Tag Archives: Signs And Symptoms

What Is Infertility - Arizona Gynecology Consultants

What Is Infertility?

Medical professionals define infertility as the inability to conceive a child after at least one year of attempts. Every woman is unique and will conceive best under different circumstances, but getting pregnant is much easier for some women than others.

A diagnosis of infertility can also apply to women who can successfully become pregnant but then miscarry. Overcoming infertility is sometimes possible with various treatments and modern fertility technology.

What Is Infertility: The Fertilization Process

It’s quite difficult to become pregnant, considering the exact chain of events that must occur for conception to happen:

  • First, the woman must release a mature egg from one of her ovaries (called ovulation).
  • Next, the egg must travel through the fallopian tube into the uterus.
  • During this journey, a sperm cell from a male partner must come into contact with the egg and fertilize it.
  • Finally, the fertilized egg must implant itself on the inner wall of the uterus.

Anything that interferes with any step of this process can cause infertility. Different medical conditions can interfere with ovulation, fertilization and implantation.

If the male partner is the root of the couple’s inability to conceive, methods including artificial insemination and embryo cultivation may prove effective. If the infertility is due to an issue with the female partner, there are many possible explanations.

Problems with Ovulation

Some medical conditions such as ovarian cysts can interfere with a woman’s ovulation cycle. If a woman’s ovaries cannot mature and release an egg during ovulation, cysts can form and block the process. In other cases, inflammation in the ovaries or the fallopian tubes can prevent proper egg release.

Physical problems with the uterus can also prevent ovulation, such as uterine fibroids. One of the first signs of an ovulation problem is irregular periods or missed periods. Abnormal uterine bleeding and inconsistent menstrual cycles can make conception more difficult.

Lifestyle Factors

A woman’s lifestyle has a tremendous impact on her ability or inability to conceive. Diet, exercise, stress and medical conditions all impact fertility in different ways. For example, a woman with a poor diet, stressful job and inconsistent sleeping schedule will likely have a difficult time becoming pregnant. Or, her body may reject a fertilization due to the woman’s poor health.

Other lifestyle choices such as tobacco use and alcohol consumption can interfere with pregnancy as well. The medical community has heavily discouraged smoking and drug use among pregnant women for decades because of the serious harm these things can do to both mothers and unborn babies.

For example, a baby born to a mother who consumed alcohol while pregnant may have fetal alcohol syndrome. A baby born to a mother addicted to opioids will likely be born addicted to opioids as well.

Finally, sexual activity can have a big impact on fertility. Sexually transmitted diseases can cause a host of fertility problems and damage the reproductive system in different ways. Although some people have believed in the past that certain sexual positions increase or decrease the chances of conception, there is little scientific evidence to support these theories.

Testing for Infertility

When a couple is struggling to become and stay pregnant, their doctor will need to perform an extensive series of tests to uncover the root of the problem. This process can be stressful and emotional, and it’s important to be patient while the doctor performs the necessary tests to reach a definite answer for your infertility.

Typically, fertility testing will begin with the male partner. Male infertility issues are easily detectable and almost always revolve around problems with sperm. The first male fertility test is usually a semen analysis to determine the man’s sperm count, quality and shape.

If the male partner shows no clear evidence of being the cause of infertility, the doctor will then examine the female partner. The first step is to determine if and when the female is ovulating. There are many different methods a doctor may use to calculate a female patient’s ovulation cycle.

Female fertility tests often involve various imaging procedures such as X-rays and ultrasounds, but may also include hysterosalpingography, a process of injecting a special dye into the vagina that spreads throughout the reproductive system. This makes it easier for the doctor to spot blockages, blood clots or anatomical problems preventing pregnancy.

Some women may require a laparoscopic inspection. During such a procedure, the doctor will use a laparoscopic tool inserted into an abdominal incision to inspect the reproductive system from the inside.

Treating Infertility

Some couples who are experiencing fertility issues can find a solution with simple lifestyle changes, medication or other easy methods. Other couples will require a more robust form of treatment.

Medical science has progressed to an incredible degree, and various techniques can help modern couples conceive more easily. Artificial insemination and other assisted reproductive technologies are tremendously successful for many couples.

Arizona Gynecology Consultants works with a vast network of trusted medical providers who have experience in handling all types of infertility issues. If you’re curious about solutions for your fertility concerns, reach out to us and ask about the resources and options available in your area.

What Causes Abnormal Pap Tests - Arizona Gynecological Consultants

What Causes Abnormal Pap Tests?

