7 Period Problems You Shouldn’t Ignore


Read this if your red tide wipes you out.
woman-lying-on-bed-period

There are some period problems that are unfortunately par for the course, like cramps, irritability, and bleeding more than you would like to be bleeding from your vagina.

But there are also some period problems that you should bring up to your doctor—just in case—because they’re a bit outside of what’s normally expected during menstruation. Here are some things to keep an eye out for.

1. You soak through a pad or tampon in an hour or less, your period lasts longer than seven days, or both.

The clinical term for an exceedingly heavy or long period is menorrhagia. These are basically horror movie-style periods, but some people don’t even realize this kind of bleeding is abnormal. “One of the biggest problems is someone being so used to heavy bleeding that she underplays the amount,” Lauren Streicher, M.D., an associate professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, tells SELF. “She’ll come in and say her periods aren’t too bad, then say she has to change her tampon every hour.” Passing clots larger than a quarter is also a sign your bleeding is too heavy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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It’s not just that bleeding way too much or for too long is messy and inconvenient. Losing more than the typical two to three tablespoons of blood during your period or bleeding for longer than seven days can lead to anemia, the CDC says. If you have anemia, you lack enough healthy red blood cells to get oxygen to all your tissues, so you may feel tired and weak, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Bleeding too much can also be a sign of various health issues, like uterine fibroids, which are benign growths in and on the uterus that can sometimes come along with problems like pelvic pain and frequent urination. Uterine polyps, which are growths on the inner lining of the uterus, can also cause heavy bleeding, as can cervical polyps, which are lumps that emerge from the cervix. Both types of polyps are typically non-cancerous but, in rare cases, may contain cancer cells.

The hormonal issue polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) can also cause heavy bleeding. Worse, this bleeding can strike after months of an MIA period. This gives your uterine lining a chance to build up over time, leading to an abnormally heavy period when it finally comes, Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., a clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences at Yale Medical School, tells SELF. PCOS can also cause symptoms like excess face and body hair or severe acne, thanks to high levels of male hormones.

Heavy menstrual bleeding could even be a sign of a disorder that causes you to lose too much blood, like idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP). ITP usually comes along with other symptoms like easy and excessive bruising or a rash of reddish-purple dots on a person’s lower legs.

Clearly, figuring out what’s causing your heavy bleeding won’t be easy on your own, so you should see your doctor. They’ll typically ask about your other symptoms and perform exams to determine what exactly is going on, and treatment will depend on what you’re dealing with.

2. Your period brings days of pain that make it practically impossible to leave your bed.

Dr. Streicher’s rule is essentially that if you’re experiencing even an iota of period pain beyond what you’re fine with, it’s too much. The first step is typically to take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, since they block hormone-like chemicals known as prostaglandins that cause uterine cramping. If that knocks out your cramps, you’re good to go. If you’re still curled up in the fetal position after a few hours, that’s a sign that you need evaluation, Dr. Streicher says. You’re dealing with dysmenorrhea (severe menstrual cramps), and doctors can help.

There are many different causes of overboard menstrual cramps. Fibroids are a common culprit. So is endometriosis, a condition many experts think happens when tissue lining the uterus travels outside of it and begins growing on other organs. (Other experts believe that tissue is actually different in that it can make its own estrogen, which can create painful inflammation in people with endometriosis.) In addition to causing extremely painful periods, endometriosis can lead to painful intercourse, occasional heavy periods, and infertility, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Adenomyosis, which happens when the endometrial tissue lining the uterus grows into the muscular walls of the organ, can also cause terrible menstrual pain, along with expelling big clots during your period and pain during intercourse.

3. You never know when your period is going to show up.

Pour one out for all the times you thought you’d have a period-free vacation, only for it to show up right as you hit the beach. Fun! Irregular periods could be due to a number of different things that are (at least somewhat) in your control, like stress and travel, Dr. Streicher says. But they can also happen because of various health conditions.

