Reproductive System Disorders
Symptom Checker: Gynecological Problems

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picture of female vaginal area

Female Reproductive Disorders

Contents

Vaginal Discharge
Vagina Pain
Vaginal Bleeding
Vulva Problems
Bladder Conditions
About The Reproductive System


VAGINAL DISCHARGE

Guide to Periods and TOM Heavy periods with smelly discharge: You periods seem to be getting heavier by the month, there is bleeding in between periods, particularly after sexual intercourse. There is a heavy, foul smelling discharge. These may be signs of early stages of cervical cancer, a condition called cervical dysplasia. Ask your doctor to perform a Pap smear test.
Fishy discharge Gray, fishy smelling vaginal discharge that is worse after having sex or washing with soap. There may also be itchiness or irritation in and around the vulva and vagina. You may have bacterial vaginosis, see vaginitis.
Greenish discharge Gray/greenish discharge as well as itchiness around the vagina or vulva. There may be a burning sensation when urinating and discomfort during sex. You could have trichomoniasis, a type of vaginitis which is sexually transmitted. Ask your doctor to perform an STD test. Trichomonas is treated with antibiotics; your partner will also need to be tested.
Cottage cheese discharge Thick white discharge which looks like cottage cheese, may smell yeasty like bread. Usually accompanied by itching and a burning sensation when urinating. The vulva can also look swollen and sore. See: yeast infection symptoms (Candida).
Watery discharge Bleeding between periods with abnormal vaginal discharges. Discharge may be watery, pinkish, foul smelling or blood tinged. The vulva may be persistently itchy (pruritus). Rule out: vaginal cancer symptoms.
Increased vaginal discharge Bleeding between periods or heavier periods than normal with increased vaginal discharge. There may be a burning feeling in the vagina and urethra which could be mistaken for a urinary tract infection (cystitis). There may also be irritation around the anus and a need to urinate frequently. These are symptoms of gonorrhea, a sexually transmitted disease.
Discharge with burning pain Unusual vaginal discharge, burning pain when urinating, lower abdominal pain and a frequent need to urinate; these are all signs of a sexually transmitted disease called chlamydia. Sometimes there may be no symptoms. Ask your doctor for a chlamydia screening. Treatment consists of antibiotics with a follow up test a few weeks later. Your partner will also need to be tested.

VAGINA PAIN

when sex hurts Pain during sex: particularly with thrusting movements. Some women find it too painful even to insert a tampon. You may have dyspareunia. Avoid douching, switch to sanitary towels, try using lubricants during sex and change sexual positions. If symptoms are accompanied by unusual bleeding during or after sex or if there is a heavy watery discharge, ask your doctor to rule out cervical cancer. See painful intercourse.
Vaginal dryness Tissue lining of the vagina becomes thinner and drier. There may be burning pain on urination, you need to urinate more frequently and/or there is urinary incontinence (sneezing leads to a leakage). There may be discomfort during sexual intercourse and a tightening of the vaginal canal. These are signs of vaginal atrophy, a condition which is more common after menopause.
Soreness and itching Sore and itchy vagina (internally and externally), with vaginal discharge. See, vaginitis.

