THREE WARNING SIGNS GYNECOLOGIC PROBLEMS
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A woman’s body is complicated, especially her gynecologic system is constantly changing so something can go wrong unexpectedly. Sometimes, there are warning signs, but more often than not, it goes unnoticed. Knowing signs of common female gynecologic problems and regular health checks are important for disease prevention and good reproductive health.
1. Abnormal uterine bleeding or vaginal bleeding.
Abnormal uterine bleeding or vaginal bleeding, such as postmenopausal bleeding can be signs of hyperplasia or endometrium cancer. Further diagnostics can be done by a transvaginal ultrasound and endometrium biopsy.
Other types of abnormal bleeding, such as shorter menstrual cycle (less than 21 days), bleeding after sexual intercourse, and heavy menstrual flow leading to anemia should be checked by a physician immediately as well. They may be signs of malignant hyperplasia or benign tumors, such as myomas, adenomyosis, endometrium polyps, etc.
2. Abdominal Mass
Abdominal mass in women can be malignancies, such as ovarian tumor or uterine cancer, and can manifest as ascites fluids or dyspepsia. If discovered quickly via ultrasound, CT scan, MRI, or PET CT, the patient can receive necessary surgery or chemotherapy to increase their chance of a cure.
Other types of abdominal mass, such as myoma or fibroid, should also be treated quickly. Although surgery may not be necessary for some benign masses, it may be required if there is a sign of malignancy, such as fast growing tumor; it presses nearby organ, such as the bladder, causing frequent urination; or it causes excessive menstrual bleeding leading to anemia.
3. Cervical Cancer
Cervical cancer is the only type of cancer that can be effectively screened. This is because its nature of taking a long time to transform into cancer. It may take precancerous cells about 10 years to turn into cancerous cells. The main cause is mostly due to HPV infection. Therefore, screening can be done by Pap smear or Pap test, or HPV DNA test to find the high-risk HPV subtype at the molecular level to increase specificity. This way, doctor can start treatment at the precancerous stage to prevent cervical cancer.
For patients who have abnormal screening results, a colposcopy can be performed to take a biopsy to find pre-cancerous lesions also known as cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN). The colposcopy does not take very long but is powerful to help plan the next course of treatment, such as excision via loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) or treatment with cryotherapy to take care of these precancerous lesions. Better yet, the patients can return to their normal routine.
Cervical cancer can be prevented by taking care of your health, avoiding multiple sexual partners, using condoms during sexual intercourse, and getting HPV vaccine. Those who are sexually active should get at least an annual screening for cervical cancer. Those who never had sexual intercourse should also get annual screening after they are 35 years of age. If patients experience abnormal vaginal bleeding, bloating, indigestion, or weight loss, please consult a doctor immediately.
Gynecologic conditions can occur at any time and women should not ignore subtle warning signs. Get regular annual pelvic exams to boost your confidence. If there are signs and symptoms, visit your gynecologist as soon as possible. Women’s Health Center at Bangkok Hospital has OB/GYN specialists and multidisciplinary team of doctors as well as cutting edge medical technology to take care of any internal problems so women can have a good quality of life everyday.