How Perimenopause Affects Your Period

We hear a lot about menopause and the way it impacts the female body, but there’s less talk about what happens beforehand—menopause doesn’t just come out of nowhere, after all. There’s a name for the gradual road towards menopause, and it’s called perimenopause. Perimenopause is essentially a transition into menopause during which the ovaries begin to produce less estrogen. It usually sets in when a women is in her mid-forties, but can start as early as the thirties or even twenties in some cases.

Cropped shot of beautiful smiling middle aged woman sitting outdoor and relaxing in the garden.

Most of the time, perimenopause tends to last around three or four years, but it’s duration can be shorter or longer depending on the individual. One of the most notable symptoms you can expect to experience during this time is a changing menstrual period. For that reason, we’re going to fill you in on all the period-related changes you might encounter during this transitional life phase. To learn more about other changes during this time, we have another blog post on perimenopause has helpful information. Read it here.

Due to changing hormone levels and unpredictable ovulation, you can expect to experience some period irregularity during perimenopause. These changes run the gamut—you might skip a few periods, see spotting between periods, experience menstrual flows that are heavier or lighter than usual, or even those that last longer or shorter than you’re used to. Most of the time, you don’t need to be alarmed by these changes, as they’re common even among women who have experienced extremely regular periods for their whole lives. If two months or more pass by and you haven’t had a period at all, you’re probably in the later phases of perimenopause.

One thing to understand about how menopause affects the menstrual cycle is that it’s rarely the same from woman to woman. Some women don’t experience any intense symptoms, while others are greatly affected by things like heavy bleeding. Some women will experience inconsistent periods for months or years, whereas others see their menstruation end more suddenly.

During this time of period irregularity, your fertility will likely decrease, but it’s important to remember that as long as you’re still having your period, you can still get pregnant. If you’re using birth control to prevent pregnancy, you’ll want to keep doing so until you haven’t had your period for 12 months in a row. Once you hit this 12 month mark without a period, you’ve likely moved from perimenopause into menopause.

On a similar note, the irregularity of the menstrual cycle during perimenopause can bring changes like extreme hormonal shifts that can be hard to deal with. To regulate the menstrual flow, some women take low-dose hormonal birth control pills up until menopause. It’s smart to keep communication open with your doctor and fill them in on any atypical changes that arise during perimenopause. Things like heavy bleeding and spotting can be normal in perimenopause, but they can also happen when something else is going on in your body, so it’s always a good idea to tell your doctor what’s going on with your body.

If you have any concerns about perimenopause and the changes that happen to your body during that time, call Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 to set up an appointment with a knowledgeable doctor, or visit www.aoafamily.com.

Why Vaginal PH Matters: Everything You Need to Know

If you’ve been noticing some mysterious odors coming from your vaginal area and can’t seem to determine the cause, a vaginal PH imbalance might be the culprit. To help you better understand vaginal PH, let’s start by breaking things down: your vaginal PH refers to the acidity of the vagina and can be affected by common factors like unprotected sex, pregnancy, your menstrual period, improper vaginal care, and menopause.

Experiencing a vaginal PH imbalance is common, but since this health issue isn’t discussed all that much. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about vaginal PH levels gone awry.

Close up of legs and panties of a woman sitting in a toilet room.

Healthy or not? Understanding vaginal PH levels

Most of the time, a healthy vaginal PH falls somewhere between 3.8 and 4.5.  Slight variations are normal, but when the PH falls above or below that range, this signals that the balance between good and bad bacteria in your vagina may be out of whack. Typically, when your PH balance is off, you’ll have elevated levels of bad bacteria and yeast in the body. When this happens, you might experience irritation, odors, and even conditions like bacterial vaginosis or a yeast infection.

If you notice any of the following symptoms, it’s a good idea to get in touch with your doctor. Your vaginal PH levels might be off if you’re experiencing any of the following:

  • An abnormal burning sensation during sex or other forms of irritation.
  • Unpleasant and strong smells.
  • Sensations and discomfort that are out of the ordinary.
  • Grayish, green, or white discharge. Or if you’re experiencing different amount of discharge than usual.

