients will notice less scarring afterward.[6]Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER) (2022). Minimally invasive gynecologic surgery – Overview. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved March 27, 2022, from … Continue reading

Is Minimally Invasive Surgery the Best Choice for You?

Benefits of Minimally Invasive Surgery

Deciding if minimally invasive surgery is the right decision for your gynecological care can be a difficult, but ultimately rewarding, decision. Choosing to undergo a minimally invasive gynecological procedure can lead to multiple benefits to both your health and your self-esteem. We’ve listed the most commonly cited advantages.

Shorter Recovery Time

Undergoing an invasive surgery takes time, and an extensive amount of time is usually needed to recover. Typically, patients who undergo an invasive procedure have a fairly long hospital stay of three to eight days on average. Minimally invasive surgeries, on the other hand, are typically same-day procedures, meaning you can go home the same day as the procedure. Because a minimally invasive surgery produces a smaller wound, the skin will also be able to heal much faster, making recovery time as quick as two weeks. With a quicker recovery time, your life and independence can safely return to normal, without the interruption on your life or daily routine.[7]Mori, K. M., & Neubauer, N. L. (2013). Minimally invasive surgery in gynecologic oncology. International Scholarly Research Notices, 2013. https://doi.org/10.1155/2013/312982

Less Risk for Infection

Since the wound is smaller and heals faster, there is less risk of infection. A smaller wound is also easier to nurse and can help you avoid some of the precautions necessary with a larger or more exposed wound.

Decreased Scarring

As compared with large abdominal scars, the incisions made in minimally invasive procedures are no bigger than a dime. Only one or two stitches is needed to close them. Scarring is therefore minimized, and scars will often not be visible after healing is complete.

Less Prescription Medications

Patients who undergo invasive surgeries are often put on multiple medications that can cause unwanted side effects like constipation, slowed breathing, confusion, drowsiness, and even dependency. It is not uncommon for patients to have a hard time weaning off these medications after their recovery period is over. Fortunately, less invasive procedures typically require fewer pain relieving medications taken for a much shorter period of time.

Increased Confidence

After undergoing minimally invasive procedures, patients often notice increased confidence. Whether it be following a reconstructive vaginal surgery, birth, menopause, or a surgery to help a painful or potentially embarrassing sexual problem, minimally invasive surgery can leave patients feeling confident and better than ever about their sexuality and femininity.

Minimally invasive surgery is becoming popular among gynecologists nationwide. This less-invasive procedure is performed through a small incision or natural access points, such as the vagina, and typically leads to shorter recovery time, decreased bleeding, and decreased scarring.

Is Minimally Invasive Surgery Right for You?

Minimally Invasive Surgery Options

Based on your situation, your doctor will recommend the best treatment option or combination of options for your situation. Advanced and minimally invasive surgery options allow women with challenging gynecological issues to receive a customized surgical treatment plan to achieve their individual goals. Contact us if you would like to discuss your options with one of our providers.

References

References
1 Mori, K. M., & Neubauer, N. L. (2013). Minimally invasive surgery in gynecologic oncology. International Scholarly Research Notices, 2013. http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/312982
2 Holloway, R. W., Patel, S. D., & Ahmad, S. (2009). Robotic Surgery in Gynecology. Scandinavian Journal of Surgery, 96–109. https://doi.org/10.1177/145749690909800205
3 Karcher, C., & Sadick, N. (2016). Vaginal rejuvenation using energy-based devices [Review of Vaginal rejuvenation using energy-based devices]. International Journal of Women’s Dermatology, 2(3), 85–88. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijwd.2016.05.003
4 Klobucar, A., Hrgovic, Z., Bukovic, D., Caric, V., Grgurevic-Batinica, A., & Hrgovic, I. (2004). The treatment of cervical dysplasia with laser. Medicinski Arhiv, 58(6), 355-357. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15648233/
5 Centini, G., Troia, L., Lazzeri, L., Petraglia, F., & Luisi, S. (2016). Modern operative hysteroscopy. Minerva Ginecologica, 68(2), 126-132. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26930389/
6 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER) (2022). Minimally invasive gynecologic surgery – Overview. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved March 27, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/departments-centers/minimally-invasive-gynecologic-surgery/overview/ovc-20424071
7 Mori, K. M., & Neubauer, N. L. (2013). Minimally invasive surgery in gynecologic oncology. International Scholarly Research Notices, 2013. https://doi.org/10.1155/2013/312982
When Should an Ovarian Cyst Be Surgically Removed?

Should an Ovarian Cyst Be Surgically Removed?

Regardless of its size or level of severity, discovering an ovarian cyst can be a stressful and confusing experience for any woman—especially if the cyst is causing you severe discomfort in your day-to-day life. However, the way a cyst is treated or even if it needs to be treated varies from situation to situation.

Ovarian cysts are relatively common (occurring in between 8% and 18% of women) [1]Ross, E.K. (2013). Incidental Ovarian Cysts: When to Reassure, When to Reassess, When to Refer. Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine; 80(8): 503–514. Retrieved from 2013 article., both pre- and post-menopausal. However, most of these cysts are benign, meaning that they’re non-cancerous. [2]Abduljabbar, H. S., Bukhari, Y. A., Al Hachim, E. G., Alshour, G. S., Amer, A. A., Shaikhoon, M. M., & Khojah, M. I. (2015). Review of 244 cases of ovarian cysts. Saudi medical journal, 36(7), … Continue reading In rare circumstances, though, it’s also possible for a cyst to become cancerous or to cause severe complications for the patient. Whenever a twisted ovary or rupture occurs, this can be extremely painful, and the patient must receive immediate medical care.

With so many possibilities, you might be unsure how to proceed after the discovery of an ovarian cyst. To start, take any recommendations by your doctor into serious consideration. They’ll be able to give you a clearer idea of your cyst’s condition and whether treatment is necessary.

When Should an Ovarian Cyst Be Surgically Removed?

Fortunately, in the case of most ovarian cysts, surgery isn’t a necessary treatment. [3]Imperial College London. (2019, February 5). Ovarian cysts should be ‘watched’ rather than removed, study suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 20, 2022 from … Continue reading The majority of these types of cysts can resolve on their own, often without symptoms or complications. However, there are a few situations where ovarian cyst removal may be the best course of action. For example, suppose the cyst is on the larger side, is actively growing, is non-functional, causes pain, or continues throughout more than two menstrual cycles. In that case, your gynecologist might suggest surgical removal.

In some cases, a cyst can be removed using a procedure known as an ovarian cystectomy. However, the ovary itself won’t be removed during this procedure. There are other times when removing the entire ovary may be the safest path to take. When just the affected ovary is removed, and the other remains intact, this is known as an oophorectomy.

Though rare, some cystic mass may be cancerous. [4]Jayson, Elise C Kohn, Henry C Kitchener, Jonathan A Ledermann, Ovarian cancer, The Lancet,Volume 384, Issue 9951,2014,Pages 1376-1388,ISSN 0140-6736,https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(13)62146-7. You can expect to be referred to a gynecologic cancer specialist in these instances. The surgical treatment needed in these cases can differ. However, you may need to receive a total hysterectomy. In other words, the ovaries, uterus, and fallopian tubes will all need to be removed. Other cancerous cysts are best treated with radiation or chemotherapy.

If the ovarian cyst develops after the start of menopause, your gynecologist will likely recommend surgical removal.

Functional Cysts Vs. Non-functional Ovarian Cysts

The distinction between functional and non-functional ovarian cysts is important to keep in mind, as it can dramatically influence the best course of treatment.

Functional Cysts (Follicular and Corpus Luteum)

Functional cysts come in two forms: follicular cysts and corpus luteum cysts. Both of these ovarian cysts form during someone’s menstrual cycle.

A follicular cyst may develop when an egg can’t be released from the follicular sac (where an egg grows). More often than not, follicular cysts will resolve on their own in no more than two menstrual cycles.

If the follicular sac releases an egg, but there’s a buildup of fluid, this is a corpus luteum cyst. Although these ovarian cysts often resolve on their own, they can be more painful than a typical follicular cyst. It’s even possible that they will result in bleeding.

As a whole, functional cysts are a benign type of growth. If the functional cyst is small and not causing any symptoms or pain, treatment likely won’t be needed. However, your gynecologist may prescribe birth control bills when menstrual problems or pain are involved, as this can stop new cysts from forming.

Periodic ultrasound studies can be used to monitor the cyst to ensure that it resolves on its own.

Non-Functional Cysts (Dermoid, Cystadenoma, Endometrioma, & Malignant)

When a woman develops a non-functional ovarian cyst, it isn’t a result of releasing an egg or her menstrual cycle. Although most non-functional cysts are non-cancerous, that isn’t always the case.[5]M A Pascual, L Hereter, F Tresserra, O Carreras, A Ubeda, S Dexeus, Transvaginal sonographic appearance of functional ovarian cysts., Human Reproduction, Volume 12, Issue 6, Jun 1997, Pages … Continue reading

Non-functional ovarian cysts also come with several potential complications, including a twisted ovary or rupture. Other times, the non-functional ovarian cyst may be large enough that this alone causes the patient pain or discomfort.

There are four types of non-functional ovarian cysts, and those are:

  • Dermoid
  • Cystadenoma
  • Endometrioma
  • Malignant

Non-Functional Ovarian Cysts

Dermoid cysts are typically benign, although they can rupture or twist the ovary. [6]Mobeen S, Apostol R. Ovarian Cyst. [Updated 2021 Jun 10]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: … Continue reading They’re also present from the patient’s birth rather than developing later in life. These cysts are composed of hair, skin, muscle, or organ tissue.

Cystadenomas are large cysts that develop on the outside of the ovaries. Despite their size and the discomfort they can cause, they are typically benign. Similarly, endometriomas are usually benign cysts, although they develop due to an excess of uterine lining tissue.

As a woman ages, her cysts may become cancerous or malignant. This is a rare situation, but a “watch and wait” strategy is the best way to catch the problem early. When a patient experiences persistent ovarian cysts (especially after menopause), her doctor must perform routine ultrasound screenings to check for tumors or signs of cancer.

How Big Does an Ovarian Cyst Have to Be to Get It Removed?

Most ovarian cysts are relatively small, often with little to no symptoms or pain. However, if one of these cysts grows to a larger size, this can cause complications and necessitate surgical removal. Surgery often isn’t necessary until an ovarian cyst has grown to 50 to 60 millimeters in size or approximately 2 to 2.4 inches.

Still, these measurements aren’t a rigid guide to when a cyst should be removed. For example, for a simple benign cyst, your doctor might prefer not to surgically remove it until it’s larger than 4 inches. On the opposite hand, if an ovarian cyst is cancerous, it will need to be removed even if it’s of a much smaller size.

