Additional (Female Specific) FAQ

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This section is for "Female Specific" questions and answers. Although there are many parts to the female body, these questions and answers pertain to issues that occur within the female body more often than the male body. We will not try to answer all questions pertaining to the female body, but only the most frequently asked questions.

Explore The Female Body

Q. What is "Osteoporosis"? A. a progressive condition in which bone density is lost, or there is insufficient bone formation. Additionally, it causes your body to lose bone at a faster rate than it is replaced. You cannot see or feel the loss of bone tissue, so taking calcium and exercising are important to bone health, but may not be enough to prevent osteoporosis.

Q. How do I know if I have "osteoporsis"?

A. You may not know that you have osteoporosis. Most women dont know that they have osteoporosis until they start having back pains or bone fractures from a small fall. The consequences of osteoporosis are bone fractures, curved back, severe back pain, and even a loss of height. The bone fractures will normally occur in the spine, wrist and hip. Concerning the curved back, sometimes called "dowager's hump", can result in multiple fractures and can callapse the vertebrea in the spine.

Q. What can I do about osteoporosis?

A. Talk to your doctor. If your doctor is concerned, they will do a bone scan called a "DEXA". It will determin the density of your bones and gives you what's called a T score. If you are diagnosed with a low bone mass, there are supliments that can be perscribed for you and can actually reverse bone loss.

Q. What is "Heart Disease"?

A. The very first thing to know about heart disease is that it is THE LEADING KILLER OF WOMEN. Your chances of dying from heart disease are more than 50%. Pretty serious stuff, so you might want to pay attention here. Getting back to the original question, well that a hard one to answer. The heart is a very compicated organ. The purpose of the heart is to pump blodd thoughout the body to all the organs. Blood carries oxygen and other nutrients to the tissues and also removes waste products from them. If the pumping action of the heart is disrupted, the body's organs begin to fail very quickly. Life itself depends on the heart operating correctly. (For more information, see the question on common forms of heart disease.)

Q. What are the most common forms of heart disease?

Heart attack- Also called myocardial infarction. A heart attack happens when blood flow to the heart is reduced or completely blocked. It causes the heart muscle to spasm, degenerate and die.

Congestive Heart Failure- A condition in which the heart cannot pump enough blood for the body's organs, including itself. The lack of blood flow to the vital organs will eventually cause them to fail.

Blocked Arteries- Also called coronary artery disease. When cholesterol and other fatty deposits, known as plaque, build up on the inner walls of blood vessels, clogging or blocking blood flow to and from the heart and other organs. Usually caused by a high fat diet, high blood pressure, smoking and even heredity.

High Blood Pressure- Also refered to as "the silent killer" and "hypertention". Blood pressure is a measure of the strain on the walls of the blood vessels (vains) as the heart pumps. The true cause of high blood pressure is not know, but there are various conditions that help it develop, such as obesity, smoking, diabetes, and heredity.

Stroke- A condition where the blood flow to the brain is cut off. This may be because of a blood vessel to the brain becoming blocked by plaque or a blood clot, or a blood vessel bursts, causing blood to rush into the brain cavity.

Arrythmia- The heart runs on a specific rythm. There is an electrical signal that keeps it going at that pace. When the pace of the heart gets interupted or becomes erratic, the pumping action of the heart can deteriorate ot stop completely.

Q. What can I do to NOT get heart disease?


  • Exercise aerobically on a regular basis
  • Adopt an good eating plan and make it a habit for the rest of your life.
  • Manage stress (this will occur naturally with the above steps)
  • Stop smoking
  • Get diabetes under control (see your doctor)
  • know your family history and what killed family members
  • see your doctor on a regular basis for check-ups.


Q. What is "Fibromyalgia"?

A. Simple definition: pain in the muscles, ligaments, and tendons.

It's a widespread pain and fatigue disorder that more women than men get. The cause is still unknown. The symptoms are very close to a bad flue, but without the nasal condition, and may include:

  • Pain
  • Fatigue
  • Painful menstrual cycles
  • sleep disorders
  • headaches
  • irritable bowl and/or bladder syndrome
  • impaired coodination
  • memory impairment
  • chest pain
  • twitching or numb muscles
  • and more

The most common treatments for fibromyalgia are: sleep and aids to induce sleep, anti-inflammatory medicines, physical therapy, massage therapy, medicinces that boost the immune system, and even acupuncture. The reason sleep aids are often prescribed is that deep (at least level 4) sleep disorders frequently occur in fibromyalgia and chronic fatugue patients. It is believed my many doctors that if the patient gets a deep enough sleep pattern on a regular basis, they can alleviate many of the symptoms.