Testing and treatment

Some pharmacies sell at-home tests you can use to test your vaginal PH levels, but remember that if you suspect something is off, the best thing you can do is see a doctor. The specific treatment for your vaginal PH imbalance will vary depending on how the imbalance manifests. For both hormonal imbalances and yeast overgrowth your doctor may treat you with an oral medication or a cream that gets applied to the skin.

Staying healthy

You can take active steps to maintain a healthy vaginal PH. For example, you’ll want to stay away from vaginal douching and the use of heavily scented soaps. These have potential to increase bacteria to unhealthy levels and are generally a bad idea and unnecessary. Other helpful practices for maintaining optimal PH levels include eating yogurt and taking probiotics regularly, using a condom during sex, and seeing your gynecologist yearly or whenever something seems wrong.

If you have any concerns about your vaginal PH and want to speak with a knowledgeable doctor, call Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com.

Clinical Depression: Signs and Symptoms to Watch For

It’s only human to feel sad, alone, and detached from time to time, but if these feelings seem to stick around longer than usual or you start to feel like they’re significantly interfering with your life, you could be suffering from clinical depression.

Sad young tired woman sitting on the bed

Clinical depression (also known as major depressive disorder) is a mood disorder that manifests emotionally and physically and is known to cause persistent feelings of sadness and apathy. If you’re suffering from depression, you’re likely to feel alone, emotional, and uninterested in many of the activities that you used to enjoy. For example, maybe you used to go to a yoga class followed by dinner with friends every Wednesday night, but recently have been feeling withdrawn and haven’t had much interest in attending.

If it feels like you hear about depression a lot, this is probably because it’s one of the most common illnesses out there. In the United States, clinical depression affects about 7% of the adult population, and about a quarter of all adults will experience it at some point in their lives.

Clinical depression can strike suddenly and seemingly for no reason, but it’s often brought on by significant life events such as the death of a loved one, relationship troubles (including friendship, family, or a partner), the end of a relationship, moving, loss of a job or changing jobs, social isolation, graduation, abuse, and more. One notable factor about clinical depression is that it affects women at nearly twice the rate as men. This is due to a number of factors, but many are tied to hormonal changes that occur throughout the lifespan alongside menstruation, pregnancy, menopause, and miscarriage. Should you notice changes in your mood surrounding any of these situations, or even seemingly out of the blue, it’s always a good idea to speak with your doctor.

Here are some common signs and symptoms to look out for if you suspect that you’re suffering from clinical depression:

  • Trouble concentrating and focusing
  • Restlessness
  • Fatigue
  • Changes in sleep patterns, whether sleeping more or less than usual, or suffering from insomnia
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Withdrawal from close friends and family
  • Having a short temper
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Changes in appetite
  • Feeling more emotional than usual
  • Feeling apathetic
  • A diminished sex drive
  • Significant change in body weight, whether weight loss or weight gain

If you have any concerns or questions about clinical depression and want to speak with a knowledgeable doctor, call Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com.

What is Lupus? Everything you Need to Know

If you’ve been experiencing fatigue, a face rash, sensitivity to sunlight, and other conditions that hint that something may be off, it might be time to see a doctor. While many of these symptoms may be nothing to worry about, they could also be signs of Lupus.

Woman lying on sofa having headache. Stressed girl suffering of fatigue, migraine, trying to cope with nervous tension, worries because of problems, unwanted pregnancy, negative thoughts and emotions

Lupus is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own cells. It’s chronic, meaning it lasts at least three months and often longer, and is known to cause major problems with skin, joints, and organs. Lupus can show up at any age but is most common among women who are between the ages of 15 and 44. Frequently, lupus goes untreated for quite some time because its symptoms are often similar to those of other ailments.  If you suspect you may be suffering from lupus, here are some signs to look out for:

