Consult your physician if you have any of the following symptoms:
- bleeding between periods
- frequent and urgent need to urinate, or a burning sensation during urination
- abnormal vaginal bleeding, particularly during or after intercourse
- pain or pressure in your pelvis that differs from menstrual cramps
- itching, burning, swelling, redness, or soreness in the vaginal area
- sores or lumps in the genital area
- vaginal discharge with an unpleasant or unusual odor, or of an unusual color
- increased vaginal discharge
- pain or discomfort during intercourse
Recognizing symptoms early and seeing a physician right away increases the likelihood of successful treatment.
Gynecological conditions and infections:
Virtually every woman is affected by a gynecological condition or infection at some time during her life.
Consider the following gynecological cancer statistics:
- Cancer of the endometrium is the most common cancer of the female reproductive organs.
- Ovarian cancer is the seventh most common cancer among women.
- When vulvar cancer is detected early, it is highly curable. It is estimated that about 3,870 cases of vulvar cancer will be diagnosed in the US in 2005.
- Vaginal cancer is relatively rare – responsible for about 3 percent of cancers of the female reproductive system.
Fighting infectious diseases today is much easier than in the past. With proper hygiene and proper precautions, in addition to numerous vaccines and rapidly advancing medical technology, people are better equipped than ever to avoid getting sick.
Prevention is the key to fighting many infectious diseases. Part of preventing the spread of an infectious disease includes the following:
- proper hand washing techniques
- taking certain precautions, depending on the disease
- following the nationally recommended immunization schedule for children and adults
- taking medications correctly
- Even with proper prevention, sometimes, a disease is unavoidable. Some reasons may include the following:
- evolution of drug-resistant strains of a disease
- changes in a person’s environment
- increased travel
- inappropriate use of prescription drugs
- lack of attention to proper personal hygiene
Some infectious conditions are fairly common in childhood and may require clinical care by a physician or other healthcare professional.
There are many different gynecological inflammations and infections that require the clinical care of a physician or another healthcare professional. It is very important for a woman to seek medical care to determine the type of infection present and the appropriate treatment.
Gynecological inflammations and infections can originate in either the lower or upper reproductive tract. Common infections include:
Lower reproductive tract
Upper reproductive tract
pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
Listed in the directory to the left you will find additional information regarding these gynecological conditions, for which we have provided a brief overview.
Vulvitis is simply an inflammation of the vulva, the soft folds of skin outside the vagina. This is not a condition, but rather a symptom that results from a host of diseases, infections, injuries, allergies, and other irritants. Diagnosing and treating this condition can be frustrating because it is often difficult to determine the specific cause of the irritation.
Vulvitis may be caused by one or more of the following:
- scented or colored toilet paper
- perfumed soaps or bubble baths
- shampoos and hair conditioners
- laundry detergents (especially enzyme-activated “cold water” formulas)
- vaginal sprays, deodorants, douches, and powders
- douches that are too strong or used too frequently
- hot tub and swimming pool water
- synthetic undergarments without a cotton crotch
- rubbing against a bicycle seat
- wearing a wet bathing suit for a long period of time
- horseback riding
symptoms of vulvitis
The following are the most common symptoms for vulvitis. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms of vulvitis may include:
- redness and swelling on the labia and other parts of the vulva
- excruciating itching
- clear, fluid-filled blisters (present when the vulva is particularly irritated)
- sore, scaly, thickened, or whitish patches (more prevalent in chronic vulvitis) on the vulva
The symptoms of vulvitis may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.
In addition to a complete medical history and physical and pelvic examination, diagnostic procedures for vulvitis may include the following:
- blood tests
- tests for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
Pap test – test that involves microscopic examination of cells collected from the cervix, used to detect changes that may be cancer or may lead to cancer, and to show noncancerous conditions, such as infection or inflammation.
Vaginitis refers to any inflammation or infection of the vagina. This is a common gynecological problem found in women of all ages, with most women having at least one form of vaginitis at some time during their lives.
The vagina is the muscular passageway between the uterus and the external genital area. When the walls of the vagina become inflamed, because some irritant has disturbed the balance of the vaginal area, vaginitis can occur.
Bacteria, yeast, viruses, chemicals in creams or sprays, or even clothing can cause vaginitis. Sometimes, vaginitis occurs from organisms that are passed between sexual partners. In addition, the vaginal environment is influenced by a number of different factors including a woman’s health, her personal hygiene, medications, hormones (particularly estrogen), and the health of her sexual partner. A disturbance in any of these factors can trigger vaginitis.
The most common types of vaginitis
The six most common types of vaginitis include the following:
- Candida or “yeast” infection
- bacterial vaginosis
- trichomoniasis vaginitis
- chlamydia vaginitis
- gonococcal vaginitis
- viral vaginitis
- noninfectious vaginitis
Each of these types of infection has a different cause and can present different symptoms, making diagnosis often complicated
Candida or “yeast” infections
Yeast infections, as they are commonly called, are caused by one of the many species of fungus known as Candida, which normally live in the vagina in small numbers. Candida can also be present in the mouth and digestive tract in both men and women.
