How to Know If You’re Normal Down There

If you’ve been wondering if your vagina is “normal” in appearance, you’re definitely not alone—this is a common concern among numerous women. One reason behind this lingering question is that there isn’t much discussion of female sexual anatomy in general day to day life or in medical literature. But many women will find it reassuring to know that no two vaginas are the same and that many shapes, sizes, and variations are healthy. While a “normal” vagina doesn’t exist, there are some common similarities.

woman holding heart shape object in front of her vagina

But before we get into that, it’s important to make sure you understand the basic anatomy. To start, you should know that the vagina is defined as a muscular canal that extends from the cervix to the outside of the body, according to the U.S. government’s Office on Women’s Health. The vagina is technically part of the vulva, which is the part of your genitals that exist outside the body. Many people say vagina when they mean vulva, but the vulva also contains other parts of female sexual anatomy including the clitoris, labia, vaginal opening, and urethra opening.

So, what are some similarities and differences in women’s external sexual anatomy?

Shape
There’s a great amount of diversity when it comes to vaginal shape, and much of this is due to the shape of the labia. The outer lips are known as the labia majora, and the inner lips are the labia minora. Both vary widely in shape and size. Here are some of the different shapes that may describe your vagina or that of another woman:

  • In some cases, the inner lips (labia minora) are long and dangling, with part of them exposed and/or protruding past the outer lips.
  • For some women, the outer lips (labia majora) will completely cover the clitoris and inner lips (labia minora).
  • Sometimes one of the inner lips is longer than another, giving an uneven appearance to the labia.
  • The outer lips may be small and separated a bit, making the inner lips very visible.
  • In some cases, the inner and outer lips are a similar length.
  • For some women, the clitoral hood is visible. This is often the case if the inner and outer lips are on the smaller side.

Size
Vaginal size will vary from woman to woman, but the average depth is just under four inches. However, among some women, the vagina can be as short as two inches or up to seven inches deep. Clitoris size will also vary from one woman to another, ranging from .1 inches to 1.3 inches, and often swelling larger with arousal.

Color
Most women’s vulva appears to be some shade of red, pink, or burgundy, but this will vary from woman to woman depending on skin tone and other factors. The color will often change over time, such as after puberty, following sexual intercourse, or with arousal.

The important takeaway is that female sexual anatomy varies a great deal, and you’re not “supposed” to look any one particular way.

If you would like to meet with a knowledgeable doctor, consider contacting Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com. We have offices in Phoenix, Ahwatukee, Casa Grande, Goodyear, Scottsdale, Gilbert, and Chandler.

Bacterial Vaginosis: What You Need to Know

Bacterial vaginosis is a fairly common condition that can affect women of any age. Read on to learn the answers to frequently asked questions.

Bacterial Vaginosis

What is bacterial vaginosis?
Bacterial vaginosis is a health condition occurs when there’s an abundance of a certain type of bacteria in the vagina. This abundance throws off the normally healthy balance of bacteria in the vagina and can lead to symptoms like:

  • Vaginal itching
  • A white or gray vaginal discharge
  • A strong vaginal odor that is likely fishy-smelling
  • Itching, pain, or burning in the vagina
  • Itching on the outside of the vagina
  • Burning sensations during urination

What causes bacterial vaginosis?
Bacterial vaginosis is most common among women who are of reproductive age, typically between the ages of 15 and 44. The condition develops when the number of ‘bad’ bacteria (also known as anaerobic bacteria) in the vagina outnumbers the ‘good’ bacteria (more specifically known as lactobacilli).

According to the Mayo Clinic and The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health, risk factors for developing bacterial vaginosis include:

  • Being sexually active
  • Douching, which can upset the natural balance of bacteria in the vagina
  • Having multiple sex partners
  • Having a new sex partner
  • A vaginal environment that doesn’t produce enough lactobacilli bacteria
  • Pregnancy—somewhere around 25% of pregnant women get bacterial vaginosis due to hormonal changes
  • Being African American—Bacterial vaginosis is twice as common among African-American women as it is in white women.

Is bacterial vaginosis preventable?
Your best bet for preventing bacterial vaginosis is to maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in your vagina. To do so, you’ll want to avoid douching and stick to non-scented soaps, tampons, and pads. Limiting your number of sexual partners may be another way to lower your risk, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Do any other health risks accompany bacterial vaginosis?
You may have heard that bacterial vaginosis can increase your risk of getting STDs such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, or HIV, and this is true. Additionally, if you have bacterial vaginosis and are HIV positive, there’s also an increased risk of passing HIV to your sexual partner.