VAGINAL BLEEDING

heavy cramping Heavy periods: Do you have heavy periods regularly? A heavy period is defined as soaking a pad or tampon every hour for more than 3 hours, or bleeding for longer than 7 days. There may be large clots in the menstrual flow, cramps, back pain and extreme tiredness and shortness of breath (signs of anemia). See, menorrhagia.
Missed periods There are many reasons for absent periods, including menopause and pregnancy. If these are ruled out and your periods do not return within 6 months, you may have amenorrhea. Consult your doctor. Common causes include stress, PCOS and thyroid disease. See, amenorrhea.
Irregular periods Irregular periods are defined as periods which arrive later or earlier than is typical for the woman concerned. If periods occur at greater intervals than 35 days with only 4 to 9 periods per year, this is medically diagnosed as oligomenorrhea. Women with oligomenorrhea are prone to infertility problems. Common causes include PCOS, fibroids and diabetes. See, oligomenorrhea as well as what can cause a change in my monthly cycle?
Painful periods Most women experience some menstrual cramps during their period, but when pain is so bad you need to take time off work or school, you may have dysmenorrhea. Symptoms are not necessarily bad every month, but when in full swing, they are debilitating. See, dysmenorrhea.
Irregular periods and hot flashes Periods become irregular and you start to experience hot flashes. These are typical signs of menopause. See, hot flashes.
Irregular periods with excess facial hair Irregular or absent periods, noticeable facial hair, oily skin and acne, and difficulties in losing weight are all signs of polycystic ovary syndrome. See, PCOS symptoms.
Irregular periods with increased thirst Periods become irregular, you are thirsty all the time and may experience unexplained weight loss. See, symptoms of diabetes.
Heavy periods with constipation Heavy periods, a permanent feeling of fullness, sometimes constipation and pain during sexual intercourse. See, symptoms of fibroids. Also, do fibroids cause pain?
Heavy periods with weight gain Moderate weight gain (10-15 pounds), heavy periods, dry skin and thinning hair. See, underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism.
Light periods with weight loss Periods become lighter, you experience diarrhea, unexplained weight loss despite eating more, sweating and fatigue. See, hyperthyroidism.
Changes in periods Periods which suddenly become heavy or spotting between periods or after menopause should be checked for signs of endometrial hyperplasia. This condition is a precursor to endometrial cancer. Symptoms can be confused with other uterus disorders like endometriosis or fibroids. See, endometrial hyperplasia.
Painful periods with constipation Painful periods, cramps occurring 1-2 weeks before period is due, constipation, and pain during sexual intercourse. There may also be bouts of diarrhea, nausea and proneness to frequent yeast infections. See, endometriosis symptoms as well as how can I relieve period cramps?
Piercing pain between periods Piercing pelvic pain between periods, bad cramps during your period, bleeding between periods and possibly heavy periods with clots. These are all symptoms of adenomyosis, a condition which is often present with endometriosis.
Bleeding between periods If you start to bleed between periods, or your periods become irregular or heavy, or you start bleeding after menopause, ask your doctor to check for uterine polyps and cervical polyps. These are small, usually harmless, growths in the uterus or cervix. They are more common in women between the ages of 40 and 50.
Brown Spotting Brown vaginal discharge which can occur at the end of a menstrual cycle. This is a natural process where the vagina is cleaning itself out. After the age of 35, periods may become lighter, to the point where only spotting occurs. See, perimenopause. See also, what causes brown spotting?
Painful periods with shoulder pain Periods may become irregular (becoming heavier, or less frequent), there is pain during sexual intercourse, bloating and sometimes pain in the shoulder. These are all signs of ovarian cysts. There may also be pressure on the rectum and severe pelvic pain if the cysts rupture or twist. See, ovarian cysts.
Abnormal bleeding with bloating Bleeding between periods, blood-stained vaginal discharge, dull abdominal pain, and bloated or distended tummy. Rule out symptoms of fallopian tube cancer.
Bloating and feeling full quickly Persistent bloating in the abdomen, the need to urinate more frequently, pelvic pain and feeling full quickly after a light meal are signs of ovarian cancer. There may also be excess gas, unexplained weight gain/loss, breakthrough bleeding and back pain that gets worse over time. See symptoms of ovarian cancer.

VULVA PROBLEMS

uterus prolapse pictures Sensation like sitting on a ball: You have the sensation you are sitting on a ball, that something is sticking out of the vagina. There may be painful intercourse, lower back pain, urinary incontinence (leaking when you cough) and a feeling of heaviness in the pelvis. These are all symptoms of uterine prolapse. It is more common after a vaginal birth, menopause or after doing lots of heavy lifting. Your doctor may recommend pelvic floor exercises.
Vulva pain Pain in the vulva, where sitting down is uncomfortable and it is impossible to have intercourse. Pain is not relieved by painkillers. There may also be a soreness or rawness in the vaginal area. These are all signs of vulvodynia. Doctors are not sure what causes vulvodynia but it is sometimes treated with a low dose of antidepressants or topical estrogen cream.
Lump on vulva Painful or tender lump on one side of the vulva. It is uncomfortable to walk or sit, there may be pain with sexual intercourse, or you may be feverish. These are signs of a Bartholin's gland cyst. There are two such glands at the base of the vagina, their role is to keep the vagina moist during intercourse. Occasionally they become blocked and swollen. Warm baths can help burst the cysts and ease pain.
Itchy Vulva symptoms similar to vaginitis, where you experience inflammation and itching of the vulva tissue; this is called vulvitis. It is usually caused by yeast infections, genital herpes or warts. Or it may be an allergic reaction to a soap product. Your doctor can prescribe an emollient to ease itching while treating the underlying cause.
Skin changes Red, pink or white lumps found on the vulva. There may also be rough patches of raised skin which looks white in appearance as well as itchiness and vulva pain. Rule out: vulva cancer symptoms.
Warts Small cauliflower shaped lumps which appear on the vulva or inside the vagina. They can occur singly or in groups. These are genital warts, one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases in the world. It is treated by a topical lotion or if this fails, laser treatment.