Take thyroid issues, for instance. Hypothyroidism, which is when your thyroid gland in your neck doesn’t produce enough hormones, can lead to an irregular period, according to the Mayo Clinic. It can also cause myriad other symptoms, like heavier than usual periods, fatigue, constipation, dry skin, weight gain, impaired memory, and more. Treatment typically involves taking medication that mimics the thyroid hormone.

On the flip side, hyperthyroidism, which is when your thyroid gland is overactive, can cause light or infrequent menstruation, along with issues like sudden weight loss, rapid heart rate, increased appetite, and more frequent bowel movements, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Irregular periods are also a sign of premature ovarian failure, which is when a person younger than 40 starts losing their normal ovarian function, according to the Mayo Clinic. It can also cause menopausal symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, and difficulty conceiving. Doctors can offer estrogen therapy to relieve symptoms like hot flashes (typically in conjunction with progesterone to avoid the precancerous cells that may take hold if you take estrogen alone). They can also counsel you about the possibility of in vitro fertilization if you’d like to physically conceive and carry children in the future.

PCOS and uterine polyps be behind irregular bleeding, too.

4. Your period decides not to show up for a while.

While it’s true that you can sometimes randomly miss a period for reasons like stress, you shouldn’t just ignore a long-term missing period. Suddenly being period-free may feel blissful, but you’ll want to make sure there’s not a health issue going on, like PCOS, an eating disorder or excessive exercise affecting your menstruation…or, yes, pregnancy.

“If you’re menstruating normally then suddenly go months without a period, that’s not something to ignore,” Dr. Streicher says. If your period vanishes for three months or longer (this is known as amenorrhea), see your doctor for evaluation.

It’s worth noting that the use of some hormonal birth control methods—especially the hormonal IUD—can make your period basically disappear. Still, check with your doctor, just in case, when this happens.

5. You’re dealing with a lot of unexpected spotting between periods.

There are times when this is normal, like if you’ve just started a new type of birth control, or even if you’re pregnant (spotting can be totally fine during pregnancy), Dr. Minkin says. But if nothing in your life has changed and you start spotting between periods, call your doctor for an appointment.

It could be something that’s ultimately pretty harmless, like a benign uterine or cervical polyp that’s causing bleeding between periods. But spotting is also a hallmark of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which is the result of sexually transmitted bacteria from infections like chlamydia and gonorrhea spreading to reproductive organs like your uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries. In addition, pelvic inflammatory disease can cause issues like fever, strange vaginal discharge that smells bad, and burning when you pee.

If you have PID, your doctor will first address the STI in question with antibiotics, says the CDC, then treat your partner for an STI if necessary. Pelvic inflammatory disease is a leading cause of chronic pelvic pain and infertility in women, so if you suspect you have it, treatment is of the essence.

More rarely, spotting in between periods can be a sign of cervical cancer, according to the Mayo Clinic. Cervical cancer can come along with watery, bloody discharge that might have a bad odor and pelvic pain, including during intercourse. Even though this likely isn’t your issue, you’ll want to get checked out, just in case. Treatment for cervical cancer may involve a hysterectomy, radiation, or chemotherapy.

6. You experience debilitating mood issues before your period.

When your estrogen and progesterone drop before your period, you may experience the typical mood swings that mark premenstrual syndrome (PMS). (Bear in mind that this may not be as drastic if you’re on hormonal birth control, which stabilizes your hormones throughout your cycle.)

But if you deal with severe mood swings, irritability, anger, a lack of enjoyment in things you usually enjoy, and other symptoms that affect your life, you may have premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). PMDD happens when you experience these symptoms in the week before your period, then they start getting better in the first few days of bleeding, and disappear in the weeks after your period. It’s listed in the DSM-5, the most recent version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, for good reason: This psychological issue can completely turn your life upside down.

