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Women’s guide to getting the timing right

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The best time to try and conceive is during the ‘fertile window’ of the menstrual cycle; this is different for different women.

The fertile window

We’re talking about the days in a woman’s menstrual cycle when pregnancy is possible. Pregnancy is technically only possible during the five days before ovulation through to the day of ovulation.

These six days are the ‘fertile window’ in a woman’s cycle, and reflect the lifespan of sperm (5 days) and the lifespan of the ovum (24 hours).

If a woman has sex six or more days before she ovulates, the chance she will get pregnant is virtually zero. If she has sex five days before she ovulates, her probability of pregnancy is about 10%.

The probability of pregnancy rises steadily until the two days before and including the day of ovulation.

At the end of the ‘fertile window’, the probability of pregnancy declines rapidly and by 12-24 hours after she ovulates, a woman is no longer able to get pregnant during that cycle.

For those women who are not aware of their ‘fertile window’ or when they ovulate, sexual intercourse is recommended every 2 to 3 days to help optimise their chance of conceiving.

The likelihood of actually becoming pregnant is dramatically increased if you have intercourse in the three days leading up to and including ovulation.

What is ovulation?

Ovulation is when a mature egg is released from the ovary, moves down the fallopian tube, and is available in the fallopian tube to be fertilised.

Tracking your ovulation

  • Work out the length of your average menstrual cycle. Day one is the first day of the menstrual period and the last day is the day before the next period begins.
  • Ovulation happens about two weeks before the next expected period. So if your average menstrual cycle is 28 days, you ovulate around day 14.

Remember the ‘fertile window’ is the six days leading up to and including ovulation.

The three days leading up to and including ovulation are the most fertile. Depending on your cycle length the most fertile days in the cycle varies:

  • If you have 28 days between periods ovulation typically happens on day 14, and the most fertile days are days 12, 13, and 14.
  • If you have longer cycles, say 35 days between periods, ovulation happens on day 21 and the most fertile days are days 19, 20, and 21.
  • If you have shorter cycles, say 21 days between periods, ovulation happens on day 7 and the most fertile days are days 5, 6, and 7.

How do you know you’re ovulating?

Women’s cycles can vary and are not always as regular as clockwork, so to know that you are ovulating and on which day of your cycle you are ovulating, observe your fertility signs throughout your cycle and record them on a chart.

The most accurate methods of working out when ovulation is about to occur are:

  • Keep an eye out for changes in your mucus. Around the time of ovulation, you may notice your vagina’s mucus is clear, slick and slippery, the consistency of egg white. This is the best sign of when ovulation is actually happening. It’s prime time for action.
  • Use an ovulation predictor kit. You can start testing with your ovulation predictor kit a few days before your estimated day of ovulation. Subtract 17 days from your average cycle length and start testing from this day of your cycle, e.g. if you have a 28 day cycle, you would start testing from day 11. A positive result means you are going to ovulate within the next 24 to 36 hours.
  • Record your basal body temperature (BBT) each day before getting out of bed. A special basal body temperature thermometer will ensure accurate measurement. Your BBT rises about half a degree Celsius after ovulation has occurred. By charting your temperature, it’s easy to see when the rise in temperature and ovulation happens. This can help you work out your own pattern of ovulation. However, because at that stage ovulation has already passed, it does not help you pinpoint the fertile window but may guide you for next month.
  • Use the ovulation calculator on this site. If you know the date of your last period, the length of your cycle and your cycle is regular, this will identify your ‘fertile window’ and predicted ovulation date.

The myth:

“The best time to try to conceive is day 14 of your menstrual cycle.”

The truth:

The only time a woman can conceive is during the ‘fertile window’ of the menstrual cycle. This window will vary depending on the individual’s cycle, however timing intercourse in the 6 days leading up to and including ovulation is the window with highest chance of conception.

For more info, send a mail to admin@doctorsmagazineng.com

8 vaginal yeast infection symptoms that every woman should recognize

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Signature symptoms of a yeast infection include uncomfortable itching and burning in the vaginal area

Candida is a yeast (a type of fungus) commonly found on the skin and in the body, including the mouth, throat, gut, and vagina.