  • Face rash: One of the most common signs of lupus is a facial rash that forms a butterfly-like shape across the nose and cheeks. This rash isn’t present in all cases of lupus but appears in many of them.
  • Fatigue: Another common sign of lupus is fatigue. Though it’s hard to measure scientifically, this sign is present within 50-90% of people suffering from lupus and is often strong enough to impact quality of life.
  • Sensitivity to sunlight: Nearly two out of every three individuals with lupus become sensitive to sunlight, and many of them develop a rash after spending time in the sun. More formally, this condition is known as photosensitivity.
  • Shortness of Breath: In some cases, lupus can cause lung inflammation that may contribute to difficulty breathing.
  • Headaches, Confusion, and Memory Loss: Lupus is known to cause headaches and various forms of cognitive impairment. Typically, these issues are worse during flare ups of the illness.
  • Joint Pain: Joint pain, swelling, and inflammation are common among individuals with lupus. This is so common that around 95% of people with lupus will experience arthritis or joint pain at some point.

You should consider seeing a doctor if you’re concerned about any of these symptoms, but especially if you’re experiencing persistent fatigue and fevers or a rash that can’t be explained. It’s important to see a doctor rather than brushing the symptoms aside, because sometimes the inflammation that’s triggered by lupus can cause other serious problems throughout the body, such as kidney damage, issues with the brain and central nervous system, blood issues like anemia, heart issues, and even pregnancy complications such as higher risk of preterm birth and preeclampsia.

While lupus is certainly a serious condition, it’s also treatable and can be managed to allow you to live a full and relatively normal life.  Lupus typically ranges from a mild condition to one that’s more life threatening, so it’s important to stay on top of your medical care to manage the illness. If you’re concerned you may be suffering from lupus and want to speak with a knowledgeable physician, call Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com.

Watch Your Health Before Conception, Study Says

If you’re hoping to have a child at some point in the future but think your nutrition, health, and lifestyle choices don’t really matter until you actually get pregnant, you may need to think again. Why? A new study in the Lancet says that health before conception is extremely important and that women (and men) aren’t paying enough attention to their lifestyle choices before becoming pregnant.

Beautiful pregnant woman eating healthy food and salads

The paper looked into many different factors across income groups and countries and found that women are more likely to have a healthy pregnancy and child when they are healthy at the point that they become pregnant. One noteworthy finding was that poor nutrition and obesity among both men and women can have negative impacts on pregnancy, the ability to conceive, and the child’s health throughout their lifespan. When a woman is obese and has poor nutritional habits, the effects can span generations. But when she reduces her weight prior to conception, the risk of pregnancy-related health complications like gestational diabetes and preeclampsia, as well as stillbirth and preterm birth also go down.

Meanwhile, the typical American diet of abundant red meat, refined sugars, refined grains, and high-fat dairy often leaves women lacking important nutrients like magnesium, calcium, iodine, and vitamin D, all of which are important to overall health and a healthy pregnancy. Studies show that women may be able to reduce their risk of acquiring gestational diabetes and hypertensive disorders during pregnancy by eating a diet that’s high in fruit, vegetables, nuts, beans, and fish, and low in red and processed meats.

While people often think that only a woman’s health has an impact on the future child, research shows that a man’s weight before conception can influence the child’s future health as well. For example, when a father is obese, a couple may have more difficulty conceiving due to problems with sperm quantity and quality, and the future child will be at an increased risk of chronic disease. Men can improve their fertility and the health of their future children by maintaining a healthy weight.

Tips for Improving Your Preconception Health

  • Eat healthy, exercise, and maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese puts you at higher risk for serious health conditions and can be harmful to your future child’s health.
  • See your physician regularly and do what you can to keep existing medical conditions under control.
  • Women should take 400 to 800 micrograms of folic acid daily, along with any other supplements recommended by your physician.
  • Be mindful of alcohol, smoking, and drug use. Some recommendations advise that both women and men avoid smoking and alcohol use starting at least three months before conception.
  • Make efforts to maintain positive mental health.
  • Avoid coming into contact with environmental contaminants and toxic substances. These can be harmful to female and male reproductive systems, make it harder to get pregnant, and harm your future child’s health.
  • Schedule a preconception care checkup with your OB/GYN to assess the status of your health and factors that might impact your pregnancy or ability to become pregnant.

