9 Gynecologic Symptoms Women Should Not Ignore
During your lifetime, you may experience a wide variety of changing symptoms involving your gynecologic system. From the time you have your first period until you complete menopause, you can experience a wide range of symptoms. Your periods may shorten or lengthen, cramps could come and go, pelvic pain may occur, and your bladder and bowels may even make their presence known.
Below is a list of symptoms related to gynecologic illnesses or disorders that should signal a visit with your physician. If you experience any or a combination of the following, make an appointment to speak to your doctor as soon as possible.
- Excessive and Irregular Bleeding
- Vaginal Pain, Discomfort, Itching, and Discharge
- Painful Intercourse
- Pelvic Pain and Pressure
- Urinary Discomfort and Incontinence
- Chronic Constipation
- Bloating and Abdominal Discomfort
- Appetite Changes and Weight Loss
- Chronic Fatigue, Exhaustion, and Overall Unwellness
1. Excessive or irregular bleeding.
Vaginal bleeding every month during menstruation is normal, and some women will have heavier and longer periods than others. However, excessive and irregular bleeding or bleeding between periods can be signals that there is a medical concern that needs addressed. A fibroid, adenomyosis, endometriosis, polyps, medications, bleeding disorders, or even cancer could be the reasons for the abnormal bleeding. Excessive and irregular bleeding can also cause anemia and new health issues if left untreated. You should call your doctor if you experience skipped periods, extra periods, bleeding between periods, or periods that last longer than seven days for several months in a row. You should also call if you need to change your pad or tampon every hour for several hours in a row or if bleeding causes you to feel faint, weak, and tired.
2. Vaginal pain, discomfort, itching and/or discharge.
From time to time, you may experience some vaginal issues that resolve quickly without too much fuss. You might have a yeast infection now and then or experience some vaginal irritation from changing soaps, detergents, and such. Though some discomfort, itching, and even discharge now and then could be normal or related to some life style changes or activities, it should not last for any period of time and should not occur frequently. You should rarely, if ever, experience vaginal pain. Let your doctor know if you experience vaginal pain, chronic discomfort or itching, or if you have discharge unrelated to your cycle. These symptoms can indicate you have an infection, STD, hormonal issue, or even a cancer concern.
3. Painful intercourse.
Painful intercourse, or dyspareunia, may occur on occasion, such as when not enough time was taken to be sure that the vaginal area was moist before or if activities were rougher than usual. However, intercourse should not be painful on a consistent basis. Several gynecologic issues can lead to painful intercourse, including endometriosis, fibroids, hormonal issues, infection, inflammation, pelvic organ prolapse, and even cancer. Though it can be a bit embarrassing to discuss, schedule an appointment with your physician if you find intercourse is painful for uncomfortable. There could be an underlying gynecologic concern which needs to be treated.
4. Pelvic pain and pressure.
Some women will experience pelvic pain or pressure as a normal part of their cycle, such as during ovulation or when prostaglandins are released as the endometrium breaks down and sheds. However, not all pelvic pain is normal and it can be a sign that something is wrong. Endometriosis, adenomyosis, interstitial cystitis, pelvic congestion, urinary tract infection, pelvic organ prolapse, fibroids and more can all cause abnormal pelvic pain and pressure. In addition, certain gynecologic cancers may cause painful pelvic symptoms. Treated early, many conditions may have a better prognosis, so speak to your doctor as soon as possible about any chronic pelvic pain or pressure you are experiencing.
5. Urinary discomfort and incontinence.
Urinary discomfort and incontinence are not normal. They can be a signs of dehydration, infection, a bladder condition such as interstitial cystitis, hormonal issues, pelvic organ prolapse, or even a cancer concern. If you experience any type of urinary discomfort or incontinence, schedule an appointment to talk to your doctor.
6. Chronic constipation.
It is important to have regular bowel movements, even if for you that is every other day. Constipation can be a sign that you have an undiagnosed gynecologic health condition which needs to be treated, and it may cause more health issues and problems. Fibroids, endometriosis, adenomyosis, pelvic organ prolapse, hormonal issues, and cancer are examples of gynecologic conditions which could be the cause of chronic constipation, so talk to your doctor if this is an issue for you.
7. Bloating and abdominal discomfort.
During certain points in your cycle, it’s not uncommon to experience some abdominal bloating and discomfort. You can also experience these symptoms if you eat too fast, overindulge, or have meals high in fat. However, abdominal bloating and discomfort at other times or over an extended period of time is not normal and may be a sign of a gynecologic concern, including fibroids, endometriosis, and ovarian cancer. Talk to your doctor as soon as possible if you experience frequent abdominal bloating and discomfort so you can more quickly find and treat the cause.
8. Appetite changes and unexplained weightloss.
Life changes can cause changes in your appetite and weight, but extended feelings of fullness or a long term lack of appetite can be signs of a medical concern. While unexpected weightloss at times seems like a blessing, it can also indicate you have an undiagnosed gynecologic issue and possibly ovarian cancer. Though appetite and weight changes may occur for 1001 reasons, talk to your doctor if you find you have a loss of appetite, constantly feel full, or are losing weight.
9. Chronic fatigue, exhaustion, and overall unwellness.
Though life can sometimes leave you tired and not feeling your best, you shouldn’t feel exhausted, fatigued, or unwell for an extended period of time. If extra rest and sleep does not alleviate your tiredness, and no matter what you try you just don’t feel well, you could be dealing with an underlying gynecologic health issue that needs addressed. Hormonal imbalance, thyroid concerns, fibroids, endometriosis, cancer all lead to exhaustion so be sure to talk to your gynecologist if you feel constant fatigue.
Always see your Doctor
Symptoms listed above may not indicate anything scary, however these symptoms may indicate one of more of these gynecologic conditions: Endometriosis, Adenomyosis, Fibroids, Ovarian cancer, Cervical cancer, Uterine cancer, Pelvic Organ Prolapse, Pelvic Congestion Syndrome (PCS), Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), Hormonal Imbalance, Ovarian cysts, a Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD), or Interstitial Cystitis. As such, it is important that you share your symptoms with your doctor so together you can find a diagnosis and treatment.
This content was written by staff of HysterSisters.com by non-medical professionals based on discussions, resources and input from other patients for the purpose of patient-to-patient support. Reprinted with permission: 9 Gynecologic Symptoms Women Should Not Ignore