In fact, research indicates that Candida yeast colonizes the vagina of at least 20 percent of all women — and 30 percent of all pregnant women — without causing symptoms.

But if Candida yeast (especially Candida albicans) becomes overgrown, a vaginal yeast infection may develop. These infections — also known as candidal vaginitis, vaginal candidiasis, or vulvovaginal candidiasis — typically cause a number of noticeable symptoms, which are the same for nonpregnant and pregnant women.

What Are the Symptoms of a Vaginal Yeast Infection?

Vaginal yeast infection symptoms commonly include:

  • Itching in the vaginal area and around the vulva (the opening of the vagina)
  • Burning in the vaginal area
  • Swelling of the vulva
  • White or gray vaginal discharge that may be thick (sometimes described as looking like cottage cheese) but does not have a bad smell
  • Greenish or yellowish vaginal discharge that’s also similar to cottage cheese and smells like yeast or bread
  • Burning during urination
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Vulvar rash

Most vaginal yeast infections do not produce a strong vaginal odor. Fishy vaginal odors are more common with bacterial vaginosis, a type of bacterial infection of the vagina.

Severe yeast infections may also cause redness and tears or cracks (fissures) in the wall of the vagina.

How Is a Yeast Infection Diagnosed?

As straightforward as it might seem, most doctors will discourage you from diagnosing and treating a yeast infection yourself.

This is because vaginal infections caused by bacteria, as well as some sexually transmitted infections (STI), may have symptoms very similar to those caused by yeast, but they require different treatments. Since yeast infection treatments have become available over the counter (OTC), many women simply visit the closest drugstore and buy an antifungal cream.

But sometimes these products are bought and used by women who don’t actually have a vaginal yeast infection, wasting time and money and potentially worsening the vaginal itchiness and irritation.

This misdiagnosis of vaginal infections is an important issue: Just as some bacteria are becoming resistant to certain antibiotics, yeast that normally lives in the vagina can become resistant to antifungal medication.

If this happens, it can become very difficult to treat a yeast infection when one actually does develop.

If a woman has had a Doctor-diagnosed yeast infection in the past and feels certain that her current symptoms are caused by a yeast infection, it’s reasonable to ask her doctor about self-treatment with an OTC medication.

However, if symptoms don’t improve or they come back again, or if symptoms are different from past yeast infections, an office visit is warranted.

Symptoms of Other Types of Yeast Infections

 

Though the term “yeast infection” most often refers to those affecting the vulvovaginal area, symptomatic yeast infections can also develop on the skin (cutaneous candidiasis), in the mouth and throat (thrush), in the esophagus (candida esophagitis), and on the penis (balanitis).

Cutaneous candidiasis most often causes intense itching, as well as a pimple-like infection of the hair follicles and a rash on various areas of the skin, including the skin folds, genitals, abdominal region, buttocks, and under the breasts.

Common symptoms of thrush and candida esophagitis include:

  • White patches on various parts of the mouth and throat
  • Redness or soreness and pain while eating or swallowing
  • Feeling like you have cotton in your mouth
  • Loss of taste
  • Cracking at the corners of the mouth

In men, balanitis can cause:

  • Inflamed, red glans (rounded part at the end of the penis)
  • Painful urination
  • Itching and unpleasant smell
  • Foreskin issues, such as a thick and lumpy discharge or a tightness that prevents pulling back the foreskin to its original position

World Blood Donor Day 2018: Weight loss and four other surprising health benefits of donating blood

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According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), blood transfusion saves lives, but many patients needing transfusion do not have timely access to safe blood. Transfusion of blood can help patients suffering from life-threatening conditions live longer and with a higher quality of life, and supports complex medical and surgical procedures. By donating blood, you’re helping in saving lives, but that’s not all. Blood donation is also found to be beneficial to the people who donate blood. Here are five surprising health benefits of donating blood:

Weight loss

Regular blood donation helps in losing weight and improving fitness in healthy adults. According to consultants, donating one pint of blood (450 ml) helps your body burn about 650 calories. But it should not be thought or used as a weight loss plan. You must consult a doctor before donating blood to avoid any health issues.

