Tag Archives: Clinical Treatment

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: phil.cdc.gov)

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

Identify The Signs And Symptoms Of Menopause - Arizona Gynecology Consultants

Clinical and Holistic Remedies for Menopause

Have you entered pre-menopause? Or are you already dealing with menopause?

Looking for ways to deal with the onslaught of changes your body is dealing with?

To illustrate the signs and symptoms of menopause, we have taken the time to produce an expansive, helpful infographic that features not only signs that menopause may be starting, but also clinical and holistic ways of alleviating these symptoms.

Signs Symptoms and Holistic Clinical Remedies for Menopause Infographic - Arizona Gynecology

Learn Even More About Menopause

What Is Urinary Incontinence - Arizona Gynecology Consultants

What Is Urinary Incontinence?

Urinary incontinence is the accidental release of urine. Although this can be embarrassing, it does not pose any significant health problems. This issue is common among older women and women who have undergone some medical procedures.

Incontinence may only be a temporary issue for some women. Treating the root cause of a temporary case of urinary incontinence will usually solve the problem.

Types of Urinary Incontinence

Doctors categorize urinary incontinence patients by how long their symptoms last, and by which symptoms they display. The most common type of urinary incontinence in women is stress incontinence or incontinence caused by pressure or stress in the bladder. This can cause urine to leak while:

  • Running
  • Laughing
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Doing any other physical activity that puts pressure on the bladder

The other type of urinary incontinence is urge incontinence, or leaking preceded by a strong urge to urinate. Some women will have little to no warning before leaking occurs, while others may experience an overwhelming need to urinate and do not make it to a restroom in time.

Some women have overactive bladders that can respond to stimuli like the sound of running water or by placing a hand in running water. Older women often experience a combination of both types of urinary incontinence.

Diagnosing Urinary Incontinence

A doctor will assess a patient’s medical history and patterns of incontinence to determine the root cause and best method of treatment. During the screening process, the doctor may use:

  • Ultrasound imaging
  • Cystoscopy
  • Urodynamic testing
  • Urinalysis

A doctor may also wish to perform a bladder stress test to gauge whether a patient is struggling with stress incontinence or urge incontinence, as the treatments for the two types of incontinence differ.

A doctor may also ask a patient to keep a “bladder journal,” or to start recording urination times, stressors that cause leaking, and daily nutrition intake. This helps form a more accurate picture of a patient’s incontinence issues.

Causes of Stress Incontinence

Stress incontinence develops over time or after certain life events, such as sudden weight gain or childbirth. Women who have previously had little to no trouble with urinary incontinence may suddenly experience more significant leaking after events such as these.

Other medical conditions, injuries or physical activities that weaken the muscles of the pelvic floor can also lead to stress incontinence. When the pelvic floor muscles cannot support the bladder, it will drop down and press against the vagina, making it difficult or impossible to use the muscles that close the urethra.

Causes of Urge Incontinence

The root of a case of urge incontinence is an overactive bladder muscle. Such a muscle will push urine out of the bladder, even if only a small amount is present. Some neurological conditions like Parkinson’s disease and stroke can lead to urge incontinence, while other cases develop due to stress or bladder irritation.

What Is Urinary Incontinence: How to Treat It

Treatment for stress incontinence, urge incontinence or a combination thereof can involve several possible options. Some women benefit greatly from physical therapies such as Kegel exercises that strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. This is a proven effective method for women who suffer from stress incontinence.

Other women may find devices like pessary rings to be effective. These small, removable devices fit inside the vagina and put pressure on the urethra, preventing leaks.

Certain medications may prove useful for some patients, but most medications that improve stress incontinence come with a host of unpleasant side effects. You should speak with your doctor at length about the pros and cons of medication for stress incontinence.

Finally, surgery is a last resort option to restore the bladder to its original position. Doctors generally only recommend this if other treatment options have failed.

Lifestyle and Behavioral Therapy

Women who struggle with urge incontinence may benefit from “bladder training,” or performing regular exercises to help them learn to hold it longer. These exercises may not work for every woman, so doctors will sometimes prescribe medication to regulate bladder urges. In some cases, simple dietary changes like limiting caffeine intake can help.

Overcoming Urinary Incontinence

Women of all ages who struggle with urinary incontinence can find solutions that work for them. Minor cases may only require temporary solutions like period pads during times when incontinence is predictable. For example, some women may only experience urinary incontinence while jogging. So doing Kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles could be an effective solution.

For more advanced or complex cases, medication or surgery may be the only solutions. Women should consult their gynecologists and other health care providers closely to find a safe and effective solution for urinary incontinence. While often effective, some medications and surgical procedures will entail significant side effects.