“If you suspect you have PMDD, the one thing I would encourage is keeping a daily record of the severity of your symptoms,” Dr. Minkin says. If these symptoms only rear their head the week before your period, PMDD might be your issue. If you realize you’re constantly dealing with them and your period just makes them worse, it might be premenstrual exacerbation, which is another way of saying you have a mental illness like depression that gets worse during your period.

Either way, a doctor can help. If you have PMDD, your doctor may have you take antidepressants in the timeframe when you usually experience symptoms, then stop once your period starts, Dr. Minkin says. (If you have premenstrual exacerbation, they may recommend staying on the antidepressants through the month and potentially upping your dosage in the week before your period.)

Or your doctor may suggest you go on birth control using a synthetic version of progesterone called drospirenone, Dr. Minin says, like Yaz and Beyaz. These are FDA-approved to treat PMDD. Though experts aren’t sure why they can be so successful in this arena, it may be because drospirenone reduces a person’s response to hormonal fluctuations. It’s also a diuretic, meaning it can flush out liquids that could otherwise cause fluid retention and contribute to annoying issues like bloating.

7. You have excruciating migraines before or during your period.

If migraines had any home training, they’d at least leave you alone when you’re about to get your period. Unfortunately, period migraines are indeed a thing.

It’s not that menstruation will just randomly cause migraines in unsuspecting people who have never had one, but women with a history of migraines may experience them before or during their periods, according to the Mayo Clinic, which adds that this may be due to estrogen fluctuations. “They tend to get the headache right as they go into their periods, and it seems to get better after they have had their menses for a day or two,” Dr. Minkin says.

If you’re dealing with this, your typical migraine medication may work for you. As you probably know if you’ve grappled with migraines, the treatment options are legion. They include pain-relieving medications to relieve symptoms ASAP and preventive drugs to ward off migraines altogether, according to the Mayo Clinic. In the former camp, you have choices like anti-nausea meds and triptans, which constrict swollen blood vessels and block pain pathways in the brain. In the latter, you’ve got meds like tricylic antidepressants, which affect brain chemicals like serotonin that may be implicated in migraines.

No matter what your period problem may be, you don’t have to suffer in silence.

You have no reason to feel embarrassed about your period—or the myriad problems that can come with it. After all, celebrities are out here talking about menstruation! Some pad commercials even—gasp—use red “blood,” these days! What a time to be alive.

If you’re having period problems, see your doctor for help. If they aren’t committed to relieving your symptoms, that’s a sign you should try to find a more sympathetic medical professional who can help you find the best treatment.

8 Health Conditions That Disproportionately Affect Black Women


And what you can do to prevent some of them
black-women-diseases-health-conditions

Although being black in this world certainly comes with its struggles, I wouldn’t trade that integral part of my identity for anything. Black-girl magic is real. But it’s a sad fact that black women are often plagued with disproportionately high incidences or mortality rates for various health conditions, like heart diseasebreast cancer, and more.

It sounds scary—and it can be—but knowledge is power, especially when it comes to your physical and mental health. Here are eight health conditions black women should be especially aware of, plus how to best prevent them.

1. Heart disease, stroke, and diabetes

These conditions often occur together or exacerbate each other, and they’re striking black women hard.

Around 7.6 percent of black women have heart disease, compared to 5.8 percent of white women and 5.6 percent of Mexican-American women, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data from 2011-2013. In 2016, around 46 of every 100,000 black women died from strokes, while 35 of every 100,000 white women did. And while white women’s diabetes diagnosis rate is 5.4 per 100, that number is 9.9 per 100 for black women, according to CDC data from 1980-2014—almost double.

Infographic of the heart disease/stroke/diabetes racial disparities

A group of risk factors known as metabolic syndrome increases a person’s chance of getting these diseases. These risk factors include having a waist circumference above 35 inches in women and 40 inches in men, high levels of triglycerides (fat in the blood), a low HDL (“good”) cholesterol level, high blood pressure, and high fasting blood sugar.