Ovarian Cyst Removal Side Effects and Risks

Like any surgical procedure, there are potential risks or side effects to having an ovarian cyst surgically removed. [7]Henes, M., Engler, T., Taran, F. A., Brucker, S., Rall, K., Janz, B., & Lawrenz, B. (2018). Ovarian cyst removal influences ovarian reserve dependent on histology, size and type of operation. … Continue reading

Some of the most common risks of ovarian cyst removal surgery are that:

  • It may not control the pain, despite removal.
  • The ovarian cysts return (after cystectomy).
  • An infection develops.
  • Scar tissue builds up at the surgical site—on the fallopian tubes, ovaries, or in the patient’s pelvis.
  • Damage is done to the bladder or bowel.

Ovarian Cyst Removal Recovery Time

The anticipated recovery time after ovarian cyst removal surgery depends on whether the patient had a laparoscopy or a laparotomy.

Laparoscopy involves a small incision and has a shorter recovery time. Usually, the patient can return to their day-to-day activities within a day. They should avoid strenuous exercise or activity for around a week, though.

If there’s any suspicion of cancer, a laparoscopy won’t be the most appropriate surgical option. So instead, some patients will have a laparotomy performed. This procedure gives an improved view of the female pelvic organs and abdominal muscles, involving a larger incision in the abdomen.

After receiving a laparotomy, the patient could remain in the hospital for approximately two to four days. It will also take around four to six weeks to return to their usual activities.

The Cost of Ovarian Cyst Removal Surgery

Like recovery time, the cost of ovarian cyst removal depends on the type of surgery the patient has received. In addition, whether or not the patient has health insurance coverage is also essential in determining cost.

If the patient has health insurance, the cost of their surgery usually consists of a copay and coinsurance rate of between 10% and 50% (sometimes more). However, if the cyst removal surgery is medically necessary, health insurance providers will generally cover it.

Alternatively, if the patient doesn’t have health insurance, it will typically cost between $7,000 and $15,000 to have ovarian cysts surgically removed. Depending on the patient’s location and the hospital used, the cost can vary.

Although some hospitals may charge as little as $6,500 for surgery, the figure can be several thousand dollars higher with a doctor’s fee.

If you’re an uninsured or cash-paying patient, many care providers will offer a discount of up to 30% (or more).

How Well Does Ovarian Cyst Removal Surgery Work?

How Well Does Ovarian Cyst Removal Surgery Work? 

 

If the patient receives an oophorectomy, the current cysts have been removed—so, there won’t be any risk of new ovarian cysts developing in the future.

However, a cystectomy preserves the ovary (and the patient’s fertility if this is a concern). This means that new cysts can develop in the future, whether they form on the same ovary or the opposite one.

Your doctor may prescribe birth control pills to reduce the chances of new ovarian cysts developing. [8]Grimes DA, Jones LB, Lopez LM, Schulz KF. Oral contraceptives for functional ovarian cysts. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2011, Issue 9. Art. No.: CD006134. DOI: … Continue reading

Ovarian Cyst Treatment & Removal by Arizona Gynecology Consultants

At Arizona Gynecology Consultants, we are a team of experienced gynecology professionals in the Phoenix and Mesa areas. If you’re currently struggling with ovarian cysts, we offer both general care and minimally invasive surgical procedures.

We treat many women’s health conditions, including primary care, menopause, abnormal bleeding, pelvic pain, hormone replacement, and more. AZGYN even offers several no-incision medical treatments, including for abnormal uterine bleeding or uterine fibroid treatments.

* Editor’s Note: This article was originally published Jun, 2017 and has been updated Feb, 2022.

References

References
1 Ross, E.K. (2013). Incidental Ovarian Cysts: When to Reassure, When to Reassess, When to Refer. Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine; 80(8): 503–514. Retrieved from 2013 article.
2 Abduljabbar, H. S., Bukhari, Y. A., Al Hachim, E. G., Alshour, G. S., Amer, A. A., Shaikhoon, M. M., & Khojah, M. I. (2015). Review of 244 cases of ovarian cysts. Saudi medical journal, 36(7), 834–838. https://doi.org/10.15537/smj.2015.7.11690
3 Imperial College London. (2019, February 5). Ovarian cysts should be ‘watched’ rather than removed, study suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 20, 2022 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/02/190205185156.htm
4 Jayson, Elise C Kohn, Henry C Kitchener, Jonathan A Ledermann, Ovarian cancer, The Lancet,Volume 384, Issue 9951,2014,Pages 1376-1388,ISSN 0140-6736,https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(13)62146-7.
5 M A Pascual, L Hereter, F Tresserra, O Carreras, A Ubeda, S Dexeus, Transvaginal sonographic appearance of functional ovarian cysts., Human Reproduction, Volume 12, Issue 6, Jun 1997, Pages 1246–1249, https://doi.org/10.1093/humrep/12.6.1246
6 Mobeen S, Apostol R. Ovarian Cyst. [Updated 2021 Jun 10]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK560541/
7 Henes, M., Engler, T., Taran, F. A., Brucker, S., Rall, K., Janz, B., & Lawrenz, B. (2018). Ovarian cyst removal influences ovarian reserve dependent on histology, size and type of operation. Women’s health (London, England), 14, 1745506518778992. https://doi.org/10.1177/1745506518778992
8 Grimes DA, Jones LB, Lopez LM, Schulz KF. Oral contraceptives for functional ovarian cysts. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2011, Issue 9. Art. No.: CD006134. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD006134.pub4. Accessed 21 February 2022.
Maintain Vaginal pH Through Diet

Keep It Balanced: Maintain Vaginal pH Through Diet

This entry was posted in Fitness and Nutrition and tagged on by .

Specific foods improve your vaginal pH and overall health. This will keep your most sensitive organ functioning well and makes the necessity for multiple gynecological visits at a minimum. Fighting infection and minimizing unpleasant odors are just a few of the benefits of a good diet in foods great for your vagina.

What Is pH and What Should Your Vagina Be?

First off, pH is simply the scientific measurement to determine how acidic or basic something is. It is annotated numerically from 0 to 14, where 0 is the most acidic and 14 is the most basic. To measure this, a litmus test is conducted where a special sheet of paper is exposed to a substance and, based on its coloring, you can determine its acidic or basic level.

For reference, water should be at a 7 (in the center). As far as vaginas are concerned, your levels should be anywhere from 3.8 to 4.5; however, your healthy pH level can vary depending on age reproductively (pre-menstruation, reproductive years, and post-menopause). Generally, you want the number to be on the more acidic side.

Why the pH Level Matters

A more acidic vagina is ideal for women because it helps prevent bacterial growth and infections such as bacterial vaginosis (BV) or trichomoniasis (trich). It is important to note that a vagina that is too acidic can cause fertility problems because sperm survive better in a more basic (or alkaline) environment where their most optimal level is between 7 and 8.

Thankfully, modern science has studied and shown how different foods and natural remedies to restore pH balance to the vagina can be beneficial to overall health.

Foods That Help Balance pH

1. Cranberries

Cranberries

Cranberries have long been known to help prevent and treat urinary tract infections. There are two special ingredients found in cranberries: A-Type proanthocyanidins (PAC) and fructose (sugar). These ingredients concurrently prevent bacteria, which cause UTIs from clinging to the wall of the bladder.

The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology studied cranberry and its effects and found that the rate of UTIs after gynecological surgery had been cut by 50%. It is important to note that in this study, women were taking cranberry supplement pills which replaced the need to drink two servings of juice. The sugar found in cranberry juice can often raise your pH levels in your vagina, making them more basic and thereby create an environment for yeast infection.

2. Foods with Healthy Fats

Avocado, almonds and olive oil

When we go to the grocery store, we are assaulted with foods that claim to be “low in fat” or “fat free.” This might not always be helpful to your health, especially when it comes to your vagina. Nuts, olive oils, and avocado are just three of the foods available which can keep your cholesterol and estrogen levels balanced, which keeps your pH level in your vagina balanced, as well. Go nuts on nuts and definitely add avocado to your toast in the morning to reap the benefits of these foods.

3. Kimchi, Greek Yogurt, and Other Probiotics

Kimchi contains any variation of veggies, chili peppers, salt, fish sauce, garlic, and ginger and is then canned/jarred and fermented. It can either be purchased at a regular or international grocery store or, if you prefer, made right at home with all your preferred flavors and combinations. The point overall is that the dish is fermented, which creates more acidity in your pH levels of your vagina but not so much to cause a problem.

Greek yogurt, like kimchi, is also a probiotic, which can promote good intestinal/stomach health as well as keep away bad bacteria from your vaginal area. Probiotic foods are also foods that balance pH in the stomach.

If you cannot get probiotics naturally into your diet through foods like kimchi, cottage cheese, kombucha, miso, or Greek yogurt, try a simple supplement you can get over the counter at your local pharmacy.

4. Prebiotic Foods

Postbiotics-probiotics-food

Naturally, where probiotic foods exist, there are also prebiotic foods. To understand the difference, think of it this way: probiotics are living microorganisms that function as good bacteria, whereas prebiotics are carbohydrates that feed “good” bacteria in the gut.

When prebiotics travel to the colon, they are undigested despite having gone through the stomach. While in the colon, they ferment and feed naturally-occurring gut bacteria. While prebiotics exist largely in plant-based foods, not all plants function in this way. Prebiotics can be found in honey, bananas, soybeans, onions, and garlic.

As far as your vagina is concerned, prebiotics feed naturally-occurring “good” bacteria, and it is suggested by doctors to be consumed with probiotics. Like probiotics, prebiotics can be taken as a supplement, so when purchasing, make sure to pay attention to the prefix in front of “biotic.”

5. Water

Citrus infused water

It’s probably not a shock to many but water and basic hydration is the best way to create a hospitable environment in your body in general. Water, besides being necessary to maintain life, can keep your vagina functioning at maximum capacity. The vagina has its own cleansing system built-in, and proper hydration only aids in its ability to keep itself clean by increasing lubrication, allowing discharges to be released, and maintaining overall balance of the pH of the vagina.

To maintain proper hydration, the good rule is to drink at least nine cups (2 liters) of water every day. Instead of gulping down that much water, it is preferable to drink little by little throughout the day evenly; gulping too much water can cause nausea and vomiting, which dehydrates you.

If you are using sports drinks to achieve hydration while working out or doing heavy physical exercise, make sure your sugar intake in these drinks is at a minimum.

6. Vitamin C

Freshly blended fruit smoothies

While not exactly a food, this vitamin is important to consume for vaginal pH health and can be found in a variety of different fruits and vegetables. The foods found to have the highest amount of Vitamin C are citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, etc.), bell peppers (red, green, yellow – you can’t lose), and strawberries (yum!). Any food high in vitamin C can aid in fighting infections in your body in general, but especially in your vaginal area.

Vitamin C can help maintain healthy pH levels in your vagina, as well, and can be administered through a boric acid suppository alternative if you are sensitive to any of the foods high in vitamin C.

Foods That Throw Off Your pH

Your pH can be balanced by foods, so, naturally, there are certain foods that throw off your pH to either end of the acid/base scale and cause gynecological problems. Here is a short list of foods to stray away from to maintain good pH levels in your vagina:

1. Foods High in Sugar

As we mentioned before, foods higher in sugar can throw off your pH level tremendously. On top of being bad for your pH level, high sugar foods can cause excessive weight gain, lethargy, “sugar crash,” acne/skin problems, and can degrade teeth enamel over time (think cavities). While a slice of cake every once in a while certainly will not kill you, it is important to maintain that good balance.