BLADDER

Burns when you urinate: Burning pain when you pass urine, you probably need to urinate more frequently even though there isn't much urine, occasionally there is blood in the urine. See symptoms of urinary tract infections (cystitis). If there is pain between the vagina and anus, ask your doctor to consider interstitial cystitis.
Fever and backache Intense pain in the back or waist, shivering, fever, nausea/vomiting as well as strong smelling urine. There may also be pain when passing urine and a need to urinate frequently even though there is little urine. You may have pyelonephritis. This is a kidney infection and often follows on from a urinary tract infection. It needs immediate treatment with antibiotics to prevent kidney damage.
Leaking urine Leaking urine involuntary when coughing or sneezing, as well as sudden and frequent urges to urinate and an inability to control flow when you start urinating. You may have urinary incontinence. Women with type 1 diabetes, and those after childbirth or a hysterectomy are particularly vulnerable.
Frequent urination with increased thirst The need to urinate frequently, extra thirst, blurred vision and lack of energy may be a sign of type 1 diabetes. If there are recurrent skin infections, it may be type 2 diabetes.
Blood in urine Increased need to urinate, abdominal pain and blood in the urine may be signs of bladder pain syndrome. It can be triggered by certain foods like chocolate, tomatoes, citrus fruits as well as coffee, cranberry juice, vitamin C and B6 supplements and multivitamins. If there is a pain in the side that won't go away, your doctor will need to rule out urinary tract cancer.

Useful Questions and Answers

Menarche: When should my periods start?
Complete list of conditions: What can cause a change in my monthly cycle?
Vacation advice: Can I delay my period without taking the pill?
Pregnancy prevention: What is emergency contraception?
Contraceptive question: Can I use ordinary birth control pills for emergency contraception?
Concern about weight gain: Will I gain weight on the contraceptive pill?
How long will you live: Latest female health stats

About The Reproductive System

The female reproductive system is the part of the body responsible for baby making. It consists of the womb (uterus), endometrium (lining of the womb), fallopian tubes, ovaries, cervix, vagina and vulva. From puberty to menopause these organs go through constant changes every month and are largely controlled by hormones. They are intricate and complex organs, and like any highly tuned machine, are prone to problems. Most women suffer minor complications at some point in their reproductive years such as yeast (thrush) or urinary tract infections. Sometimes conditions can develop which while not life-threatening, can affect her quality of life - for example endometriosis can cause infertility or fibroids can lead to chronic pelvic pain. Occasionally more serious diseases like cervix cancer or endometrial cancer will develop, but fortunately they are highly treatable. If you are experiencing any unusual symptoms in the reproductive area, use our chart above to find a probable cause. Remember, only a doctor can diagnose your actual symptoms, the purpose of this chart is for information purposes only.

Other Useful Guides

Recommended Health Screenings For Women: Tests recommended for all age groups, including mammograms.
Endocrine System: Problems can lead to many reproductive disorders.
Abdominal Problems: Cramps, pains and changing bowel habits. Check your symptoms.
Chest Problems: Check your symptoms, chest pain to breasts and lung conditions.
Hospital Departments Explained: How to find your way around a hospital.
Back Problems: Upper and lower back pain, check your symptoms.
Gynecological Disorders: Detailed list of conditions and symptoms.
Joint and Bone Problems: List of conditions that affect the legs, hands, feet, arms and joints.
Main Causes Of Death In Women: Stats by age and ethnicity.

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WOMENS HEALTH ADVICE: ABOUT GYNECOLOGICAL DISORDERS
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