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Obstetrics and gynaecology is concerned with the care of pregnant woman, her unborn child and the management of diseases specific to women. The specialty combines medicine and surgery.
In gynaecology, patients range from those who have chronic disorders which are not life threatening (but interfere significantly with quality of life), to those where an acute emergency presentation is the first indication of a gynaecological problem.
Gynaecology is concerned with the well-being and health of the female reproductive organs and the ability to reproduce. It includes endocrinology, female urology and pelvic malignancy. The specialty spans paediatric and adolescent gynaecological problems through to later years.
Cervical polyps are growths that usually appear on the cervix where it opens into the vagina. Polyps are usually cherry-red to reddish-purple or grayish-white. They vary in size and often look like bulbs on thin stems. Cervical polyps are usually not cancerous (benign) and can occur alone or in groups. There’s more information, here. Referral information for GPs is here.
Chronic pelvic pain is defined as intermittent or constant pain in the lower abdomen or pelvis of at least six months’ duration, not occurring exclusively with menstruation or intercourse and not associated with pregnancy. There’s more information, here. Referral information for GPs is here.
Dilation and Curettage (D&C) is a procedure performed under general anaesthetic in which the lining of the uterus (the endometrium) is biopsied (diagnostic D&C) or removed (therapeutic D&C) by scraping with a sharp metal instrument (curette) in a systematic fashion. You can find out more, here. Referral information for GPs is here.
Endometriosis is a condition where the tissue that lines the womb (endometrium) is found outside the womb, such as in the ovaries and fallopian tubes. Endometriosis mainly affects girls and women of childbearing age. It's less common in women who have been through the menopause. It's a long-term condition that can have a significant impact on your life, but there are treatments that can help. You can read more on the NHS website. Referral information for GPs is here.
Infertility is when a couple can't get pregnant (conceive) despite having regular unprotected sex. There are a number of treatment options to aid fertility. There's more information, here.
A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure to remove the womb (uterus). You'll no longer be able to get pregnant after the operation. If you haven't already gone through the menopause, you'll no longer have periods, regardless of your age. There’s more information on the NHS website. Referral information for GPs is here.
Intermenstrual bleeding (IMB) refers to vaginal bleeding (other than postcoital) at any time during the menstrual cycle other than during normal menstruation. It can sometimes be difficult to differentiate true IMB bleeding from metrorrhagia (irregularly frequent periods). There’s more information, here. Referral information for GPs is here.
Ovarian cancer, or cancer of the ovaries, is one of the most common types of cancer in women. It mainly affects women who have been through the menopause (usually over the age of 50), but it can sometimes affect younger women. There’s more information on the NHS website. Referral information for GPs is here.
The menopause is a natural part of ageing that usually occurs between 45 and 55 years of age, as a woman's oestrogen levels decline. In the UK, the average age for a woman to reach the menopause is 51. However, around 1 in 100 women experience the menopause before 40 years of age. This is known as premature menopause or premature ovarian insufficiency. There’s more information on the NHS website. Referral information for GPs is here.
An ovarian cyst is a fluid-filled sac that develops on a woman's ovary. They're very common and don't usually cause any symptoms. Most ovarian cysts occur naturally and disappear in a few months without needing any treatment. There’s more information on the NHS website. Referral information for GPs is here.
Polymenorrhea is a term used to describe a menstrual cycle that is shorter than 21 days. A normal menstrual cycle is between 24 and 38 days long. Referral information for GPs is here.
There can be several causes of postmenopausal bleeding. The most common causes are:
- inflammation and thinning of the vaginal lining (atrophic vaginitis) or womb lining (endometrial atrophy) – caused by lower oestrogen levels
- cervical or womb polyps – growths that are usually non-cancerous
- a thickened womb lining (endometrial hyperplasia) – this can be caused by hormone replacement therapy (HRT), high levels of oestrogen or being overweight, and can lead to womb cancer
Primary amenorrhea is the failure of menses to occur by age 16 years, in the presence of normal growth and secondary sexual characteristics. Referral information for GPs is here.
Prolapse is defined as a weakness of the vaginal walls with/without significant descent of the cervix. The main symptom is usually a ‘lump down below’ which may be associated with bladder or bowel symptoms. Referral information for GPs is here.
Your doctor may have asked you to complete a two-day bladder diary. An accurate diary will help your doctor assess the nature of your urinary symptoms and advise you on treatment options. Download an example of the diary, here.
A miscarriage is the loss of a pregnancy during the first 23 weeks. The main sign of a miscarriage is vaginal bleeding, which may be followed by cramping and pain in your lower abdomen. If you have vaginal bleeding, contact your GP or midwife. Most GPs can refer you to an early pregnancy unit at your local hospital straight away if necessary. You may be referred to a maternity ward if your pregnancy is at a later stage. There’s more information on the NHS website. Referral information for GPs is here.
Periods can stop for all sorts of reasons. Most of the time there is no worrying cause. As long as you are sure you are not pregnant and you feel well in yourself there is no need for concern. If you don't have a period for 3-6 months, or have other symptoms then you should see a doctor. There’s more information, here. Referral information for GPs is here.
The vulva is the external part of a woman's genitals. Some problems you can have with the vulvar area include:
- Vaginitis or vulvovaginitis, swelling or infection of the vulva and vagina
- Skin problems due to allergy
- Vulvar cancer
- Vulvodynia, or vulvar pain
Symptoms may include redness, itching, pain, or cracks in the skin. Treatment depends on the cause. Referral information for GPs is here.