2. Alcohol

There is a reason those who are recovering from alcoholism crave sugary foods – it processes the same in the body. Likewise, alcohol can be as detrimental to your pH of your vagina as sugar itself can – in the end, it’s all just unnecessary glucose.

Don’t worry, however – you can still enjoy a glass of your favorite alcohol to wind down, but again, moderation is key. Red wine has been shown to increase the blood flow to your vagina and increase libido in women. It is advised with red wine, however, to limit yourself to 2 glasses only.

3. Processed Foods

At the end of the day, it is difficult to “get into gear” and cook a healthy meal from scratch. For busy people, processed foods can be a quick and easy way to prepare food, but, as with most things, too much can be harmful to your body (especially your vagina). Processed foods are any foods that are not “whole” or naturally occurring. While it is very difficult to only consume whole foods, you can supplement processed foods for simply or minimally-processed foods, such as food grown and sold organically.

4. Any Meat or Dairy with Additive Hormones

Be a savvy consumer and make sure when you purchase meat or dairy products that the animals these products come from have not been injected with hormones. Products without hormones will be USDA-certified organic or marked specifically as “hormone-free.” These hormones are called xenoestrogens and mimic naturally-occurring estrogen in animals born purely for food purposes. These xenoestrogens then transfer to your own system when you consume hormonally-treated meat or dairy and can play havoc on your own hormones. Red meat and dairy products are not harmful but make sure you know how it was made ahead of time.

Good Life Practices for Vaginal Health

There are certain activities which women should be engaging in to maintain and promote good vaginal health.

If you are not doing these things and experiencing vaginal problems/infections, this list might help aid what ails you:

  • Cleanliness of your vagina – Cleaning and maintaining the vagina isn’t as difficult as one might imagine. Your vagina naturally cleans itself, but if you want to clean it further, rinsing the area with warm/lukewarm water will help keep it fresh. If you need to use soap, make sure it is free of fragrance. Though tempting, cleansing products are not advised (such as douching or washes). While on your period, try to avoid any scented tampons or sanitary pad products.
  • Quit smoking – Besides being harmful to lung and heart health, people who smoke tobacco are more prone to infections like BV. Non-smokers in a study conducted in 2018 were found to have more Lactobacillus in their vagina versus smokers. Lactobacillus is a probiotic bacteria that is important to the vagina to function properly. 
  • Stress-busting – A study in 2018 linked cortisol (the hormone produced during stressful events) and BV. While stress is impossible to abstain from completely, stress-busting activities such as meditation, exercise, and music/other hobbies can help maintain healthy stress levels.
  • Good underwear sense – Wearing a breathable but absorbent, soft fabric (such as cotton) on your vagina is incredibly helpful to keeping your pH levels regulated. Also, make sure you are cleaning your laundry with detergent, which is fragrance-free and hypoallergenic. If possible, go “commando” at night while you sleep to prevent moisture from building up in the vaginal area.
  • Condoms/barriers during sex – Semen, as we mentioned before, can alkalize the vaginal walls and increase risk of infection. Even digital penetration and oral sex have bacterial risks, so using a “dental dam” or “finger cot” is suggested for those activities. If you are trying to get pregnant or cannot use condoms, make sure to cleanse your vagina after sexual activity.

Times to Seek Medical Help

pregnant or cannot use condoms, make sure to cleanse your vagina after sexual activity. Times to Seek Medical Help

Even with preventative and good health practices, there are times where you might be faced with symptoms and discomfort in your vagina and need professional medical care and advice. Try not to “self-diagnose” on the internet and instead call your gynecologist to set up an appointment immediately. If you do not have a gynecologist, ask your primary care doctor for help with your symptoms or for help finding a gynecologist in your area.

Here are symptoms to never ignore:

  • Unusual discharge – anything that is not clear as vaginal discharge is something that should be examined.
  • Foul odor – don’t douche or use vaginal washes as the smell might be indicative of a larger issue.
  • Burning sensation – if the skin inside or outside your vagina feels like it is burning or irritated.
  • Itchiness – itching could be an indication of an infection or yeast infection and needs doctor-prescribed pharmaceuticals and care.

Come See the Experts in Vaginal Care

At Arizona Gynecology Consultants, we are experts in gynecological services and minimally invasive procedures for women in the greater Phoenix metropolitan area. We also provide options for those unable to travel with telehealth appointments. Our welcoming, compassionate doctors, nurses, and staff are here to help you with your concerns. 

Schedule an appointment today. 

Gynecological Cancer

Gynecological Cancer (and How to Prevent It)

This entry was posted in Health FAQs and tagged on by .

A gynecological cancer diagnosis, no matter what form it comes in, can be devastating. That is exactly why it’s so beneficial to take the proper precautions now to lower your risk of developing one of these cancers.

But what is gynecological cancer, really? This term refers to cancer that forms anywhere in the female reproductive organs. All women are at risk of developing gynecological cancer, although to varying degrees. Genetics can play a role, as well as the steps you have taken toward gynecologic cancer prevention. Additionally, as we grow older, our risk of developing gynecologic cancer increases.

There are five different types of gynecologic cancer, each featuring a unique set of symptoms, risk factors, and treatment options. However, with the proper gynecologic cancer awareness and prevention, it is entirely possible to reduce your risk of developing any of these diseases – all it takes is educating yourself and making key healthy lifestyle choices.

What Are the 5 Gynecological Cancers?

“Gynecological cancer” doesn’t describe a singular disease but encompasses five distinct cancers, each beginning in a woman’s reproductive system.

The five types of gynecological cancer are as follows:

1. Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer begins in the cervix, which is a canal located at the lower end of the uterus and the top of the vagina. The cervix prevents bacteria from entering the uterus, allows menstrual blood to pass from the uterus, and creates discharge to keep the vagina clean. It changes its size and position during the menstrual cycle, grows a mucus plug to protect the fetus during pregnancy, and widens during childbirth to accommodate the passage of the fetus.

Cervical Cancer

2. Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer begins in the ovaries. The ovaries are two glands positioned on both sides of the uterus, and each one is connected to this organ via fallopian tubes. Their function is to produce eggs and secrete estrogen and testosterone, two sex hormones that are crucial for female development. During ovulation, eggs travel through the fallopian tubes, where they may be fertilized and then pass to the uterus for implantation.

ovarian cancer

3. Uterine Cancer

Uterine cancer begins to develop in the uterus. The uterus, also known as the womb, is the hollow, muscular organ within the pelvis between the bladder and rectum. It provides nourishment to the fetus as it develops during pregnancy.

4. Vaginal Cancer

Vaginal cancer originates in the vagina. Contrary to a popular misconception, “vagina” does not refer to the exterior component of the female reproductive system but to the hollow, elastic canal at the bottom of the uterus that connects to the vulva on the outside of the body. Lined with nerves and mucus membranes, the vagina allows for menstruation, intercourse, and childbirth.

5. Vulvar Cancer

Vulvar cancer begins in the vulva, which is the external female genitalia surrounding the opening of the vagina. The vulva protects the internal elements of the female reproductive system by opening the labia major and labia minora. It features several glands that play a role in sexual arousal and stimulation and provides lubrication and cushioning for intercourse.

What Are the Symptoms of Gynecologic Cancer?

It is important to keep in mind the symptoms of each type of gynecologic cancer aren’t the same. In fact, they can vary quite significantly from type to type. So, it is important to keep an eye out for any of the following symptoms to catch the development of gynecologic cancer as early as possible. The earlier a cancer of the female reproductive system is discovered, the better the chances that the individual will make a smooth recovery.

One of the primary systems of gynecologic cancer is abnormal vaginal bleeding. This symptom occurs in all types of gynecologic cancer except for vulvar cancer. Whenever you experience vaginal bleeding without a reason, it is important to take the issue to your physician as soon as possible. For instance, if you experience vaginal bleeding after menopause, this could indicate a serious medical problem, such as gynecologic cancer.

If you haven’t yet gone through menopause but have noticed far heavier periods, periods that last longer than they used to, or abnormal bleeding between your periods, this could also indicate a significant medical problem. Again, if you ever find yourself in this position, make sure to visit a gynecologist at your earliest convenience.

With cervical cancer, vaginal bleeding is often the primary symptom. Early along in the disease’s development, this cancer can be more difficult to recognize without the aid of a physician.

Ovarian cancer, however, has several noticeable symptoms, making it easier to detect early in its development. The most common symptoms of ovarian cancer are as follows:

  • Abnormal discharge or vaginal bleeding
  • Difficulty eating, such as beginning to feel full too quickly
  • Pain or pressure within the pelvis
  • Frequent urination
  • Constipation
  • Bloating
  • Pain in the back or abdomen

The typical symptoms of uterine cancer include abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge, as well as pain or pressure in the pelvis.

Generally, individuals with vaginal cancer will experience abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge, frequent urination, and constipation.

Finally, the most common symptoms of vulvar cancer are:

  • Pain, itching, tenderness, or burning of the vulva
  • Changes in the skin color of the vulva, such as a rash, warts, or sores

How Can I Lower My Risk of Gynecologic Cancer?

Although it isn’t possible to fully eliminate the chances of developing gynecologic cancer, there are ways in which you can lower your risk, perhaps even by a large margin. One of the most straightforward ways to lower your risk of gynecologic cancer is to keep the warning signs in mind. Although some forms will display more outward symptoms than others, careful monitoring can help you catch gynecologic cancer before it can grow and spread.

If you are looking to lower your risk of gynecologic cancer, also consider:

Getting the HPV Vaccine

Human papillomavirus HPV vaccine

Three of the gynecologic cancer types (cervical, vulvar, and vaginal) can be the result of HPV, a common sexually transmitted infection. The HPV vaccine can protect you against the varieties of HPV that most often result in gynecologic cancer.

It is possible to receive the HPV vaccine as a child, and it is even given to girls as young as eleven. Unfortunately, once a woman has reached the age of twenty-six, it is not necessarily recommended that she receive the HPV vaccine.

If you are a woman older than twenty-six but younger than forty-six, it might still be possible to receive the HPV vaccine. You will first need to talk to your gynecologist about your current HPV risk, as well as the potential benefits of receiving the vaccination. Nevertheless, if you are vaccinated against HPV at this age, it isn’t likely to be as effective because most women have already been exposed to the virus at this point.

Even if you have received the HPV vaccine, it is still a good idea to receive regular screenings for cervical cancer to reduce your risk even further.

Staying On Top of Screening Tests

One of the most effective ways to prevent disease, including gynecologic cancer, is through receiving regular screening tests. The purpose of a screening test is to check for signs of a particular disease, even if symptoms have not yet developed.

Cancer screening tests can be especially beneficial, as catching the disease early on can dramatically simplify the recovery process. For instance, cervical cancer screenings (known as Pap tests) are one of the best ways to discover the disease before it worsens. Cervical cancer presents only limited symptoms, so by the time you notice them, the disease may have already spread and become severe. The Pap test can even catch cervical cancer before it develops by locating precancerous cells on the cervix. This can then be treated before it develops into cancer.