Someone must have at least three of these factors to be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, but having even one can signal higher chances of getting heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Those first two are particularly lethal, killing one woman about every 80 seconds.

The black community’s obesity crisis is a symbol of just how at-risk this segment of the population is. “The vast majority of African-American adult women are either overweight or obese,” Hilda Hutcherson, M.D., professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University Medical Center, tells SELF. While 37.6 percent of black men ages 20 or over are obese according to the latest data, that number jumps to 56.9 percent for black women. It stands at 36.2 percent for white women.

Various genetic components are likely at play with metabolic syndrome—for instance, some research points to a gene that might make black people more sensitive to salt, thus influencing blood pressure—but much of this issue is societal.

“It’s the foods we eat—many communities don’t have easy access to healthier options,” Dr. Hutcherson says. A 2013 study in Preventive Medicine found that “poor, predominantly black neighborhoods face…the most limited access to quality food.” Dr. Hutcherson also cites stress and adds that a lack of exercise can be a problem, too, if it’s hard to get access to a gym or the neighborhood isn’t safe.

Lifestyle changes like eating better, exercising, and stopping smoking can prevent 80 percent of heart disease events and stroke and lower people’s chances of developing diabetes, according to the CDC. But clearly, that’s sometimes easier said than done.

2. Breast cancer

Black women have a 1 in 9 chance of developing breast cancer; for white women the odds are 1 in 8, according to the American Cancer Society. But black women are more likely to die from the disease: White women’s probability of dying from breast cancer is 1 in 37, while black women’s is 1 in 31.

“The reasons why black women are more likely to die [from breast cancer than other groups] are very complex,” Adrienne Phillips, M.D., oncologist at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian, tells SELF, citing “an interplay between genetics, biology, and environment.”

Along with BRCA mutations (which may be higher in black women than experts previously thought), black women are more likely to get triple-negative breast cancer—a particularly aggressive form of the disease—than women of other races. Then there are the environmental factors Dr. Phillips mentions, like socioeconomic issues that lead to trouble accessing early diagnosis and treatment.

Much like metabolic syndrome, lowering your risk of getting breast cancer mainly comes down to exercising, maintaining a healthy weight, not going overboard on alcohol, and quitting smoking. And even though major organizations haven’t found a notable benefit from breast self-exams, many doctors strongly recommend you check your breasts monthly so you’re aware of any changes.

3. Cervical cancer

Research published in January in the journal Cancer found that not only are black women more likely to die of cervical cancer than women of other races, they’re also 77 percent more likely to die from it than experts previously thought. Prior estimates said 5.7 black women per 100,000 would die of the disease, but this new research puts the number at 10.1 per 100,000.

“Unlike breast cancer, cervical cancer is absolutely preventable in this day and age,” Dr. Phillips says. “In 2017, no woman should be diagnosed with cervical cancer.”

That’s partly because the HPV vaccine is excellent at preventing infection of certain strains of human papillomavirus that can go on to cause cancer. But as of August 2016, only 6 out of 10 girls ages 13 to 17 and 5 of 10 boys in the same age range had started the vaccine series, which doctors recommend getting before age 26 for optimal results. Racial disparities are relevant here—a 2014 report from the CDC showed that around 71 percent of white girls 13 to 17 had completed the three-shot series, compared with about 62 percent of black girls in that age group. (The CDC changed these recommendations in 2016: It now says only two doses are necessary for optimal protection if the patient is between 11 and 12, but three are still ideal if the patient is between 15 and 26.)

Timely Pap smears are also wonderfully effective at preventing full-blown cervical cancer. “A Pap smear will detect preinvasive cervical cancer, but…studies have shown women who are having Pap smears may not get appropriate follow-up,” Dr. Phillips says. “A number of barriers exist for proper follow-up, and African-American women may be more vulnerable.”

Another potential factor, though, may be racial disparities in cervical cancertreatment. A 2014 study published in Plos One found that black women in Maryland were significantly less likely than white women to get surgery for cervical cancer instead of radiation or chemotherapy.

