It is common to be taught as children that our external reproductive organs are our “private parts.” As we grow up, we never stop regarding our “private area” as private. This can lead to hesitation about discussing our reproductive organs. However, reproductive health is important, not only for our physical well-being, but also for our emotional well-being, so it is crucial to be informed and to communicate any abnormalities with your doctor.
Common disorders in the female reproductive system include:
Endometriosis – The inside of the uterus is coated in a lining called endometrium. In some women, the endometrium begins to grow outside of the uterus, usually on the fallopian tubes, ovaries, or even on the intestines. These growths lead to the formation of scar tissue or cysts. These growths can cause extreme pain in the abdomen, lower back, vagina, or rectum, and can possibly make getting pregnant difficult. Endometriosis is often treated with birth control pills or other hormones, but unfortunately these methods cannot be used while trying to become pregnant. Painkillers may be prescribed to treat symptoms. In severe cases, a laparoscopy may be performed to remove the scar tissue. Extreme cases may call for a hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) and oophorectomy (removal of the ovaries), but many doctors are reluctant to perform such a drastic procedure on a young woman.
Fibroids – Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths that grow inside or just outside of the uterus. Fibroids are very common, but are usually too small to even be noticed. While not all women experience symptoms, those who do may experience a heavy or longer than average menstrual flow, bloating or pain in the lower abdomen, constipation, or pain during intercourse. Most fibroids do not require treatment, but others may be treated with medications, hormones, or surgery to remove the fibroid while leaving the uterus intact.
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) – Often a complication of STIs, PID can cause pain and tenderness in the abdomen, yellow or green-ish vagina discharge with an unpleasant odor, painful urination, fever, and nausea. In the beginning stages, PID can be treated with antibiotics, but more advanced cases may require surgery.