All women will eventually undergo a Pap test, or Pap smear test, as a regular part of their routine medical examinations. Most women begin yearly Pap smear tests at age 21 or within three years of becoming sexually active. This procedure is one of the best methods for detecting signs of cervical cancer as early as possible, but it can detect other medical conditions as well.

During a Pap smear test, the gynecologist uses a special medical swab to remove a cell sample from the cervix, the lower opening of the uterus that connects to the vagina. Most women barely feel the test, but some experience mild cramping and discomfort as the gynecologist scrapes the cervix.

Reasons for Abnormal Pap Test Results

Some abnormal Pap smear test results happen because of relatively innocuous issues like yeast infections, bacterial infections or immune system irregularities. Smoking can cause abnormal cervical cell changes as well. Other times, an abnormal result can indicate a more serious infection.

Most abnormal Pap test results are the result of some types of the human papillomavirus (HPV). This sexually transmitted disease can linger dormant in a woman’s system for years before manifesting noticeable symptoms.

A woman may have HPV for years without ever noticing anything is wrong. The cell changes that occur from some types of HPV will fade on their own over time. Although, other types of HPV can lead to cervical cancer.

Limiting Your Risk of Contracting HPV

Since HPV is a sexually transmitted disease, maintaining responsible sexual habits and practicing safe sex are two of the best ways of protecting yourself from the virus and other sexually transmitted infections.

Women who have sex with multiple partners, have sex without condoms, or have sex with one partner who also has other partners are at a higher risk of contracting HPV than women in monogamous sexual relationships.

Symptoms of Abnormal Pap Tests

A Pap smear test detects changes in cervical cells, but these changes do not entail symptoms on their own. Depending on the type of change occurring, a woman may experience a variety of possible symptoms.

Different sexually transmitted diseases cause their own set of symptoms, such as:

  • Abnormal vaginal discharge
  • Lumps
  • Blisters
  • Sores
  • Warts on the genital area
  • A burning sensation or discomfort during urination or intercourse
  • Rashes

What Do My Test Results Mean?

Gynecologists deliver Pap smear test results with different classifications based on the doctor’s findings. A result of “normal” indicates that the sample cells are healthy, and that there are no irregularities in the patient’s cervix.

An “unsatisfactory” result indicates a problem with the test sample. If the lab technician cannot properly read a sample, the patient will have to retake the examination.

Another possible outcome is “benign changes,” or a relatively normal result with some minor irregularities. These benign changes can include inflammation of the cervical cells, and the gynecologist will likely recommend further tests or treatment for the cause of the inflammation.

Finally, some Pap smear tests will lead to “ASCUS” results, or “atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance.” These results break down further into more specific categories.

Possible Results and Follow-Up Tests

After an ASCUS reading, the gynecologist will sometimes recommend another Pap test later or send the patient for additional screenings. Women under the age of 24 who receive abnormal Pap test results typically receive one of the following diagnoses:

ASC-H

Women who receive this diagnosis have cervical cells that display signs of HPV. The doctor will recommend a colposcopy as a follow-up exam. A colposcopy is a more in-depth inspection of the vulva, vagina, cervix and uterus using cameras and illumination devices to spot signs of infection and other abnormalities.

Low-Grade Squamous Intraepithelial Lesion (LSIL)

This result indicates infection with HPV. The gynecologist will assess the patient’s condition, and if she appears healthy, she may not require further action aside from another Pap test the following year. If the next Pap test has the same result, the doctor will send the patient for a colposcopy.

High-Grade Intraepithelial Lesion

This result is a more advanced version of a LSIL result and indicates the patient is at a high risk of developing cervical cancer.

Atypical Glandular Cells

This result indicates changes in the glandular cells of the cervix, and the patient will need a colposcopy for further examination.

Cancer

This is rare, but some women unfortunately develop cervical cancer at a young age. The doctor will refer the patient to an oncologist to begin cancer treatment. This is one of the most important reasons for women to undergo yearly Pap smear tests.

Receiving abnormal results can be alarming, but it’s important for women to understand that an abnormal result does not necessarily indicate cervical cancer. An abnormal result simply means that the cells fall outside the normal range and require closer examination. The chance of receiving a cancer diagnosis from an abnormal Pap test result is quite small.

Ask Questions and Take Charge of Your Health

Patients at Arizona Gynecological Consultants can rest assured that the providers we work with are committed to patient health and safety. Be sure to ask all questions you may have about your Pap smear test or results at your next appointment.

What Are Ovarian Cysts - Arizona Gynecology Consultants

What Are Ovarian Cysts?

A cyst in any part of the body can be a sign of cancer or other negative health conditions, and this applies to ovarian cysts as well. While some women develop benign ovarian cysts that are not cancerous, these cysts can still cause several uncomfortable symptoms.

