Women’s health issues should not be taboo subject

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Keyword search “women’s health” and you will get a wide variety of articles about fertility and lack thereof, menstrual pain and length of duration, discomfort during intercourse and how to please your lover, cervical cancer, bladder control and pelvic prolapse, STDs and, of course, menopause.

Did I forget one or two? Maybe. But you get the idea. Today we’re going to talk about a few subjects that might typically be considered “taboo.”

“Women have unique health issues,” states the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. “And some of the health issues that affect both men and women can affect women differently. For example, the effects of sexually transmitted diseases can be more serious in women, and women are more likely to have urinary tract problems.”

Let’s start with the solution. A visit to your healthcare professional is of utmost importance. “Clear and honest communication between you and your physician can help you both make smart choices about your health. It’s important to be honest about your symptoms even if you feel embarrassed or shy,” NICHD says.

If you don’t feel comfortable talking to your provider, perhaps a call to Sandpoint Women’s Health is in order. It’s unlikely that you will describe a symptom that they haven’t heard before, and it’s likely that they will have the knowledge and skill to treat yours.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists endometriosis as the most common reproductive health concern for women. “Endometriosis is when the kind of tissue that normally lines the uterus grows somewhere else. It can grow on the ovaries, behind the uterus, on the bowels, or on the bladder.” It can cause pain, infertility and very heavy periods.

The most common noncancerous tumors in women are uterine fibroids. These are muscle cells that grow around the wall of the uterus.

The symptoms include heavy or painful periods or bleeding between periods, urinating often, pain during sex, lower back pain and reproductive problems such as infertility, multiple miscarriages or early labor.

“Interstitial cystitis (IC) is a chronic bladder condition resulting in recurring discomfort or pain in the bladder or surrounding pelvic region. People with IC usually have inflamed or irritated bladder walls that can cause scarring and stiffening of the bladder. The symptoms include painful intercourse, frequent urination, and a feeling of urgency to urinate.”

While we’re on the subject of bladders, a quick look at incontinence is appropriate because physical therapy can be the go-to solution and Performance Therapy Services just happens to have a therapist trained in pelvic physical therapy. Okay, that was another unabashed pitch, wasn’t it?

“According to research, between 25 and 45 percent of women have some degree of urinary incontinence,” www.healthywomen,org says.

“You may find that you leak when you cough, sneeze, exercise or lift something heavy. For some, laughing can do it.

“Stress incontinence happens because pelvic floor muscles and tissues can become weak from pregnancy and childbirth. Being overweight or obese or taking certain medications can also be a factor, as can menopause or hysterectomy.”

Pelvic floor therapy can do more than help with incontinence, it can also be beneficial to your sexual satisfaction. The Mayo Clinic says that painful intercourse occurs for a variety of reasons ranging from structural to psychological concerns and that it will happen to most women at some point.

“The medical term for painful intercourse is dyspareunia which is defined as persistent or recurrent genital pain that occurs just before, during or after intercourse.

“Treatments focus on the underlying cause, and can help eliminate or reduce this common problem,” Mayo says.

Sexually transmitted diseases are infections that one can get from having sex with an infected partner. There are more than twenty types of STDs the causes of which are bacteria, parasites and viruses. The CDC recommends using latex condoms which “greatly reduces, but does not completely eliminate, the risk of catching or spreading STDs.

There are obviously other women’s health issues which space restrictions don’t allow us to pursue today. Suffice it to say no one should endure these and other problems when there are often relatively simple treatments available. Check them out.

Kathy Hubbard is a member of Bonner General Health Foundation Advisory Council. She can be reached at 264-4029 or kathyleehubbard@yahoo.com.

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