Prevents hemochromatosis

Donating blood helps prevent or reduce your risk of developing hemochromatosis, a condition that occurs due to excess absorption of iron by the body. Regular blood donation may help avoid iron overload, hence it can be beneficial for people with hemochromatosis. However, it’s imperative to ensure that the donor with hemochromatosis meets the standard blood donation eligibility criteria.

Reduces heart disease risk

Regular blood donation helps to keep iron levels in check, which reduces the risk of heart disease. An excessive iron buildup in the body can cause oxidative damage, a major culprit in accelerating ageing, heart attacks, strokes, etc.

Lowers cancer risk

High levels of iron in the body are linked to an increased risk of cancer. Thus, by donating blood, you can maintain healthy iron levels, thereby lowering your risk of developing cancer.

Enhances new blood cell production

Blood donation helps to enhance the production of new blood cells. After donating blood, your body starts replenishing immediately. It is said that within 48 hours of donating, new blood cells are produced by marrow and all the lost red blood cells are replaced within one to two months. This process helps in maintaining good health.

Note: Donating blood is a safe procedure and is not harmful to the donor. However, always consult a doctor before donating blood, especially if you have any health issues or concerns.

For more information, send a mail to admin@doctorsmagazineng.com

Medic urges manufacturers to produce Eco-friendly sanitary pads

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The Founder of Heal for Africa Initiative, Doctor Kelechi Okoro on Wednesday emphasized the need to produce Eco-friendly sanitary pads for the menstrual circle.

Doctor Kelechi made the remark at the launching of her Initiative Pay Attention to Her (PATH) at the Al-Ansar Secondary School in Lokoja while addressing some teenage girls on menstrual hygiene.

She noted that the eco-friendly menstrual pads can be produced from agricultural products, like banana fibre and others adding that the launching of her programme is in commemoration of the 2018 Menstrual Hygiene Day.

According to her, launching PATH became necessary because of the issues young girls face in managing their menstrual circle stressing that the aim of the project is to demystify menstruation problems.

“We are aware some of these girls have limited access to affordable sanitary materials which makes them prone to infection that may even affect their reproduction in future,” she explains.

“The ‘Pay Attention to Her’ project which is expected to empower 300 school girls today, will not only stop here in Lokoja, we are going to take the campaign of educating young girls on menstrual and general female hygiene to the three Senatorial Districts of the state. We will educate them on the need to be hygiene conscious, empower them with sanitary materials and also let them see reasons why they should not be ashamed of their periods,” she said.

Doctor Kelechi called on the policymakers at the Ministries of Health, Environment, and Agriculture for a partnership as the whole campaign has to do with their ministries in lots of ways.

In her speech, the Secretary to the State Government, Doctor Folashade Arike described the students as privileged to have access to the information that will help prepare and prevent them from the dangers of hygiene-related infections.

Doctor Arike, while commending Doctor Kelechi Okoro for the Initiative, called on the students to ensure that they utilize the knowledge gained from the programme as it relates to their health and wellbeing generally in order to be able to reproduce in the future.

Speaking, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mrs. Petra Akinti Onyegbule, said there was no shame in being a girl and observing a menstrual cycle.

Mrs. Onyegbule emphasized the importance of protecting a girl child from possible dangers adding that girls are nurturing and caring and have a way of transferring love from themselves to others.

“If you empower a girl child, you empower a nation. We must ensure they observe good menstrual hygiene and good hygiene generally and protect their future. And as girls, you must share this knowledge, don’t be ashamed of your menstrual cycle” she added.

The Special Adviser to the Governor, Doctor Ahmed Attah stressed the need for a girl child to have interaction with their parents and health practitioners on their cycles and hygiene.

“The organizer of the programme deserves commendation, this is completely educative, what lack of information can cause a girl child is enormous, girls, don’t hide your cycle from your mother” Doctor Attah added.

Alert! New Ebola Outbreak.

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The Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo declared a new outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in Bikoro in Equateur Province today (8 May). The outbreak declaration occurred after laboratory results confirmed two cases of EVD.

The Ministry of Health of Democratic of the Congo (DRC) informed WHO that two out of five samples collected from five patients tested positive for EVD at the Institut National de Recherche Biomédicale (INRB) in Kinshasa. More specimens are being collected for testing.

