You may or may not know what exactly comes under the umbrella of gynecological diseases, the chances are you have suffered from one at some point in life. In many cases, these conditions go undiagnosed and untreated due to a factor of shame associated with them. It is very important to know what gynecological diseases are and that they are nothing to be ashamed of, anyone can suffer from them, even after doing everything right!
Gynecological diseases are all conditions and ailments that affect the female reproductive system which includes organs like the vagina, uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes. They can develop in anyone with these organs and are likely to present with a variety of symptoms that can include, but are not limited to the following:
- Pain or pressure in your pelvis that differs from menstrual cramps
- Itching, burning, swelling, and/or redness in the vulvaror vaginal area
- soreness in the vaginal area
- Sores or lumps in the vulvaror vaginal area
- Something protruding from the vaginal orifice
- Vaginal discharge with an unpleasant or unusual odour, or of an unusual colour
Additionally, some gynecological diseases may cause symptoms that are hard to relate to gynecological organs, like some cancers can cause metastasis (Spreading of cancerous cells to other tissues) which may present with symptoms like shortness of breath, jaundice or bone pain. And although very rare, a condition called endometriosis can cause endometrial tissue to implant in places like the anus or lungs which may cause constipation or hemoptysis (coughing up blood) respectively.
It is generally assumed that gynecological diseases stem from sexual intercourse or poor hygiene, however, more often than not, this is not the case. A multitude of factors that are out of your control like low immunity, stress, and some medications can also lead to gynecological disorders. Let’s explore these factors further to see how they cause gynecological disorders.
Low immunity can be detected using blood tests, that evaluate the levels of white blood cells and antibodies.
Low immunity can lead to a flurry of conditions, but the ones related to the gynecological organs usually affect the vagina. Low immunity means you are more susceptible to disease, and in this case, it may predispose you to yeast infections, or a condition called bacterial vaginosis. Additionally, it may interfere with your ability to fight off urinary tract infections. So even if you maintain hygiene and eat a healthy diet, you may still have a bacterial infection of the vagina.
A disturbed routine usually causes a lack of sleep and an increase in stress and anxiety. Of course, this is unhealthy for your whole body, but you might not realize that it also has a negative impact on your gynecological organs.
Stress and anxiety can cause a disturbance in the levels of hormones in your blood. Hormones are responsible for many processes in the body, some to do with fertility and menstruation. You may find that in times of high stress and disturbed sleep your menstrual cycle becomes irregular, and for those of you trying to get pregnant, it may become even more of an obstacle. Hormones also affect the mucus produced by the vagina and the maintenance of vaginal pH, both of these are very important to facilitate fertilization. Vaginal pH is also important to help fight off infections and a disturbed pH can facilitate bacterial growth and hence infection.
This may come as a surprise, but a lot of women do not know the proper way to maintain feminine hygiene. In many cases, this does not mean the introduction of new bacteria into the reproductive system but rather the overgrowth of bacteria that already reside in the vagina in its normal, physiological state. This leads to conditions like yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis.
Moreover, habits like wiping ‘back to front’ can cause fecal bacteria to contaminate not only the vagina but also the urethra causing UTIs. Other habits that can cause an imbalance in physiological vaginal bacteria include wearing tight underwear, douching, pregnancy, using harsh cleansers and menopause.
A lot of the conditions that affect your gynecological organs tend to have a genetic origin. Most cancers of the uterus and ovary are inherited, PCOS and fibroids are also linked to genetic predisposition. Although all of these conditions can also be associated with environmental factors, their most likely origin remains to be genetic.
Abortions are a major cause of a condition known as Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), which is basically an infection of all or some of the gynecological organs. PID usually results from a subpar abortion procedure that may be because of an unskilled doctor, unsterilized equipment, unreliable medical setup, or improper postoperative care. This causes bacteria to be introduced into the uterus and if not diagnosed immediately, it can spread to other organs in the pelvis. This can even lead to fatal conditions like shock or sepsis.
Poor Dietary Habits
Bad dietary habits have a widespread effect on the body. These effects may not be evident immediately but almost always lead to long-term complications. Consuming a diet high in carbohydrates and fats can lead to an increase in the level of sugar in your blood. This obviously gives rise to a disease called diabetes, but also has an effect on vaginal health. High levels of blood sugar can cause an overgrowth of the yeast fungus in the vagina which leads to yeast infection. Habits like smoking and alcoholism have also been linked to adverse vaginal health.
Displacement Of Endometrial Tissue
Displacement of endometrial tissue happens in two diseases: endometriosis and adenomyosis. Both of these diseases have a complex origin because the exact cause is often unknown. However, certain factors can dispose you to them. For example, increasing age, alcohol use, early menarche (starting of the first period), family history of endometriosis, infertility, intercourse during menstruation, low body weight, prolonged menstrual flow, and short cycle interval have all been linked to endometrial tissue displacement.
Unfortunately, old age can lead to a plethora of gynecological problems. These can start with vaginal dryness or atrophy as the levels of estrogen start to decrease after menopause. But it can also have more severe and systemic effects like decreased heart health, weak bones and even dementia. Elderly women are even more likely to develop uterine or vaginal prolapse because of the laxity of muscles all over the body. This can also lead to urinary or fecal incontinence which can be quite troublesome.
Although gynecological diseases are often attributed to sexual contact, their origin is not as simple as that. In fact, a multitude of causes can lead to disorders related to reproductive disorders. It is important to understand these causes and address them in time in order to keep them from developing into something more complex and harder to treat.