To learn more, check out the study, or these other two related studies. If you have any concerns about you or your partner’s health in the preconception period and want to speak with a knowledgeable doctor or schedule a checkup, call Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com.

Understanding the Risks Involved in Having a Baby Later in Life

It’s not uncommon for many women to start thinking more seriously about childbirth as they get older. But while having a healthy pregnancy at an older age is possible for many women, it’s important to be mindful that it can be significantly more difficult and involve a number of risks. For many women, fertility begins to decrease slowly around age 32 or so, and then much more rapidly around age 37, which can make for a challenging experience in many ways. Read on to learn about some of the challenges women may face as they try to get pregnant as they hit their mid-thirties or forties.

Close Up Of Pregnant Businesswoman In Office

Increased time to conceive: As women get older and their bodies experience typical age-related changes, it often takes them much longer to conceive. Statistics show that while a woman may have a 20 percent chance of getting pregnant during each menstrual cycle when she’s in her twenties, these chances drop to about 15 percent by the time she reaches her mid-thirties, and down to around 5 or 10 percent by age 40. This doesn’t necessarily mean a woman cannot conceive altogether, but the process will typically be more challenging.

Infertility: Women have a harder time conceiving as they age, and may not be able to conceive altogether. It’s believed that somewhere between 10 and 15 percent of couples in the United States struggle with infertility, which is defined as an inability to get pregnant after having frequent, unprotected sex for more than one year. For many women, fertility declines gradually as they age, and then advances more rapidly around age 37.  Many causes contribute to female infertility, such as early menopause, ovulation disorders, age, and other health issues.

You may need to see a fertility specialist: If you’re over age 35 and have tried conceiving for six months without success, it may be time to see a reproductive endocrinologist for help. A reproductive endocrinologist is a fertility specialist who can help you work towards pregnancy by checking your health, making sure your fallopian tubes and eggs are functioning as they should, and recommending treatments like in-vitro fertilization or medication that can encourage ovulation. Your gynecologist should be able to recommend a fertility specialist if you’re interested in exploring this path.

Higher likelihood of complications: When women hit age 40 or so, they are more likely to develop pregnancy-related health complications like high blood pressure and gestational diabetes. Not only do these complications pose risks to a woman’s health, they also can contribute to pregnancy-related problems such as birth complications, miscarriage, and issues with the placenta.

Increased risk of miscarriage: After the age of 35 or so, women start to encounter a higher risk of miscarriage. Statistics show that at age 35, a woman’s risk of miscarriage is around 20 percent, but jumps much higher to around 80 percent by age 45.

Many women can still conceive and carry healthy pregnancies in their late thirties or forties, but the process is often far more challenging than it may be for younger women, given the issues we mentioned above, such as increased time to conceive, fertility issues, health risks, and more. If you have concerns about getting pregnant later in life and would like to speak with a physician, call Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com.

Six Quick Tricks for Spicing Things Up in the Bedroom

As life goes on, our sexual needs and interests inevitably change—you may find yourself more interested in sex, less interested in sex, or completely indifferent to sex all together. The fact is, at any point in life there are going to be a ton of different factors that might influence your sex life or libido. These include your overall health, where you’re at in the aging process, past illnesses, your relationship with your partner, medications, and more. Since an active and healthy sex life is one of life’s greatest pleasures, we thought we’d fill you in on six tips for keeping your sex life healthy and exciting. Read on for the low-down.

Beautiful couple in love in morning

See a sex therapist

Many people would rather do almost anything than talk about their sex life with someone they don’t know. But seeing a sex therapist can be so helpful in spicing up your sex life that it might be time to get over your fears. Sort of like a visit to a psychologist or counselor, a sex therapist can help you unravel the psychological and physiological aspects of your sex life, while also helping you bring in more mindfulness and communication with your partner. Overall, this is a form of psychotherapy that can play a huge role in getting your sex life back on track.