Among pregnant women, bacterial vaginosis carries additional risks such as increasing the likelihood that you will deliver your baby early or deliver a low-birth-weight baby.

Do I need to see a doctor if I think I have bacterial vaginosis?
It’s a good idea to see a doctor if you begin to experience abnormal vaginal discharge that’s accompanied by an odor or a fever. Another reason to see a doctor is if you’ve tried to take over-the-counter yeast infection medications (the two conditions can present similarly) that prove ineffective.

Seeing a doctor or nurse is important because they can prescribe antibiotics to treat the condition. If you are a woman with a female sex partner, she may need treatment as well.

If you would like to meet with a knowledgeable doctor, consider contacting Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com. We have offices in Phoenix, Ahwatukee, Casa Grande, Goodyear, Scottsdale, Gilbert and Chandler.

Staying in the Know About Cervical Cancer

If you haven’t had a pap smear or human papillomavirus (HPV) test recently, there’s no better time than now, given that January is cervical cancer awareness month. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all women get yearly screenings to help prevent cervical cancer starting at age 21. This is mainly accomplished through pap smears and HPV tests, since nearly all instances of cervical cancer are caused by HPV.

Cervical cancer month

What is Cervical Cancer
Cervical cancer is a slow-growing, highly preventable and curable form of cancer that occurs when cells from the cervix grow abnormally within other tissues and organs outside of the cervix. It’s diagnosed among 13,000 women in the United States each year, but can be prevented through early detection or vaccination against HPV.

How can you get Cervical Cancer?
Nearly all cases of cervical cancer are caused by HPV, which is sexually transmitted. The most common ways that HPV is transmitted are vaginal and anal sex.

How do doctors check for cervical cancer?
Doctors commonly use two different tests to find and prevent cervical cancer—the Pap smear and the HPV test. Your first pap smear should be at age 21, according to the CDC. If the test results come back normal, you won’t need to be tested again for another three years. If you’re older than 30, you can continue to get a pap smear every three years as long as the results come back normal. Alternatively, you can get an HPV test—if results from that test come back clear, you can wait five years before your next HPV test. Your last option is to get an HPV test and a pap smear—if the results come back normal, you won’t need another test for five years. Typically, these tests are given to women through age 65.

Pap and HPV screening are sometimes different based upon the discretion of your AOA provider.  Please communicate with them about your personal screening plan to keep you safe.  However, a pelvic exam (visual and internal) is still recommended annually to screen for vaginal, vulvar and ovarian cancer.

HPV Test image

What are the symptoms of cervical cancer?
Sometimes cervical cancer doesn’t have any symptoms at all, especially during the disease’s early stages. Later, it can cause abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge, such as bleeding after sex, and pelvic pain. If you notice anything seems off, it’s always a good idea to see your gynecologist.

How is cervical cancer treated?
Treatment for cervical cancer will depend on the type of cancer and the extent to which it has spread, but may include chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation.

Are there any risk factors for cervical cancer?
Aside from HPV, a few other factors increase a woman’s risk of developing cervical cancer. According to the CDC, these include cigarette smoking, using birth control for five or more years, having HIV, having numerous sexual partners, and having given birth to three or more kids.

Is there a vaccine for cervical cancer?
You can’t get a vaccine specifically for cervical cancer, but most people can get the highly successful HPV vaccine, which protects against the types of HPV that cause cervical cancer. The vaccine is given in a series of two or three shots and recommended for both males and females age nine through 26. Recently, the FDA approved use of the vaccine for adult men and women up to age 45.

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

When Your Period Is Missing, But All the Other Signs Are There

Ever had one of those months where all the signs and symptoms of your period are there—the bloating, cramping, breast tenderness, overall achiness, and more—but there’s no bleeding? If so, you’re definitely not alone. This is pretty common and can happen for a number of different reasons, from pregnancy to hormonal birth control to stress. Keep reading to learn about a few different situations where you might experience period symptoms even without your monthly flow.

Asian woman stomachache, feel pain for period conceptAsian woman stomachache, feel pain for period concept

You could be pregnant
In some cases, your period symptoms may not be period symptoms at all. You might actually be pregnant. A lot of the early symptoms of pregnancy are similar to those you experience when you have your period—things like breast tenderness, cramping, fatigue, headaches, and fluctuating mood. You may want to take a birth control test, especially if you’ve had unprotected sex within the last month. But don’t freak out, there are also a whole bunch of other reasons why you may not be experiencing your monthly flow.

