Category Archives: Health FAQs

What is Menopause

What Is Menopause?

Menopause is a gradual biological process that eventually leads to the cessation of menstrual periods. Once a woman becomes menopausal, ovarian functions cease, and she will no longer be able to have children. Signs of menopause may vary among different women, especially regarding menstruation changes; a doctor will diagnose a woman with menopause after she has gone a full 12 months without experiencing a menstrual period. Going through menopause can be an incredibly emotional experience, and the loss of the ability to have children can be devastating, especially for a woman who has never had children and who experienced menopause earlier than usual. However, several effective treatments are available to help manage menopause symptoms, from simple adjustments to lifestyle changes to hormone therapy.

Menopause Age

Excluding external causes, menopause typically results from the natural decline of a woman’s reproductive hormones as she ages. Menopause generally occurs in the early 50s, but some women can experience it as young as the 30s or as old as the 60s. In most cases, as a female nears her late 30s, her ovaries will make lower amounts of the hormones progesterone and estrogen, the two primary hormones responsible for regulating menstruation and for releasing eggs during ovulation, and fertility declines. After reaching her 40s, she will experience irregular periods that become shorter or longer, lighter or heavier, and occur more or less frequently. Then, usually around the age of 51, her ovaries will stop releasing eggs, and she will no longer experience periods.

Signs of Menopause

Menopause generally includes three stages, perimenopause, menopause, and post-menopause.

First Stage: Perimenopause

Perimenopause can last for quite a long time and generally entails symptoms that prepare the woman’s body for menopause. Perimenopause lasts for about four to five years or until menopause occurs, which is when the ovaries stop releasing eggs altogether.

During the years between the onset of perimenopause and menopause itself, women generally experience:

  • Low estrogen levels
  • Irregular periods
  • Worsened premenstrual symptoms
  • Mood changes
  • Headaches
  • Slowed metabolism and weight gain
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Breast tenderness
  • Loss of fullness in breasts
  • Dry skin and hair loss
  • Hot flashes, accompanied by sweating or a flushed face
  • Chills
  • Decreased sexual interest
  • Fatigue, sleep problems, and night sweats
  • Aches and pains in joints and muscles
  • Urinary incontinence
Skipping periods during this stage is expected and common. Sometimes, a woman may skip a menstrual period one month only to experience it the following month or skip several months in a row and then return to a monthly cycle for a few months. Menstrual periods during perimenopause occur on shorter cycles, meaning they come closer together.

Second Stage: Menopause

The full onset of menopause refers to the cessation of menstrual cycles for one full year. During this time, women may experience a wide range of possible effects, and may develop other medical conditions as a result. For example, some women develop osteoporosis or heart disease during menopause. Doctors can provide customized treatment to individual patients to address their unique symptoms.

A frequently asked question by women close to menopause age is: Can you get pregnant during menopause? The answer is yes; even though periods are irregular, it is still possible to become pregnant. If you have experienced a skipped period but are unsure if you have entered menopause, you should take a pregnancy test.

Final Stage: Post-Menopause

The term “postmenopausal” simply refers to women who have already reached menopause. Every woman will experience menopause and the postmenopausal stage differently.

Hormonal imbalances can lead to the appearance of more body hair in some women, as testosterone production continues while estrogen production diminishes. Some women experience weight fluctuations and changes in skin texture.

External Causes of Menopause

External Causes of Menopause

Although every woman will inevitably experience menopause due to declining hormones, some women experience it at earlier ages due to external influences. Some medical conditions and diseases may require surgeries that cause menopause to begin very soon thereafter. Women who experience menopause in this manner often report more significant symptoms than women who experience menopause naturally.


Some women will experience menopause early due to problems with the ovaries. If a woman develops ovarian cysts or ovarian cancer, her doctor may recommend surgical removal of the ovaries, which will then spur the onset of menopausal symptoms. Typical menopause entails a full year of cessation of ovarian function, so surgical removal of the ovaries will lead to menopause. Symptoms may be severe because these hormonal changes occur abruptly instead of increasing gradually over several years as they would under normal circumstances.


A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure that removes a woman’s uterus; it may be performed due to fibroids, cancer, endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, or uterine prolapse. A hysterectomy can involve the removal of the ovaries and can include the removal of the cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes, and the top portion of the vagina. Only removing the ovaries will induce immediate menopause, but a hysterectomy without removal of the ovaries can still cause women to experience menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes after surgery. These symptoms are typically only temporary and become less severe as the patient recovers.

Chemotherapy and Radiation Therapy

Women who develop some forms of cancer and undergo radiation treatment and chemotherapy may also experience menopause sooner than expected. Cancer therapies can induce menopause symptoms during or shortly after receiving treatment, but some women do not report experiencing such symptoms for quite a long time after completing cancer treatment. The impact on menstruation and fertility may not be permanent, so it is recommended to continue using birth control methods. Depending on the cancer and the treatments’ location, an ovulating woman can experience menopause due to interference from these treatments. Radiation therapy should only affect ovarian function if the radiation is directly targeted to the ovaries, while radiation targeted to the other parts of the body does not affect menopause.

Primary Ovarian Insufficiency

About 1 percent of all women experience premature ovarian failure—or ovarian failure before 40. This occurs when the ovaries fail to produce normal amounts of reproductive hormones, referred to as primary ovarian insufficiency. Doctors cannot predict when this will occur and do not know for certain why it happens; many researchers suspect genetic links and autoimmune diseases as contributing factors. In these cases, hormone therapy is recommended to protect the brain, heart, and skeletal system, at least until the woman reaches the natural menopause age.

Medical Complications

The loss of estrogen that results during menopause is associated with various health problems that increase in prevalence as women age, including decreased skin elasticity, reduced muscle strength and tone, a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, and vision problems such as cataracts and macular degeneration. The following medical complications are most common in postmenopausal women: cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, urinary issues, sexual dysfunction, and weight gain.

Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular disease is the number one leading cause of death among women, and the decline in estrogen women experience during menopause directly correlates with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Estrogen has a protective influence on the artery wall’s inner layer by helping the blood vessels stay flexible, so they can relax and expand when necessary to accommodate blood flow. Along with the reduced estrogen, other changes occur later in life that can affect postmenopausal women’s heart health, including increases in blood pressure, bad cholesterol, and triglycerides, a certain form of fat in the blood. Eating a healthy diet full of nutritious foods, keeping a regular exercise routine, and maintaining a normal weight is essential for reducing cardiovascular disease risk during menopause.


Osteoporosis is a progressive medical condition that causes bones to weaken and become brittle, increasing their vulnerability to fractures. Women comprise 80% of osteoporosis patients and are four times as likely to develop this disease as men due to thinner, lighter bones and longer life expectancy. Along with its function in the reproductive system, estrogen supports the strength and density of bone mass by inhibiting the process of bone resorption. Throughout the first few years of menopause, decreased estrogen levels cause women to rapidly lose bone density, heightening the risk of developing this condition. Postmenopausal women suffering from osteoporosis are particularly susceptible to fractures in the wrists, hips, and spine.

Urinary Issues

The loss of elasticity in the vagina tissues and urethra may lead to several urinary system issues. Typically, this includes the sudden, frequent, strong need to urinate, followed by incontinence. Incontinence occurs in two types, urge incontinence and stress incontinence. Urge incontinence is losing urine after experiencing this sudden need to urinate. In contrast, stress incontinence involves losing urine due to laughing, coughing, sneezing, lifting, or other motions that place stress on the bladder. Additionally, urinary tract infections may occur more frequently. Treatment of incontinence includes Kegel exercises that strengthen the pelvic floor, topical estrogen applied to the vagina, and hormone therapy.

Sexual Dysfunction

A combination of vaginal dryness due to reduced moisture production and loss of elasticity in vaginal tissue may result in discomfort, pain, and slight bleeding during intercourse. These adverse side effects make it difficult for many postmenopausal women to become aroused as easily as they did in the past, causing a significant loss in libido or even a total lack of sex drive. Lower estrogen also causes less blood to flow to the vulva, clitoris, and vagina, and these decreased sensations may also reduce the libido. Water-based lubricants and moisturizers can alleviate vaginal dryness in many cases, but when this isn’t enough, local vaginal estrogen treatment can be recommended in the form of a vaginal tablet, cream, or ring.