Cancerous cysts in the ovaries can quickly develop into more dangerous types of cancer, and ovarian cyst screenings are an important preventive measure against this.

Types of Ovarian Cysts

The ovaries are two small organs located on either side of the uterus. The ovaries house a woman’s eggs and release them periodically during the menstrual cycle.

The hormones created in the ovaries regulate menstruation and ovulation – the cycle of released eggs moving from the ovaries through the fallopian tubes. If a sperm cell fertilizes the egg, it results in pregnancy, and the fertilized egg will implant on the uterine wall and develop into a fetus.

If egg fertilization does not occur, the woman will flush it from her body during menstruation. A cyst is a sac filled with fluid, and ovarian cysts can form inside or outside the ovaries.

Functional Cysts

Follicles in the ovaries help eggs mature and then release them at the proper time. Functional cysts form when an ovarian follicle fails to dissolve after releasing a matured egg or fails to release a matured egg.

Polycystic Ovaries

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that affects the way eggs develop in the ovaries. Clusters of cysts form when these follicles fail to open at the appropriate time.

Endometriomas

Endometriosis is a medical condition that affects the uterine walls. Tissue from the lining of the uterus grows improperly, causing severe menstrual cramps and other symptoms. In some cases, these tissues can accumulate in other parts of the body, including the ovaries.

When endometriosis causes endometriomas to form on the ovaries, this can impact fertility and cause extreme pain.

Cystadenomas

These are fluid-filled cysts that form on the surface of the ovaries.

Dermoid Cysts

These cysts contain cells similar to the ones found in other parts of the body such as the hair, teeth and nails.

What Are Ovarian Cysts: The Symptoms

Some women develop ovarian cysts and do not notice any adverse symptoms for quite a long time. However, screenings are very important, because some types of ovarian tumors share similar traits with ovarian cysts.

While noncancerous, benign tumors may pose no threat and are often easily removable with surgery, malignant cancerous tumors can spread cancer to other areas of the body and require immediate attention. It is, unfortunately, common for ovarian cancer to spread before detection.

Some of the most common symptoms of ovarian tumors and cysts include:

  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Abnormally painful menstrual cramps
  • Weight gain
  • Loss of appetite, coupled with nausea and possibly vomiting
  • Throbbing aches in the lower back
  • Increased frequency of urination
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Abdominal pain and bloating

Women who experience these symptoms should see a doctor immediately for a screening. Most ovarian cysts and tumors are detectable during a routine pelvic exam, and a gynecologist will likely refer the patient to additional screenings after detecting a suspicious lump or other sign of a cyst or tumor.

Follow-up procedures may include:

  • Ultrasounds
  • Laparoscopy
  • Hormone level tests
  • Other imaging tests
  • CA-125 screening

CA-125 is a protein in the blood, and CA-125 levels tend to be much higher in women with ovarian cancer.

Screening and Treatment

Regular health screenings are crucial to early cancer detection and to manage the unpleasant, noticeable symptoms some ovarian cysts can cause. Older women and postmenopausal women are more likely to develop ovarian cancer and therefore require more frequent screenings. It’s important to remember that many types of benign ovarian cysts will dissipate over time without any negative symptoms. Other women will require different solutions if cysts do not go away on their own.

When a doctor identifies a benign cyst, he or she may recommend regular checkups every few months to monitor the cyst. If the cyst progresses into dangerous territory, the doctor may prescribe treatment or recommend surgery. If a cyst grows, causes significant pain or doesn’t go away on its own, a doctor may recommend a laparotomy or laparoscopy procedure to remove the cyst.

A laparotomy involves a large incision in the abdomen, whereas a laparoscopy is a less-invasive procedure performed with a flexible lighted instrument and camera apparatus. Laparoscopy is preferred due to the easier recovery and lower risk during surgery, but larger cysts and ovarian tumors will likely require laparotomy.

Regular Checkups Are Important

Most women discover their ovarian cysts and tumors during routine gynecological exams. These exams are very important for female health, and women should have the utmost confidence in the doctors who treat them.

At Arizona Gynecology Consultants, we understand how important regular gynecological screenings are for women, and we work with an extensive network of trusted providers and health care professionals to provide the best standard of care possible. Get in touch with us if you have questions about ovarian cysts, screenings or other issues related to your gynecological health.

What Is Abnormal Uterine Bleeding - Arizona Gynecology Consultants

What Is Abnormal Uterine Bleeding?

No two women will have the exact same menstruation cycle, but when a woman’s period schedule falls outside of certain boundaries, physicians consider it abnormal.