If you have already shown symptoms of gynecologic cancer, however, you will need to receive a diagnostic exam rather than a screening test.

Discussing Your Risk with a Doctor

Discussing Your Risk with a Doctor

If you believe that you’re at an elevated risk of developing gynecologic cancer, it is valuable to have a conversation with your doctor or gynecologist. Genetics play a role in your susceptibility to the disease, meaning if you have a family history of ovarian cancer, this may indicate an increased risk. Your doctor will be able to provide you with guidance on how to lower your risk and ensure you’re informed about screening and testing options.

Some high-risk individuals could even undergo genetic counseling and testing if this is recommended by their physician.

Quitting Smoking

If you’re a smoker, this may increase your risk of fourteen types of cancers, including most gynecologic cancers. Even if you are a long-term smoker, it’s still possible that quitting will lower your risk of gynecologic cancer, as well as many other serious diseases.

Living a Healthy Lifestyle

Unsurprisingly, when you live a healthy lifestyle, you are also reducing your risk of developing diseases like gynecologic cancer. For instance, it can be highly beneficial to maintain a healthy weight.

Even small changes can make a big difference in this arena of cancer prevention. Begin introducing quick and simple workouts into your routine if you don’t currently exercise regularly. You could also begin eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. A healthy, balanced diet can go a long way toward lowering your cancer risk.

Reducing the Risk of Ovarian Cancer

With each type of gynecologic cancer, there are some unique ways you can lower your risk that are not necessarily applicable to other types. You can bring down your risk of developing ovarian cancer by:

  • Using birth control – If you have been on a birth control pill regime for more than five years, then you are at a lower risk of developing ovarian cancer.
  • Undergoing tubal ligation, having your ovaries surgically removed, or receiving a hysterectomy.
  • Giving birth – Women who have previously given birth are at a lower risk.

Reducing the Risk of Cervical Cancer

Receiving the HPV vaccine (prior to exposure) is one of the most effective ways to lower your risk of cervical cancer. If you receive the vaccine over the age of twenty-six, its effectiveness will be reduced.

Also, be sure to receive regular Pap tests. This allows doctors to catch precancerous cells in the cervix before they become cancerous. If you have already developed cervical cancer, Pap smears allow you to catch the disease early.

Birth Control Pills

Finally, consider receiving an HPV test to confirm whether you were exposed to the virus.

Reducing the Risk of Uterine Cancer

Using birth control pills is believed to reduce the risk of uterine cancer, as is staying physically active and maintaining a healthy weight.

If you are currently taking estrogen, it could be a good idea to also take progesterone — this can reduce your uterine cancer risk.

Reducing the Risk of Vaginal and Vulvar Cancers

Since HPV can develop into either vaginal or vulvar cancer, receiving the vaccine is beneficial to reducing your risk.

If you didn’t receive the HPV vaccine as a child but are under the age of twenty-six, be sure to get the vaccine as soon as possible. HPV is a common virus, and once you have been exposed to it, the vaccine will lose its effectiveness. If you’re over twenty-six, talk with your doctor to figure out whether the HPV vaccine could still be worthwhile for you.

Visit Arizona Gynecology Consultants

The professional team at Arizona Gynecology Consultants believes in treating the patient as a whole person whose needs are ever-changing throughout their lifetime.It’s our goal to help you stay on top of your reproductive health through preventative services and treatment options.

Everything You Need to Know About Pap Smears

Clear, Unapologetic Information About Pap Smears

The medical world is full of many conditions, procedures, and treatment plans. While some of these are complicated life-saving techniques, others are preventative measures taken to avoid disease altogether.

A Pap Smear is one of the latter procedures. Throughout their lives, people with vaginas should get this test done regularly to ensure vaginal and cervical health, and to avoid serious disease.

What Is a Pap Smear And How Is It Done?

A Pap smear is a medical procedure developed by George Nicholas Papanicolaou, and is a procedure to test for cervical cancer. The cervix is the opening of the uterus and is located at the back of the vaginal canal (technically considered the top of the vagina). A Pap smear takes a sample of cells from the cervix and tests them for abnormalities or strange growth. These are the first signs of cervical cancer.

To retrieve the sample, a primary care doctor or gynecologist will insert a speculum into the vagina. This device opens the vaginal canal enough for the doctor to see the cervix and swab it with a long-stemmed cotton swab.

Why Are Pap Smears Necessary?

Cervical cancer is a serious disease. It can be difficult to treat and can be incredibly painful. However, the sooner it is discovered, the simpler it is to treat. Pap smears detect abnormal cervical cells. These are the first signs of cervical cancer. Detecting the cells in this early stage can significantly increase survival and recovery rates.

When Should A Woman Get A Pap Smear?

When Should A Woman Get A Pap Smear?

Pap smears are recommended beginning at age 21. From ages 21-29, individuals with cervixes should get a Pap smear every three years. This frequency helps to catch cancerous cell growth, but is not too frequent to be invasive.

From age 30 onward, the individual will be tested for HPV during their Pap smear. By doing this, they can reduce the frequency from every three years to every five years.

In some cases, individuals with cervixes who are 65 and older can stop getting regular Pap smears. This only occurs if they have never had an irregular Pap smear, they’ve kept up with their Pap smear schedule in recent decades, and their doctor recommends it based on their unique makeup.

It should be noted that Pap smears will often occur more frequently if irregular cells are found. These tests are used as part of a comprehensive care plan, and to track any healing that may occur.

How Long Does a Pap Smear Test Take?

Pap smears are incredibly fast procedures. They occur during a regular doctor’s appointment, and there is no recovery time afterward. Generally speaking, a Pap smear takes about 2-5 minutes. If it is scheduled as a part of an overall checkup or physical, the appointment may take longer. However, the actual time needed to obtain a sample is only a few minutes.

Remember, the actual procedure is just to get a sample of cervical cells. While a doctor may be able to tell if something is wildly wrong simply by sight, the cells need to be sent to a lab to get results. This result can take up to a week or two, no matter what the result. Wait time should not be an indication of results, and patients are encouraged to refrain from panicking if their results take longer than anticipated.

Is It Painful to Get a Pap Smear?

Many patients are curious about what to expect when getting a Pap smear, especially in reference to potential pain. Pap smears are generally not painful procedures. However, it is necessary to understand that they can be uncomfortable. Depending on the physiology of the vagina, there can be pressure when the speculum is inserted into the vagina. Similarly, the cervix is not commonly directly touched, so the sensation can be new or uncomfortable, especially the first few times.

Overall, it is rather normal to expect strange sensations over pain for a first Pap smear. They should not hurt and have nothing to worry about. In fact, they can prevent you from a lot of pain and suffering down the line.

Preparing for a Pap Smear

A Pap smear is not like a surgery or extensive procedure, so very little preparation is needed for an appointment. However, there are a few small changes that the patient should implement in the days leading up to the Pap smear.

These include:

  • Refraining from sexual activity for 48 hours beforehand
  • Refraining from inserting anything into the vagina, including menstrual cups, tampons, douches, sex toys, etc.
  • Avoiding powders and perfumes in the genital area

It is also not a good idea to schedule a Pap smear during menstruation. Large amounts of blood can alter the test results, leading to false negatives and other harmful missteps. If a patient gets their period in the days leading up to the exam, they should call their doctor’s office and ask what should be done. Some doctors will not perform a Pap smear on a person who is menstruating, as the risk of skewed test results is too high.

Does a Pap Smear Test for STIs?

Pap smears do not test for sexually transmitted infections. Their only purpose is to detect abnormal cervical cells for cervical cancer.

If a patient would like to get an STI test, they must inform their doctor. The method is generally the same for an STI test, the doctor simply needs to have a separate test ready. The swab is just as fast and efficient for STIs.

Pap Smear Results

After a Pap smear is finished, the patient will get their results within the next few weeks. It is important to know what the results mean, though a doctor will often explain if the situation warrants it.

Normal Results

A normal Pap smear result means that no abnormalities were found at the time of the sample. The cells of the cervix seem to be normal, and the patient can come back in their scheduled number of years for their next test.

Abnormal Results

Abnormal Pap Smear Results

If a Pap smear comes back as abnormal, there are several factors that could be causing it.

These include:

  • HPV, which is a condition that leads to cervical cancer
  • Inflammation or cell changes
  • Cancer or pre-cancer
  • An infection, such as a yeast infection
  • Changes in hormones, often found during pregnancy and menopause

If these do occur, the patient’s doctor will advise on the next steps.

Possible Next Steps

Abnormal Pap smear results can seem alarming, but they are not automatically a cause for panic or concern. In some cases, a doctor may decide that waiting a few months and getting another Pap smear is the best course of action. In some cases of inflammation, the situation clears on its own. The doctor may simply want to monitor the condition closely until she is assured that the patient is not at risk.

In other situations, a colposcopy is necessary. In this procedure, a doctor uses a small magnifying tool to examine the cervix, vulva, and vagina. A sample, or biopsy, may also be taken to send to the lab.

Patients should discuss their treatment plan with their doctor to determine what is best for their specific test results.

Are There Risks to Getting Pap Smears?

Technically there are risks to getting a Pap smear, just as there are risks to any medical procedure. However, among routine procedures, Pap smears are extremely safe.

The two main risks are:

  • False positives
  • False negatives

There is always the risk for these in any medical setting. However, Pap smears tend to be very accurate.

Can Pregnant Persons Get a Pap Smear?

Pap smears do not interfere with pregnancy. However, if a patient gets a Pap smear past 12 weeks of gestation, they may experience some increased pain. This is because the cervix begins to swell during pregnancy, making the swab site increasingly tender.

It is important to note that a normal Pap smear schedule is likely going to be altered during pregnancy. Pregnant individuals have their own set of tests and procedures that they must undergo to ensure that the baby is healthy. This may involve similar vaginal exams. The patient should communicate with their prenatal care provider and gynecologist, who can both advise them on what to do. They may simply suggest that the Pap smear be delayed until after the baby is born. However, they may suggest that keeping to a regular Pap smear schedule is preferable.

Are Pap Smears Necessary After a Hysterectomy?

Many individuals undergo hysterectomies and believe that they no longer need to get Pap smears. This is not necessarily the case. Cancer can still occur in the cervical area, even if the uterus and/or ovaries have been removed.

Many individuals who get hysterectomies do so because they have had cervical cancer or signs of untreatable cervical cancer. In these cases, a doctor will continue to check for abnormal cells to help to make sure that the cancer does not return.

Preventing Cervical Abnormalities

Cervical cancer is intimidating, but there are several ways to reduce one’s risk of getting the disease. Many of them involve protecting against HPV, which is a main cause of most cervical cancers.