WHO is working closely with the Government of the DRC to rapidly scale up its operations and mobilize health partners using the model of a successful response to a similar EVD outbreak in 2017.

“Our top priority is to get to Bikoro to work alongside the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and partners to reduce the loss of life and suffering related to this new Ebola virus disease outbreak,” said Dr Peter Salama, WHO Deputy Director-General, Emergency Preparedness and Response. “Working with partners and responding early and in a coordinated way will be vital to containing this deadly disease.”

The first multidisciplinary team comprised of experts from WHO, Médecins Sans Frontières and Provincial Division of Health travelled today to Bikoro to strengthen coordination and investigations.

Bikoro is situated in Equateur Province on the shores of Lake Tumba in the north-western part of the country near the Republic of the Congo. All cases were reported from iIkoko Iponge health facility located about 30 kilometres from Bikoro. Health facilities in Bikoro have very limited functionality, and rely on international organizations to provide supplies that frequently stock out.

“We know that addressing this outbreak will require a comprehensive and coordinated response. WHO will work closely with health authorities and partners to support the national response. We will gather more samples, conduct contact tracing, engage the communities with messages on prevention and control, and put in place methods for improving data collection and sharing,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO Regional Director for Africa.

This is DRC’s ninth outbreak of EVD since the discovery of the virus in the country in 1976. In the past five weeks, there have been 21 suspected viral haemorrhagic fever in and around the iIkoko Iponge, including 17 deaths.

“WHO is closely working with other partners, including Médecins Sans Frontières, to ensure a strong, response to support the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to prevent and control the spreading of the disease from the epicentre of iIkoko Iponge Health Zone to save lives,” said Dr Allarangar Yokouide, WHO Representative in the DRC.

Upon learning about the laboratory results today, WHO set up its Incident Management System to fully dedicate staff and resources across the organization to the response. WHO plans to deploy epidemiologists, logisticians, clinicians, infection prevention and control experts, risk communications experts and vaccination support teams in the coming days. WHO will also be determining supply needs and help fill gaps, such as for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). WHO has also alerted neighbouring countries.

WHO released US$ 1 million from its Contingency Fund for Emergencies to support response activities for the next three months with the goal of stopping the spread of Ebola to surrounding provinces and countries.

Building on the 2017 response

Ebola is endemic to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The last Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo occurred in 2017 in Likati Health Zone, Bas Uele Province, in the northern part of the country and was quickly contained thanks to joint efforts by the Government of DRC, WHO and many different partners.

An effective response to the 2017 EVD outbreak was achieved through the timely alert by local authorities of suspect cases, immediate testing of blood samples due to strengthened national laboratory capacity, the early announcement of the outbreak by the government, rapid response activities by local and national health authorities with the robust support of international partners, and speedy access to flexible funding.

Coordination support on the ground by WHO was critical and an Incident Management System was set up within 24 hours of the outbreak being announced. WHO deployed more than 50 experts to work closely with government and partners.

The Ebola virus causes an acute, serious illness which is often fatal if untreated. The average EVD case fatality rate is around 50%. The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission.

Culled from WHO | Geneva/Brazzaville/Kinshasa

Cervical Cancer: Why you shouldn’t put off that Pap test any longer

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As January comes to an end, we are still talking about Cervical Cancer, lots adult women are scared to go ahead with the Pap test. What is it, and why is it important?

well… here we go! The Pap test, or Pap smear, is so named in honor of its inventor, a Greek doctor called George (Georgios) Nicholas Papanicolaou (1883–1962).

His work focused on examining smears of cervical tissue — the cervix is the lower, narrow part of a woman’s uterus — to screen for potential warning signs related to gynecological health.

What is the Pap test for?

Through the Pap smear, cells are collected from a woman’s cervix for analysis. These are screened for any unusual results, as mutations might indicate the presence of the Human PapillomaVirus (HPV), which is a major risk factor for the development of cervical cancer.

HPV is a very common sexually transmitted infection, and it can be contracted via sexual contact (vaginal, oral, or anal) with someone who is already infected.

In many cases, HPV will be eliminated naturally by the body’s immune system within 1 or 2 years from infection, without causing any further health complications. In some cases, however, it can linger in the body, causing genital warts that can, in turn, lead to cervical cancer.

