Education about our bodies and our rights is the foundation of the reclamation of our collective power — over our bodies, our narratives and ultimately our place in this world.
Part of this education is to understand the challenges that many of the women of our time face. This list is not intended to worry you, but rather to inform you, because we believe that you have the right to information about your body and the issues that may arise. Knowledge is power, so equip yourself with the facts. Know when it’s time to see your doctor and be empowered to make informed decisions. Also, next time you’re talking to a girlfriend, you’ll be able to make suggestions that make a difference for her.
This piece is just one section of our FREE E-Book called Yoni Guide: A Magical Lady Reference. Download your free copy now!
Endometriosis is the growth of tissue that is typically found in the lining of the uterus (aka the endometrium) in a location outside of the uterine cavity. It can occur on the ovaries, surface of the uterus, on the intestine, or on or in other organs. With the changing hormone levels during the menstrual cycle, the tissue may grow and break down, leading to pain and eventual scar formation. Over 5.5 million American women have symptoms of endometriosis. About 30% to 40% of women with endometriosis have some trouble conceiving.
Vaginitis, also called vulvovaginitis, is an inflammation or infection of the vagina. It can also affect the vulva, which is the external part of a woman's genitals. Vaginitis can cause itching, pain, discharge, and odor. Vaginitis is common, especially in women in their reproductive years. It usually happens when there is a change in the balance of bacteria or yeast that are normally found in your vagina. There are different types of vaginitis, and they have different causes, symptoms, and treatments.
What are the different causes of vaginitis? Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is the most common vaginal
infection in women ages 15-44. It happens when there is an imbalance between the "good" and "harmful" bacteria that are normally found in a woman's vagina. Many things can change the balance of bacteria, including:
• Taking antibiotics
• Using an intrauterine device (IUD)
• Having unprotected sex
Yeast Infections (Candidiasis)
Yeast infections (candidiasis) happen when too much candida grows in the vagina. Candida is the scientific name for yeast. It is a fungus that lives almost everywhere, including in your body. You may have too much growing in the vagina because of antibiotics, pregnancy, diabetes, especially if it is not well-controlled and corticosteroid medicines. Download the Vibrant Souls Yoni Guide and see the section titled "Feminine Ecology" for how to cope. Never hesitate to reach out for professional medical help if you find yourself experiencing problematic symptoms!
Fibroids, Polyps and Cysts
Symptoms of fibroids, polyps and cysts vary, but these structural abnormalities can all contribute to pelvic pain, abnormal uterine bleeding and other complications including infertility. Treatment for fibroids, polyps and cysts depends on symptoms and patient goals and should begin with gentle yoni steaming to see if this clears up the issue. If no difference is seen in two to three months, additional interventions may be necessary, which include conservative, nonsurgical methods as well as surgical intervention.
Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs that may develop on one or both of a woman’s ovaries during ovulation. The ovaries are responsible for producing female reproductive hormones as well as releasing an egg each month during ovulation. The most common types of cysts form during ovulation when one of the follicles on the ovaries responsible for releasing an egg fails to open. In most cases these cysts will go away in a few months without treatment and without causing symptoms. Because most ovarian cysts form during ovulation, they are far less common in women who have gone through menopause. Complications arise when cysts become abnormally large. Less commonly, cysts may rupture or cause ovarian torsion, a condition in which the ovary is abnormally twisted due to the cyst. In rare cases, ovarian cysts can be cancerous. Additionally, some women produce many small cysts on their ovaries due to a condition called polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
The majority of ovarian cysts will not cause symptoms. When they do, the symptoms include:
• Abdominal pressure
• Pelvic pain
• Pain during intercourse
• Frequent and/or difficult urination
• Sudden, sharp pain due to a ruptured cyst.
Women experiencing sudden and severe pain should seek immediate medical help, particularly if the pain is accompanied by vomiting or fever.
Also known as Bartholinitis, this common condition occurs when the glands on either side of the vaginal opening become blocked, causing the fluid they usually secrete to go back up inside the gland. It’s often characterized by a small bump near the vaginal opening that’s tender and painful to the touch but is completely harmless when treated, says Kameelah Phillips, M.D., an ob-gyn in New York City. “They can be managed with a warm compress, soaking in a tub filled with just a few inches of warm water, or by taking over-the-counter pain medication and giving it time to
heal.” That said, if you experience extreme pain, trouble walking or urinating, or fever and chills, see your doc as she may need to drain the cyst.
