Female Health

Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a medical condition in which tissue that is similar to the lining of the uterus is found in other areas of the body such as the bladder, bowel, and ovaries. When this occurs, it induces an inflammatory reaction which may result in scar tissue.

The symptoms of endometriosis include painful periods, painful ovulation, pain during intercourse, heavy bleeding, chronic pelvic pain, fatigue and infertility.

There is no known ‘cure’ for endometriosis, however, traditional treatments exist and are used by your medical doctor to help relieve your symptoms and improve quality of life. Traditional treatments used by medical doctors may involve;

– Hormonal treatments; acting by ‘shrinking’ the lining of the uterus and the endometrial lesions
– Surgery; surgical removal of endometrial lesions

The condition affects around 10% of women during their reproductive years, this equates to around 176 million worldwide dealing with the symptoms of endometriosis.

The cause of the condition it is not fully understood, with many factors potentially involved in the development of the disease. These factors include genetics, retrograde menstruation (when menstrual tissue flows backwards through the fallopian tube and deposits on the pelvic organs), immune system dysfunction and environmental influences.

The current scientific research, although sparce, shows some promise that diet and lifestyle may act to support women with, or with a risk of endometriosis.

If you suspect you have endometriosis please contact your GP.

For more information on endometriosis please see the links below;
http://endometriosis.org
http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Endometriosis/Pages/Introduction.aspx
https://www.endometriosis-uk.org/understanding-endometriosis

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a common medical condition which affects the ability of the ovaries to release an egg (ovulation). There are three main features of PCOS;

– Irregular periods
– Excess androgens (male hormones)
– Polycystic ovaries

Diagnosis is given when at least two of the above features are present. The symptoms of PCOS usually begin in late teens or early twenties and include; irregular or no periods, infertility, excessive hair growth (face, chest, back), weight gain, hair loss, oily skin and acne.

PCOS affects women in different ways; not all women will have all of the above symptoms, some may be mild, while others have a much wider range of symptoms that are more severe.

It is not fully understood how many women have PCOS as some women have no symptoms, however it is thought that the condition affects around 1 in 5 women in the UK.

Women with PCOS may have an increased risk of developing other conditions such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. A condition called ‘insulin resistance’ may play a role in the development of both of these diseases and is commonly found in women with PCOS, particularly when the woman is overweight.

‘Insulin resistance’ is associated with how well your body responds to a hormone called Insulin, which manages how your body deals with sugar in the blood.

The cause of PCOS is also not well understood, however there is thought to be a genetic link. Hormone balance, particularly insulin has also been linked as well as being overweight or obese. The current scientific research advocates the use of diet and lifestyle to support women with PCOS, particularly with regards to weight management strategies.

If you suspect you have PCOS please contact your GP.

For more information on Polycystic Ovary Syndrome please see the link below;
http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Polycystic-ovarian-syndrome/Pages/Introduction.aspx

Infertility

Infertility is a global issue affecting both men and women almost equally. In the UK around 1 in 7 couples are estimated to have fertility problems.

Investigation via the NHS is available after one or more years (or 6 months in women over 35) of unprotected sex. Investigations for women may include assessment of ovulation, tubal damage and uterine abnormalities.

Treatments from your medical doctor will depend on the cause of your infertility and may include;

– Medicine
– Surgical procedures
– Assisted conception (intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in vitro fertilisation (IVF))

Following NHS investigations approximately 25% of men and women present with ‘unexplained infertility’. Unexplained fertility describes couples who have no apparent physical, or physiological reason for their infertility.

The current scientific research largely supports the importance of diet and lifestyle factors relating to fertility, with a particular focus on nutritional status, being under or overweight, stress, alcohol intake, smoking and environmental exposures.

Unfortunately couples experiencing difficulties in conceiving may experience increased psychological stress which may impact their ability to conceive. Lifestyle may play an important role in helping to manage psychological stress.

If you are having problems conceiving please contact your GP.

For more information on infertility please see the link below;
http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Infertility/Pages/Introduction.aspx

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is the name given to an array of physical, psychological and behavioural symptoms experienced by women usually in the 2 weeks prior to their period and diminish at the onset of menstruation. There can be a number of symptoms (over 150 have been identified) and these can vary significantly between women. Symptoms include;

– Mood swings
– Depression
– Fatigue
– Anxiety
– Irritability/Aggression
– Sleep disorders
– Food cravings
– Breast tenderness
– Bloating
– Weight gain
– Headaches
– Clumsiness
– And many more….

Each women’s symptoms will be individual, some women experience one main symptom whereas others experience their own unique combination. Symptoms may also vary from month to month. PMS diagnosis by your GP depends on the timing of the symptoms.

PMS can occur in any women of child bearing age and it is estimated that around 30% (800,000 women in the UK) experience moderate to severe PMS.

There is no known ‘cure’ for PMS, however, your medical doctor may offer some treatments to help manage the symptoms. Treatments from your medical doctor may include medication to suppress ovulation and anti depressants. In addition lifestyle and dietary changes may be recommended.

The exact cause of PMS is not fully understood, however, it is thought to be linked with changing levels of hormones in the body during a women’s cycle. The cause of these potential hormone changes are likely to be multifactorial. The scientific research advocates the use of diet and lifestyle factors in supporting women with PMS, particularly considering nutritional status.

If you suspect you have PMS please contact your GP.

For more information on Premenstrual syndrome please see the links below;
http://www.pms.org.uk/about
https://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/premenstrual-syndrome/Pages/Introduction.aspx

Menopause

Menopause is a natural process where oestrogen, produced in the ovaries, reduces and there is no longer ovulation (the release of an egg); the lack of ovulation also leads to a reduced progesterone production. Menopause usually occurs between the ages of 45 – 55 but may happen earlier in some women. Menopause results in no periods and the inability to get pregnant.

For many women, menopause is associated with symptoms which can be severe in some women and affect day to day life. Symptoms include;
– Hot flushes
– Night sweats
– Difficulty sleeping
– Vaginal dryness
– Low mood
– Anxiety
– Problems with memory and concentration.

Symptoms usually begin before your periods actually stop, this is known as peri-menopause. Once periods cease, symptoms remain for around 4 years for most women but can last longer.

Menopause is also linked with an increased risk of developing other conditions such as osteoporosis (weakened bones).

The current scientific research generally advocates the use of certain herbs and other diet and lifestyle recommendations such as stress management, in supporting women through menopause.

If you suspect you may be entering menopause and are experiencing severe symptoms please contact your GP.

For more information on Premenstrual syndrome please see the link below;
https://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Menopause/Pages/Introduction.aspx