Weight Gain

Due to the hormonal changes that occur, many women gain weight quickly during menopause, especially in the abdomen. Simultaneously, as a woman ages, she loses muscle mass while gaining fat, slowing down her metabolism. This makes it more challenging to maintain a healthy weight, even with the same eating and exercise habits maintained before the onset of menopause. Genetic factors can also increase vulnerability to postmenopausal weight gain. Excess weight, particularly in the abdomen, heightens the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, breathing problems, Type 2 diabetes, and several forms of cancer, such as colon, breast, and endometrial cancers. Combating this weight gain requires exercise, healthy eating habits, limiting sugary foods, and avoiding alcohol.

What Is Menopause: Diagnosis

Menopause symptoms are typically sufficient to alert most women that they have begun the menopausal transition. However, if you are experiencing irregular periods, hot flashes, or other signs of low estrogen, it is always a good idea to contact your primary care physician to discuss your situation. In some circumstances, your doctor may recommend blood screenings to measure your levels of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and estrogen (estradiol). As menopause occurs, FSH levels increase, and estrogen levels decrease. Because hypothyroidism can produce symptoms similar to those experienced during menopause, you may also undergo a thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) screening to rule this out as the cause of your symptoms.

Menopause Treatment Options

Menopause Treatment Options

Although some external factors can cause menopause early, naturally occurring menopause is a fact for every woman. While menopause is not a medical condition and does not require treatment, it can still produce negative symptoms for some women. In fact, numerous studies of postmenopausal women conducted around the world found that hot flashes after menopause continue to occur for years, sometimes affecting women even 20 years after the initial onset of menopause. With these symptoms occurring so frequently and potentially lasting for decades, many women seek treatment options to manage their symptoms.

Based on your medical history and menopause symptoms, your doctor may suggest estrogen therapy to make up for lost natural estrogen production and relieve hot flashes. Typically, estrogen is provided at the lowest dose and within the shortest time frame that will provide effective symptom relief. Women who experience vaginal dryness, unwanted hair growth, and hot flashes can find relief with hormone therapy. However, doctors are often hesitant to prescribe these options unless necessary, due to their links to increased risk of stroke, heart disease and breast cancer. Estrogen and progestin can increase these risks, and estrogen-based hormone therapy can lead to the development of endometrial cancer.

To provide relief of menopause symptoms without the risks of hormone therapy, doctors can prescribe different medications to handle hot flashes, mood swings, cramps and other issues. When taken in low doses, antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may help women who cannot take estrogen for health reasons or women who are experiencing a mood disorder while undergoing menopause. Seizure medication Gabapentin and high blood pressure medication Clonidine can alleviate hot flashes. Doctors may also recommend medications that help prevent or treat osteoporosis and Vitamin D supplements to strengthen the bones.

Finding the Right Solution for You

Menopause doctor

Every woman experiences menopause differently, and it’s vital for every woman to know the best options for handling the potentially unpleasant side effects of the different stages of menopause. At Arizona Gynecology Consultants, our expert team of health care professionals has comprehensive knowledge in all aspects of women’s health care and can guide you through this challenging time with dedication and compassion. We provide the highest quality of health care services at several locations in the Phoenix metropolitan area, each with experienced menopause specialists who help patients manage their symptoms during every stage of menopause.

If you have questions about menopause, contact us for more information about resources in your area.

Related Reading: How Long Does Menopause Last on Average?

*Editor’s Note: This article was originally published August 9, 2017 and has been updated April 4, 2021.


What Is Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a uterine condition that affects as many as 1 in every 10 women during their childbearing years, or about 175 million women worldwide. Women with endometriosis experience a wide range of symptoms, and it’s crucial to understand this condition’s effects on a woman’s body and identify its existence as soon as possible.

Left unchecked, endometriosis can cause chronic, daily, and even debilitating pain for women and girls who experience it. Prolonged, unidentified endometriosis can even cause infertility; in fact, about 30 to 40 percent of women with endometriosis will experience infertility because of the condition. In addition, some of the symptoms of endometriosis can masquerade as other, common uterine and hormone-related conditions, lengthening the time to diagnosis and increasing infertility risks.

For that reason, early identification and treatment is crucial. Some women with endometriosis can manage the symptoms with simple treatments like hormone therapy or birth control, while others may require surgery. Building a wealth of knowledge about the condition can help you identify it, seek treatment, and make more informed decisions regarding the treatment process.

How Does Endometriosis Occur?

Endometriosis Diagram

As you may have suspected, endometriosis involves the uterus as well as potentially other reproductive organs within the woman’s body. The endometrium is the tissue that lines the walls of the uterus, and endometriosis is a condition that affects these tissues. During a normal menstrual cycle, the endometrium builds up in anticipation of pregnancy, where it is needed to help sustain a growing embryo or fetus; when pregnancy does not occur, the endometrium breaks down and is shed via menstruation.

A woman with endometriosis will start accumulating endometrial tissue outside the uterus, usually inside the abdominal cavity. Unfortunately, the tissues outside the uterus still respond to the menstrual cycle the same as the tissues inside the uterus. Once a period begins, these tissues will break apart and bleed. While the endometrium tissues inside the uterus can exit through the cervix, the tissues outside the uterus have nowhere to go.

How Does Endometriosis Affect Women?

The endometrium tissues that dissolve and bleed in the abdominal cavity will aggravate the other tissues around the uterus and cause inflammation, swelling and severe cramping pains. Doctors refer to the tissues scarred by endometrial tissues as nodules, implants, growths or lesions. This scarred, misplaced tissue is what causes the pain or discomfort common to endometriosis and can lead to the infertility so common to the condition. However, the exact symptoms experienced often depend on the location of the endometrium outside the uterus.

Most commonly, endometriosis affects:

  • Ovaries
  • Fallopian tubes
  • Ligaments supporting the uterus
  • The area between the uterus and the rectum
  • The outside of the uterus
  • The lining of the pelvic cavity

In rare cases, endometrium tissues can accumulate in the intestines, anus, bladder, cervix, vagina or vulva, including previous abdominal surgery scars. In extremely rare cases, doctors have located endometrial tissues in patients’ thighs, arms and lungs.

Endometriosis is a progressive condition that may not manifest noticeable symptoms until many years after menstrual periods begin. Each cycle causes more endometrium accumulation. Over the years, the endometrium implants grow and affect more tissues. Menopause generally causes the symptoms of endometriosis to subside and the implants to deteriorate.

What Causes Endometriosis?

While researchers have made many discoveries regarding what happens to the tissues affected by endometriosis, the exact endometriosis causes remain unknown. Currently, the only endometriosis cases that can be linked to a definitive cause are those where direct transplantation – the transferal of endometrial tissue onto the abdominal wall after a caesarean section or other uterine surgery – has occurred.

Popular, evidence-based theories include:

  • Travel theories, in which researchers posit that endometrial tissues may travel via the blood and lymphatic systems and implant elsewhere in the body.
  • Reverse menstruation, in which some menstrual tissue reverses direction within the fallopian tubes and into the abdomen, where it implants.
  • Transformation, in which researchers suggest that other types of cells in any location may transform spontaneously into endometrial cells.

While research is ongoing, in an attempt to determine the root cause of endometriosis, researchers agree there may be a genetic component as well. Some women, due to genetic family history, may be predisposed to endometriosis.

Endometriosis Symptoms

Signs and Symptoms of Endometriosis

As mentioned earlier, identifying endometriosis symptoms early can allow for earlier treatment of the condition, perhaps reducing the chances women will experience infertility as a result. The early symptoms of endometriosis typically include more significant:

  • Menstrual cramping
  • Abdominal pain
  • Lower back pain
  • Pain or discomfort during sexual intercourse
  • Pain or discomfort during urination and bowel movements
  • Heavier periods
  • Clotting during periods
  • Spotting during periods
  • Irregular periods
  • Fatigue and disrupted sleep
  • Depression

If endometriosis is allowed to progress, symptoms can spread beyond the reproductive system itself and into the other abdominal systems it affects. Endometrium implants can cause irritation that can progress into infections, abscesses or areas of the body that are tender to the touch. If endometriosis affects the tissues of the intestines or bladder, it can cause urinary or intestinal pains as well.

Endometriosis and PCOS Fertility

Although endometriosis is a fairly well-known and well-documented condition that causes infertility, it’s often confused with another common reproductive disorder known as polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS. Both conditions can cause infertility but distinguishing between the two is important, since treatment regimens differ. So, what is PCOS and how is it different?

