Men sometimes say that women are more complicated than they are, and this may be true physically. There are a whole myriad of problems that can occur with the female reproductive system.
Here are a few conditions that affect the uterus and cervix:
This is a condition where endometrial tissue (the lining of the uterus) grows deeper into the muscles of the womb. It sometimes causes no symptoms, but when it does, women can typically experience severely painful periods, and very heavy periods.
Their periods may be so heavy that they pass blood clots, bleeding in between periods They may develop an enlarged uterus that makes the abdomen look bigger than normal.
The condition most often occurs in women who have had children but have not yet reached menopause. After menopause, adenomyosis will usually go away.
If the patient is middle-aged or has had previous surgery on the uterus, such as a caesarean section or removal of fibroids, then they are more at risk of having adenomyosis.
It doesn’t always require treatment but if you are having excessive bleeding you should see your doctor because not only does this affect quality of life, it can also make you anemic and you may require nutritional supplementation.
Diagnosis is made by the doctor taking a medical history, including symptoms, doing a pelvic examination and looking for signs of an enlarged uterus. It can also be diagnosed by ultrasound and MRI scanning of the uterus.
Treatment is either hormonal patches or contraception to control heavy periods or in very severe circumstances, a hysterectomy.
If you are nearing menopause, you may be offered anti-inflammatory medication instead, such as ibuprofen. Taking this during your period can lessen the blood flow.
If you want to try and ease menstrual pain at home, you could try adding a few drops of jasmine oil to your bath (or mixing it with carrier oil and massaging it into your abdomen).
Jasmine oil is both anti-spasmodic and anti-inflammatory so it has been used as a treatment for dermatological conditions, period pains and childbirth.
This is an inflammation of the cervix, often with no noticeable symptoms. It can however cause a yellow or gray foul-smelling vaginal discharge, bleeding in between periods, pain during intercourse and feeling as if you need to urinate more than usual. Urination may also be painful.
It can be caused by a bacterial overgrowth in the vagina, an allergy to spermicides or condoms, or a sexually transmitted infection.
If the cervicitis was caused by a sexually transmitted infection, the infection may spread to the lining of the uterus and the fallopian tubes and cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
It’s important to get this treated because untreated PID can result in infertility.
Cervicitis is diagnosed via a pelvic examination and vaginal swab. Treatment is via antibiotics if the inflammation was caused by bacteria.
This is a condition where the lining of the womb grows in other parts of the body (like the ovaries and fallopian tubes). It can also grow in scar tissue from previous operations.
When the endometrium is present outside the womb, it breaks down and bleeds as it would do when the woman has a period, only there is nowhere for the blood to exit. This leads to inflammation and the formation of adhesions, which can cause pain, painful sex and infertility.
Treatment consists of anti-inflammatory painkillers, codeine or acetaminophen, or a combination of medications under the direction of the doctor. Codeine can make the problem worse for some women with endometriosis by increasing constipation symptoms and pelvic congestion.
Jasmine oil can be used as an alternative anti-inflammatory, by adding a few drops to the bath every day or adding it to a carrier oil and massaging it directly into the abdomen.
Other treatments include hormones, giving the patient the combined pill to reduce the amount of estrogen in the body. As the endometrium feeds off estrogen, reducing the estrogen will reduce the amount of tissue growth.
Surgery can also be done to remove the excess womb lining and adhesions. In severe cases and where the patient does not wish to have more children, a hysterectomy may be carried out.
This is when the lining of the womb becomes too thick. It most commonly occurs after menopause because the lining is not shed during menstruation, so it becomes thicker than usual.
The cells that make up this lining can clump together and become abnormal so there is a slightly increased risk of cancer in women with endometrial hyperplasia.
It can also occur if the patient has polycystic ovarian syndrome, is obese or is taking medications that act like estrogen. Symptoms are bleeding after menopause or heavy periods or menstrual cycles less than 21 days.
Treatment is hormonal. Progestin can be given via tablet, injection, in a cream or in an IUD (intra-uterine device). Women who have gone through menopause or don’t want anymore children may be offered a hysterectomy.
Adenomyosis, The Mayo Clinic. Web. 27 June 2012.
Cervicitis, The Mayo Clinic. Web. 27 June 2012.
What is Endometriosis? Endometriosis UK. Web. 27 June 2012.
What are the Treatments for Endometriosis? Endometriosis UK. Web. 27 June 2012.
Dermatology: 2-Volume Set. Rapini, Ronald P.; Bolognia, Jean L.; Jorizzo, Joseph L. (2007). St. Louis: Mosby. P.2049. ISBN no. 1-4160-2999-0.
Reviewed June 27, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith