The female reproductive system is a unique set of organs composed of the uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries and vagina. When male sperm fertilizes an egg produced by the ovaries, the rest of the female reproductive system works in harmony to protect and support the newly created embryo. Problems involving the female reproductive system can occur in some women and should be discussed with a doctor to determine appropriate treatment.
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If the tissue that normally lines the uterus (endometrium) abnormally grows outside of the uterus, a woman can be diagnosed with a medical condition called endometriosis. The endometrium may grow on the other organs of the female reproductive system and can also affect the bladder or bowel. Symptoms of endometriosis include severe abdominal pain, nausea, bloating, diarrhea, constipation or fatigue—especially during menstruation. Additional symptoms can include abnormal vaginal bleeding, pain during or after sexual intercourse, lower back pain or infertility. Though the cause of this condition is unknown, treatment typically involves analgesic medication, hormone treatment or surgery.
Abnormal, non-cancerous tumors that grow within the muscle cells of the uterus are called uterine fibroids. Approximately 20 percent of women under the age of 50 will develop fibroids, estimates the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Problems caused by uterine fibroids can include heavy or painful menstrual bleeding, frequent urination, lower back pain, pain during sexual intercourse or reproductive problems, such as miscarriage or infertility. The most common forms of treatment for uterine fibroids include pain medication and surgery.
Premature Ovarian Failure
If your ovaries stop producing eggs before you are 40 years of age, you can be diagnosed with premature ovarian failure. Certain women with this condition may still experience irregular menstrual cycles, making this ovarian problem distinct from menopause. Symptoms of premature ovarian failure include mood alterations, hot flashes, difficulty concentrating, vaginal drying and decreased libido. Though women with this condition can still become pregnant, it may be difficult to do. If you have premature ovarian failure, your doctor may recommend estrogen replacement therapy to help you have a regular menstrual cycle.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) occurs when your ovaries produce increased levels of a specific type of hormone (androgens). Increased androgen hormone levels within the body can negatively affect the normal ovulation process and cause fluid-filled cysts to form on the ovaries. PCOS prevents ovarian egg release during the menstrual cycle, which causes infertility in women with this condition. Additional symptoms of PCOS include pelvic pain, acne, oily skin, hair loss or excessive hair growth on the body or face. Currently, there is no cure for PCOS but hormone therapy can help regulate your menstrual cycle or clear up your skin.
If you develop an infection or excessive inflammation of the vagina or vulva tissues, you can be diagnosed with a common condition called vulvovaginitis. This condition has a number of causes, including poor hygiene, bacteria, viruses, yeasts and sexually transmitted diseases. Symptoms of vulvovaginitis can include vaginal itching and inflammation, abnormal vaginal discharge, urinary discomfort or unpleasant vaginal odor. Treatment of this condition typically involves the use of antifungal or antibiotic medications (oral or topical).