Some ways to do this include:

  • Get the HPV vaccine
  • Use condoms during sexual intercourse to reduce risk
  • Refrain from douching, which can wash out normal cells that would fight against disease
  • Get HPV tests regularly
  • Get Pap smears regularly
  • Communicate with partners about STI status

Though this is not an exhaustive list of the ways individuals can protect themselves from HPV and cervical cancer, these steps can help reduce risk. The most important factor is getting regular Pap smears. Cervical abnormalities and cancer can occur for reasons outside of HPV, so regardless of one’s lifestyle, regular Pap smears are absolutely recommended.

Contact AZGYN for Expert Female Healthcare Services

Contact AZGYN for Expert Female Healthcare Services

Vaginal and cervical health can feel intimidating. Many women feel embarrassed or ashamed to discuss it. Here at AZGYN, we are here to create an accepting and judgment-free environment for individuals to get quality female healthcare services.

If you are concerned about an issue you are currently facing, feel free to contact us to see if we can help you with your health needs. 

What Causes Pelvic Pain in Women?

Pelvic Pain in Women: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

This entry was posted in Ask An Expert and tagged on by .

It’s no secret that pelvic pain is uncomfortable, and unfortunately, it’s a rather common phenomenon in women — for a wide variety of reasons. Many of these reasons aren’t indicative of anything serious, and aren’t something you need to worry about. However, if you’re not familiar with some of the most common pelvic pain causes, it’s easy to assume the worst-case scenario.

So, we’d like to help educate you on the most common causes of pelvic pain in women. This way, you’ll have a better sense of when not to worry, and when it may be time for a doctor’s visit, as a precaution. We’ll also review the symptoms to look out for in each of these cases, which could lead you to require treatments, such as pelvic bone pain treatment.

Like always, it’s important to stay on top of your health, and this includes being informed and educated about your body.

What Are the Symptoms of Pelvic Pain?

Typically, pelvic pain takes the form of a dull pressure or ache, sometimes involving sharp pains. This discomfort can occur anywhere in the lower abdomen, beneath the naval. Depending on the cause of the pain, it can be either constant or intermittent.

Often, pelvic pain is accompanied by other symptoms, related to whatever is causing the pain. This could include concerns such as abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge, as well as lower-back pain.

What Can Cause Pelvic Pain in a Female?

What Can Cause Pelvic Pain in a Female?As we’ve already mentioned, pelvic pain in women can stem from a wide variety of different sources, ranging quite a bit in severity. Here, we’d like to cover some (but not all) of the most common female pelvic pain causes. This way, you’ll have a better sense of what could be going on with your body, the next time pelvic pain arises.

1. Ovulation

Some women experience mittelschmerz, which is a term used to describe painful ovulation. If you’re experiencing pelvic pain during ovulation, you can expect to feel a painful sensation on a single side of your pelvis. This sensation will occur in the middle of your menstrual cycle.

During ovulation, your body releases an egg, as well as other fluid. The egg then travels down the fallopian tube, until it reaches the uterus. In some instances, the fluid that the ovary releases can spread throughout the pelvic area, which can result in irritation in the pelvis. Eventually, this can develop into pelvic pain.

In terms of how long this pain can last, it depends on the individual circumstance. It’s possible for female pelvic pain of this type to last for minutes before fading, although it can also last for hours, in other cases. It’s also possible for the discomfort to switch from one side of your body to the other, based on whichever ovary has released the egg.

Fortunately, pelvic pain of this variety isn’t indicative of a serious medical condition. It doesn’t require any specific treatment, and it’s only a temporary sensation that will fade once your body exits this stage of the menstrual cycle.

2. Menstrual Pains and Cramps

This is certainly a common cause of pelvic pain in women, and is one that many individuals have first-hand experience with. Menstrual pains and cramping are actually the most common form of menstrual disorders, according to American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).

Of all women who menstruate, over half of them will spend around one to two days of their cycle in some kind of pain. More often than not, menstrual cramping occurs prior to the start of a woman’s period, when the uterus is contracting and shedding its lining.

Menstrual pains and cramping that aren’t severe can often be managed using heating pads, as a means to relieve some of the uncomfortable sensation. Over-the-counter painkillers can also be employed to help manage the pain.

Although menstrual cramps typically aren’t an indicator of a more serious condition, more severe cases do exist. If you experience severe pain during menstruation, then it is a good idea to visit your doctor.

3. Interstitial Cystitis

“Interstitial cystitis” is a term that doctors use to describe ongoing bladder inflammation in women. There is no known cause of this particular condition.

Interstitial cystitis is a condition that can result in pelvic pain, as well as other symptoms. Some of the other symptoms to look out for are painful urination, the frequent need to urinate, as well as pain during sex. If you’re experiencing a combination of these symptoms, then it could be time to visit your doctor.

While interstitial cystitis doesn’t have a known cause, it can still be managed to the best of your physician’s ability.

4. Urinary Tract Infections and Cystitis

While interstitial cystitis doesn’t have a known cause, cystitis is a condition that’s better understood. Cystitis also results in inflammation within a woman’s bladder, although it is the result of a bacterial infection. Bacterial infections can arise in a number of ways, including when rectal, vaginal, or skin bacteria enters the urethra. These bacteria can then make their way to the bladder, resulting in cystitis.

In a similar vein, it’s also possible for female pelvic pain to develop due to a urinary tract infection, or UTI. Urinary tract infections are similar to cystitis, although they can occur anywhere within the system — cystitis occurs exclusively in the bladder.

Both of these conditions are considered common in women, and typically aren’t severe. Although they will sometimes clear up on their own, it’s a good idea to see your doctor when you’re experiencing these symptoms. Sometimes, physicians will prescribe a short course of antibiotics, used to more efficiently treat cystitis, as well as other kinds of UTIs.

Keep Reading: What is a Cystoscopy?

5. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

Pelvic inflammatory disease, also known as PID, is an infection of the womb. When a woman develops PID, the tissue surrounding the womb can also be damaged. The cause of PID is when bacteria from the cervix or vagina enter the womb, taking hold there.

It’s typical for PID to develop as a result of certain sexually transmitted infections, namely gonorrhea or chlamydia. While pelvic pain is one of the symptoms to look out for when it comes to PID, it’s typically accompanied by others, including abnormal vaginal bleeding and discharge.

PID can be a serious condition, as it poses a threat to a woman’s fertility. According to the CDC, over ten percent of women who develop PID will later have trouble becoming pregnant. For this reason, PID is not a condition to take lightly.

The treatment for this condition involves taking antibiotics, in order to clear up the bacterial infection within the womb. Early treatment is important when it comes to PID, as there is no known treatment to help with the scarring that develops.

6. Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

Related to our last point, although broader, is the fact that pelvic pain in women can sometimes be a sign of a sexually transmitted infection (STI). In particular, gonorrhea or chlamydia are STIs known to result in pelvic pain. STIs can occur in anyone who is sexually active.

Alongside pelvic pain, STIs come with a number of other potential symptoms. This includes bleeding between periods, painful urination, and changes in vaginal discharge.

If you suspect that you’re experiencing an STI, don’t hesitate to take the issue to your doctor. Don’t wait and hope that the STI will simply clear up on its own. Once a physician has diagnosed the STI, you’ll be able to begin treatment, which typically involves antibiotics. Further, don’t forget to make sure any sexual partners are aware of the situation, in order to prevent spreading.

7. Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome is a relatively common gut disorder, resulting in a variety of symptoms in either men or women. Aside from pelvic pain, IBS can lead to constipation, diarrhea, and bloating, most commonly.

Important to note is that IBS symptoms typically flare up and go away over periods of time. Flare-ups can often happen around the time of a bowel movement, for instance. There isn’t a known cure for IBS, although treatments to manage symptoms are available. Adjustments to someone’s diet can also be used to manage IBS and control symptoms.

8. Endometriosis

EndometriosisIn some women, the endometrium, a tissue lining the uterus, will start to grow outside of the womb. A condition known as endometriosis will occur.

Women with endometriosis can expect to undergo pelvic pain that is chronic and long-lasting. Whenever the individual’s period begins, the excess tissue will respond to the body’s hormonal changes. This can then lead to bleeding, as well as inflammation in the pelvis.

Depending on the individual, the severity of endometriosis pain can vary; this pain can be anywhere from mild to severe. It’s also not unheard of for women with endometriosis to have trouble becoming pregnant. Because the severity of the condition varies, so do the treatments that are used. More severe cases of endometriosis may involve a different method of treatment, compared to a much milder case.

Additional Reading: What Is Endometriosis?

When Should You Worry About Pelvic Pain?

Fortunately, many conditions resulting in pelvic pain don’t require medical care. So, how do you know if pelvic pain is serious? At what point should you be taking the issue to your doctor? Here are some examples of situations where pelvic pain in women is worthy of a doctor’s visit.

If the pelvic pain is new and severe, then it’s a smart idea to see your doctor. For instance, if this pain is leading you to suspect an infection could be the cause, then make sure you see your physician as soon as possible. While some painful infections can clear up on their own, this isn’t always the case. The longer you wait to take care of the issue, the greater the risk of complications and long-term damage.

If you’re experiencing unexpected vaginal bleeding along with severe pelvic pain, then it’s time to see your doctor.

If you already have a known condition, but there have been sudden changes to your symptoms or pain levels, then you should seek medical attention. This new pain could come in the form of sharp twists, or just general severe pain. In any case, this could be an indicator of a serious change in your condition.

Some symptoms — such as fever, nausea, and vomiting — could be indicators that you should see a doctor, if they develop alongside pelvic pain.

Diagnosing and Treating Pelvic Pain in Arizona

Diagnosing and Treating Pelvic Pain in ArizonaIf you’re currently experiencing pelvic pain that’s severe or leaving you concerned, consider seeing the professionals at Arizona Gynecology Consultants. We’re located in Phoenix and Mesa, AZ, and we have a deep understanding of pelvic pain in women, as well as its potential causes and treatments. In order to get started, you can contact us to schedule an appointment.

What Is Infertility?

What Is Infertility? And Other Infertility FAQ’s Answered

This entry was posted in Ask An Expert, Health FAQs and tagged on by .

Infertility is a widespread condition; millions of people experience it every day. In fact, in the United States alone, 6 percent of women between the ages of 15 and 44 experience infertility. This number doubles if you consider women who can get pregnant but are unable to carry the child to term. Understanding what infertility is and how it is treated is essential for any person or couple struggling to get pregnant.

Infertile Couples Have Trouble Getting Pregnant

Infertility happens when a person or couple has difficulty getting pregnant after having regular, unprotected sex over an extended period, typically a year, without the use of birth control or other measures to prevent pregnancy. The time frame applies to women 15 to 35 years of age. Women 35 or older may naturally have a harder time conceiving and may be treated for infertility after a shorter time, usually around six months.

Infertility also refers to women who become pregnant but are unable to carry a healthy baby to term. An example of this would be a woman who experiences multiple miscarriages.

Infertility FAQs

Infertility FAQsBelow are some frequently asked questions that people have about infertility causes, symptoms and treatments.

What Causes Infertility?

Infertility may be caused by one or many underlying issues. No one solution will guarantee a pregnancy. It usually takes patience and thorough investigative work to find solutions to the problem.

To get pregnant, four major processes need to happen. When something disrupts one of these four processes, it can cause difficulty or prevent the conception of a child.