Simply put, while endometriosis involves the transferal and growth of the endometrium outside of the uterus, PCOS involves the ovaries. With PCOS, the ovaries don’t ovulate as they should, causing egg follicles to become stuck inside. While, on the surface, endometriosis and PCOS can feel like depression, “period pain” or “abdominal pain”, their primary symptoms and the method of diagnosis differ greatly.

Diagnosing Endometriosis Cases

A doctor will need to review a patient’s entire gynecological history to properly diagnose endometriosis. The doctor must also perform a full physical examination and a pelvic examination. In some cases where doctors have reason to believe endometrial tissue may have spread to other, specific areas within the pelvis, doctors may perform an ultrasound, CT scan or MRI to provide images of the organs in question.

Endometriosis Symptoms

However, a positive diagnosis is only confirmed with a laparoscopic procedure. During this procedure, the patient is typically subject to general anesthesia, and the abdomen inflated with air via a small needle; this allows the doctor to have a better view of all components of the abdominal cavity. Then, the doctor will insert a lighted laparoscopic surgical instrument through a small abdominal incision to view the internal organs and locate endometrial implants. Overall, the procedure takes approximately 30 to 45 minutes.

Based on the findings during the laparoscopy, the doctor will be able to confirm the presence of endometriosis. However, doctors rarely eliminate the possibility of endometriosis, since endometrial growths may be tiny, or hidden by other tissues. Next, the doctor will rate the severity of the endometriosis present.

Determining Endometriosis Severity

The American Society of Reproductive Medicine has established a classification system for endometriosis, which is as follows:

  • Stage 1 – Minimal presence of endometriosis
  • Stage 2 – Mild presence of endometriosis
  • Stage 3 – Moderate presence of endometriosis
  • Stage 4 – Severe presence of endometriosis

To determine which stage each case of endometriosis falls under, doctors must first consider a number of factors, including:

  • The amount of tissue accumulation
  • The location of those tissues
  • The amount of scar tissue involved
  • The spread of the scar tissue within the abdominal cavity
  • Whether pelvic structures like the pelvic cavity or the pelvic floor are involved
  • Fallopian tube blockage
  • The presence of pelvic adhesions
  • The severity of the patient’s symptoms

Small, isolated endometrial implants are usually considered mild endometriosis, while more significant lesions would be moderate to severe endometriosis. More severe cases of endometriosis will also create more scar tissue, potentially involving the structural components of the pelvis, causing blockage of the Fallopian tubes and other organs.

Treatment Options for Endometriosis

Women diagnosed with endometriosis have a number of treatment options available, based on many factors such as overall health, the severity of the condition, tolerance for certain treatments, and the expected outcome of treatment. Endometriosis treatment may include:

  • Rest and relaxation. Avoiding stress, heat therapy, taking warm baths, and other relaxation techniques can help relieve minor symptoms of endometriosis and dyspareunia.
  • Diet changes. For minor cases, doctors may suggest a diet for endometriosis and fertility. Typically, this includes avoiding caffeine, alcohol, red meat and processed foods, as well as increasing consumption of fruits, vegetables, Omega 3s and soy.
  • OTC medications. Doctors suggest simple pain medications such as ibuprofen for mild cases of endometriosis or other over the counter treatments like CBD endometriosis pain relievers.
  • Hormone therapy. Hormone treatment is very effective for small, isolated endometrial implants. Oral contraceptives that contain estrogen and progestin or synthetic progestin pills can provide relief in some cases.
  • Hormone blocking. Other women may require more robust treatments with synthetic pituitary blockers or gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists. These medications block hormones from the pituitary gland that contribute to the menstrual cycle. While these monthly injections are effective for some women, they also cause bone mineral loss.

Female hormone therapy

For women who want to become pregnant after treatment of endometriosis, the first three options are often considered the most conducive to a healthy pregnancy in the future. Some women opt for temporary hormone suppression therapy, so they can attempt to conceive afterward. For other patients, hormone suppressants can be an effective solution with the added benefit of preventing pregnancy, if desired. Still others require surgery to treat the cause of endometriosis pain.

Surgical Options

Some women with severe endometriosis will require surgery for relief. In these cases, surgeons will try to remove as much of the endometrium implants as possible without risking damage to the surrounding tissues. Primarily, endometriosis surgery is limited to three distinct options:

  • Laparoscopy. Some surgeons opt for laparoscopic laser removal, which begins with the same process used to diagnose endometriosis. Once endometrial tissue is found, the surgeon will cauterize and vaporize sections of endometrial tissue. Laparoscopic procedures are minimally invasive and have shorter recovery times than typical abdominal surgeries.
  • Laparotomy. For advanced cases, more drastic surgical options may be the only solution. A laparotomy uses a much larger incision into the abdominal cavity to expose more of the interior to the surgeon. Then, a similar procedure is used to excise the endometrial tissue. With a larger incision comes a more extended recovery period post-surgery.
  • Hysterectomy. For the most severe or advanced cases, a hysterectomy may be required to stop the symptoms of endometriosis. During this procedure, a surgeon removes the uterus altogether, either laparoscopically, through a large incision, or even through the vagina. In some cases, the ovaries are removed as well to inhibit tissue growth. After hysterectomy, future pregnancy is not possible.

Endometriosis Surgery

While conservative surgery is a safe and effective way to treat endometriosis, it’s important to treat as early as possible. In fact, as many as 40% of advanced endometriosis patients experience symptoms within five years as the result of tissue regrowth. More drastic surgeries such as hysterectomy with ovary removal do a better job of eliminating existing tissue and the hormone swings that cause it to grow, but regrowth and infertility is still possible. Thus, it’s vital for any woman considering any level of surgery to discuss the issue at length with her doctor.

Take Control of Your Uterine Health with Endometriosis Specialists in Arizona

Keeping close tabs on your menstrual cycles and uterine health are important at any age. Every endometriosis case is different, but your case can be manageable with early detection, symptom management and careful screening. The providers who work with Arizona Gynecology Consultants can handle any aspect of gynecological care, so contact us today if you would like more information about endometriosis or treatment options.

Signs, Symptoms, And Treatments Of Uterine Fibroids

Signs, Symptoms, And Treatments Of Uterine Fibroids

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Uterine fibroids are one of the most common gynecological conditions seen in America and a leading cause of uterine surgery for premenopausal women. Roughly 70%* of Caucasian women will experience uterine fibroids, and the rate is higher for African-American women who generally report stronger symptoms at younger ages. Uterine fibroids may be asymptomatic for some women and severely problematic for others. Uterine fibroid removal procedures are also the second most common surgical procedure after Caesarean section operations among premenopausal women.

What Are Uterine Fibroids?

Uterine fibroids are growths that appear in and on the uterus. These benign tumors grow in the muscle tissue of the uterine walls and rarely indicate cancer. The exact cause of uterine fibroids remains unknown, and these growths may eventually become quite large and cause intense symptoms. Other women may develop uterine fibroids and never notice any adverse symptoms. Other common names for uterine fibroids include leiomyomas, myomas, uterine myomas, and fibromas.

Types Of Uterine Fibroids

The size and location of uterine fibroids are the major contributing factors in the severity of negative symptoms. Gynecologists generally divide uterine fibroids into four categories:

  • Intramural fibroids, the most commonly diagnosed type that manifest within the walls of the uterus. These fibroids may eventually grow and distort the shape of the womb.
  • Subserosal fibroids, which form on the outer walls or serosa of the uterus. These fibroids can eventually cause the uterus to appear larger on one side.
  • Predunculated fibroids, which are subserosal fibroids that develop long stems that support the bodies of the tumors.
  • Submucosal fibroids, the least common type of fibroids found in the myometrium or middle muscle layer of the uterus.

Any of these types of uterine fibroids may cause adverse symptoms of varying degrees or no symptoms at all. Although there is no clearly defined cause of uterine fibroids, women can refer to several indicators to determine their level of risk of yet undetected uterine fibroids. However, uterine fibroids requiring treatment cause adverse symptoms that most women would report to their gynecologists as soon as symptoms appear.

Indicators Of Uterine Fibroid Risk

Although there is no firmly defined cause of uterine fibroids, medical researchers point to various possible causes and contributing factors that all women should know.