“Equivalent treatments are not being administered to white and black patients with cervical cancer in Maryland,” the study authors concluded. “Differences in care may contribute to racial disparities in outcomes for women with cervical cancer.”

A 2016 study in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology reached a similar conclusion. The study looked at more than 16,000 patients who had received care for advanced cervical cancer, finding that white women received National Cancer Institute guideline–based care 58 percent of the time, black women 53 percent of the time, and Hispanic women 51.5 percent of the time.

4. Fibroids

Black women are three times more likely than women of other races to get uterine fibroids, noncancerous tumors in the walls of the uterus, according to the Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health. Fibroids are largely genetic, and there’s no known way to prevent them.

“Most of the time, women don’t know they have fibroids because they don’t have symptoms,” Dr. Hutcherson says. “But when [the fibroids] start to grow or increase in number, they can cause a large number of problems, from pain to bleeding to miscarriages, to problems with urination and problems with bowel movements.”

When fibroids do make themselves known, the first sign is often heavy bleedingor pelvic pain, Dr. Hutcherson says.

These symptoms can have a lot of other causes, but if you do have fibroids, you and your doctors can work on a treatment plan. To tackle heavy bleeding and pelvic pain, your doctor may recommend hormonal birth control. But doctors can also perform a myomectomy to remove the fibroids or use techniques like uterine artery embolization and radiofrequency ablation to either block the fibroid from getting nutrients or shrink it.

If you’re done having children or are not interested in having them in the first place, as a last resort, doctors can perform a hysterectomy to put a definitive end to fibroids. Since this makes it impossible to get pregnant, it’s an incredibly delicate decision that varies from woman to woman.

5. Premature delivery

Giving birth prematurely, or going into labor before 37 weeks of pregnancy, can predispose a child to breathing issues, digestive problems, brain bleeding, and long-term developmental delays. It can also lead to death—the earlier a baby is born, the higher this danger becomes.

Unfortunately, black women are particularly susceptible to going into labor too early. According to the CDC, the 2015 preterm birth rate in black women was 13 percent; for white women it was 9 percent.

Infographic of the preterm birth rate racial disparity

“This is multifactorial—it can be affected by obesity, by stress, by diet, by increased vaginal infections, and the decreased access to care in some of our populations,” Dr. Hutcherson says. Women having access to prenatal care is incredibly important for slashing the risk of preterm birth, but when socioeconomics come into the picture, it becomes a complex situation with too few solutions. However, the CDC’s Division of Reproductive Health is working on a variety of state- and national-level initiatives to reduce preterm birth in all women.

6. Sickle cell disease

This is an umbrella term for a collection of inherited, lifelong blood disorders that around 1 of every 365 black babies is born with, according to the CDC. Sickle cell disease is caused by a sickle hemoglobin, which happens when the structure of a person’s hemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen to the red blood cells, is abnormal. Instead of being circular, their red blood cells can look like sickles, a C-shaped farming tool, Dr. Phillips explains.

Sickle-shaped red blood cells can get destroyed in the blood stream, so patients may become anemic. These cells can also clog blood vessels, which can lead to infection, chest pain, and even stroke. And if a pregnant woman has sickle cell disease, it increases the probability of miscarriage, premature birth, and having a baby with a low birth weight, according to the March of Dimes.

Black women who are considering children should get screened for sickle cell no matter what, Dr. Phillips says. It’s possible to not have the disease but have the sickle cell trait, meaning you inherited one sickle cell gene and one normal gene from your parents. If your partner also has sickle cell trait, there is a 25 percent chance your child will inherit sickle cell disease. According to a CDC estimate from 2014, 73 out of every 1,000 black newborns was born with sickle cell trait, compared with 3 out of every 1,000 white newborns.

With proper care and caution to avoid complications, kids with sickle cell disease can live healthy, happy lives, Phillips says—it’s essential for their parents to get the proper education about how to keep them safe.