These tiny, harmless bumps occur when sweat ducts are blocked. They’re much smaller than a Bartholin’s cyst, and on top of appearing on your vagina, they can crop up on your face (mostly around the eyes), underarms, chest, and belly-button region. “Syringoma is characterized by benign, flesh-colored pimples that are usually not tender to the touch,” says Phillips. “Sometimes there are multiple lesions, or they can grow larger than you’re comfortable with, but resist trying to remove or pop them yourself. It can cause damage to the surrounding skin.” Either let them heal on their own (and make sure you change out of sweaty clothes immediately after a workout), or talk to your doctor about having them removed. Phillips says the course of action usually involves electrosurgery or a laser, “but the results might not be successful and you could end up with scars.”
Uterine fibroids, which are also called leiomyomas or myomas, are benign (noncancerous) muscular growths within the walls of the uterus. They range in size from ¾ inch to several inches in diameter. According to a study published in The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, fibroids affect up to 70 percent of white women and between 80 to 90 percent of African-American women by age 50. They often do not cause any symptoms and are frequently detected incidentally during a routine examination.
Symptoms of uterine fibroids include:
• Changes in the menstrual cycle
• Abdominal and pelvic cramping
• Lower back pain
• Pain or pressure during intercourse
• Frequent or difficult urination
• Fertility challenges
Vaginal cancer is a rare type of cancer and is more common in women 60 and older. You are also more likely to get it if you have had a human papillomavirus (HPV) infection or if your mother took diethylstilbestrol (DES) when she was pregnant. Doctors prescribed DES in the 1950's to prevent miscarriages. You are also at higher risk if you have had abnormal cells in the
vagina, cervix, or uterus.
It often doesn't have early symptoms. However, see your doctor if you notice:
• Bleeding that is not your period
• A vaginal lump
• Pelvic pain
A Pap test can find abnormal cells that may be cancer. The good news is, vaginal cancer can often be cured in its early stages.
Vulvar cancer is a rare type of cancer. It forms in a woman's external genitals, called the vulva. The cancer usually grows slowly over several years. First, precancerous cells grow on vulvar skin. This is called vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia (VIN), or dysplasia. Not all VIN cases turn into cancer, but it is best to treat it early.
Often, vulvar cancer doesn't cause symptoms at first. However, see your doctor for testing if you notice:
• A lump in the vulva
• Vulvar itching or tenderness
• Bleeding that is not your period
• Changes in the vulvar skin, such as color changes or growths that look like a wart or ulcer
You are at greater risk if you've had a human papillomavirus (HPV) infection or have a history of genital warts. Your health care provider diagnoses vulvar cancer with a physical exam and a biopsy. Treatment varies, depending on your overall health and how advanced the cancer is. It might include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or biologic therapy. Biologic therapy boosts your body's own ability to fight cancer.
Ovarian cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the ovaries. The female reproductive system contains two ovaries, one on each side of the uterus. The ovaries — each about the size of an almond — produce eggs (ova) as well as the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Ovarian cancer often goes undetected until it has spread within the pelvis and abdomen. At this late stage, ovarian cancer is more difficult to treat and is frequently fatal. Early stage ovarian cancer, in which the disease is confined to the ovary, is more likely to be treated successfully. Surgery and chemotherapy are generally used to treat ovarian cancer. Early-stage ovarian cancer rarely causes
any symptoms. Advanced-stage ovarian cancer may cause few and nonspecific symptoms that are often mistaken for more common benign conditions.
Signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer may include:
- Abdominal bloating or swelling
- Quickly feeling full when eating
- Weight loss
- Discomfort in the pelvis area
- Changes in bowel habits, such as constipation
- A frequent need to urinate
When to see a doctor
Make an appointment with your doctor if you have any signs or symptoms that worry you.
If you have a family history of ovarian cancer or breast cancer, talk to your doctor about your risk of ovarian cancer. Your doctor may refer you to a genetic counselor to discuss testing for certain gene mutations that increase your risk of breast and ovarian cancers.
Types of Ovarian Cancer
The type of cell in which the cancer begins determines the type of ovarian cancer you have. Ovarian cancer types include: Epithelial tumors, which begin in the thin layer of tissue that
covers the outside of the ovaries. About 90 percent of ovarian cancers are epithelial tumors. Stromal tumors, which begin in the ovarian tissue that contains hormone-producing cells. These tumors are usually diagnosed at an earlier stage than other ovarian tumors. About 7 percent of
ovarian tumors are stromal. Germ cell tumors, which begin in the egg-producing cells. These
rare ovarian cancers tend to occur in younger women.
All information provided in this article was provided by Rocky Mountain OB-GYN at
the University of Colorado. Available for reference here.
Download our FREE E-Book! Yoni Guide: A Magical Lady Reference. In this guide, we get real with you by sharing more of the challenges the women of the world currently face in terms of reproductive health, and give a few simple, holistic solutions we can all practice at home.