  • The ovaries produce estrogen and progesterone, two vital hormones for proper reproductive cycles. These hormones regenerate the uterine lining during each menstrual cycle, potentially stimulating uterine fibroid growth.
  • Genetics may also predispose a woman to developing uterine fibroids. If your mother, grandmother, or other female relatives experienced uterine fibroids in the past, you could as well.
  • Pregnancy causes an increase in estrogen and progesterone production to maintain the uterine lining. This may lead to uterine fibroids growing rapidly during a pregnancy.
  • Medical research points to obesity as a possible contributing factor to uterine fibroids.
  • African-American women generally face a higher risk of developing uterine fibroids, and women over 30 in general face the greatest risk.

Discuss any concerns about your risk factors or medical history with your gynecologist, but remember that uterine fibroids may not require treatment or removal at all unless they cause severe adverse symptoms.

Are Uterine Fibroids Cancerous?

While there is a risk of a uterine fibroid turning cancerous, it is a very small chance. Only about one of every 1,000 uterine fibroid cases involves leiomyosarcoma, or a cancerous fibroid. ** Women should know that having uterine fibroids does not increase the risk of developing cancerous fibroids, nor do they increase the risk of developing other types of uterine cancers.

Common Symptoms

Many women have uterine fibroids and may not even know it because their conditions are asymptomatic. When they do report symptoms, the number, size, and location of their fibroids generally inform the severity of their symptoms. Some of the most commonly reported uterine fibroid symptoms include:

  • Heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Pelvic pain or feelings of intense pressure
  • Menstrual periods lasting longer than one week
  • Frequent urination
  • Constipation
  • Difficulty emptying the bladder
  • Pain in the legs and lower back
  • In rare cases, acute pain as fibroids lose blood supply and begin to die

Any woman who experiences these or other adverse symptoms should report them to her gynecologist as soon as possible.

Fibroids may not interfere with pregnancy in some cases, but in others they can cause infertility or even loss of pregnancy. Submucosal fibroids generally carry the greatest risk of interfering with pregnancy, but any type of fibroids may lead to fetal growth restriction, placental abruption, or preterm delivery.

When To See A Doctor

Women who experience sudden changes in menstrual cycles, experience excessively heavy, painful or prolonged periods, or periods lasting more than one week should seek medical care as soon as possible. Other worrisome symptoms that require immediate treatment include blood spotting between periods, pelvic pain that does not go away, and difficulty emptying the bladder. Any onset of sudden, sharp pain should also be cause to see a gynecologist as soon as possible.

Treating Uterine Fibroids

Lifestyle changes and holistic therapies may help ease the symptoms of uterine fibroids and prevent flare-ups in the future. Yoga, massage, and meditation can have positive effects, and dietary changes that include foods rich in flavonoids can boost overall nutrition and reduce the negative impact of fibroids. Other common treatments include medications, contraceptive devices, and surgery. Hormone medications can restore appropriate levels of estrogen and progesterone in the bloodstream and limit the blood flow to uterine fibroids. Anti-inflammatory painkillers and some forms of birth control may also ease symptoms.

Uterine Fibroids

When a uterine fibroid diagnosis requires surgery, it is usually due to a very large fibroid or a cluster of many fibroids. Although there are minimally invasive procedures to help remove fibroids, they may grow back after surgery. If fibroids reach severe levels or grow too large, the woman may require a hysterectomy. Speak with your gynecologist as soon as possible if you believe you are experiencing adverse symptoms from uterine fibroids.

Is Heavy Uterine Bleeding Serious And A Sign For Surgery

Is Heavy Uterine Bleeding Serious And A Sign For Surgery?

Menstrual periods vary from person to person. While one woman’s period can be light and short, others can experience a heavy menstrual cycle full of cramps, back pain, and emotional turmoil. Most of these are not a cause for alarm; however, you might wonder if an extremely heavy flow is. Sometimes, the answer is yes.

While not all heavy flows are a symptom of an underlying health condition, there are certain signs that you should not ignore.

Common Causes Of A Heavy Menstrual Period

Women are all made differently, and periods can change from month to month. Diet, genetics, sexual habits, birth control methods, and many other factors can change the flow of your period. However, there are a few common causes of heavy uterine bleeding that are not related to your daily life and may need medical intervention. A few possible causes are:

  • Hormone imbalance, such as PCOS
  • Pregnancy complications, such as miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy
  • Endometriosis and adenomyosis
  • Genetic bleeding disorders
  • Ovarian dysfunction
  • Fibroids or polyps in the uterus
  • Intrauterine devices
  • Uterine or cervical cancer

Menorrhagia is the medical term for abnormally heavy menstrual bleeding. Medical professionals define abnormal bleeding as any amount of period blood over 80 milliliters – typically about 16 tampons. Symptoms of menorrhagia include:

  • Heavy menstrual bleeding for longer than one week
  • Menstrual clotting with clots larger than a quarter
  • Anemia symptoms, including fatigue and shortness of breath

Usually, women with menorrhagia have to change their menstrual pads or tampons multiple times a day because the blood soaks through the products so quickly. Some women have to double up on their pads to ensure no blood seeps through them. Others might need to wake up during the night to change their pad or tampon. Their periods may even restrict their daily activities because of their heavy flow.

How To Treat An Abnormally Heavy Flow

Treatment for menorrhagia is based on a number of factors, including your lifestyle, your plans to bear children, your reaction to medications, and your overall health. Doctors treat menorrhagia through medications, surgery, and other procedures.

When you visit a doctor for menorrhagia, they will ask you about your menstrual cycles, medical history, and family background. They may also take a blood sample, an ultrasound, a Pap smear, or a biopsy to determine the cause of the heavy flow.

After your initial intake, the doctor can recommend a number of treatments:

  • Medications such as ibuprofen to relieve pain, oral contraceptives to regulate your cycle, and tranexamic acid to relieve bleeding
  • A hormonal IUD to reduce your uterine lining
  • Progesterone to fix a hormonal imbalance
  • Various surgical procedures

Risks Of Heavy Uterine Bleeding

There are certain symptoms associated with heavy uterine bleeding that you should never ignore. These symptoms can develop into potentially dangerous conditions.

You should seek medical attention for menorrhagia and heavy uterine bleeding if:

  • You experience any vaginal bleeding after menopause
  • You soak through at least one pad or tampon per hour
  • You bleed between periods
  • You experience any other form of irregular vaginal bleeding

Prolonged menstrual bleeding can lead to the development of anemia. When you bleed such a heavy amount, you’re losing vital red blood cells. When you lose these cells, your body uses up iron to make hemoglobin, a protein that helps blood cells carry oxygen through your body. However, this decreases your iron levels, increasing your risk of developing anemia.

Symptoms of anemia include:

  • Fatigue
  • Pale skin
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Unusually rapid heart rate

The symptoms of anemia alone are enough to cause difficulty in your daily life. Anemia can also lead to severe organ damage because the condition reduces the amount of oxygen that your body receives. Heart damage is especially common, since your heart will need to work harder to make up for your low red blood cell count. Pregnant women with anemia are at risk of premature birth, miscarriage, and low birth weight.

Surgery For Heavy Uterine Bleeding

If heavy menstruation is affecting your daily life, talk to your doctor. Menorrhagia surgery may be a way to transform this difficulty. Doctors may consider surgery depending on a few factors, including the severity of your condition. If you have a fear of surgical procedures, consider visiting Arizona Gynecology Consultants to find an alternative, noninvasive treatment for your condition.

Common menorrhagia surgeries include:

  • Focused ultrasound surgery, which treats bleeding from fibroids
  • Hysterectomy, which removes the uterus and cervix
  • Myomectomy, which removes fibroids
  • Uterine artery embolization, which shrinks fibroids by cutting off blood supply
  • Dilation and curettage, endometrial resection, and endometrial ablation, which all remove the uterine lining

Call Arizona Gynecology Consultants For Advice

Contact Arizona Gynecology Consultants today to discuss whether your heavy menstrual flow is a cause for concern. Our compassionate staff can schedule an appointment and offer advice on the best way to negotiate uterine bleeding until you see a physician.

How Diet Can Impact The Risk Of Cancer Development In Women

How Diet Can Impact the Risk of Cancer Development in Women

The foods we eat impact our health in countless ways, and women need to know how food can affect the risk of developing certain cancers. While there are cancer-fighting foods and various nutritional supplements you can take to reduce your risk of developing some cancers, it’s also important to identify individual risk factors, genetic markers, and other variables on the individual level. Diet and cancer have strong links, and choosing the right foods can help to prevent cancer or recover from it.