7. Sexually transmitted diseases

Here’s a bit of good news: Rates of reported chlamydia cases in black people decreased 11.2 percent from 2011 to 2015, according to the CDC. There was a similar downward trend with gonorrhea, which declined 4 percent in that time frame. But black women still outpace other groups when it comes to new diagnoses of these diseases, along with new diagnoses of syphilis.

This problem also extends to HIV/AIDS. Besides black men, black women comprise a majority of new HIV/AIDS diagnoses per year (although the number is thankfully falling). For example, according to the CDC, in 2015, 4,524 black women were diagnosed with HIV in the United States, while 1,431 white women and 1,131 Hispanic/Latina women received the same diagnosis.

“It’s not like black women are having more sex than anyone else,” Dr. Hutcherson says. “Access to good preventive care is the crux of it—if [women] could see health care providers on a regular basis and be educated about what they should be doing to take care of themselves, we probably wouldn’t have as much of a problem.”

Economic insecurity is also an element—condoms and dental dams cost money, after all—as is a general reticence to discuss safe sex.

“There’s a stigma around talking about sex, so people engage in risky sexual activity without protection,” Dr. Hutcherson says.

8. Mental health issues

In addition to the usual biological culprits that can contribute to mental illnessissues, economic insecurity and racism can negatively impact mental health status in the black community.

Overall, black people are 10 percent more likely to report experiencing serious psychological distress than white people, according to the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health.

“In 2017, we still face a lot of economic insecurity and racism in general. It’s a problem that causes stress and anxiety, which then can lead into depression, and that’s something we never discuss,” Dr. Hutcherson says. “I wish we could make it more acceptable to talk about this and seek care.” Just like in many other cultures, the black community is wrestling with the stigma of seeking help for mental distress. There’s also the reduced access to this kind of counseling in the first place, and the fact that mental health care can be prohibitively expensive. Many counselors, psychologists, and psychiatrists don’t take health insurance, which may deter people from getting the help they need. Combined, these factors resulted in 9.4 percent of black adults getting mental health treatment or some form of counseling in 2014 versus 18.8 percent of white people age 18 and older, per the Office of Minority Health.

Black women are especially vulnerable to wrestling with their mental health, consistently reporting higher feelings of sadness, hopelessness, worthlessness, and the sense that everything is an effort than white women do. “Black women are frequently the pillars of our community, taking care of everyone’s health but our own,” Dr. Phillips says. “But it’s very important for women to practice self-care and not forget about themselves when trying to be so strong.”

If you or a loved one is struggling with mental health, help is out there. The National Alliance on Mental Illness has a comprehensive page about mental health concerns in the black community and a help line that operates Monday through Friday, 10 A.M. to 6 P.M. NAMI also provides a list of 25 different help lines people can turn to when they need support.

8 Reasons It Burns When You Pee


Time to end the misery.
graphic of a roll of toilet paper with fire emojis

Burning pee is the worst. Only a few things should be happening when you pee, and almost bursting into tears isn’t one of them. Ridding your body of waste via your urine? Sure. Wondering why all people with vaginas don’t get the luxury of peeing standing up, thus avoiding any toilet seat germs (as harmless as they may be)? Why not. But if you’re preoccupied while peeing because it feels like hellfire is raining down from your urethra, you’ve got a problem. Luckily, ob/gyns have solutions. Here, the eight most common causes of burning, painful urination, plus how to treat them.

1. You have a urinary tract infection.

This is the biggest culprit behind painful peeing, Sarah Yamaguchi, M.D., ob/gyn at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles, tells SELF. A UTI happens when bacteria, often E. coli, gets into your urethra. The result: unpleasant symptoms like a persistent urge to hit up the bathroom and burning during urination. “If you’re having burning, particularly at the end of the urinary stream, it might be a sign of a urinary tract infection,” Alyssa Dweck, M.D., a gynecologist in Westchester, New York, and assistant clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, tells SELF.