Q. What is "Asthma"?

A. A disease of the branches of the windpipe (bronchial tubes) that carry air in and out of the lungs. Asthma causes the airways to narrow, the lining of the airways to swell, and the cells that line the airways to produce more mucus. These changes make breathing difficult and cause a feeling of not getting enough air into the lungs.

More women are more likely to die from asthma than men.

Causes of asthma:

  • Air Pollution
  • exposure to indoor allergens
  • exposure to toxic chemicals
  • Dust mites
  • mold
  • animal dander
  • cockroaches
  • smoke
  • hormonal changes
  • plants
  • jewelry
  • foods
  • drugs
  • and more

Q. How do you help somone with asthma?

A. Again, the answer here is not all that simple. I wish it were. Every person that has asthma has different symptoms and triggers. The key here is to find out what the triggers are (what causes it). Most asthma's are from some type of allergy. If you can find what the person is allergic to and you are able to keep them away from it, then you are well on your way to helping. That's a lot easier said than done. Keeping your body healthy seems to play a key roll in fighting asthma also. There are many drugs that a doctor can prescribe that can ease and even completely eliminate the symptoms of asthma. You should always see a doctor for suspected asthma problems.

Q. What's a "Thyroid"?

A. The thyroid is a gland in your neck. It is a butterfly shaped organ that is just below your adam's apple. It produces hormones (needed chemicals for your body) that effect most of the organs in your body to some degree.  If the thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones (hypothiroidism) or too much hormones (hyperthiroidism), women can experience many different symptoms. Again, women are more likely to have thyroid problems than men. There is a simple blood test call a TSH test, that a doctor can do to find out if your thyroid gland is producing the right amount of hormone for your body. TSH stands for Thyroid Stimulating Hormone. Women over 35 are encouraged to have this done every two years after the age of 35.

Q. What are the symptoms of a thyroid problem?

A. There are mainly two types of problems that will happen with thyroid problems; Hypothyroidism (not enough thyroid hormone) and hyperthyroidism (too much thyroid hormone).

Hypothyroidism symptoms are:

  • fatigue
  • mood swings
  • forgetfullness
  • weight gain
  • dry skin and hair
  • hoarse voice difficulty swallowing
  • intolerance to cold

Hyperthyroidism symptoms are:

  • nervousness
  • muscle weakness
  • irregular menstrual cycles
  • weight loss
  • sleep disorders
  • enlarged thyroid
  • eye irritations or vision problems
  • intolerance to heat

Q. What is "Cancer"?

A. Defining cancer is actually very easy. Cancer is the result of abnormal cells that develop in the body and start to grow. Sometimes they are fast growing and sometimes slow. These abnormal clumps of cell are called tumors.

Q. What is a "benign tumor"?

A. A benign tumor is a tumor that does not spread to other tissues in the body. It grows, but is considered not cancerous. The tumors that are considered malignant contain cells that will spread to other parts of the body.

Q. What are the most common cancers found in women?


  • Breast
  • Ovarian
  • Skin cancer (melanoma)
  • Colon (rectal)
  • Uterine
  • non-Hodgkin's lymphoma

Cancers most likely to cause death in women, in order, are:

  • Lung (bronchus)
  • Breast
  • Colorectal
  • Pancreas
  • Ovarian

Q. What can I do to prevent cancer?

A. Let me first start out by saying you cannot absolutely, without a doubt, prevent cancer from happening, however there are steps that you can take that will GREATLY reduce your risks. According to the American Cancer Society, all cancers caused by cigarette smoking and alcohol use can be prevented by simply not smoking at all and drinking moderatley.

 More that one-third of all cancer related deaths in the United States can be directly attributed to the following factors:

  • Poor nutrition
  • lack of exercise
  • smoking
  • sun exposure
  • obesity
  • use of certain medications
  • lack of regular check-ups

Almost 100% of the time, the above factors can be controlled by lifestyle choices.

Q. What is Fibroid Uterus


Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous tumors that develop within or attach to the wall of the uterus, a female reproductive organ.

Alternative Names
Leiomyoma; Fibromyoma; Myoma; Fibroids


Uterine fibroids are the most common pelvic tumor .
The cause of uterine fibroid tumors is unknown. Oral contraceptives and pregnancy lower the risk of developing new fibroid tumors.
Fibroids may be present in 15 - 20% of women in their reproductive years -- the time after starting menstruation for the first time and before menopause. Fibroids may affect 30 - 40% of women over age 30. Fibroids occur 2 to 3 times more frequently in African-American women than in Caucasian women.
The growth of a fibroid seems to depend on the hormone estrogen. As long as a woman with fibroids is menstruating, the fibroids will probably continue to grow, usually slowly.
Fibroids rarely affect females younger than 20 or who are postmenopausal.
Fibroids begin as small seedlings that spread throughout the muscular walls of the uterus. They can be so tiny that you need a microscope to see them. However, they can also grow very big. They may fill the entire uterus, and may weigh several pounds. Although it is possible for just one fibroid to develop, usually there is more than one.
Sometimes, a fibroid hangs from a long stalk, which is attached to the outside of the uterus. Such a fibroid is called a pedunculated fibroid. It can become twisted and cause a kink in blood vessels feeding the tumor. This type of fibroid may require surgery.


