July 2012

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live in good health Below the Belt There's no reason to be shy about what's happening below says Dr. Amanda Schmehil-Micklos, a specialist in obstetrics and gynecology at Associated Physicians. To heed the warning signs your body may be sending, she explains what common gynecological symptoms should be brought up at your next appointment Symptom: Off-cycle bleeding What it could mean: While fl uctuations with menstruation and spotting can happen in healthy women, it's important to run abnormal bleeding past your doctor. It could be a result of simple hormonal changes, but could also indicate problems with your thyroid. After menopause, off bleeding can be caused by a benign growth in the uterus or, worst-case scenario, be an early sign of different cancers. Doctor Knows Best There's nothing wrong with plugging your symptoms into the Internet or checking with your gal pals to see if it's ever happened to them. Do your health homework, but be sure to keep your doctor in the loop! Doctors offer more reliable tools for a sure-fi re diagnosis and the best resources for the ap- propriate treatment. Symptom: Soreness in your pelvis or abs What it could mean: We may not immediately attribute pain in this area with gynecological issues, but pain just above and below your waist could be the fi rst sign of several prob- lems. Talk to your doctor to see if your pain is an indication of pelvic infl ammatory disease, gonorrhea, chlamydia, ovarian cysts, endome- triosis or uterine fi broids. Symptom: Other unexpected weirdness What it could mean: Don't be a stranger to what's going on with your body! Detect- ing changes is often your best defense in catching problems early. Look for changes in moles, which could indicate melanoma. Or take note of bladder or bowel irregular- ities lasting over a couple of weeks, they could be early signs of ovarian cancer. Symptom: Painful sex What it could mean: Not only does pain during sex affect your sex life, it could signal an issue you'll want to get checked. Note when any pain kicks in: At entry, it could be a result of simple vaginal infl ammation or vaginisthmus, involun- tary spasms of the muscles in the opening of the vagina. Deeper pain could indicate an illness such as endometriosis and ovarian cysts, but could also be caused by a uterus infection or sexually transmitted infection. Symptom: Discharge with other symptoms What it could mean: It's normal for hormonal fl uctuations to cause changes in discharge, but if it's ever associated with itching or burning (especially during urination), or pain during sex, take note. This could indicate urinary or bacterial infections or a sexually transmitted infection. 12 BRAVA Magazine July 2012

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