Making Better Food Choices

Everyone should try to limit the risk of developing cancer by making health-conscious decisions. An anti-cancer diet should include foods that bolster the immune system and organ function. A plant-based diet generally offers the best dietary support. Dark, leafy greens, vegetables, and some fruits should form the bulk of a cancer prevention diet.

Food And Cancer Risk

While there are foods that help fight cancer, there are also foods that increase the risk of developing certain cancers. Some foods cause health problems like diabetes, obesity, and heart disease that increase the risk of developing some cancers. For example, obesity greatly increases the risk of cancer in the colon, kidneys, pancreas, and esophagus. Overweight people generally produce more insulin and estrogen, two naturally occurring hormones that can increase the growth rate of cancer cells.

Breast Cancer

A study from the International Journal of Cancer reported that processed meat consumption could increase the risk of developing breast cancer*. Fast food restaurants that serve processed meat products and frozen meals with processed meats are common choices for many Americans due to their convenience, and overconsumption of these foods can interfere with healthy digestion and lead to an increased breast cancer risk.

Human breast tissue and mammary glands also develop a natural balance of probiotic bacterial microbes, and diet can disrupt this balance**. One study showed that diet can disrupt probiotic bacteria balance in the body outside of the digestive tract, so it is possible for some foods to affect mammary health and development. A study from the Clinical & Experimental Metastasis journal*** reported that a diet high in fish oils could slow breast cancer cell growth.

Developing A Better Diet

Anti Cancer FoodEveryone has individual dietary issues, but it can be easier than you expect to build a diet with the best cancer-fighting foods for you. Some of the best foods for a healthy cancer-fighting diet include:

  • Coffee. Coffee can help reduce the risk of developing some types of uterine cancer and alter the way the body processes estrogen and insulin.
  • Garlic is a food that contains nutrients that can prevent bowel, stomach, colon, and breast cancers.
  • Lentils. These small beans are very rich in dietary fiber, which promotes healthy digestion and a healthy weight. Fiber also limits the risk of colon and stomach cancer by making it difficult for tumor cells to grow in the gut.
  • Leafy green vegetables. Kale, broccoli, and spinach are some of the healthiest foods anyone can eat. These vegetables reduce the risk of heart disease, digestive cancers, and promote a healthy weight.
  • Onions. The anti-inflammatory properties of onions and shallots can prevent colon and liver cancer.
  • Grapes. These sweet berries contain an antioxidant that helps prevent cancer growth in the breasts, lymph nodes, liver, and stomach.

These are just a few of the foods that can increase your protection from certain types of cancer. While adding these foods to your diet can increase resistance to some types of cancer, it is also vital to remove other elements of your diet that may be increasing your cancer risk. In general, it’s a good idea to avoid:

  • Overly processed foods, especially processed meat products
  • Frozen meat products and prepared meals with lots of preservatives
  • Sugary foods and beverages
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Alcohol

Making Healthier Life Choices To Reduce Cancer Risk

In addition to proper diet, a few simple lifestyle changes can improve overall health and limit the risk of cancer too. Regular physical activity helps keep heart function and blood flow at appropriate levels and can limit the risk of developing some types of cancer. Portion control and avoiding unhealthy foods helps to maintain a healthy weight, which in turn prevents the cancers associated with obesity.

Stress management also plays a role in overall health. Mental fatigue and acute stress can have a dramatic impact on the body, and it’s essential to develop healthy coping techniques. Treating stress with unhealthy foods or alcohol not only diminishes overall health, but also makes it more difficult to build healthy stress management techniques in the long run.

Metabolism’s Role In Female Health

If you want to know how to avoid cancer you need to assess your personal dietary needs and decide how to adjust your diet in healthy ways that work for you. If weight loss is a concern, some diet plans may be very restrictive and cause stress, ultimately leading to more adverse health problems later.

Finding The Support You Need

Arizona Gynecology Consultants is a team of experienced medical professionals dedicated to promoting women’s health. Our team treats individual patient issues with comprehensive, personalized treatment plans that address not only adverse symptoms, but also the causes of those symptoms. Hormones and metabolism play a very significant role in women’s health and developing certain types of cancer.

Arizona Gynecology Consultants offers a wide range of women’s health services, screenings, and dietary support resources to help you build a diet that reduces your risk of developing cancer. Women who have already received cancer diagnoses can bolster their treatment and speed up recovery with some dietary changes as well.

The first step in overcoming cancer or preventing cancer in the first place is a full assessment of your dietary and metabolic needs, and Arizona Gynecology Consultants can help. Learn more about our specialists and the women’s health services we offer.

What Is a Prolapsed Bladder and How Do I Treat It

What Is a Prolapsed Bladder and How Do I Treat It?

Many women after having children, going through hysterectomy, or undergoing the aging process experience symptoms that are not only uncomfortable but embarrassing. There are products available that can help alleviate the humiliation, such as adhesive strip underwear pads, panties or disposable underwear. But those can be costly over time and put a damper on style and spontaneity. If you think you could be suffering from what is called a prolapsed bladder or cystocele, there are ways to help minimize the symptoms and possibly reverse the condition, noninvasively.

The Physical Attributes of Cystocele

With cystocele it can feel as though your bladder is dropping. In a sense, it is. The bladder itself is a muscular-like organ, hollow, that resembles a balloon, expanding and retracting depending on the level of urine present. When a woman gets the urge to empty the bladder, urine flows from the bladder downward through the urethra and ultimately out of the body. The bladder is located in close proximity to other parts of the reproductive system, in the middle of both pelvic bones. Positioned alongside the urethra is the vagina, the connection point between the uterus and the outside. When prolapse happens, the bladder drops from its original position and protrudes into the vagina. As ominous as this may sound, many women who have the condition don’t know it.

Symptoms of a Prolapsed Bladder

There are many ways that the body provides an indication that a prolapsed bladder exists. Each woman is different and all symptoms don’t need to be met to have the condition.

Prolapsed Bladder Symptoms:

  • Frequent urination
  • Sensation of needing to urinate often
  • Bladder leakage from pressure put on the area (or from coughing, sneezing, laughing)
  • Partial voiding, when urine remains in the bladder
  • Increase in bladder infections
  • Pain in the lower back or pelvic area
  • Feeling of heaviness, fullness, or droopiness in pelvic area
  • Bladder coming through the vagina
  • Difficulty when inserting vaginal applicators and tampons

After you’ve gone through the above list and identified which symptoms resonate with your day-to-day, find details below that indicate the various stages of prolapsed bladder.

Stages of a Prolapsed Bladder

Depending on how extensive the bladder has dropped, the options in how best to treat the condition will be discussed and a treatment protocol will be determined. A visit with your Ob/Gyn or other healthcare practitioner will uncover the specific stage of prolapse.

Prolapsed Bladder Staging

  • Stage 1 – Mild condition, bladder has slightly extended into the vagina.
  • Stage 2 – Moderate condition, bladder has dropped to the vagina opening.
  • Stage 3 – Severe condition, bladder protrudes through the opening of the vagina.

Based on the type of symptoms, a doctor may want to insert a catheter through the urethra to measure how much urine is left in the bladder after voiding: this is termed postvoid residual. Other ways to examine the status of the bladder are through a bladder ultrasound using a transducer (creates sound waves for imaging) or an x-ray exam of the bladder, known as a cystourethrogram, that is done while a woman is urinating. The procedure does not require anesthesia though sedation is often an option.

If you are one of the many women experiencing any stage of bladder prolapse, it may come by you honestly.

Why Does the Female Bladder Drop Over Time?

Genetics do play a role in a woman’s predisposition to prolapsed bladder. In addition, hormones can also create the basis for its development. As we age, our natural levels of estrogen drop often compromising the vagina as estrogen strengthens the muscles that support it. Over time, the vagina weakens, and by the way of gravity, begins to fall. A repercussion to hysterectomy (partial and full) is the development of a prolapsed bladder. The National Institute of Health (NIH) studied the effects of hysterectomy on the female bladder and found a correlation. After these procedures, women will engage an immediate drop in estrogen production, which is often why some elect to include hormone therapy to their lives. However, this course of action may not circumvent the state of the bladder.