The steps are:

  1. A woman’s ovaries must produce eggs in her reproductive system for pregnancy. If the ovaries are not producing healthy eggs, it can lead to infertility.
  2. A woman’s eggs must be fertilized by sperm from a male for pregnancy to happen. If there are not enough sperm or sperm healthy enough to reach the eggs, infertility may happen.
  3. There is a passageway in a woman’s body that must provide a clear path for sperm to travel through to make its way to the eggs. Additionally, eggs must be able to travel to the uterus. If anything is blocking these pathways, it can cause infertility.
  4. After an egg is fertilized, it must attach itself to the wall of the uterus. If this does not properly happen, infertility may result.

What Role Does Ovulation Play in Infertility?

Regular periods usually reflect ovulation. Ovulation happens when a healthy egg is sent to the fallopian tubes from the uterus, which is necessary for pregnancy. However, sometimes ovulation doesn’t happen with menstruation, and this is referred to as a disruption of ovarian function. Ovarian functions that are disrupted are the most common causes of infertility.

A woman who does not ovulate during her menstrual cycle has a condition known as anovulation.

This may be caused by:

  • Diminished ovarian reserve. This is a condition that happens when a woman has fewer eggs in her body than she should for her age.
  • Functional hypothalamic amenorrhea. This condition happens when unhealthy weight loss or an obsession with exercise affects the ovulation processes. This condition may happen when a person is dealing with an eating disorder.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome. This is a condition that may be caused by too much testosterone in a woman’s body.
  • Issues with the hypothalamus and pituitary glands. These parts of the brain produce hormones that are associated with ovulation. When these hormones are not at the levels they should be or are out of balance, it can cause many problems in the ovulation process.

Is Infertility Caused Solely by a Woman’s Body?

Is Infertility Caused Solely by a Woman’s Body?A common myth is that women are solely responsible for infertility. The truth is, men are often part of, or the sole cause of, infertility. Many people are surprised to learn that in 35 percent of cases or more, men are part of the cause of infertility. In just under 10 percent of cases, it is solely caused by the male.

How Can a Man Contribute to Infertility?

There are many common reasons a man may contribute to infertility.

These reasons include:

  • Being overweight
  • Excessive or frequent alcohol use
  • Smoking
  • Testosterone resulting from medicine
  • Illegal testosterone use to build muscles
  • Genetic factors
  • Certain medications
  • Exposing testicles to frequent heat
  • Exposure to radiation
  • Diabetes

When Should a Couple Consult a Professional Health Care Provider?

A person or couple should consult a healthcare provider after a year of regular, unprotected intercourse without becoming pregnant. However, if a woman is over 35, it is harder to get pregnant, and therefore, she should seek help sooner. The time frame is generally six months after not becoming pregnant. Failure to become pregnant can cause depression, anxiety, and guilt.

Are There any Reasons Someone Should Consult a Doctor Earlier Than a Year?

If you are not over the age of 35 and are having trouble conceiving, there are circumstances where you may want to consult a professional before a year of being unable to conceive.

If you are a woman, you may consult a doctor earlier if you:

  • Have experienced multiple miscarriages
  • Experience severe pain during your period
  • Experience frequent pain during sexual intercourse
  • Have been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the past
  • Suspect you have an STI
  • Have acne or excessive body hair
  • Have been diagnosed with pelvic inflammatory disease

If you are a male, you may consult a doctor earlier than a year, if you:

  • Have dealt with infertility with other sexual partners
  • Have a sperm analysis that is abnormal
  • Experienced testicular trauma in the past
  • Have had or are being treated by chemotherapy
  • Have been diagnosed with an STI in the past
  • Suspect you have contracted an STI

How Is Someone Tested for Infertility?

Many tests can be done to identify the causes of infertility. Tests utilizing x-rays, ultrasound, and a process called hysterosalpingography all help doctors spot things in the reproductive system that may be causing trouble. Investigating a woman’s ovulation cycle is another tool to identify causes. Males will likely have their sperm tested to determine their health and quality of it.

Is Infertility Permanent?

Infertility does not mean the condition is permanent or that there is no solution. Many people become pregnant and go on to carry and deliver healthy children after being diagnosed as infertile.

Can Living a Less-Stressful Life Cure Infertility?

It is a common myth that most infertility can be cured simply by living a less stressful life. The truth is that the intense emotions that accompany infertility might be the cause of stress and not the other way around. While there may be some truth that stress can affect sperm and the production of healthy eggs, the idea that infertility can be treated by stress reduction alone is an unhelpful one. It often intensifies feelings of guilt and self-blame that people dealing with infertility may already be feeling.

How Does a Healthcare Professional Treat Infertility?

Because there are many different causes of infertility, every situation is unique. Some infertility treatments include surgery, medication, or a mixture of both.

A treatment called intrauterine insemination (IUI), more commonly known as artificial insemination, is often used. IUI is considered primarily for cases where the male may be the cause and cases where the cause is hard to pinpoint.

I’ve Heard About Assisted Reproductive Technology. What Is It?

Assisted reproductive technology (ART) refers to many different treatments. The ART most commonly known to the public is in-vitro fertilization. However, ART refers to any treatment of infertility where a woman’s eggs are dealt with outside her body. ART usually involves removing a healthy egg from a woman’s body in a laboratory setting and combining that egg with healthy sperm. Once the egg has been successfully fertilized, it can be returned to the woman’s body. In some cases, a couple elects to have another woman carry the baby, whereas the fertilized egg would be inserted into that woman’s uterus.

Can I Treat Infertility on My Own?

If you and a partner have gone over a year while engaging in a healthy sex life and have not become pregnant, it is likely time to consult a professional. It is estimated that 85 percent of couples become pregnant within the first year of trying, so the numbers suggest that after this amount of time, it may be time to investigate the situation further as medical intervention is likely needed.

Is It Possible to Be Infertile After I’ve Had a Child?

Many people do not realize that they can still deal with and need infertility treatment even after having a healthy child. This can happen because the factors that cause infertility can show up later in life, or there may be underlying causes that weren’t present during the first pregnancy.

Arizona Gynecology Consultants Treat Infertility

Arizona Gynecology Consultants Treat InfertilityIf you are experiencing infertility and want treatment from experts with the latest medical knowledge and technologies, contact Arizona Gynecology Consultants today. Our programs investigate your specific fertility needs and provide individualized treatments for anyone dealing with infertility. We’re here to help answer any additional questions you have about your personal symptoms nod possible treatments. Reach out to discuss your options. We’re here for you.

Reasons You Feel Tired All the Time

Is It Normal to Feel Tired All of the Time?

This entry was posted in Ask An Expert and tagged on by .

Feeling exhausted and drained of energy is unfortunately quite common for a multitude of people across the country. Because of this, many of them don’t acknowledge that being excessively tired is a problem.

Being overly fatigued can be caused by many different aspects of your health and lifestyle. Because of the large number of factors that can cause fatigue, it is important to acknowledge what could possibly be playing a role in making you feel so tired, as sometimes it can be related to health issues. Being exhausted does not have to be part of your daily life.

Here are some things to keep in mind when you’re feeling a little too tired.

What Is Fatigue?

Fatigue can be described as the feeling of being not only tired but completely drained of energy, too. Fatigue is consistent exhaustion that just does not seem to go away, even sometimes when you get enough sleep. This excessive tiredness can be caused by a variety of different elements in your life. And for women, there are even more reasons you may be feeling excessively fatigued that can be directly related to health issues such as hormone or thyroid problems. Because fatigue can be caused by so many different factors in your life, it is important to try and find the root of your problem to try and treat it as effectively as possible.

7 Possible Reasons You Might Feel Tired All of the TimeReasons You Might Feel Tired

1. Your Diet

Your diet plays an immense role in the amount of energy you feel you have throughout the day. Making sure you eat enough is crucial to ensure your body gets the boost it needs to get through the day. Eating breakfast also plays a big role, as that is the first meal of the day where you are breaking your fast from sleeping that night, to give your body more energy. You should also be making sure that you are getting enough healthy, whole foods that supply your body with nutrients. All foods should be eaten in moderation, but it is crucial to include some healthy, wholesome foods.

2. Nutrient Deficiencies

Speaking of your diet, there are also other issues that may be causing your fatigue. Many women especially find that they lack the certain vitamins and nutrients they need to maintain energy and hormone levels correctly. Because of this, it’s important to talk to your doctor and understand what nutritional areas you may be lacking in. Taking vitamins and supplements is a small change that may have a big impact on your energy and life overall.

3. Stress

Stress can impact your body and overall health in more ways than one. Consistent stress has the capability of not only negatively affecting your sleep, but your mental and physical health, too. Chronic stress is known to cause anything from muscle tension and headaches to intense fatigue. Learning to identify when your stress levels may be too high and understanding how to cope with them and hopefully lower them is a big step into the process of getting rid of fatigue.

4. Lack of Sleep or Sleeping Disorder

Of course, a lack of sleep plays a big part in feeling tired the next day. The problem is, when you continually do not get enough sleep, your body cannot function the way it should with regular sleep. This causes fatigue as your body literally slows down in order to keep working properly.

If you constantly find yourself unable to fall asleep or stay asleep, you might have a sleeping disorder. Talking to your doctor to see if you may be experiencing a sleep disorder such as insomnia can help you take the next steps towards curing your chronic fatigue.

5. Thyroid Issues

The thyroid helps regulate a lot of different functions of your body. When your thyroid is working incorrectly, for example, if it is underactive, factors such as your metabolism and sleep schedule can be heavily impacted. Many people with an underactive thyroid deal with chronic fatigue, weakened metabolisms, and even hair loss. Thyroid issues are often genetic, making it important to be sure you get yours looked at by a professional.

6. Depression and Anxiety

Depression and anxiety both can affect your energy levels immensely. Depression almost always coincides with a lack of energy and motivation and is actually one of the most common causes of excessive fatigue across the country. Because depression can also affect your mood, many people find themselves with a complete lack of energy and little motivation to do anything, almost making them feel more slowed down and tired.

Anxiety can cause similar issues.  For some people, anxiety can cause a lack of sleep, with the inability to calm down. Many people with anxiety deal with racing thoughts, worry, nervousness, or the feeling of impending doom around the time they may need to go to sleep. Because of how heavily both anxiety and depression can affect your energy levels and life overall, it’s important to talk to a doctor to see what you can do to help.

7. Medications You’re Taking

The medications you take may actually have a larger impact on your sleep and energy levels than you might think. Making sure that you not only remember to take your medicine each day but ensuring that you are taking it at the right time can make a big difference. Many medications such as antidepressants are SSRIs, which are meant to be taken in the morning. If someone who is on an SSRI takes their medication at night, they will most likely experience a short burst of energy, racing thoughts, or the inability to fall or stay asleep due to the medication kicking in.

How Do I Boost My Energy?

Boost Your EnergyDo you find yourself wondering why you constantly feel tired or why your energy is so low? While there are a multitude of factors that can go into causing your fatigue, there are also a lot of natural ways that you can combat it. Make sure you stay away from substances like sugary, caffeinated energy drinks that will ultimately make you feel worse.