Arizona Gynecology Consultants helps patients connect get connected to a large network of trusted, experienced providers who can address all aspects of gynecological and uterine health. Women who experience urinary incontinence issues can contact us for more information on resources and providers in Arizona, or for more info on the services we offer.

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 the Types of Birth Control - Arizona Gynecology Consultants

What Are the Different Types of Birth Control?

Birth control is a major decision for every woman. Choosing the right birth control option isn’t always about contraception, either; some women use different types of birth control to manage the symptoms of gynecological conditions such as endometriosis, ovarian cysts and abnormal uterine bleeding issues.

Birth Control Preferences by State

If you’re considering starting birth control, changing the type of birth control you use, or making other decisions about birth control, it’s important to know your options and speak at length with your doctor about your concerns with any of those options.

Types of Birth Control

Birth control exists in both preventive and situational forms. Some women with hormone irregularities benefit from hormone-based birth control options while other prefer intrauterine devices (IUDs) that have a less hormonal impact. Other women prefer permanent birth control methods.

Before starting any type of birth control, make sure you fully understand the intended effects and potential risks.

Hormonal Birth Control

Hormonal medications in pill form are how millions of American women manage their family planning and control any uterine conditions. It’s easily the most popular form of birth control,

Hormonal birth control exists in pill form as well as dermal patches, injections and implants. Some intrauterine devices also qualify as hormonal birth control, because they release different hormones into the bloodstream.

It’s vital to consider the potential side effects of these options, however. Some women prefer alternatives to hormonal medications due to their effects on mood, cognition and sleep.

Intrauterine Devices

IUDs provide an effective alternative to hormonal medications. It’s important to remember, however, that some IUDs still contain hormones. Non-hormonal IUDs physically obstruct the fertilization process and last anywhere from five to 10 years. Some women elect to have IUDs with low doses of hormones to manage severe menstrual cramping.

Some patients experience complications with IUDs due to anatomical difficulties, incompatibility with materials, and other factors. If you have an IUD implanted, it’s crucial to follow your doctor’s directions and call immediately if you believe the IUD has dislodged from its proper position.

Barrier Contraceptives

As the name suggests, this method of birth control involves placing a barrier between the uterus and a partner’s sperm cells. One of the most common forms of barrier birth control is condom use, but it’s important to remember that condoms are not foolproof.

Condoms can break or degrade, and it’s important to always check a condom for expiration date and package integrity first. If a condom’s package is open, damaged, punctured or torn, discard it and use a new one. If a condom breaks during intercourse, it’s best to stop and have your partner put on a new one before continuing.

Other forms of barrier birth control devices include diaphragms and vaginal sponges. These methods are not surefire methods for preventing pregnancy and require reapplication or reinsertion every time you have sex.

A diaphragm is essentially a reverse condom that fits inside the vagina and holds to the cervix with a ring. The outer layer protrudes from the vagina and the partner enters inside the diaphragm, which then catches the partner’s sperm cells.

Vaginal sponges, on the other hand, effectively soak up the partner’s sperm cells for disposal.

Fertility Awareness

Some couples do not use traditional birth control methods for personal or religious reasons. These couples can often successfully manage their family planning by keeping close tabs on the woman’s menstruation and ovulation schedule. During times when the woman is most fertile, the couple can simply abstain from sex or use barrier contraceptives.

Sterilization

Some women and couples do not wish to ever have children. In these cases, permanent methods of birth control work very well. Sterilization involves either a vasectomy for men or a tubal ligation for women.

A vasectomy is an outpatient procedure that is minimally invasive, reversible and entails very mild discomfort and easy recovery. Tubal ligation is a more invasive and permanent option, so couples should discuss these options at length to decide what would work best for them.

Managing Your Birth Control

Unless you plan to rely solely on barrier birth control methods or fertility awareness, you need to know the various effects any type of birth control will have on you and your body. Hormonal birth control medications and devices can sometimes complicate preexisting medical conditions or conflict with certain aspects of your lifestyle. For example, birth control may not be as effective for a smoker as it would be for a non-smoker.

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not use birth control until a doctor advises that it is safe to do so. The hormones in most birth control options can cause serious fetal harm or other complications with pregnancy.

Women who have had different types of cancer, undergone certain medical procedures or who have serious health problems (such as heart disease, blood clots, diabetes or high blood pressure) need to be careful with birth control as well.

The staff at Arizona Gynecology Consultants is always available to answer patients’ questions and address all concerns about birth control. Starting or changing birth control isn’t an easy thing to do, and our providers aim to provide holistic care that treats the whole person. Learn more about the different birth control options by contacting Arizona Gynecology Consultants today.