Experiment with sex positions

Sometimes, when you find yourself uninterested in sex, there isn’t a complex underlying cause—you might simply be bored. Fortunately, this is one of the easiest situations to fix. One of the simplest ways to bring some excitement into the bedroom is to experiment with different sex positions. When experimenting with sex positions that typically fall out of your norm, you might find yourself being stimulated in new ways and enjoy the adventure of it all along the way. Start by setting a goal of trying one or two new positions each week for a month. Here are a few ideas for getting started, but with a creative imagination (or a quick google search!) the opportunities are endless.

Kindness counts: Show your partner you care

Introducing oils into the bedroom is a great way to slow things down and really pay attention to your partner. Find a nice oil and surprise your partner with a massage—you’ll be surprised at how quickly one thing might move to another from there.

Maybe massage isn’t your thing. If that’s the case, why not try cooking a romantic dinner for your partner? Wear something fancy and request the same of your partner, grab a nice bottle of wine, and enhance the atmosphere with candles and dim lighting. Even if your romantic evening doesn’t lead to sex, kind actions of this variety will almost certainly strengthen your relationship and leave your partner feeling appreciated.

Get flirty

Flirtation brings so much fun and excitement into the early stages of a relationship, but often disappears after things get serious. Whether it’s teasing, making serious eye contact, texting, or sexting, it’s important to remember that a bit of flirtation can go a long way in keeping your relationship and sex life thriving.

Stay on top of your sexual health

Your sexual health plays a huge role in your sex life. After all, when you’re not feeling right, you’re often far less interested in engaging in any form of sexual activity. It’s important to see and talk to your doctor about any signs that are troubling you or interfering with your sex life. This could mean anything from pain during sex or urination to new smells down there that you haven’t experienced before, or even simply when you’re experiencing a lack of interest in sex. And remember it’s not just sexual health that plays a role in your sex life—your overall health does too. Too keep things running smoothly, make sure you’re eating healthy foods, getting enough sleep, exercising, and taking care of any health conditions you’re experiencing.

Change up your birth control

Many people don’t realize it, but hormonal birth control can have a big impact on your sex drive, depending how your body reacts with the type you’re taking. Most people don’t experience a change in libido from birth control pills, but some do. Some women see a rise in their libido, whereas others feel less desire for sex. If you notice a change in how you feel about sex since starting a new type of birth control, bring the issue up with your gynecologist. It’s important to keep your doctor in the loop so they can check for other underlying conditions and consider prescribing you a different type or method of birth control.

Remember that whenever you have concerns about your sex life or sexual health, it’s always a good idea to have an open and honest conversation with a health professional. To speak with a knowledgeable doctor, call Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com.

When are Ovarian Cysts a Problem?

Ovarian cysts are a common health condition that many women experience at least once throughout the course of life. Most of these cysts only last a few months, don’t cause discomfort, and really aren’t a problem at all. But sometimes, they can be more troublesome.

Ovarian Cysts

Before we dig into the details of problematic cysts, it’s important that you’re well versed in the basics of this condition. First things first, you may be wondering—what is an ovarian cyst, anyway? Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs that develop in or on one of a woman’s ovaries (every woman has two ovaries—one on either side of the uterus).

During a typical menstrual cycle, every woman of reproductive age may develop several small cysts. A cyst is where your eggs grow and it’s where estrogen production occurs. Only 1 or 2 of these cysts will mature, rupture, and produce an egg ready for ovulation. If the small cyst doesn’t ovulate, or heal well after ovulation, a persistent cyst can occur.

Usually, these cysts are small, painless, and don’t even produce symptoms. Many are so asymptomatic that a cyst may develop and resolve itself without a woman even noticing its presence. But sometimes, these cysts can be more problematic—especially when they rupture, cause pain, or exist as a cancerous mass.

When Pelvic Cysts Become a Problem

Here’s a bit more information on the more troublesome varieties of pelvic cysts:

Cystic ovarian mass: Most commonly, these can be cancerous after menopause. To identify conditions like these, it’s very important to visit your gynecologist for pelvic exams each year, or whenever you’re experiencing pain or discomfort that’s out of the ordinary.