Since yeast is normally present and well-balanced in the vagina, infection occurs when something in a woman’s system upsets this normal balance.
symptoms of a vaginal Candida infection
- The following are the most common symptoms of a Candida infection. A thick, white, cottage cheese-like vaginal discharge, watery and usually odorless
- Itchiness and redness of the vulva and vagina
vaginal Candida infection diagnoses
Specific treatment for Candida will be determined by your physician based on:
- your age, overall health, and medical history
- extent of the disease
- type and severity of the symptoms
- your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
- expectations for the course of the disease
- your opinion or preference
Cervicitis is an irritation of the cervix caused by a number of different organisms. Cervicitis is generally classified as either acute, meaning the onset of symptoms is severe and sudden, or chronic, lasting over a period of months or longer.
What are the symptoms of cervicitis?
The following are the most common symptoms of cervicitispurulent discharge (containing pus)
- pelvic pain
- urinary problems
Since infections within the vagina are easily passed to the cervix, where the infecting organism is harbored, the tissue of the cervix can become inflamed and/or form a cervical erosion, or open sore. One early sign of this is a pus-like vaginal discharge. In addition, as the cervical erosion worsens, cervical ulceration may develop.
In addition to a complete medical history and physical and pelvic examination, diagnostic procedures for cervicitis may include the following:
Pap test – test that involves microscopic examination of cells collected from the cervix; used to detect changes that may be cancerous or may lead to cancer, and to show noncancerous conditions, such as infection or inflammation.
biopsy – a procedure in which tissue samples are removed from the body for examination under a microscope; to determine if cancer or other abnormal cells are present.
culture of cervical discharge
Treatment may include:
antibiotics (to eliminate infecting organisms)
“watchful waiting” (often in cases caused by childbirth or oral contraceptives)
silver nitrate (to destroy damaged cells in cervical erosion)
cryosurgery – the use of liquid nitrogen, or a probe that is very cold, to freeze and kill abnormal cells
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is caused by a type of bacteria, often the same type that is responsible for several sexually transmitted diseases, such as gonorrhea and chlamydia. In some cases, PID develops from bacteria that has traveled through the vagina and the cervix by way of an intrauterine device (IUD).
PID can affect the uterus, fallopian tubes, and/or the ovaries. It can lead to pelvic adhesions and scar tissue that develops between internal organs, causing ongoing pelvic pain and the possibility of an ectopic pregnancy (the fertilized egg becomes implanted outside the uterus).
risk for pelvic inflammatory disease
Although women of any age can develop PID, sexually active women between the ages of 20 and 31 are at the greatest risk of acquiring the disease through sexually transmitted bacteria. Women who use intrauterine devices (IUDs) are also at an increased risk.
Symptoms of PID
- diffuse pain and tenderness in the lower abdomen
- pelvic pain
- increased foul-smelling vaginal discharge
- fever and chills
- vomiting and nausea
- pain during sexual intercourse
- microscopic examination of samples from the vagina and cervix
- blood tests
- Pap test – test that involves microscopic examination of cells collected from the cervix, used to detect changes that may be cancer or may lead to cancer, and to show noncancerous conditions, such as infection or inflammation.
- ultrasound – a diagnostic imaging technique which uses high-frequency sound waves to create an image of the internal organs.
- laparoscopy – a minor surgical procedure in which a laparoscope, a thin tube with a lens and a light, is inserted into an incision in the abdominal wall. Using the laparoscope to see into the pelvic area, the physician can determine the locations, extent, and size of the endometrial growths.
- culdocentesis – a procedure in which a needle is inserted into the pelvic cavity through the vaginal wall to obtain a sample of pus.
Treatment for PID usually includes oral antibiotics, particularly if there is evidence of gonorrhea or chlamydia.
Urinary Tract Infections
Urinary tract infections are a serious, but common, health problem that affects millions of people each year. With the reason remaining unclear, women are especially prone to urinary tract infections.
Causes of urinary tract infections
- Normal urine is sterile and contains fluids, salts, and waste products.
- Most infections arise from Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria, which normally live in the colon.
the different types of urinary tract infections
- urethritis – an infection of the urethra, the hollow tube that drains urine from the bladder to the outside of the body.
- cystitis – a bacterial infection in the bladder that often has moved up from the urethra.
- pyelonephritis – an infection of the kidneys that is usually a result of an infection that has spread up the tract, or from an obstruction in the urinary tract. An obstruction in the urinary tract causes urine to back flow into the ureters and kidneys.
symptoms of a urinary tract infection
- frequent urination
- a painful, burning feeling during urination
- urine appears cloudy or reddish in color (blood may be present in the urine)
- feeling pain even when not urinating
- pain in the back or side, below the ribs
- nausea and/or vomiting
- despite an intense urge to urinate, only a small amount of urine is passed
- urinalysis – laboratory examination of urine for various cells and chemicals, such as red blood cells, white blood cells, infection, or excessive protein.
- intravenous pyelogram (IVP) – a series of x-rays of the kidney, ureters, and bladder with the injection of a contrast dye into the vein – to detect tumors, abnormalities, kidney stones, or any obstructions, and to assess renal blood flow.
- renal ultrasound – a non-invasive test in which a transducer is passed over the kidney producing sound waves which bounce off of the kidney, transmitting a picture of the organ on a video screen. The test is used to determine the size and shape of the kidney, and to detect a mass, kidney stone, cyst, or other obstruction or abnormalities.
Gynecological symptoms may resemble other medical conditions or urological problems. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.Gynaecological signs and symptoms that may require medical attention.