Other aspects of life may lead to a fallen bladder.

Prolapsed Bladder Causes

  • Excessive coughing
  • Physical activity that strains pelvic area
  • Vaginal births
  • Constipation and pushing through bowel movements
  • Obesity*

*While obesity can predicate a fallen bladder, diet or specific nutrition is not directly linked to the condition.

Options in Treating Prolapsed Bladder

The stage of prolapsed bladder will often dictate the treatment choices available to the patient. The good news is that for many women, certain exercises will not only prevent prolapse but can do much to reverse the condition.

For women who have severe prolapse, surgery may be necessary to lift the bladder away from the vagina and reconstruct the vaginal wall to adequately support the bladder. A surgeon, usually a urologist or Ob/Gyn will tighten the tissue that surrounds these organs. The post-op for the surgery is between 4 to 6 weeks.

For moderate bladder prolapse, patients can be offered a vaginal pessary that is inserted into the vagina. The small device comes in a myriad of sizes to fit each woman as needed, keeping the bladder in place while providing the vaginal wall the support required, preventing further damage.

Exercise, will often be the panacea for women who are amidst early-stage bladder prolapse and also serves as a continual strength builder for the treatment and prevention of this condition. Here are some ways to add bladder health to your everyday regimen.

Kegel A Falling Bladder Back into Place

A kegel a day keeps the bladder at bay

Strangely enough, there’s an exercise that can be done in the comfort of your car, your office or while sitting at the dinner table and no one will ever know you’re doing it. The exercise is called the kegel and it isn’t just for pregnancy. Men can find benefit from it too.

Meant to increase the strength of the vaginal wall and the ability to gain control over bladder control, kegeling can change your life for the better. The key to a proper kegel is to discern which pelvic muscles apply and to perform this exercise ritual faithfully up to 3 or 4 sessions a day for maximum benefit.

How to Kegel:

  1. Squeeze the genital muscles as if pulling them up from the inside.
  2. Each squeeze, should be able to (if desired) stop the flow of urine.
  3. Hold the squeeze for 3 full seconds.
  4. Release the squeeze.
  5. Repeat.
  6. Begin the exercise and complete 10 successions, to reach a total of 25 per day.

There is no reason to live with the discomfort and humiliation of a prolapsed bladder and its associated symptoms. Start kegeling. Seek a medical practitioner knowledgeable in this condition for a formal diagnosis and recommended treatment that will provide optimal results.

Why You Can’t Stop the Stream

What Is Seborrheic Vulvitis FAQs For Women - Arizona Gynecology Consultants

What Is Seborrheic Vulvitis? FAQs for Women from Women’s Health Professionals

“Do you have vulvar itching that sometimes gets worse with exercise, heat, sex, stress or hormone changes? Do you suffer from ‘chronic yeast infections’ but symptoms seem to return shortly after being treated with pills and creams?

“You may not be suffering from a yeast infection but a condition called seborrheic vulvitis.  Seborrheic vulvitis can be caused by a yeast organism called malassezia globosa.  It lives on all of us and has a job but can sometimes overpopulate causing intense itching, burning, irritation, and even small tears called fissures.  

“Seborrheic vulvitis is not worrisome or contagious but it is bothersome symptoms CAN be treated with the right medications.” 

Wende Scholzen, WHNPWende Scholzen, WHNP
Arizona Gynecology Consultants Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner

What Is Seborrheic Vulvitis?

Seborrheic vulvitis is a form of seborrheic dermatitis that effects the vulva (external female genitals). It is quite common in women, is not considered a serious condition, and can be treated. The condition may also be referred to as vulvovaginitis, or seborrheic dermatitis.

What Is Seborrhea (Seborrheic)?

Seborrhea is defined as “an excessive and/or abnormal discharge from the sebaceous glands.” The sebaceous glands are simply the small glands in your skin that secrete oil (sebum) onto hair follicles to lubricate the hair and surrounding skin. Seborrheic simply means that the condition is directly related to the overactivity of these glands.

What Is Vulvitis?

Vulvitis is inflammation of the vulva, the external parts of female genitalia, including the labia majora and labia minora. Seborrheic vulvitis usually affects the outer skin, closer to where hair follicles are present. However, it can spread to the inner anatomy from outside genitalia.

Symptoms of Vulvitis? 

  • Itching (increasing in intensity and constant)
  • Pain or burning sensations in the vulva area
  • Redness and swelling of the lips of the vagina and vulva area
  • Dry, cracking skin in the vulva area
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Blisters or sores on the vulva area
  • Thick, scaly patches of skin or flaking near and on the vulva

What About Vaginal Itching that Is Not a Yeast Infection? 

Many women who complain of vaginal itching to their gynecologist and women’s health professional adamantly explain that they don’t believe that the chronic dryness and itching is related to a yeast infection – which can have similar symptoms. And those women are often correct.

In many cases, vaginal itching – if it is not due to a yeast infection – is due to some form of dermatitis. The dermatitis could be considered contact dermatitis, if it is due to a reaction from coming into contact with irritating substances such as:

  • Vaginal lubricants
  • Spermicides
  • Latex condoms
  • Latex diaphragms
  • Chemicals in clothing (dyes, laundry detergents, etc.)
  • Scented toilet paper
  • Tampons or sanitary pads
  • Shampoo, soaps or hygiene products

If the symptoms of itching or burning are localized to just the outer parts of the vulva, the condition is more likely to be dermatitis related, rather than a serious condition affecting the interior female genitalia.

Vulvitis: Is It Contact Dermatitis or Seborrheic Dermatitis?

When your gynecologist or women’s health nurse practitioner narrows down the symptoms to dermatitis, the next step is to determine what the cause of the dermatitis is. In many cases the dermatitis surrounding the vulva is found to contact dermatitis – caused by the vulva coming into contact with allergens.

In these cases, the treatment could be as simple as cutting out the allergens and irritants and treating the existing vulvitis with anti-inflammatory medications or creams.

Malassezia Globosa Vulvar Infection 

Malassezia Globosa Vulvar Infection - CDC

Malassezia Fungus (Source:

Is the cause of symptoms actually seborrheic dermatitis of the vulva, particularly due to malassezia globose? Then, your doctor may choose to prescribe medications to get rid of the fungus. Your doctor may also try to treat the existing inflammation and any damage, scratching or infection that has occurred in the vulvar area.

Talk to Your Women’s Health Doctor

It is so important for women to feel comfortable and trust in talking to their doctor about their vaginal health. It is all too common for women to worry themselves about what women’s health symptoms could be, instead of just sharing with their doctor their worries.

Seborrheic vulvitis is the perfect example of this; the condition is very common and not serious, but because the condition shares symptoms with many more serious conditions, many women fear the worst. If you have vaginal or vulvar itching, burning or other symptoms, speak to your doctor to sort out the cause, instead of guessing.

Find Answers to Women’s Health FAQs

Endometrial Ablation Surgery: Frequently Asked Questions and Resources for Women

Endometrial Ablation Surgery: Frequently Asked Questions and Resources for Women

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

What is Endometrial Ablation?

Endometrial ablation is a surgical procedure to destroy the lining of the uterus (endometrium). Ablation is used to treat abnormal uterine bleeding, premenstrual syndrome, and painful periods. This form of treatment is not a first-line therapy, and is usually reserved as a solution when other methods have not brought satisfactory results.

Why Do I Need Endometrial Ablation surgery?

Endometrial ablation may be used as a treatment option for women who have abnormal uterine bleeding, premenstrual syndrome, and painful periods. It should only be reserved as an option when other methods of controlling bleeding, cramps and treating premenstrual syndrome have not been successful.

This procedure may be recommended if you have heavy or long periods, or abnormal bleeding that negative affects your daily life and activities, or causes anemia (low blood count).

What are the Risks and Side Effects of Endometrial Ablation?

Endometrial ablation is a common and relatively safe procedure for women. There is very little recovery time with endometrial ablation, and between 70-80% of women treated with ablation surgery are satisfied with the results of the operation. With any minimally invasive procedure, like endometrial ablation, there is a risk of complications. Though the risk of complications are low, common complications may include:

Possible Post-Operative Complications from Endometrial Ablation

  • Pregnancy After Endometrial Ablation
  • Pain-Related Obstructed Menses
  • Failure to Control Menses
  • Risk from Pre-Existing Conditions
  • Infection

In the past, intra-operative procedures had a higher risk of post-operative complications, but with new technology and a better understanding of expectations, today’s ablation procedures have many fewer complications – of-which, the risk of post-operative infection is the most serious.