Ovarian torsion: This is a condition in which a cyst grows large enough that it causes the ovary to move and twist. It can be particularly problematic if it blocks the blood flow to the ovaries. You may know you’re experiencing ovarian torsion if you suddenly develop serious pelvic pain along with vomiting and nausea.

Ovarian cyst rupture: The larger a cyst grows, the higher the chances of a rupture. When an ovarian cyst ruptures, you may experience internal bleeding and serious amounts of pain, so be sure to see a physician if you’re experiencing intense pelvic pain. Sometimes, vaginal intercourse or other forms of vigorous activity that impact the pelvis can increase the risk of a rupture.

Endometrioma: An endometrioma is a cystic mass brought about by endometriosis, which is a condition where the uterine lining grows outside the uterus. With this condition, the cysts can have a negative impact on a woman’s fertility.

What to Look Out For

As we mentioned earlier, many ovarian cysts don’t produce any signs at all. However, you may experience the following symptoms when an ovarian cyst is present, especially as it grows:

  • Painful bowel movements
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Lower back pain
  • Pain in the pelvis before or during your menstrual cycle
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Nausea or vomiting

When a cyst ruptures, you may experience a few more serious signs, including pain that’s accompanied by fever or vomiting, or sudden and severe pelvic pain. If you are dealing with any of these, seek out medical help as soon as possible to avoid more serious complications.

Treating Ovarian Cysts
Physicians will often choose to monitor a cyst if it isn’t causing any trouble. But when a cyst is growing and growing or doesn’t resolve itself after a few months, your doctor may recommend a treatment to remove the cyst or at least bring it down in size.

Here are a few common treatments you might encounter: Some doctors prescribe birth control pills to prevent new cysts from developing. If a doctor wants to remove a cyst, they may prescribe or perform laparoscopy, which is a minimally invasive surgery that involves just a small incision in the abdomen. In other cases, particularly those involving larger ovarian cysts, a physician may choose to perform laparotomy, which is a more invasive surgical procedure.

To protect yourself against problematic ovarian cysts, it’s important to visit your gynecologist for regular pelvic exams and to seek treatment whenever you’re experiencing signs and symptoms that feel of the ordinary. If you have any concerns about potentially problematic ovarian cysts and want to speak with a gynecologist who is knowledgeable about this condition, contact Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com.

Anorgasmia in Women

Orgasms vary in intensity and duration and can present differently from woman to woman, but for those who suffer from a medical condition called anorgasmia, it can be difficult, or even impossible, to reach orgasm at all. Essentially, anorgasmia is a type of sexual dysfunction where a person isn’t able to reach orgasm even with ample sexual stimulation. Given that many women experience anorgasmia at some point in time, we thought we would fill you in on everything you need to know about this condition.

Happy couple looking through window at home

The various types of anorgasmia

Anorgasmia can present itself in many different forms. Here are a few you might experience:

Acquired anorgasmia: In this form of anorgasmia, a woman who previously was able to achieve orgasm is no longer able or has trouble reaching climax.

Lifelong or generalized anorgasmia: Women with lifelong or generalized anorgasmia are unable (and never have been able) to reach climax and experience an orgasm in any situation.

Situational anorgasmia: Women with situational anorgasmia can only achieve orgasm during specific circumstances and possibly even with a specific partner. Women with this type of anorgasmia may be able to reach climax during oral sex, but not through vaginal penetration.

What causes anorgasmia?
Anorgasmia can arise for a number of reasons, with medication side effects being one of the most common causes. Antihistamines, antidepressants (SSRIs in particular), and blood pressure medications are among the more common medications that can be problematic. Diabetes, neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis, and other illnesses can also contribute to anorgasmia. High alcohol intake and smoking are also problematic for some women. And sometimes, aging is a big contributor, especially because blood flow to the clitoris and vagina may slow down as women move toward menopause and estrogen levels fall.

Anorgasmia may also have psychological roots, including poor body image, anxiety, depression, past sexual trauma, stress, or even embarrassment. Or the cause may be relationship related, such as trust issues, communication challenges, or lack of a strong connection between partners.