Here are a few ways to naturally boost your energy:

1 .Taking Supplements and Vitamins

Because so many people deal with vitamin deficiencies for so long without realizing, oftentimes when their body becomes regulated with the correct levels of vitamins and nutrients, energy levels start to boost themselves.

There are also some natural supplements, both by themselves or combined as suggested by healthcare providers, that can help give you energy. Supplements such as B12 and Ashwagandha can help naturally increase your body’s energy levels. Taking the vitamins your body needs while also supplementing with other natural ingredients may help get your energy levels where they need to be.

2. Eating Enough and Eating Whole Foods

As diet culture still reigns supreme through most media nowadays, it is important to remember how crucial it is to make sure you are eating enough. Your body uses food as energy, it’s as simple as that. When you don’t eat enough, your body does not have enough energy to serve you the way it should. When you eat enough, and on top of that, eat healthier, whole foods, your energy levels should naturally begin to shift.

3. Move More

It may seem counterintuitive at first, but it’s been found that people who are more active and move more regularly in their day-to-day lives also deal with less fatigue and get better sleep.  Sedimentary lifestyles often leave you feeling fatigued, yet sometimes full of energy at the same time, often leading to bad sleep patterns.

And as people age and lifestyles change, many find that they are just not moving enough anymore. Being active helps to not only use excess energy (if you have any), as well as help you be able to get a more full, deep rest at night. Being active also helps release natural chemicals in your brain such as serotonin and dopamine, giving you a natural energy boost.

4. Managing Stress

Stress is an energy drainer. Those who find themselves consistently dealing with high levels of stress in their life may also find that they are immensely fatigued as a result. Not only does stress drain your energy levels, but it also keeps you from getting the rest you need. Many people that deal with stress have racing thoughts and trouble stopping these thoughts. Because of this, they often have issues falling and staying asleep, as their brain can’t ever shut off for long enough to recoup.

5. Get Some Sleep/Take a Nap

While it might not be quite that simple for everyone, sometimes the best way you can give yourself a natural energy boost is by getting some quality sleep. Most people do not get the right amount of sleep they actually need each night, resulting in a constant state of fatigue that they can’t seem to find their way out of. Whether you start trying to go to sleep an hour earlier or you talk to your doctor about finding a medicine that might be able to help, making sure you get enough sleep needs to be made a priority in your life.

Should I Be Worried About Being Tired All of the Time?

While being tired isn’t necessarily the biggest issue you might have right now, if you are dealing with consistent, intense fatigue, you should talk to your doctor. Unfortunately, chronic fatigue can be related to a variety of different health issues. Consulting your doctor, describing your problems, and trying to find the source of the problem is the smartest thing you can do so that you both can work to accurately treat it and hopefully transform your energy levels.

Taking Care of Your Health

Female HealthcareHere at Arizona Gynecology Consultants, we prioritize your health. There are a variety of factors that go into your overall health and well-being, sometimes making it complicated to keep up with.  We work to ensure that you are provided with top quality, professional services by experienced providers so that you can achieve your best health.

If you’re feeling excessively tired or fatigued, contact us today to schedule a consultation so we can help you identify and address any underlying issues. You don’t have to suffer through it!

Sonata Fibroid Treatment

What You Need to Know About the Sonata Fibroid Treatment

This entry was posted in Procedures and tagged on by .

Most people are likely to agree: After receiving a diagnosis of any kind, it’s a relief to learn that the treatment is minimally invasive or non-surgical. It’s even better when the condition doesn’t require treatment, of any kind. Much of the time, that’s exactly the case for uterine fibroids. If small enough, the fibroid likely won’t cause any symptoms, and won’t need to be treated. In some instances, fibroids may need to be treated with medication.

However, this isn’t always the case for larger, more severe uterine fibroids. In some instances, these fibroids may be large enough to impair fertility — they may also cause more intense and uncomfortable symptoms, such as excessive menstrual bleeding. This is the point at which a fibroid would typically need to be surgically removed.

Historically, uterine fibroids have been removed using procedures such as hysterectomies and myomectomies. Surgeries such as these can have a substantial impact on the patient’s life, moving forward. For example, although receiving a hysterectomy (the complete removal of the uterus) will ensure that fibroids do not grow back, it will result in the person being unable to have children. The decision to receive a hysterectomy can be a difficult one to make.

More recently, non-surgical solutions to uterine fibroids have been developing — this includes the Sonata® fibroid treatment.

What Are Uterine Fibroids?

What Are Uterine Fibroids?Uterine fibroids are growths on the uterus. They’re non-cancerous, and very rarely develop into uterine cancer. Fibroids typically develop during childbearing years.

The size of a fibroid varies quite significantly, depending on the individual. At their smallest, fibroids can be as tiny as seedlings — so small that they may not even be visible to the human eye. However, if they grow larger and more severe, fibroids can become significant masses, which are able to enlarge and even distort the uterus.

The number of fibroids someone possesses can also vary from person to person. It’s possible to develop just a single uterine fibroid. It’s also possible to develop multiple fibroids. In some especially extreme instances where a person has large or numerous fibroids, the uterus can enlarge to the point where it comes into contact with the rib cage, even adding weight to the person’s body. (However, this isn’t a common scenario.)

Many women will develop uterine fibroids at some point in their lives, leading up to menopause. As a whole, the condition is quite common. Since fibroids often don’t lead to symptoms, many women with fibroids will remain entirely unaware. Still, it is possible for fibroids to be discovered during a prenatal ultrasound or a pelvic exam. In these symptom-free fibroid cases, the individual will likely not require treatment, of any kind.

In instances where fibroids do lead to symptoms, here’s a clearer idea of what to look out for:

  • Menstrual bleeding that’s heavy and lasts longer than a week
  • Pain or pressure in the pelvic region
  • Frequent urination and difficulties emptying the bladder
  • Pain in the legs or back
  • Constipation
  • Painful sex
  • Fertility issues

If you begin to notice any conjunction of these symptoms, then be sure to consult your doctor.

What Is the Sonata® Treatment?

What Is the Sonata® Treatment?The Sonata® Treatment is a minimally invasive option for treating symptomatic uterine fibroids. It has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), making it a viable and effective option for fibroid treatment in the United States. It was developed by Gynesonics, a women’s health care company that focuses its efforts on developing transcervical technologies that are incision-free and minimally invasive. These technologies are intended to be uterus-preserving and can be used for the purpose of diagnosis and treatment of women’s health conditions.

The treatment is fully incision-free and begins with the use of an intrauterine ultrasound device. Using this device, a medical professional is able to find and target individual uterine fibroids. Upon discovery, radiofrequency energy is sent to the fibroid being targeted, leading to a reduction in size, as well as less severe symptoms in the patient.

In many ways, the Sonata® system is a breakthrough method of treating symptomatic uterine fibroids. Thanks to the treatment, instances of hysterectomies and myomectomies can be reduced, and the uterus can be preserved. Additionally, the Sonata® treatment is versatile, being capable of treating various types, sizes, and locations of uterine fibroids.

According to clinical studies, the Sonata® system has been shown to reduce fibroid systems. Within three months of the treatment, close to 90 percent of women saw a significant reduction in menstrual bleeding. Within a year, this number rose to around 95 percent of women. Further, following their treatment using the Sonata® system, over half of the patients had returned to their regular activities by the next day. This is a far different scenario than if the patient had received a hysterectomy or a myomectomy instead.

How Does the Sonata® Treatment Work?

The Sonata® treatment can be used to treat uterine fibroids of different sizes and types, as well as fibroids found at different locations in the uterus. No incisions will need to be made. The Sonata® procedure is often performed while the patient is under anesthesia. The fibroid specialist will begin by inserting the intrauterine ultrasound device — it will be inserted into the uterus via the vagina.

Using this ultrasound device, the specialist will be able to begin locating the uterine fibroids. Once the fibroids have been accurately pinpointed, the radiofrequency energy will be introduced directly to the growth. This begins the process of a gradual shrinking of the fibroid, which will continue over time. This also leads to the eventual reduction of (or relief from) symptoms associated with uterine fibroids.

Given the nature of the treatment, the uterus is not harmed in the process. Unlike with a hysterectomy, the uterus is fully preserved and has the potential to heal. The Sonata® treatment is also an outpatient procedure, rarely taking more than one hour for a specialist to complete.

What Are the Benefits of Using Sonata® for the Treatment of Women With Uterine Fibroids?

Unsurprisingly, the Sonata® system offers a large variety of benefits, compared to other treatments women may receive for symptomatic uterine fibroids. Here’s an overview of those benefits:

  • Given that the Sonata® system is capable of targeting and treating a variety of fibroid locations and types, it is a uniquely versatile method of treatment. If you’re currently experiencing symptoms as a result of uterine fibroids, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to qualify for the Sonata® treatment. You won’t have to worry about your fibroids being “severe enough” to warrant treatment using the Sonata® system — if you’re experiencing symptoms of any degree, this could be an option to suit you. Consider having a conversation with your doctor, if you’re unsure.
  • Unlike many of the existing treatments for symptomatic uterine fibroids, the Sonata® system requires no incisions or surgical interventions. It is also possible for the procedure to be performed without general anesthesia, based on your preferences or your specialist’s. Due to the lack of surgical intervention, you should expect a far shorter recovery time compared to if you received a hysterectomy or a myomectomy. Also, unlike these more invasive procedures, the uterus is preserved. This can be a huge long-term benefit for many women. Receiving fibroid treatment via the Sonata® system will not damage your ability to have children in the future.
  • Due to the minimally invasive nature of the treatment, there is no scarring associated with the Sonata® system.
  • There’s not just a shorter recovery time for those who receive the Sonata® treatment, but in addition, there will be a far shorter hospital stay to account for as well. Plus, in many cases, women who’ve received the Sonata® system treatment have been able to return to their usual daily routine by the very next day.

Is the Sonata® Treatment Covered by Insurance?

Is the Sonata Treatment Covered by Insurance?

As is the case for most new medical treatments, insurance coverage can vary from provider to provider. After having a conversation with your doctor and establishing that the Sonata® system is a viable treatment for you, your specialist can work with your insurance and check for coverage.

Fortunately, health insurance coverage for the Sonata® treatment is expanding. Just within the first six months of 2020, over 50 million new individuals became eligible for the Sonata® system, should they ever require it.

Clinicians like Dr. Bradley Hurst — the current Director of Assisted Reproduction at Atrium Health’s Carolinas Medical Center — are putting in the effort to improve the availability of the Sonata® system, by helping to expand insurance coverage for the procedure. For example, Dr. Hurst has put in substantial effort to improve access within the Charlotte, North Carolina area.

Fortunately for fibroid patients, many health care professionals see the value of medical innovation — not just Dr. Hurst, although he is certainly a great example. These specialists and professionals are collaborating with commercial payers, hoping to expand the public’s access to the groundbreaking Sonata® treatment.

