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5 Reproductive Health Conditions You Should Know

5 Reproductive Health Conditions You Should Know

It can be easy to attribute ALL of the discomforts that you experience before and during your period to normal menstruation. You’re pushing through h*ll, might as well keep going, right? Not quite.

If your periods and PMS are unbearable, you could be experiencing more serious conditions. You’ve probably heard some multi-syllable mouthfuls, such as endometriosis, but you might not know what they really are or how they can disguise themselves as sh*tty PMS. Many women are incorrectly diagnosed or not diagnosed at all - so it’s important to be in the know and recognize if you have symptoms that may need medical attention.

With that in mind, we’ll give you a quick run-down on 5 health conditions relating to reproductive health, how they differ from “normal” PMS, and what to look out for. In case you missed it, check out last month’s blog where we went through what’s “normal”.

What we’re covering: 

  1. PCOS
  2. PMDD
  3. Uterine Fibroids
  4. Endometriosis
  5. Adenomyosis

Let’s get into it!

1) PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome)

Affects 10% of menstruating women

What’s happening: Reproductive hormone imbalances cause missed or irregular periods, which can lead to cysts developing in the ovaries or infertility 

What it can feel like: 

• Irregular periods
• Thinning hair
• Weight gain
• Too much hair on the face, chest, or back, affects up to 70% of women with PCOS
• Ovaries that are large or have cysts, which can cause pain in the pelvic area
 

Treatment options:

• Slowing hair growth with prescription skin treatments
• Hormonal therapies to make the menstrual cycle more regular, improve acne, and reduce hair growth 

2) PMDD 

Affects 3-5% of menstruating women

What’s happening: Increased sensitivity to the shifts in reproductive hormones that take place during the menstrual cycle

What it can feel like: Severe PMS (physical and emotional) with particularly intense mood shifts and usually one of the following emotional/behavioral symptoms standing out:

• Sadness/hopelessness
• Anxiety or tension
• Extreme moodiness
• Marked irritability or anger

Note: Many women with PMDD go undiagnosed or are incorrectly diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Treatment options:

• Antidepressants
• Birth control
• Herbal remedies
• Nutritional supplements and stress management

3) Uterine Fibroids

Affects 70 to 80% of women at some point in their lives, not everyone develops symptoms or requires treatment

What’s happening: Growths, usually non-cancerous, develop in the uterus

What it can feel like:

• Heavy menstrual bleeding
• Menstrual periods lasting more than a week
• Bleeding between periods
• Pelvic pressure or pain
• Frequent urination or difficulty emptying the bladder
• Constipation
• Backache or leg pains
 

Treatment options: 

• Observation, since most fibroids stop growing and can shrink with age
• Medications targeting the hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle can shrink fibroids 

4) Endometriosis

Affects 6-10% of menstruating women

What’s happening: Endometrial tissue grows on the outside of the uterus, may affect the fallopian tubes, ovaries or bowels, and can cause infertility. FYI, endometrial tissue consists of the glands, blood cells, and connective tissue that normally grow inside the uterus. 

What it can feel like

• Painful menstrual cramps
• Lower back or abdominal pain
• Digestive issues (constipation, nausea)
• Shooting rectal pain and pain during a bowel movement
• Painful intercourse
 

Treatment options:

• Anti-inflammatory drugs
• Hormonal therapies
• Surgery (conservative or more aggressive)
 

5) Adenomyosis

Affects 20-65% of females, typically 35-50 years old

What’s happening: Endometrial tissue grows into the outer muscular walls of the uterus. 

What it can feel like: Many people don’t have symptoms, but some experience:

• Painful menstrual cramps
• Heavy menstrual bleeding
• Abnormal menstruation
• Pelvic pain
• Painful intercourse
• Infertility
• Enlarged uterus
 

Treatment Options:

• Anti-inflammatory drugs
• Hormonal birth control
• Surgery (conservative or aggressive)
 

Long story short, if you start experiencing abnormal bleeding, severe cramps, or unusual pelvic pain several weeks (or menstrual cycles) in a row, you should consult your doctor and investigate what could be causing the discomfort. Take care of yourself and your uterus! 

If you haven’t tried FLO yet, check out our Reviews and search your symptoms - a FLO babe has probably shared her story with the same symptom.

xoxo