If you do, in fact, have a UTI, a doctor can prescribe a round of antibiotics to kick the infection (and pain) to the curb. And if UTIs regularly besiege your poor body, make sure to take preventive measures, like staying hydrated, wiping from front to back, and peeing after you have sex.

2. You have a yeast infection.

An uncomfortable burning sensation while you pee is also a common symptom of yeast infections, which happen due to an overgrowth of yeast in the vagina, Dr. Yamaguchi explains. They’re often accompanied by another telltale symptom: “With a yeast infection, you’ll usually have thicker discharge,” one that basically looks like white cottage cheese, she explains. Antifungal medications can clear up the infection, some of which are OTC, and some of which are prescribed (but it’s smart to see a doctor just in case before grabbing an OTC medication, especially since some sexually transmitted diseases seem like regular ol’ vaginal infections).To avoid recurrent yeast infections, Dr. Yamaguchi recommends maintaining good hygiene, wearing cotton underwear for breathability (or at least underwear that has a cotton crotch), and changing ASAP after you work out instead of lounging around in your sweaty gear.

3. You have bacterial vaginosis.

Oh, bacterial vaginosis, you evil, foul-smelling wench. Yup, this infection, which arises when the “good” and “bad” bacteria in your vagina get thrown out of whack via sex, products you use, and the like, can lead to fish-scented discharge in addition to painful pee, Dr. Dweck says. Once your doctor determines that you have this infection, they’ll prescribe antibiotics for you to take either orally or vaginally.

4. You have a sexually transmitted disease.

Plenty of STDs can cause painful pee as just one of their annoying symptoms (when symptoms show up, that is—in many cases, STDs exhibit no symptoms at all). Herpes, an extremely common viral infection known for causing sores on the mouth and genitals, is one possibility, Dr. Yamaguchi says.

Chlamydia, a bacterial infection especially prevalent in women under 25, and gonorrhea, another bacterial infection that shows up a lot in that age range, are other common causes, Dr. Dweck says. Both chlamydia and gonorrhea can also lead to abnormal discharge, like some that’s yellow or green, so be on the lookout for that as well.

And trichomoniasis, the most common curable STD, can also present with terrible-smelling discharge and pain while peeing.

5. You have some sex-related vaginal tears.

The sharp, sudden pain of burning while peeing might come with a surge of panic that something is really, really wrong, but that’s not always true. “Little abrasions from sex can cause some burning while peeing and irritation,” Dr. Yamaguchi says. To cut back on that yikes-inducing feeling, she recommends pouring warm water over your vaginal area when you’re peeing. “The temperature will help interfere with the nerve pathways,” she says. And to avoid the issue altogether, she suggests making sure you’re plenty lubed up whenever your vagina’s getting some attention. Here’s everything to know before you buy some lube for sex.

6. Or some non-sex-related vaginal tears.

Many women experience burning pee after they give birth. Since all the tissue down below stretches in an impressive way to make room for the baby, vaginal and perineal tears can occur. This is why many new moms, including Chrissy Teigen, rely on perineal irrigation bottles, aka devices that make it even easier to squirt warm water on yourself to dull the pain.

7. You’re using unnecessary feminine hygiene products.

“We’ve been led to believe that the vaginal area is super dirty, and we should be cleaning with deodorizers and perfumes—that’s not the case,” Dr. Dweck says. “The vagina has a good self-cleaning protocol, if you will, to keep its pH in balance and keep things in order.” But when you use products like douches or feminine hygiene washes, you might wind up with irritation that leads to urinary burning. If your skin is super sensitive, this can even happen from fragrant bubble baths, Dr. Dweck explains.

Really, you don’t need anything beyond a gentle, fragrance-free soap and some water to wash your vulva, and you don’t even need to wash your actual vagina. Let it clean itself in peace, please!