Medical directors of commercial insurance companies will determine whether certain treatments are safe, necessary, and effective enough, in order to warrant insurance coverage. They will also look at the cost-utility of that treatment, based on the disease state. Since medical policies are reviewed annually (at a minimum), there is a good chance that coverage for the Sonata® system will only continue to expand, given the effectiveness of the treatment. This is wonderful news for individuals searching for a non-invasive, uterus-preserving fibroid treatment, within their budget.

In the short time it’s been available to the public, the Sonata® treatment has made a clear impact on how symptomatic uterine fibroids are approached and treated. With the development of the treatment, it’s become increasingly obvious that surgical intervention, such as with a hysterectomy or a myomectomy, isn’t always necessary to eliminate symptoms.

Sonata® Treatments at Arizona Gynecology Consultants

Sonata® Treatments at Arizona Gynecology ConsultantsAt Arizona Gynecology Consultants, we’re proponents of medical interventions that improve lives. We also provide consulting services for gynecological surgeries, including the Sonata® treatment. You can always expect our team of dedicated healthcare professionals to treat your situation with the utmost compassion and respect. We bring high-quality health care services to the Phoenix metropolitan area, at several convenient locations.

Do you have any questions about the Sonata® treatment? Interested in learning more about our other gynecology services?

Contact us for more information. We’d love to help.

Urinary Incontinence

What You Need to Know About Urinary Incontinence

Let’s face it; some medical concerns are a bit harder to share than others. One concern that is often pushed under the rug is urinary incontinence. This complication can impact both men and women, and the possible triggers for this issue are numerous. What is most soothing is the fact that it can often be completely treatable or at the very least manageable.

What is urinary incontinence?

Simply put, it is the leaking of any urine that you are unable to control. It is hard to gather specific statistics because of an assumed level of reserve due to embarrassment; this can impact your medical situation and your emotional, psychological, and social life. It ultimately keeps a person from thoroughly enjoying their life. Millions of Americans are affected by this issue, so there is no reason to feel shame or embarrassment. The faster an individual finds an excellent treatment plan, the sooner they can return to regular life.

Understanding Risk for Incontinence

Understanding Risk for IncontinenceWhen it comes to the risk of developing urinary incontinence, the chances vary drastically. Some symptoms of UI can point to larger issues that may need to be seriously addressed, while others may be milder and more temporary. The good news is that for most, these risks can be resolved quickly, leading to an only temporary risk of developing urinary incontinence. Risks can include:

  • Pregnancy, the form of delivery, and number of children.
  • Post-menopause or instances where you may have a drop in your estrogen levels.
  • Prostate issues, especially for men.
  • Poor health, such as diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, or obesity.

What Are the Symptoms of UI?

The truth is that these symptoms can vary depending on the type of UI you may have. The basic concept is that there is a miscommunication between your brain and your bladder. Your bladder stores the urine, and the muscles in your lower pelvis are responsible for holding tight. When ready, your brain sends a signal to the bladder, the muscles contract, and urine is forced through the urethra. When it comes to dealing with urinary incontinence, it can impact a variety of these steps. There are four most common types of urinary incontinence.

Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI)

This result is from weak pelvic muscles. It is the stress caused by physical pressure versus mental stress. It is one of the most common instances of UI. The common symptoms include small amounts of urine escaping while exercising, walking, bending, lifting, sneezing, and coughing. These symptoms can range from mild, moderate to severe. How is UI treated? For this type, there is no medical specific treatment. Lifestyle changes may help, as well as utilizing Kegel exercises to strengthen your pelvic walls. With today’s advancement in technology, all you need is a small device and a smartphone to conveniently exercise your pelvic walls. This condition is usually caused by pregnancy or childbirth, menopause, hysterectomy, age, or obesity.

Overactive Bladder (OAB)

This is another common form of UI. This is also known as the “urgency” incontinence. Your body essentially gives you a little warning when it comes to needing to urinate. You could suddenly feel an urge due to shifting position, hearing running water, or even during sex.

What are the symptoms of UI?

In this case, your bladder tells you it needs to empty, even when it isn’t full. You can’t control or ignore the symptoms of this form of a UI. It can hit unexpectedly, leaving your life and daily activities interrupted, often without a moment’s notice. This impacts at least 30% of men and 40% of women in the U.S. alone. This can be caused by cystitis, which is an inflammation of the lining of the bladder. It can also be caused neurologically through multiple sclerosis, stroke, and Parkinson’s.  An enlarged prostate can also cause it.

Mixed SUI and OAB

This sounds exactly how it is. You’re impacted in part by both the most common issues of UI. You may “leak” a bit at times unexpectedly, following a good sneeze or even a laugh. You may also feel the sudden, undeniable urge to pee without a moment’s notice.

Overflow Incontinence

This is where your body makes more urine than it can hold, or your bladder may be full but for whatever reason can’t empty. This is rare in women and is most often found in men with prostate problems. This is typically created through a blockage or obstruction caused by an enlarged prostate, a tumor pressing onto the bladder, urinary stones, or constipation.

Total Incontinence

While less likely, certain individuals may have to deal with this form of UI. It can be caused by various factors, including anatomical defects from birth, a spinal cord injury that impacted the communication between the brain and the bladder, or a fistula. A fistula is a tube or channel that develops between the bladder and a nearby area, usually the vagina.

General Symptoms of Incontinence

Symptoms of IncontinenceThe good news is that not all these symptoms are long-term. Many are short-term and potentially treatable. There are some general symptoms, including vaginal infections, irritations, medication use, constipation, general mobility, and UTI (urinary tract infection) that are often common causes.

Temporary Symptoms of Incontinence

Sometimes, all fingers can point toward your diet when it comes to issues with UI. Different foods, drinks, and medicines can all affect your urinary continence. Drinks such as alcohol, caffeine, and carbonated drinks can impact your body differently. This also includes artificial sweeteners, spicy foods, sugar, acid, even chocolate!

Potential Complications of UI

Dealing with a UI can impact many different facets of your life. You may also develop skin problems. This could include sores, rashes, and infections caused by the skin being wet or damp most of the time. This can lead to complications with any wound healing and can promote fungal infections. Prolapse is rare but still a risk to consider, especially if your UI goes untreated. This is when a part of the vagina, bladder, or urethra falls into the entrance of the vagina, typically due to an extremely weak pelvis wall. In an instance such as this, surgical intervention will be necessary.

When Should I See a Doctor?

The short answer is the sooner, the better! If you notice an increase in frequency that can’t be easily explained, such as a dramatic increase in water intake, it may be a sign of a larger concern. This especially becomes a concern when it starts to impact the overall quality of your life. If you find yourself restricting activities such as going out for dinner, having drinks with friends, enjoying outdoor adventures or sports, this is no good!

You shouldn’t have to limit your social interactions due to urinary concerns. Your quality of life should be your number one priority. There is no reason to suffer in silence, especially because there are numerous remedies to many different UI issues. You’ll also want to consider your age. The speed at which you may make it to and from the bathroom can vary with age, weight, and other mobility factors. You’ll want to be aware of additional risks of falling and other injuries when trying to race against a sometimes unpredictable clock. There is also the risk that your UI is a sign of a much larger issue. You’ll want to handle these issues early on before they lead to more serious complications down the line.

Urinary Incontinence Diagnosis

Wondering how UI is diagnosed? Many different methods can be used to determine if you have a UI and what form you may be experiencing. These methods vary, so it is best to try to explain your situation as well as possible to your medical professional. This may help put the focus on what is most likely impacting you.

Bladder Diary

This may seem a bit silly at first, but it can help pinpoint precisely what form of UI you may be dealing with. You’ll want to keep track of how much you drink to start. You may want to specially note if your intake has suddenly increased or decreased for whatever reason. You’ll also want to keep track of when urination occurs, as well as if you experienced any incontinence throughout the day. Even the smallest leak can interrupt your day, so keeping track of the small nuances can make a huge difference.

Physical Exam

Your doctor may not necessarily ask you about your bladder health. The largest stigma with UI is the feeling of embarrassment, but if you don’t share with your doctor, they will not be able to help you. When getting your physical exam, be sure to share your concerns with your doctor. Millions of Americans struggle with UI issues, so there is no reason to be shy. Upon your physical exam, your doctor can check for the strength of your vaginal walls, or for men, any risk of having an enlarged prostate.

Urinalysis

This will help determine if you have any signs of infection or abnormalities.

Blood

Simple blood work can rule out many potential issues, especially when it comes to kidney function, which can impact your urinary health.

Postvoid Residual (PVR) Measurements

This test can help determine how much urine is left in the bladder after urination. For those who suffer from an overactive bladder or one that tends to overflow, this could finally lead you and your medical professional in the right direction for treatment.

Pelvic Ultrasound

If a typical physical examination doesn’t provide enough information, a pelvic ultrasound may be the next best step. This creates an image of your pelvic area that can help pinpoint any abnormalities or inconsistencies that may not have been initially discovered.

Stress Test

This form of testing can include testing your body’s ability to react to sudden pressure.

Urodynamic

This test determines how much pressure your bladder and urethra can withstand.

Cystogram

This x-ray focuses explicitly on the bladder to check for any abnormalities or concerns that wouldn’t be found in a typical exam.

Treatments for Urinary Incontinence

How is UI treated? There are many different methods when it comes to treating UI. Many of these treatments will vary depending on the severity of your condition. These treatments can range from at-home activities to surgical intervention. Some of the most common forms of treatment include:

Bladder Training

This can involve a few different types of exercises. Most commonly, they are:

  • Delay-control urge—This is feeling the need to urinate but training your body to wait, even if it is only for short periods at first.
  • Double voiding—This is the process of urinating, waiting, and then urinating again.
  • Toilet timetable—Sometimes routine is key. This bladder training is structured so that you create specific times in which to use the bathroom, for example, every two hours. This makes a predictable routine for your body to follow.

Medications

Medicine is rarely used alone. It is often paired with other techniques or exercises to improve UI symptoms. Medicines often prescribed include:

  • Anticholinergics—This is a medicine that can be used to calm an overactive bladder.
  • Topical estrogen—This helps reinforce the tissues in the urethra and vaginal areas. It can also help to lessen symptoms caused by UI.
  • Imipramine—A tricyclic Dealing with complications in such an intimate part of your body can lead to depression, anxiety, and a desire to pull away from certain social interactions. It is important to allow your medical professional in so that they can try to alleviate some of these issues.

You May Have Urinary Incontinence, But So What?

Talking to doctor about Urinary IncontinenceMillions of Americans deal with some form of UI every day. This number is hard to measure due to the feeling of embarrassment that stops many from sharing their experience. The truth of the matter is that many people deal with various forms this condition may present itself in. Whether you feel you go to the bathroom too much, too little, or just too unexpectedly, there are various exercises and treatments that could help alleviate your symptoms. What matters most is your ability to be open and honest with your health care professional. You may feel you are alone, but in fact, you are with a great majority of people who experience similar issues. Break the silence and give yourself the opportunity to truly live life to its fullest. You should never feel chained to the restroom.

Life is too short to let UI stop you from living each day to the max.

 

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published August 7, 2017 and was updated May 27, 2021.