The Pap test is used to detect any changes that may occur at cellular level, and to determine whether or not they are indicative of precancerous lesions, which have a high probability of developing into cancerous tissue.

There are several types of treatment and intervention available for cervical cancer, but for these to be most effective, it is crucial to spot it as early as possible. This is why getting smear tests as advised is so important.

A Pap test can detect cells in their precancerous stage, which can allow the implementation of a preventive treatment. In addition to detecting precancerous lesions, the test can also help to spot any other issues that may appear in the cervical or vaginal area, such as infections.

How is a Pap test performed?

The Pap test is performed with the help of a special medical tool called a “speculum” which allows the practitioner to open up the vaginal canal, so that the cervix can be seen. A sample of cells is then collected from the cervix with a brush or a special tool called a “scraper.”

This sample-taking procedure is what women are usually most afraid of or embarrassed about. This is a natural reaction, given that a person you don’t know gets to insert a cold and uncomfortable instrument into your vagina and then scrape away at your cervix.

As hair-raising as that might sound, most accounts of undergoing the Pap smear speak of some discomfort, but definitely nothing like the horrors that some of us may imagine.

A slight discomfort that’s definitely worth it

We asked some of our female colleagues about their experiences on the ob-gyn exam table, the stories they shared spoke of bearing a little discomfort for a couple of minutes, and reaping much larger health benefits in the long run. One colleague said:

I’ve been having Pap tests since my early 20s (by request), and I’m so glad I did. I had some abnormal cells that had to be removed. I fear that if I hadn’t had the test early, these cells could have become cancerous. In terms of discomfort, I don’t think it’s as uncomfortable as some women perceive it to be, and it’s over so quickly.”

Another colleague — while admitting that she “can’t say that [she] look[s] forward to having a Pap test” — certainly thought that the benefits “outweigh the short period of discomfort that they cause,” as the test can identify a problem even when you don’t experience any symptoms.

obgyn exam table

“It all boils down to staying as relaxed as possible, getting in a comfortable position, and taking a few deep breaths,” she said.

How often should I get a Pap smear?

Following current guidelines, women should start getting tested from the age of 21. Up until 2012, physicians used to recommend that women undergo smear tests once per year, but the current recommendations suggest a longer time gap between Pap tests.

After the age of 65, Pap tests should be done only if there are unusual gynecological symptoms and the physician calls for further investigations.

So ladies, don’t put it off any longer; Pap smears won’t be the most pleasant experience, but who cares — as long as they help us to go forward in good health and with confidence!

5 Daily habits that are making you fat

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Inactivity and poor food choices aren’t the only things that can cause your weight to creep up. Our team has collected 5-morning habits that you should give up right now. Below are some bad habits to look out for and details on how they can cause weight gain and make it more difficult for you to achieve your dieting and exercise goals.

1)  You don’t make your bed

It may sound strange, but it’s true. A study revealed that people who reported making their beds also reported better sleep overall. After all, healthy sleep is the optimal way toward a healthy weight.

2)  You eat too little for breakfast

Researchers from Tel Aviv University insist that you should pamper yourself with a delicious meal in the mornings. In fact, a balanced breakfast that contains 600 calories of lean protein, carbohydrates, and some dessert will make it easier for you to follow your daily diet plan.

 

3)  You get ready in the dark

Open the blinds or curtains immediately after waking up. One study found that blue light waves from the early morning sun boost your metabolism and help your body wake up. Even 20 to 30 minutes of daylight is enough to affect your body mass index.

4)  You sleep too much

With too little sleep, your body is more likely to produce the stress-response hormone cortisol which increases your appetite. However, oversleeping might not be much better for you either. According to a recent study, sleeping more than 10 hours a night can lead to a higher body mass index. It’s no wonder that doctors recommend getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep every day.

5)  You forget to weigh yourself

Studies proved that daily weighing is a successful technique that encourages weight loss. The best time to step on the scale is first thing in the morning before eating or drinking anything. Since you lose water weight overnight, you’ll get the most accurate number.

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Never Take Paracetamol, Unless Advised By A Doctor!