Is it necessary to see a doctor?
If you’ve never achieved an orgasm or are experiencing periodic or recent troubles climaxing, consider seeing a doctor to discuss your experience. They may be able to help you remedy or manage the situation in a simple way, such as helping you minimize stress or treating underlying medical conditions. If you decide to see a doctor, you can expect them to ask about your sexual history, symptoms, and medical history.

Treating anorgasmia
Anorgasmia can be treated in a variety of ways depending on the type of anorgasmia and the reasons it’s occurring. Here are a few common treatment recommendations:

  • Address relationship issues and challenges through improved communication, relationship counseling, or other means.
  • Manage stress and anxiety.
  • Increase the amount of sexual stimulation, especially either directly or indirectly to the clitoris. Vibrators and other devices can be helpful here.
  • Experiment sexually to find out what works for you and gain a better understanding of your body.
  • Explore cognitive behavioral therapy, which can reframe the way you think about sex.
  • Explore sex therapy.
  • Receive medical treatment for underlying conditions that may contribute to or cause your anorgasmia.

If you are experiencing anorgasmia and want to speak with a knowledgeable doctor, call Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com.

What You Need to Know about Anemia and Your Period

Anemia is a common health condition characterized by low red blood cell count that affects more than 3 million Americans. Having an insufficient amount of red blood cells can be problematic because the body’s cells are unable to get enough oxygen, leading to fatigue and other symptoms.

Anemia and Your Period

Anemia comes in many forms, with many caused by blood loss or iron deficiency. In general, many women experience anemia because of heavy menstrual periods that cause their iron levels to fall. Overall, women are at higher risk of anemia than men. Specific high risk groups include the elderly, Hispanic women, women of color, people with chronic illness, and women of childbearing age. Here we’ll get into the specifics of anemia and the ways in which menstruation can affect and contribute to anemia.

Anemia due to blood loss

Women who suffer from heavy menstrual periods are more prone to forms of anemia where red blood cells are lost to bleeding, which makes sense when you think about it. Women with anemia due to blood loss may be left feeling tired, weak, and possibly even out of breath. One sign that your period is abnormally heavy is if you’re going through a tampon or pad every hour for at least a few hours in a row. Other signs include passing large blood clots and bleeding for more than seven days in a row. If you’re experiencing any of these situations, you should speak with your doctor about getting tested for anemia.

Iron-deficiency anemia

Iron-deficiency anemia comes about when the body is low on iron. Not having enough iron in the body is problematic because it’s needed to produce hemoglobin for red blood cells. While this form of anemia can arise from a number of factors, including diet, menstruation is a common contributor. Women of childbearing age are at a higher risk for this form of anemia due to blood loss during menstruation and the increased demands on blood supply during pregnancy. People suffering from iron-deficiency anemia may experience strange cravings, such as for paper, dirt, or ice.

What are some symptoms of anemia?

Some common symptoms of anemia include lethargy, dizziness, pale skin, abnormally rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, irritability, trouble with concentration, sexual dysfunction, and insomnia. Though these symptoms will vary depending on the form of anemia, its severity, and the cause. It’s important to speak with your doctor if you’re experiencing a combination of these symptoms, especially if you’re also suffering from a very heavy menstrual period. Your physician will be able to carry out further testing to determine if you are suffering from anemia. These tests are likely to include a physical exam, medical history, and blood work that assesses your levels of red and white blood cells, hemoglobin, and platelets.

Should I be worried about anemia?
Whether you should worry about anemia depends on the situation. Anemia that develops during pregnancy affects up to 40% of pregnant women and is often seen as normal. For women who are considering becoming pregnant, doctors will usually recommend supplements including iron and folate. And anemias due to blood loss and iron-deficiency can usually be treated with iron supplements and even dietary adjustments. However, some forms of anemia can be much harder to treat and require procedures such as blood transfusions and bone marrow transplants.

If you have any concerns about anemia and want to speak with a knowledgeable physician, call Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com.