* Sensation of fullness or pressure in lower abdomen
* Pelvic cramping or pain with periods
* Abdominal fullness, gas
* Increase in urinary frequency
* Heavy menstrual bleeding (menorrhagia), sometimes with the passage of blood clots
* Sudden, severe pain due to a pedunculated fibroid

Note: There are often no symptoms.

Exams and Tests

A pelvic examination may reveal an irregularly shaped, lumpy, or enlarged uterus. Frequently, this diagnosis is reliable. In some cases, diagnosis of fibroids is difficult, especially in obese women. Fibroid tumors have been mistaken for ovarian tumors, inflammation of the fallopian tubes, and pregnancy.

A transgirl thingyl ultrasound or pelvic ultrasound may be performed to confirm the findings.
A D and C or a pelvic laparoscopy may be necessary to rule out potentially cancerous conditions.


Treatment depends on the severity of symptoms, the patient's age, whether or not she is pregnant, the desire for future pregnancies, her general health, and characteristics of the fibroids. Some women may just require monitoring of the fibroid. This requires pelvic exams or ultrasounds every once in a while.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or naprosyn may be recommended for women who have cramps or pain with menstruation. Birth control pills (oral contraceptives) may be used to help control heavy periods and to stop the fibroid from growing. Iron supplements may be given to prevent anemia in women with heavy periods.
In some cases, hormonal therapy involving drugs such as injectable Depo Leuprolide is prescribed to shrink the fibroids. This medicine reduces the production of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. The hormones create a situation in the body that is very similar to menopause . Side effects can be severe and may include hot flashes, girl thingyl dryness, and loss of bone density.
Hormone treatment may last several months. Fibroids will begin to grown as soon as treatment stops. In some cases, hormone therapy is used for a short period of time before surgery or when the woman is expected to reach menopause soon.
Hysteroscopic resection of fibroids (an outpatient surgical procedure) may be needed for women with fibroids growing inside the uterine cavity. In this procedure, a small camera and instruments are inserted through the cervix into the uterus to remove the fibroid tumors.
Uterine artery embolization is a new procedure aimed at preventing the need for major surgery. The method stops the blood supply that makes fibroids grow. The long-term effects of this procedure are still unknown, and the safety of pregnancy after this procedure is questionable.
A myomectomy is a surgical procedure to remove just the fibroids. It is frequently the chosen treatment for premenopausal women who want to have children, because it usually can preserve fertility. Another advantage of a myomectomy is that it controls pain or excessive bleeding that some women with uterine fibroids have.

Support Groups

National Uterine Fibroid Foundation -
Outlook (Prognosis)

Prior to menopause, fibroids are likely to grow slowly.

As a general rule, fibroids don't interfere with fertility. However, a tumor sometimes blocks the fallopian tubes and prevents sperm from reaching and fertilizing eggs. In some cases, fibroids may prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterine lining. However, proper treatment may restore fertility.
After a pregnancy is established, existing fibroids may grow due to the increased blood flow and estrogen levels. These usually return to their original size after the baby has been delivered.Most women are able to carry their babies to term, but some of them end up delivering prematurely because there is not enough room in the uterus.
Cesarean section may be needed for delivery since fibroid tumors can occasionally block the birth canal or cause the baby to be positioned wrong. After menopause, new fibroids rarely develop and those already present usually shrink.

Possible Complications

Fibroids may cause infertility . They may also cause premature delivery.
Severe pain or excessively heavy bleeding with fibroids may require emergency surgery.
In rare cases, cancerous changes may occur. These usually take place after menopause. The most common warning sign is rapid growing of a fibroid. A definite diagnosis is usually not made until the time of surgery.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if gradual changes in your menstrual pattern occur (heavier flow, increased cramping, bleeding between periods ), or if fullness or heaviness develops in your lower abdomen. Frequently there is associated pressure or discomfort and occasionally interference with normal urination frequency.


L Speroff, M Fitz. Clinical Gynecologic Endocrinology and Infertility . 7th ed. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2004.

Casini ML, Rossi F, Agostini R, Unfer V. Effects of the position of fibroids on fertility. Gynecol Endocrinol . 2006 Feb;22(2):106-9.

Melanie N. Smith, M.D., Ph.D., Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.




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