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People find self-meditation an easy, cheap, and quick solution to the problem. But the relief given in less time soon transforms into a lasting habit, and the body is vulnerable to many diseases.

Though paracetamol is such a readily available painkiller that normal people, as well as pregnant women, can take it easy. Due to not being harmful, this medication can be found easily without doctor prescription. We feel even a slight fever or pain, we take paracetamol. But if you had been doing it for years, be aware now.

Because taking paracetamol every time from minor pains or fever can be more harmful than benefits. Excessive use of it can damage many organs of the body. Let’s know how harmful paracetamol it is to the body if taken without the doctor’s advice.

Harmful to Pregnant Women and The Fetus

Paracetamol is generally considered safe for pregnant women, but it is not. If taken in the wrong dosage, it can decrease the whole development of the fetus. A pregnant woman should only take paracetamol with the right prescription and dosage advised by a Doctor.

Can Increase Asthma Symptoms

Only after having a slight fever, we start giving paracetamol to our child. But it has been proven from many types of research that giving paracetamol to children at the age of 6-7 can cause asthma symptoms to their body. The World Health Organization also believes that children should be given paracetamol only at 101.3 ° F after fever.

Liver damage

If you are suffering from jaundice or liver related problems, eating a paracetamol without consulting the doctor can lead to total liver damage. So take advice from your doctor before taking that medication.

Have you ever seen what’s written on the packet of medicine? Taking paracetamol in high concentration could damage the liver. Yes, doctors say that one person should not take more than 3 grams of paracetamol in a day and if you want to take more for some reason, it is necessary to ask your doctor first!

5 Early Symptoms And Warning Signs Of Diabetes

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Because type 2 diabetes can lead to some serious health complications, it’s important to be aware of any diabetes warning signs and get tested for diabetes, if you have these symptoms.

1. Excessive/Frequent Urination

If you need to urinate frequently—particularly if you often have to get up at night to use the bathroom—it could be a symptom of diabetes. When you have diabetes, excess sugar (glucose) builds up in your blood. The kidneys have to work really hard to filter and absorb all that extra glucose.

2. Weight Loss

While obesity is a risk factor for diabetes, shedding pounds without even trying is a sign of the disease. Weight loss in such cases happens mainly for two reasons– excess water loss in the body due to frequent urination and the body is not able to absorb calories from the sugar in the blood.

3. Skin problems

Itchy skin, perhaps the result of dry skin or poor circulation, can often be a warning sign of diabetes, as are other skin conditions, such as acanthosis nigricans.

4. Recurring Infections

High blood sugar makes people highly susceptible to different types of infections. The most common sites of infection in diabetic patients are the skin and urinary tract. Diabetics suffer from frequent infections, and sometimes the infection recurs. This mainly happens due to a weakened immune system.

5. Blurry vision

Having distorted vision and seeing floaters or occasional flashes of light are a direct result of high blood sugar levels.

 

The good news is that this symptom is reversible once blood sugar levels are returned to normal or near normal. But let your blood sugar go unchecked for long periods and the glucose will cause permanent damage, possibly even blindness. And that’s not reversible.

 

For more info or questions kindly send a mail to admin@doctorsmagazineng.com

These Are The 7 Top Causes Of Vagina Pain

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Is your vagina hurting?…this is why…

It’s time to end the mystery and confusion surrounding vagina pain and decode why your private parts are hurting. Women don’t necessarily know what to do about it or they feel ashamed, like “oh I should just live with it”, But you shouldn’t! We can find out what the cause is and treat it, just like any other medical condition.”

No more brushing aside symptoms like a sharp pain during sex, burning on your vulva, and other clues that something’s not right with this super sensitive body part. These are the most common causes of vaginal discomfort and the conditions are explained so you can get yourself treated, as well as which ones are more serious and require a doctor’s care.

 

  • Vaginal Dryness

Without enough vaginal lubrication, having sex can be uncomfortable, if not downright painful. Vaginal dryness during sex can also leave you with tiny tears or minor abrasions inside your vagina or at your vaginal opening, which in turn can cause lingering pain until they heal.