Who Should Not Have Endometrial Ablation Surgery?

Endometrial ablation is not an option for every woman, and there are many things to consider before having this procedure. Endometrial ablation may not be recommended if you have the following:

  • A current infections (vaginal or cervical)
  • Pelvic inflammatory diseases
  • Current condition, or a history of cancer of the reproductive organs (endometrial, cervical, or uterine cancers)
  • If you were recently pregnant (within the past 6-12 months)
  • Weakness of the uterine muscle wall
  • If you currently have an IUD, Intra-uterine Device
  • If you have had a C-Section (either classic incision or vertical)
  • If you have uterine abnormalities that increase the risk of the procedure (narrow cervix or large uterus).

Will Endometrial Ablation Surgery Stop Me from Having my Period?

While the main goal of the surgery is to minimize or lessen the bleeding from menstruation, 10% of those women that have ablation surgery stop having their period. 70% of women that undergo endometrial ablation have significantly reduced bleeding. It is important to note that endometrial ablation is not used to stop you from having your period completely, but 10% of patients see this result.

Can I Get Pregnant After Endometrial Ablation?

Just as endometrial ablation is not used as a treatment to completely stop you from having your period altogether, endometrial ablation is not used as a form of contraception. This procedure is not meant for sterilization, rather it can cause infertility issues in women and is not recommended for those women who plan on having children in the future.

The risk of pregnancy complications – including increased risk of miscarriage – is much higher in women who have had endometrial ablation. Even though it is unlikely that you can become pregnant after endometrial ablation surgery, it is possible. It is important to remember that a woman who has had endometrial ablation still has her reproductive organs – it is just the lining of the uterus that has been affected.

Female Reproductive System Infographic

How Long Does it Take to Recovery after Endometrial Ablation Surgery?

Recovery time after endometrial ablation surgery is minimal, and you should be able to return to your normal routine in 3 days, in most cases. Allow for up to 2 weeks to recover fully physically, and to return to exercise and physical tasks.

The type of anesthesia used during the procedure will determine how quickly you recover immediately after the surgery, and if anesthesia was used, driving is not recommended for at least 2 days after the surgery.

Types of Endometrial Ablation Surgeries

There are several ways a gynecology surgical consultant may choose to perform an endometrial ablation, including:

Electrosurgery for Endometrial Ablation

Also called electrocautery, electrosurgery for endometrial ablation uses an electric wire loop or a roller ball. The instrument cauterizes the lining of the uterus, destroying the tissue.

Cryoablation Surgery for Endometrial Ablation

Similar to electrosurgery, an instrument or a probe is chilled to a temperature low enough to freeze and destroy tissue of the lining of the uterus.

Free Flowing Hot Fluid Endometrial Ablation

Also called fluid or hydrothermal ablation, this is a procedure where heated fluid is pumped into the uterus to destroy its lining.

Heated Balloon Endometrial Ablation

Very similar to the free flowing hot fluid procedure, the heated balloon procedure utilizes heated fluid within a balloon that is delivered to the uterus via a catheter.

Microwave Endometrial Ablation (MEA)

With MEA endometrial ablation, microwaves are used to destroy the lining of the uterus. Microwaves are delivered via an instrument/probe.

Radiofrequency Endometrial Ablation

Very similar to (MEA), Radiofrequency ablation utilizes radio waves to destroy the lining of the uterus.

Considerations before Endometrial Ablation

Even though endometrial ablation is safe and minimally invasive, it is still a surgical procedure. Therefore, you should consider the following before having endometrial ablation surgery:

  • Be sure that you have met with your gynecology surgical consultant and you understand the procedure fully, including risks and special considerations.
  • You will be asked to fast for at least 8 hours before testing procedures.
  • If you are pregnant or considering getting pregnant, be sure to tell this to your doctor.
  • Be sure your doctor knows any existing allergies that you have – including allergies to medications, latex, tape or adhesives, and local/general anesthesia allergies.
  • Let your doctor know if you are taking any blood thinning drugs or have a bleeding disorder. Blood thinners and medications that can prevent blood clotting may need to be discontinued before the operation.
  • Your doctor may prescribe medications as a pre-treatment before the operation.

Do You Have Questions or Concerns About Endometrial Ablation?
Call or contact us to speak with our gynecological surgery consultants (602) 358-8588

Speak to a Surgical Consultant


What is a Hysterectomy?

What is a Hysterectomy?

A hysterectomy is uterus removal surgery. There are many reasons that a uterus must be removed, but in all cases, the woman’s health calls for such a procedure.

Reasons For A Hysterectomy

A woman’s reproductive system goes through three major hormonal changes during her lifetime. Puberty, pregnancy, and menopause all cause dramatic hormone shifts that can cause complications with the uterus, ovaries, or fallopian tubes.

Uterine Fibrosis

Uterine fibrosis is the development of benign lumps that grow in the uterus. These lumps are not cancerous but cause pain, bleeding, cramping, painful sex, and the urge to urinate. A hysterectomy will remove these lumps and the uterus, relieving the symptoms and guaranteeing they do not come back.


Cancer of the uterus, cervix, or ovaries can call for the removal of all or some of these organs. The procedure must happen before cancer spreads.

Uterine Prolapse

Prolapse is when the uterus slides from its normal position into the vaginal canal. Prolapse can cause the collapse of other structures, such as the vagina and rectum. Removal of the uterus will maintain the structures of other pelvic organs.


Endometriosis is when uterine tissue develops outside the uterus. It often causes extreme pain, heavy periods, and infertility. Endometriosis makes certain hysterectomy procedures more difficult.

Abnormal Vaginal Bleeding

If the uterus cannot maintain the uterine lining, a woman can experience bleeding not connected to menstruation.

Chronic Pelvic Pain

A uterus that is not performing correctly can cause severe pain in the pelvis.


Adenomyosis is the thickening of the uterus, which causes pain and makes it unfit for a fetus.

Types Of Hysterectomy

There are several different hysterectomy types; the procedure may not refer just to the removal of the uterus but to the removal of any combination of the reproductive organs.

Supracervical/Subtotal Hysterectomy

Removal of the upper part of the uterus takes place but the cervix remains. Some OB/GYNs will recommend this if they are uncomfortable or untrained in the removal of the cervix. See the advantages and disadvantages of leaving the cervix intact below.

Partial Hysterectomy

A partial hysterectomy is the removal of the uterus and the cervix. The ovaries and fallopian tubes remain intact.

Radical Hysterectomy

The uterus, cervix, and upper portion of the vagina are removed. Radical hysterectomies usually take place when cancer is present. No other hysterectomy removes any part of the vaginal canal.


Oophorectomy is the removal of the ovaries. This can take place with or without the removal of the uterus, especially in cases of ovarian cancer. One or both ovaries can be removed.


The removal of the fallopian tubes is a salpingectomy. The fallopian tubes connect the ovaries to the uterus. When a woman gets her “tubes tied,” the fallopian tubes are severed and tied to prevent pregnancy. One or both fallopian tubes can be removed.

Total Hysterectomy and Bilateral Salpingectomy-Oophorectomy

This is the term for the procedure in which the uterus, cervix, both ovaries, and both fallopian tubes are removed. It is also called a total hysterectomy. This occurs in the case of progressed cancer.

Reproductive Anatomy

In order to fully understand the effects of the different types of hysterectomies, one must understand the purpose of the various reproductive organs and the effects of their removal. Some organs produce hormones and removing them will spur changes in the body.


The uterus, or womb, is the organ that houses the fetus during pregnancy. It does not produce hormones, but removing the uterus makes the body unable to become pregnant. Once the uterus is removed, there will no menstruation as there is no uterus to shed its uterine lining.


The ovaries house and release the eggs, or ovum. The ovaries also produce estrogen and other hormones that a woman uses post-puberty, during pregnancy, and in perimenopause. Menopause is the process of the ovaries no longer producing these hormones. The removal of the ovaries will prompt menopause, and women will experience hot flashes, mood swings, and the other symptoms that go along with this change. If only one ovary is removed, a woman will not experience this until she is at the age of menopause. Women who have already completed menopause will not go through it again at the removal of the ovaries. A woman can no longer become pregnant when her ovaries are removed. Pregnancy is still possible if only one ovary has been removed.

