Dealing with your 20s can be hard enough without throwing women’s health issues into the mix. That’s why we’ve asked Dr. Meera Nair, a SIMED Women’s Health physician in Gainesville and Chiefland, about the common health issues she treats for women starting in their teens and how you can avoid them.
But first, Dr. Nair notes that its important women get yearly exams beginning when they reach puberty.
1. Birth control
While contraceptives aren’t necessarily an issue themselves, they help treat many other issues, and even healthy young women will go to the doctor to get the one that fits them best.
The most common birth control method is the pill because there are fewer side effects and risk factors. In recent years, more women have been turning to longer acting pills like IUDs and implants.
Advantages of Using Birth Control
1. Helps with acne
2. Regulates periods
3. Makes periods less painful
4. Prevents pregnancy
If you’re interested in learning more, visit the SIMED women’s health center.
2. Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Women at SIMED get tested for STDs whenever they get their pap smears (test for cervical cancer).
When women are diagnosed with an STD, they receive treatment and are counseled about the treatment and how to prevent the STD from coming back.
Chlamydia is the most common STD, and about 1.5 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with it. The number of people both undiagnosed and diagnosed is about 3 million.
That’s because Chlamydia usually has no symptoms.
If Chlamydia symptoms are present, they include:
1. Irregular bleeding
2. Pelvic pain
3. Discharge similar to a UTI
If there’s any risk, like if someone has been sexually active with a new partner, had unprotected sex in the past or has a family history of STDs, it’s recommended they see a women’s health doctor to get tested.
If untreated, Chlamydia can lead to serious pelvic infections and even infertility in its later phases.
Herpes is a common viral STD.
Herpes presents itself as painful sores in the genital area. Most of the time, the symptoms are similar to those of yeast infection.
Herpes can be treated with antibiotics.
If you have herpes, the virus stays in your system so if you find a new partner later in life, you could pass it onto them.
Prevention of Recurring STDs
After you’ve been treated, it’s important to get tested again to make sure the treatment worked.
If you have STDs, the best way to prevent them from recurring is to treat your partner as well so they don’t get it and in turn give it back to you.
Always practice safe sex. If you have a new partner, they could also get the STD from you so if you’re treated through a SIMED gynecologist, they’ll instruct you on the best practices for safe sex.
3. Polycystic ovarian disease (PCOD)
PCOD is not a structural disorder, but a hormonal or metabolic disorder.
People with PCOD will have irregular periods, meaning they may not get their period every month or ovulate every month. This can cause infertility which can make it difficult for women to get pregnant.
People with PCOD usually have a higher risk of diabetes when they get pregnant or when they’re order. Their chances of getting uterine cancer also increase as they age.
A majority of people who have PCOD are overweight and insulin resistant with abnormal cholesterol and triglycerides.
If you have PCOD, you should be checked for diabetes as people with PCOD have a greater risk of becoming diabetic.
The most important treatment is to lose weight which will correct most of the hormonal and metabolic imbalances. Losing weight can also help prevent diabetes which is associated with PCOD.
You should increase your exercise to help prevent diabetes and lose weight. Losing weight is the key to returning to a normal ovulation schedule and will usually lead to regular periods and greater fertility.
Birth control pills also help regulate hormone imbalances and will reduce the risk of future uterine cancer. They’ll help with hair growth and encourage women with PCOD to lose weight and exercise more.
“Birth controls pills are basically the wonder drug for PCOD.” – Dr. Nair
4. Abnormal Pap Smear
Cervical cancer can be picked up at an early age if detected using a pap smear. Pap smears allow gynecologists to identify the precancerous conditions years before they turn into cancer and prevent the cancer.
Dr. Nair recommends women begin getting pap smears every year starting at 21 years old. Because (Human papillomavirus) HVP has been found to be a leading cause of cervical cancer, doctors at SIMED will also do a pap smear if their patient has a new sexual partner.
To prevent the precancerous conditions from worsening, you can take HPV vaccines and get treatment and monitoring. Usually the abnormality will clear within 24 months. During that time, checkups are recommended every six months.
5. Pelvic Pain
Pelvic pain is more common in the younger age groups. When people come into the doctor with pelvic pain, it could be a fibroid (a benign tumor usually in the wall of the uterus), an ovarian cyst or conditional endometriosis.
Endometriosis is a chronic benign condition where the uterine lining appears outside the uterus. While the uterine lining is supposed to appear in the uterus and get shed during periods, sometimes those cells appear outside women’s abdomens, on top of the intestines or over the ovaries.
During the woman’s periods, the cells will bleed causing severe pain.
Because an ultrasound might not pick up endometriosis, sometimes a surgery called a laparoscopy is done when the person is put under anesthesia and a camera is put into their abdomen and through their belly button to monitor the changes of endometriosis.
If someone is diagnosed with endometriosis, the doctors will usually try to remove, burn or blight the tissues and keep them under control with hormone suppression. The most common suppressors are the pill and Depo-Provera.
Endometriosis can make it more difficult for women to get pregnant; however, during the pregnancy, the symptoms disappear.
If endometriosis worsens and becomes chronic, women may need a hysterectomy to prevent it from coming back. Women can also wait until menopause.
The best way to avoid issues is to see your doctor every year.
Each year, a women’s health appointment should include a pap smear, discussion about her sexual health, contraceptives, an STD screening and even discussion about emotional issues.
During a visit, women can get vaccines and a whole physical examination. The visit can even include talk about psychological issues like depression or bullying at school. The physical exam will include a full pelvic examination and breast examination.
While pap smears begin at 21, Dr. Nair recommends that physical exams start whenever a child reaches puberty or gets her period. A teenager might feel more confident with her physician than with her parents, and the physician would be able to ask questions and discuss concerns.
When a woman becomes sexually active, she’ll need STD screenings and counseling. Even domestic violence counseling can be part of a gynecological exam, adding to its importance.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Nair in Gainesville or Chiefland, call 352-331-1000 or request an appointment online.
If you need an annual checkup or have one of the problems listed above, you can see a SIMED gynecologist in Lake City, Gainesville, Ocala, Chiefland and Lady Lake.
For a Gainesville gynecologist: 352-331-1000
For an Ocala gynecologist: 352-391-6464
For a Lake City gynecologist: 386-775-3001
For a Chiefland gynecologist: 352-331-1000
For a Lady Lake gynecologist: 352-391-6464
You can also schedule your appointment online. Don’t wait; call today.