What’s the reason you might not be producing adequate levels of lubrication? It’s usually caused by low estrogen levels. If you’re on the Pill or another hormonal birth control method, this could be to blame; in some women, they reduce the amount of estrogen circulating in the body—and that leaves you high and dry down below.

 

  • Your Period

Cramps you know. But your period can set you up for a different kind of pain as well—vaginal pain and discomfort before, during, and after menstruation. As women approach their period, they retain a little bit more fluid in their muscles and really all over their bodies—that’s why women get more headaches around their period—and certainly some vaginal pain can happen then too.

This kind of pain should be relatively minor and nothing that would keep you from pursuing your usual activities. If it’s severe, however, let your doctor know.

 

  • Fibroids

A fibroid is a noncancerous growth in the uterus. A woman could have one or several, and depending on its size and placement, the growth may cause chronic pelvic pain that some describe as a constant feeling of pressure rather than stubby kind of pain.

Fibroids can also can trigger dull or sharp pain during sex, particularly if the fibroid is growing near the cervix or upper end of the vagina. During your period, the pain can be more pronounced as well, especially if the fibroid is growing in such a way that it puts pressure on the uterine lining.

 

  • Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a condition in which endometrial tissue—the uterine lining—makes its way out of the uterus and adheres to other parts of the pelvic cavity, such as the fallopian tubes, bladder, and ovaries. The adhesions that form are hormonally sensitive. As your hormones rise and fall with your monthly cycle, they swell and bring on pelvic pain. The adhesions actually bleed when you have your period.

Sometimes the pain from endometriosis is minimal and only happens as menstruation hits, causing super bad cramps that may not ease with over-the-counter pain pills. For some women, however, it’s a chronic pain that limits their day-to-day activities.

 

  • Adenomyosis

Andenomyosis is similar to endometriosis, but the endometrial tissue grows in the muscular wall of the uterus, instead of outside the uterus. The result: pelvic pressure, heavy, crampy periods, and sometimes painful sex, she adds. The cause of andenomyosis isn’t known, but experts say that it tends to strike women toward the end of their childbearing years and goes away after menopause.

Your doctor can diagnose the condition and help you take steps to manage it. That may include recommending anti-inflammatory pain medicine or hormonal meds such as birth control pills. A hysterectomy may also be an option if the pain is severe and can’t be eased with medication.

 

  • Sexually transmitted diseases

The scary thing about STDs (and the reason you should get checked if you have unprotected sex with someone you aren’t totally sure is STD-free) is that they often don’t have noticeable symptoms, but one sign of many STDs is pain. That can be more of a burning, inflamed kind of pain if you have genital herpes, a sexually transmitted virus that causes breakouts of lesions on or around your vagina. Trichomoniasis, an STD caused by a parasite, may lead to redness and soreness of the genitals.

Chlamydia and gonorrhea, two bacterial STDs, can both trigger pelvic or lower abdominal pain as well as a burning sensation during urination. If left untreated, either could lead to a much more serious infection called Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), which happens when the bacteria make their way to the uterus and other parts of the upper reproductive tract. Signs include pelvic pain and pain during sex. PID is major; it can lead to infertility if not caught in time.

If your down-below pain sounds similar to the kind of pain these STDs can cause, let your ob-gyn know and tell her you want to get tested. Chlamydia and gonorrhea can be cured with antibiotics, trichomoniasis is treated with meds as well, and herpes breakouts can be minimized and managed with antiviral medication.

 

  • Vulvodynia

If your vulva feels chronically sore or swollen—so much so that it hurts to be touched and even sitting down for long periods makes the pain worse—a condition called vulvodynia may be to blame. It’s when pain fibers have been activated in the vulva, and just touching the outside of the vulva can cause a lot of pain.

Experts don’t know the exact cause of vulvodynia, but it may be brought on by nerve injury, allergies to chemicals, hormonal changes, medication, or an abnormal response to an infection or trauma. Inserting a tampon can be crazy painful, and sex almost impossible because of the severity of the pain, which is often described as a burning sensation. It’s not something many people are familiar with, but it is more common than you’d think.

 

Many women who experience symptoms don’t talk to their doctors about it, often because they’re embarrassed or they fear the pain will be dismissed as psychological. But it is a real physical condition, and getting a diagnosis is the first step toward managing the pain.