The uterus plays a critical role in sexual health and reproduction. It is an important part of the body for the menstrual cycle, conception, pregnancy, and giving birth. Healthcare for the uterus and reproductive system is incredibly important. Here are the five most common health conditions for birthing people and their symptoms.
This condition affects around 10% of people, roughly between the ages of 15 and 44 though it can affect younger or older people in rare cases. Endometrial tissue grows on the walls of the uterus, the fallopian tubes, the pelvic cavity, and the ovaries. In rarer cases, it can also grow on the cervix, bladder, rectum, or vulva. This excess tissue can cause tightness and abdominal pain and can also disrupt the menstrual cycle.
It is not known what causes the endometrial tissue to grow, though it is thought that one of the primary causes could be genetics. Endometriosis symptoms include more painful menstrual cycles, heavier or irregular periods, pain when urinating, constipation or diarrhea during periods, pain during or after sex, and irregular spotting or bleeding. If you have any or a number of these symptoms, you should consult your doctor.
This is one of the most common conditions to affect people with a uterus. Fibroids are typically small growths on the walls of the uterus and are usually smaller than a grain of rice. In some cases, they can grow over time, causing abdominal pains similar to period pain. It is not known what causes uterine fibroids and they can affect anyone.
Common symptoms are urinating more often, feeling ‘full’, painful, or heavy bleeding between periods, reproductive complications, and pain during sex. You may also have no outward symptoms at all and still have uterine fibroids. Treatment for fibroids is often a contraceptive pill or device, as hormonal treatment is most effective in reducing the symptoms of uterine fibroids. They will usually shrink or disappear after menopause.
There are five main gynecologic cancers that can affect birth-giving people, though they are rare. Cervical cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, and vaginal and vulvar cancer cases, when added together, affect thousands of people every year. With monitoring and testing, most of these cancers can be treated successfully. The key is to discover them early and begin treatment right away. The best way to find these types of cancer is to complete regular PAP smears and attend regular OB-GYN appointments.
Abnormal bleeding or discharge is a common symptom for all these cancers except vulvar cancer. Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly when eating can be a symptom of ovarian cancer, as can back pain. Feeling an increased need to urinate can also be a sign of ovarian and vaginal cancer. Pelvic and abdominal pain is a common symptom of uterine, ovarian, and cervical cancer.
Vulvar cancer symptoms are more unique and include itching, burning, tenderness, or pain around the area of the vulva and changes in color with spots, sores, rashes, and warts. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should contact your doctor immediately and request a consultation with an OB-GYN specialist.
These polyps are growths on the lining and walls of the uterus and are sometimes called endometrial polyps. They are an overgrowth of tissue that extends from a stalk on the lining of the uterus and extends to form a swollen mass in the uterus. They can be as small as a few millimeters in size or grow to the size of a golf ball or even larger. Most are completely benign, though they can cause discomfort and disrupt the menstrual cycle. Some can be cancerous in rare cases.
Many uterine polyps present no symptoms whatsoever, meaning they may be more common than we know. The condition appears related to age, with polyps affecting most people in their 40s and 50s. It is very rare for a person under the age of 20 to have uterine polyps. They are also more common in people who are overweight or obese, have high blood pressure, or are receiving Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) that includes high doses of estrogen.
Pelvic Inflammation Disease (PID)
This condition is usually caused by a sexually transmitted infection. Pelvic Inflammation Disease (PID) is an infection of the reproductive organs that causes abdominal pains, heavy periods, and vaginal discharge. It can also cause pain during or after sex, difficulty, or pain when urinating. Some people with PID can experience nausea, vomiting, chills, or a fever.
If you have any of these symptoms, you should consult your doctor. Treatment is usually antibiotics, but PID can also be a symptom of an underlying sexually transmitted infection (STI). You and your sexual partners should have a sexual health check to test for any STIs that you or they may not be aware of having.
These are the five most common health conditions that affect birthing people. If you experience any of the symptoms of these issues, you should consider consulting your doctor or an OB-GYN physician.