Abnormal uterine bleeding may sometimes only cause inconsistency with a woman’s menstrual cycle, but other symptoms are also possible and can cause greater discomfort, such as excessive bleeding and cramping. Women should understand how to manage abnormal uterine bleeding and know the options for doing so.

Causes of Abnormal Uterine Bleeding

Almost all abnormal uterine bleeding cases happen because of hormone problems. The menstrual cycle revolves around different hormones in the bloodstream, so inconsistencies or irregularities with hormones can result in abnormal uterine bleeding.

A typical adult menstrual cycle is 21 to 35 days long, while a typical teen cycle is 21 to 45 days long. Each period generally lasts for four to six days. Women with inconsistent hormone levels may have periods more frequently or far less frequently.

Abnormal uterine bleeding can also occur when a woman doesn’t ovulate. During the menstrual cycle, one of the ovaries releases a mature egg in a process called ovulation. When a woman doesn’t ovulate, it throws off the hormone balance in the bloodstream and can cause sudden bleeding. Failure to ovulate can also be a sign of other uterine problems like fibroids or ovarian cysts.

Other uterine issues such as fibroids can cause excessive uterine bleeding, and some women may mistake a miscarriage for an abnormal uterine bleeding incident.

Doctors will perform a series of tests to determine the cause of the abnormal uterine bleeding and address it appropriately. Possible tests include:

  • Blood analysis
  • Pelvic examination
  • Ultrasound
  • Other imaging methods

In some cases, a doctor may insist on a biopsy to detect the presence of cancerous cells that may be causing abnormal uterine bleeding.

Symptoms

The first telltale sign of an abnormal uterine bleeding problem is the timing of a woman’s menstrual cycle. Periods happening fewer than 21 days apart or more than 35 days apart are abnormal.

Periods lasting more than seven days are another warning sign. If your menstrual schedule aligns with any of these variables, schedule a visit with your gynecologist as soon as possible.

Menstrual timing issues also present other problems. A woman who experiences period symptoms sooner than every 21 days must deal with menstrual cramping, fatigue and bleeding more often than a woman on a typical schedule.

Some women experience significant cramping and sudden heavy bleeding as the result of hormonal imbalance. Doctors typically define excessive bleeding as menstrual bleeding that produces blood clots or completely soaks through tampons or menstrual pads each hour for two hours or more at a time.

Women may experience sudden irregularities in their menstrual cycles that go away on their own relatively quickly. However, once abnormal uterine bleeding issue becomes a pattern, it can pose serious health problems. If you experience abnormal menstrual symptoms for three cycles in a row, contact your doctor.

Treating Abnormal Uterine Bleeding

Depending on the cause of the bleeding, a doctor may suggest one of several possible treatment methods. When hormone irregularities cause abnormal uterine bleeding, progestin pills or daily birth control pills can be helpful.

Some women receive birth control prescriptions simply to manage excessive bleeding and cramping. Some types of hormonal birth control can offset other uncomfortable menstrual symptoms as well. Balancing the hormone levels in the bloodstream helps regulate the menstrual cycle and keeps discomfort minimal.

Some women benefit from a short-term course of high doses of estrogen. This technique helps women who experience dangerously heavy bleeding.

A levonorgestrel IUD is another option, and this device releases a hormone similar to progesterone into the bloodstream. This type of IUD will limit menstrual bleeding and prevent pregnancy.

In rare cases, estrogen blockers can resolve abnormal uterine bleeding problems. Medications that stop menstruation and estrogen production can have significant side effects and are only acceptable methods of treatment in special cases. For women who suffer from endometriosis or other uterine conditions, surgery may be the only effective solution.

Regular Checkups and Screenings Are Important

A doctor may not be able to completely identify the cause of an abnormal uterine bleeding issue at first. In some cases, a wait-and-see approach is necessary to monitor a patient’s cycle and determine the best course of treatment. A doctor may recommend an anti-inflammatory medication to manage menstrual cramping and bleeding until the root cause is more discernible.

Very young women often experience irregularities with their menstrual cycle that stop after several cycles. Women in menopause should expect their periods to eventually stop entirely.

Contact your doctor if you have any concerns about your menstrual symptoms or schedule. Maintaining a regular schedule of checkups and screenings and verifying your concerns with your doctor are crucial.

Treatment at All Stages of Life

At Arizona Gynecology Consultants, we understand that women’s needs change from adolescence to retirement. Our providers are experienced in all aspects of gynecological health and focus on the needs of each individual patient.

Abnormal uterine bleeding is incredibly common and can happen for many reasons. The providers we work with can help identify the cause of an abnormal uterine bleeding problem and recommend an effective treatment.