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 a Cystoscopy - Arizona Gynecology Consultants

What is a Cystoscopy?

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

A cystoscopy is a medical procedure intended to locate irregularities within a woman’s urethra or bladder. During a cystoscopy, the physician performing the procedure uses a very thin instrument with a light source to look for any problems. The physician will fill the patient’s bladder with sterile fluid to expand the bladder walls to make it easier for the camera to see.

It’s important for anyone expecting to undergo this procedure soon to know how to prepare for it and what to expect afterward.

Preparing for a Cystoscopy

Patients should drink plenty of fluids the day before a cystoscopy. This will hydrate the patient and help flush waste through the bladder, so it is as clear as possible before the examination.

A doctor will typically ask the patient for a urine sample before performing the cystoscopy. Patients who have urinary tract infections or weak immune systems may need to complete a round of antibiotics before undergoing a cystoscopy.

The test will require the use of anesthesia, and different patients may receive different types of anesthesia. If a patient requires general anesthesia, she will likely need to fast for several hours before the cystoscopy. General anesthesia renders a patient completely unconscious, and food in the patient’s stomach can cause life-threatening complications while under the effects of general anesthesia.

Other patients may require only a regional or local anesthetic. A dose of regional anesthesia will take the form of an injection in the spine that numbs the patient from the waist down. Local anesthesia will numb only the area of the body that houses the bladder, and the patient will be awake during a procedure. Patients who undergo general or regional anesthesia should expect a hospital stay of at least a few hours following a cystoscopy.

A Note About Anesthesia

Doctors have a legal requirement to fully inform their patients about the risks of any procedure or treatment option, and this includes anesthesia. Once you have decided on the route you prefer to take for your cystoscopy, it is imperative that you follow your doctor’s preparation instructions. If you forget something or otherwise fail to follow your doctor’s directions, tell your doctor immediately so he or she can make the necessary adjustments.

The Cystoscopy Procedure

When the time comes for the patient to undergo a cystoscopy, the doctor will first instruct the patient to empty her bladder and put on a hospital gown. If the patient receives general anesthesia, she will lose consciousness at this point and awaken after the procedure ends. Patients who receive local or regional anesthesia may also receive sedatives for the duration of the procedure.

The doctor will then numb the urethra with an anesthetic spray or gel. After lubricating the test device with gel, the doctor will insert it into the patient’s urethra. Patients who are conscious of their cystoscopy procedures may feel a sensation like needing to urinate or a slight burning.

Types of Cystoscopy Procedures

Doctors generally perform two types of cystoscopies:

  • Investigatory
  • Biopsy

An investigatory cystoscopy will involve the use of a thin, flexible scope to easily move around the inside of the urethra and the bladder to look for problems. If a more in-depth cystoscopy is necessary for biopsy, the doctor may instead use a rigid scope to allow the insertion of other surgical instruments into the bladder.

During a biopsy, the doctor will extract a cell sample from the target area to have it tested for cancer. A cystoscopy performed with a larger, more intrusive instrument may lead to more severe recovery symptoms.

Patients who receive local or regional anesthesia should expect the cystoscopy to last about five minutes. Procedures with general anesthesia usually take 30 minutes or longer.

Common Postoperative Recovery Symptoms

A cystoscopy can leave a patient with several uncomfortable symptoms that can last several days or longer. One of the most common symptoms reported by patients is a persistent need to urinate or more frequent urination for two or three days after a cystoscopy.

It’s important to remember not to hold it in for longer than necessary during this time. Some cystoscopy procedures may cause bleeding inside the bladder or urethra, and holding it in can cause a blood clot or blockage.

Blood in the urine is another common symptom after a cystoscopy, especially if the doctor performed a biopsy during the procedure. Excessive bleeding or the appearance of bright red blood or bloody tissues in urine are major problems. Patients who experience this, high fever, persistent stomach pain or the need to urinate (but cannot) should contact their doctors immediately.

In some cases, a cystoscopy can lead to a swollen urethra or an infection. A swollen urethra is very common after a cystoscopy and can make urination more difficult. However, this should subside within about eight hours.

If you cannot urinate more than eight hours following a cystoscopy, call your doctor. The appearance of an infection may simply require a round of antibiotics.

Any Other Questions on ‘What Is a Cystoscopy?’

The team at Arizona Gynecological Consultants takes patient satisfaction very seriously and strives to provide the highest standard of care possible. If you have questions about a cystoscopy procedure, reach out to us for more information about preparation and what to expect during and after the procedure.

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.