Patient Education



What is it?

Endometriosis is a condition in which tissue that looks and acts like the lining of the uterus grows in other areas of the body, such as on the ovaries, the fallopian tubes, the pelvic sidewall or even in the bladder or bowels. These can be called growths, tumors, legions, implants or nodules.

Who gets endometriosis?

It is estimated that there are 5 million women in the U.S. who have endometriosis. It usually affects women who are menstruating, with the average age of 27.

What are the symptoms?

The most common symptom of endometriosis is pain. However, pain alone is not an indication of the extent of the disease. Some other symptoms include very painful menstrual cramps, periods that get worse over time, painful bowel movements, spotting between periods, pain during or after sex and infertility.

How is it treated?

There is no cure for endometriosis. However, the symptoms can be treated successfully. Pain medication is often recommended for women with mild symptoms. Hormone treatment is used for women who do not want to become pregnant. This may include the use of birth control pills or progestins. For women who have extensive areas of endometriosis, their physician may recommend laparoscopic surgery to remove the tissue.

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Uterine Fibroids

What are they?

Uterine fibroids are growths made up of muscle cells and other tissue that grow on the lining of the uterus. They are mostly benign. They can be single growths or develop in clusters, and can range in size from the size of an apple seed to the size of a grapefruit. Having fibroids does not increase a woman’s chances of developing uterine cancer.

Who gets uterine fibroids?

Women of childbearing age are most likely to develop fibroids. Women who are overweight have a slightly higher chance of developing fibroids. African-American women are more likely to develop them, and at an earlier age than other women.

What are the symptoms?

  • Heavy bleeding and pain during menstruation

  • Frequent urination

  • Pain during sex

  • A feeling of fullness in the pelvic area

  • Lower back pain

  • Infertility

How are uterine fibroids treated?

Over-the-counter pain medication is often used to alleviate pain. Gonadotropin releasing hormone agonists (GnRHa) can be prescribed to shrink the size of the fibroids prior to surgery. Surgery is often used for women with moderate to severe symptoms.

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Yeast Infection

What is it?

A yeast infection is a vaginal infection usually caused by a fungal organism called Candida albicans.

What causes a yeast infection?

A small amount of Candida albicans are normally found in the vagina, the digestive tract and on the skin. An infection can occur if the normal balance of these microorganisms is disturbed, and the amount of Candida albicans grows in proportion to the other microorganisms that are present in the vagina. Women on certain types of birth control pills, women who are pregnant, diabetics, and people whose immune systems are compromised are more likely to develop a yeast infection. It can also occur following a course of antibiotics used to treat some other condition, as this can change the balance of organisms in the vagina.

What are the symptoms?

  • Abnormal vaginal discharge

  • Itching or burning in the vagina

  • Redness of the vulvar skin

  • Painful sexual intercourse

  • Painful urination

How is it treated?

Your doctor may prescribe an oral or topical antifungal medication for the first instance of yeast infection. If another infection occurs, some over-the-counter medication can be used to self-treat the condition.

Urinary Tract Infection

What is it?

A urinary tract infection, often called a UTI, is an infection that occurs anywhere in the urinary tract – the bladder, kidneys, the urethra (the tube leading from the bladder to the outside) or the ureters (the tubes leading from the kidneys to the bladder.)

What causes a UTI?

Bacterium entering the urethra and then the bladder, usually from the anus, is a common cause of UTI. This leads to inflammation and infection.

Who gets UTI?

Women are most likely to develop a UTI because their urethra is short, and located near the anus. Men and children can also develop UTI. Certain conditions increase the likelihood of UTI including pregnancy, menopause, sexual intercourse, kidney stones, narrowed urethra and even not drinking enough fluids.

What are the symptoms?

  • Pain or burning during urination

  • Pressure in the lower pelvis

  • Frequent need to urinate

  • Cloudy urine

  • Blood in the urine

  • Foul smelling urine

  • Other symptoms can include painful sexual intercourse, pain in the side and mental confusion.

How is it treated?

Following a urinalysis and diagnosis, a UTI is most commonly treated with antibiotics. It is important to finish the entire prescription.

Pap Smear

What is it?

A pap test, also called a pap smear, is a test to check for changes in the cells of the cervix. This test can help doctors diagnose infection, cervical abnormalities and cervical cancer. Cells are collected during a pelvic exam by using a special swab that scrapes a few cells from in and around the cervix. This is usually painless, though some women find it uncomfortable.

How often should I have a pap smear?

Women under thirty should have a pap test annually. If you are over thirty and have had three consecutive normal pap tests, your doctor may decide that you can have a pap test every two to three years. Women 65 or over may not need pap tests any longer – check with your doctor to be sure.

What if the test comes back positive?

An abnormal result does not necessarily mean that you have cervical cancer. Most often it is an indication of a problem with the cervix. In some cases, however, abnormal cells can turn into cancer. If you have an abnormal result, your doctor may repeat the test. If further information is needed to reach a diagnosis, your doctor may examine the cervix using a colposcopy, perform an endocervical curettage or perform a biopsy of the affected cells.


What is a hysterectomy?

A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure performed to remove the uterus. A total hysterectomy, the most common, removes the uterus and the cervix. A partial hysterectomy leaves the cervix in place. In a radical hysterectomy, the uterus, the cervix, the upper part of the vagina and the supporting tissues are removed. In some cases the ovaries and fallopian tubes are also removed.

When do doctors recommend a hysterectomy?

This procedure is used to treat several conditions, including cancer, uterine fibroids, endometriosis, persistent vaginal bleeding, chronic pain or uterine prolapse.

How long does it take to recover?

There are two types of hysterectomies doctors perform, laparoscopic or vaginal, and abdominal. In laparoscopic or vaginal procedures, you can resume your normal activity after about two weeks. If an abdominal procedure is used, recovery time is longer, up to eight weeks. Your doctor will determine the correct procedure for you.

Sexual Health

Why should I care about my
sexual health?

Your sexuality is an important part of living a fulfilling life. Protecting your sexual health is no different than taking care of yourself in other ways – it is one of the keys to a happy, healthy life.

What are the risks?

It is estimated that 15.3 million new cases of sexually transmitted disease are reported every year. Women are more vulnerable to STDs than men. This is a risk that cannot be taken lightly.

What can I do to take control of
my sexual health?

Don’t neglect your regular checkups. This is the time to discuss your sexual activity and any concerns you may have. Open communication with your doctor is critical to uncover possible risks, diagnose any illnesses and guide you in decision making. If you are embarrassed to discuss these issues, try making a list of questions, or ask to see a female doctor if doing so would put you more at ease.

Another way to take control of your sexual health is to ask questions of your partner and build a relationship of trust before engaging in sexual intercourse. His sexual history affects you, and a responsible partner will openly share past issues or concerns. If you are in doubt, use protection or practice abstinence.

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