You’re experiencing something common called anovulation.
The term anovulation isn’t very well known considering how common the condition is. Women typically ovulate each month, but when anovulation occurs, the ovaries do not release an egg. Despite an egg not being released, the body still  experiences many of the standard changes that come along with a typical monthly period. Meaning, you’ll still feel like you have your period, but you won’t actually be ovulating or experience bleeding. And in some cases that make this matter even more tricky to understand, women may still bleed even when they’re experiencing anovulation.

Your birth control method may be interfering.
If you have an IUD or take birth control pills, these can interfere with your monthly period in a way that makes your period disappear despite other symptoms sticking around. For women taking hormonal birth control, a month or two of missed periods typically isn’t a cause for concern—often the missed period can be attributed to the hormones in the pill. And sometimes the period is still there, it’s just so light you don’t really notice it.

Likewise, IUDs can also contribute to missed periods. Your experience will depend on exactly which type of IUD you have, but hormonal IUDs often contribute to skipped or missed periods.

Your stress levels have been through the roof.
If you’ve been experiencing high levels of stress lately, this could definitely be the reason behind your missed period. When you’re stressed, your body often releases cortisol, which can subsequently affect your menstrual cycle . Stress can cause all sorts of changes, from a longer or shorter period than usual to no period at all.

You’ve recently changed your diet.
Changes in diet can play a big role in affecting your menstrual cycle as well. All sorts of dietary changes can contribute to a missed period, from a recent shift toward consuming less calories to changes in the type of food you eat. Nutrition has a big impact on hormone levels in the body, so to experience changes to ones period after a dietary shift shouldn’t come as a huge surprise.

You’re approaching menopause.
As you move closer to menopause, your period becomes more irregular and may even be skipped. At the same time, hormone imbalances are common and can contribute to cramping and other symptoms that feel similar to those you experience when you have your period.

If you have any concerns about missed periods and period symptoms, speaking with a knowledgeable doctor is a great idea. Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) has physicians on staff who are here to help you. To make an appointment,, call  602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com.

Six Things You Didn’t Know About Your Clitoris

When it comes to knowing your own body, the clitoris is the land of mystery for many women. But that’s understandable when you come to learn that the clitoris is a small yet complex organ containing numerous parts and more than 8,000 nerve endings. Keep reading to learn some interesting facts about the clitoris you may be unaware of:

Lily flower in the form of a female body part. creative metaphor. international women's day

Your clitoris can become erect

Somewhat similar to the penis, the clitoris is extremely sensitive and can become erect when stimulated. As blood flow to the area increases and stimulation occurs, the clitoral hood retracts. For those unsure what the clitoral hood is, this is the flap of skin that sits inside the labia and covers the clitoris, protecting its thousands of nerve endings from stimulation most of the time. Clitoral hoods vary in size and they don’t all retract the same amount.

Your clitoris plays an important role in reaching climax

Somewhere between 50 and 75% of women cannot achieve climax through vaginal intercourse alone and instead need stimulation to the clitoris in order to reach orgasm. If you never orgasm during intercourse, you’re not alone and you can stop worrying that something is wrong with you. Clitoral orgasms are far more common and easier to achieve than vaginal, G-Spot, and cervical orgasms, and bring pleasure to many women.

No two are the same

Clitorises vary in shape, size, and sensitivity, and can be very different from woman to woman. Reaching climax through clitoral stimulation isn’t a “one approach fits all” situation, instead it varies from person to person. Sometimes, all you need is a bit of experimentation to figure out what works and feels best.

Much of the clitoris is inside the body

The average clitoris is somewhere between 1.5 and 2 centimeters in length, and interestingly contains far more than what meets the eye. Only about a quarter of the clitoris is visible outside the body, while the rest of it is tucked away inside. Some researchers speculate that a larger clitoris makes it easier for a woman to orgasm.

The older you are, the bigger your clitoris

Starting at birth, the clitoris grows throughout the lifespan, and experiences the most rapid growth around puberty. Many women find it surprising to learn that their clitoris will be larger when she’s in her 60’s than when she was in her teens. However, this growth is not noticeable.

The clitoris can be susceptible to problems

Like any other part of the body, the clitoris can encounter problems. Whether you’re dealing with pain during intercourse or throughout the day, itchiness, or any other discomfort, it’s a good idea to speak with your doctor. Many problems are simple and can be treated easily with antibiotics, creams, and other medications.

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

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.

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.