Fallopian Tubes

The fallopian tubes are the tubes between the ovaries and the uterus that houses the egg while it waits for fertilization. The removal of the fallopian tubes will not affect hormones but will prevent a woman from becoming pregnant.


The cervix is the opening between the uterus and the vaginal canal. During pregnancy, the cervix prevents the fetus from moving outside of the uterus and dilates during birth to let the baby out. The cervix does not produce hormones. The removal of the cervix does not affect vaginal lubrication, cause prolapse, lessen sexual satisfaction, or guarantee a safer hysterectomy procedure. A cervix that has not been removed with the uterus during a hysterectomy can cause vaginal bleeding, a higher potential for cancer developing, and thus the need for more pap smears. The cervix may need to be removed to prevent the risk of cancer.

Methods For Hysterectomy Surgeries

An OB/GYN can use one of several different methods when performing a hysterectomy. Each has its all own advantages and disadvantages. Ask for information about which procedure is best for your situation.

Vaginal Hysterectomy

A vaginal hysterectomy is a procedure in which the uterus and other organs are removed through the vaginal canal.


There are no incisions with a vaginal hysterectomy, making it the least-invasive form of hysterectomy, and the recovery is very quick as a result. It is especially effective in correcting prolapse. A vaginal hysterectomy is also cost-effective.


A vaginal hysterectomy requires room in the vaginal canal to remove the uterus, as a result, it is not the best option for women who have not give birth vaginally. Larger uteri masses are more difficult to remove as well. There is a larger risk of bleeding due to an injury of the uterine or ovarian arteries and high risk of complications with patients who have had a cesarean section or previous pelvic surgery because the surgeon will have difficulty seeing other issues or complications in the area.

Laparoscopic Hysterectomy

A laparoscopic hysterectomy requires three to five small incisions in the abdomen. The procedure is then completed using long tools to remove the uterus or other organs.


Laparoscopic surgery offers a faster recovery time. The patient is out of the hospital the next day and can go back to work two weeks later. It is safe to use if patients have undergone other pelvic procedures, such as a cesarean section, in the past. It is generally a better option for those who have large uterine masses to be removed or who are not candidates for vaginal hysterectomies. The OB/GYN completing the procedure has full access and visibility, lowering the risks of complications.


There is a risk of injury to other organs, such as the bladder, and possible conversion to an open hysterectomy due to extreme endometriosis. It is less readily available because specialized training is required to complete the procedure safely.

Open Abdominal Hysterectomy

Open abdominal hysterectomies are still the most common procedures that take place. This is due to lack of training for laparoscopic hysterectomies.


An open hysterectomy surgery allows for removal of any size masses.


A large, 6- to 12-inch incision is made across the abdomen. This causes severe pain and 6 to 8 weeks of recovery. There are also higher hysterectomy complication rates, due to the invasive nature of the procedure.

What Are Congenital Uterine Anomalies - Arizona Gynecology Consultants

What Are Uterine Anomalies?

A congenital uterine anomaly is a uterus malformation that occurs during embryonic development. In the earliest stages of the life cycle, a woman’s uterus forms in two separate halves that grow together over time. Any small missteps in this development cycle can lead to a misshapen or malformed uterus, creating uterine problems later in life.

Congenital uterine anomalies happen to less than 5 percent of women. However, about 25 percent of women who miscarried have some sort of congenital uterine anomaly. Congenital uterine anomalies mostly occur due to random variations during embryonic development, but some uterine anomalies can result from in-utero exposure to certain substances.

For example, baby girls exposed to diethylstilbestrol (synthetic estrogen) are more prone to develop congenital uterine anomalies than others. Doctors often used this medication between 1938 and 1971 to help prevent miscarriages and premature births. Today, there are no known risk factors proven to increase the potential of developing a congenital uterine anomaly.

Types of Congenital Uterine Anomalies

Ultrasound is one of the most-used methods for diagnosing the type of uterine anomaly present in a patient. Doctors will use ultrasound imaging to determine how the patient’s uterus developed and what type of complications the anomaly may present later in life. Different anomalies will produce different effects and lead to varying long-term health complications.

Septate Uterus

One of the most common types of uterine anomalies, a septate uterus, describes a uterus with a normal uterine surface, but with two endometrial cavities. This anomaly occurs when the two halves of the uterus only partially combine during fetal development.

Bicornuate Uterus

The other most common uterine anomaly is a bicornuate uterus. Like the septate uterus, a bicornuate uterus has two endometrial cavities and one external uterine surface. However, a bicornuate uterus has an indented and abnormal uterine surface.

Arcuate Uterus

This uterine anomaly describes a uterus with a 1 cm or smaller indentation in the endometrial cavity.

Unicornuate Uterus

A unicornuate uterus develops only on one side. During fetal development, a baby girl’s uterus develops in two halves that gradually combine to form a single uterus. This anomaly occurs when only one half develops.

Didelphys Uterus

This uterine anomaly describes when the two halves of a developing uterus never combine, resulting in two separately developed halves.

Müllerian Anomalies

This congenital disorder affects about 4 percent of females and occurs during fetal development. This condition results from a malformation of the process of developing Müllerian ducts in the female reproductive system.

These conditions are more than just uterine anomalies, and kidneys often suffer as a result. A woman with a Müllerian anomaly may be missing a kidney, leading to additional medical complications later in life.

Symptoms of Uterine Anomalies

One common thread shared by all the different possible uterine anomalies is that most are asymptomatic. Some women may experience increased pain and discomfort during menstrual cycles, but for the most part, these anomalies do not create significant symptoms on their own.

However, the resulting symptoms often interfere with pregnancy and contribute to lost pregnancies and infertility. Many women do not discover they have a uterine anomaly until they undergo screening for infertility or miscarriage.

After one or more miscarriages, a woman may decide to have a screening to determine the cause, and this is the point when doctors diagnose most uterine anomalies. Women who do experience negative symptoms typically report inconsistent periods or no periods, but the most commonly reported symptoms relate to pregnancy.

Identifying Uterine Anomalies

Doctors use ultrasound imaging to determine which type of uterine anomaly a patient has, and treatment can include many options. Uterine anomaly surgery is a viable option for some women, as it may help restore uterine function and allow for a healthy pregnancy.

However, some anomalies are more difficult to treat, often leading to more significant medical complications. Doctors may also use hysterosalpingograms or MRI procedures to help diagnose uterine anomalies.

Treating Uterine Anomalies

Most uterine anomalies will not require treatment, but treatment generally involves surgery for uterine anomalies. After a positive diagnosis for a uterine anomaly, a women’s surgery specialist will advise the patient about her options.

Most corrective surgery is minimally invasive with little risk, but physicians will recommend surgery only if the uterine anomaly:

  • Prevents pregnancy
  • Results in miscarriage
  • Causes significant pain

Women who have a septate or bicornuate uterus may have the septum wall between the two endometrial cavities removed to restore healthy uterine function. In the case of a unicornuate uterus, the surgeon may remove the undeveloped portion of the uterus, and the patient could possibly have a viable pregnancy using the intact portion. Women at greater risk for premature delivery may require a cervical cerclage to prevent premature cervical dilation.

Is Surgery Right for Me?

Physicians only recommend surgery for a uterine anomaly if the condition prevents pregnancy or prevents the woman from maintaining a pregnancy to full term. In some cases, uterine anomalies can prevent a placenta from attaching correctly, resulting in a miscarriage.

Here are some vital facts to know about uterine anomalies an pregnancy:

  • A woman with a septate uterus has a 25 to 47 percent chance of experiencing a miscarriage.
  • A woman with a bicornuate uterus will have a higher risk of going into preterm labor.
  • Someone with a unicornuate uterus will have about a 37 percent chance of experiencing a miscarriage, and about a 17 percent chance of preterm labor.

Other medical issues, including cervical insufficiency and uterine fibroids, can also interfere with pregnancy and full-term delivery. It’s up to the individual to decide whether her anomaly warrants surgical intervention.

Ultimately, a uterine anomaly may result in only a slightly higher risk of miscarriage for a small malformation, but more significant uterine anomalies can make pregnancy or maintaining a pregnancy to full term impossible. Women should consult their physicians if they have trouble conceiving or experience a sudden onset of symptoms that could indicate a uterine anomaly.

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