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. In recent years, more women have been turning to longer acting contraceptive methods 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
STD screening can be done whenever women 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 together can be 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, 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.
Herpes is a common viral STD.
Herpes presents itself as painful sores in the genital area. Tthe symptoms can be confused with yeast infection.
Herpes can be treated with antiviral antibiotics.
If you have herpes, the virus stays in your system so you could pass it onto your partner.
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.
Always practice 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 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 chances.
Birth control pills also help regulate hormone imbalances and will reduce the risk of future uterine cancer. They’ll help with hair growth.
“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 stage 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 starting at 21 years old.
To prevent the precancerous conditions from worsening, get treatment and monitoring. Some of the abnormality will clear within 24 months. During that time, checkups are recommended every six months.
5. Pelvic Pain
Pelvic pain is 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 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 uterus inside the abdomen.
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 inside their abdomen and through their belly buttondiagnose and treat endometriosis.
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 includes a discussion about her sexual health, contraceptives, an STD screening and even discussion about emotional issues. It may include a pap smear too.
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 physician visits 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. Domestic violence counseling can be part of a gynecological exam, adding to its importance.
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.