8. You’re dealing with post-menopause atrophic vaginitis.

Hormonal changes during menopause can result in a phenomenon known as atrophic vaginitis, or vaginal atrophy, Dr. Yamaguchi says. The skin of the vulva and vagina thin out, which can lead to some burning and irritation during sex, urination, and while just going about your daily life. If you’re dealing with this, chat with your doctor to determine whether hormonal supplementation may help your symptoms, and if not, how to find relief.

STD Symptoms In Women Are Less Obvious And So Less Treated, Could Lead To Infertility


vulnerable
The reasons women are impacted by STDs more than men include the fragility of the vagina and the fact that her symptoms are less obvious. 

When it comes to unprotected sex, women naturally bear more of the consequences than men. Certainly, a man will never become pregnant after sex without a condom, but a woman also might bear, disproportionately, the consequences of sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs). Consider a few sobering facts: untreated STDs cause infertility in at least 24,000 women each year in the U.S. alone. You may be astonished to learn as well that untreated syphilis in pregnant women causes infant death in up to 40 percent of all cases. Finally, when it comes to untreated chlamydia, men suffer neither symptoms nor ill effects most of the time, while women can develop pelvic inflammatory disease which might lead to reproductive system damage.

So why are women impacted by STDs differently than men? A few key reasons go a long way to explaining feminine vulnerability:

One/ For many common STDs — including chlamydia and gonorrhea — women are less likely to show symptoms compared to men and when symptoms do occur, they may appear to go away even though the infection remains. More importantly, men find it easier to notice symptoms because they signs are so obvious — an unusual discharge, for example. Since women experience a whole range of natural discharges, all of them quite normal, they find it much more difficult to distinguish when an abnormal one appears.

Two/ Not only is the vagina a suitably moist environment where bacteria may easily flourish, but its lining is exceedingly more delicate and thinner than the skin of a penis. This natural fragility means viruses find it easier to penetrate.

Three/ Women have visibility issues. Notably, it’s harder for a woman to see a genital ulcer (from syphilis, say, or herpes) because they could occur only inside her vagina and not on the surface of her genitalia. Meanwhile, it’s difficult for a man to miss seeing a sore making its debut on his penis.

Four/ Finally, everyday sexually transmitted infections wreak havoc on a woman’s more gentle system while causing no problems in men. Along with chlamydia, the human papillomavirus (HPV) is contracted by both men and women frequently. However this common virus does not lead to serious (if any) health problems for most men while it is the main cause of cervical cancer in women. The fairer sex has been dealt an unequal hand.

So what’s a woman to do? In a phrase: protect yourself.

Speak Up

See your doctor, but more importantly talk to your doctor. There’s no shame in asking to be tested for sexually transmitted infections and diseases, and this is true whether your visit is with your primary care physician or your ob/gyn. If you haven’t already been given one, you might want to ask for the HPV vaccine.

Don’t stop here, though. Once you get a sense of a partner’s sexual history, go all the way and ask about STDs, especially if he or she has been around the block a few times. Make it a joke, if you have to, but simply ask: Ever been tested for STDs?

Finally, and yes we’ve saved the best for last, use condoms. Imperfect though they may be, they offer a good deal of protection against STIs and pregnancy. You’re never perfectly safe, and sadly, even long-term boyfriends (and husbands) have been known to spread disease to their partners. It’s always worth it, knowing you’ve done your best at self-protection.

Sex-Specific Immunization for Sexually Transmitted Infections Such as Human Papillomavirus: Insights from Mathematical Models


Sex-specific differences regarding the transmissibility and the course of infection are the rule rather than the exception in the epidemiology of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Human papillomavirus (HPV) provides an example: disease outcomes differ between men and women, as does the potential for transmission to the opposite sex. HPV vaccination of preadolescent girls was recently introduced in many countries, and inclusion of boys in the vaccination programs is being discussed. Here, we address the question of whether vaccinating females only, males only, or both sexes is the most effective strategy to reduce the population prevalence of an STI like HPV.

Methods and Findings

We use a range of two-sex transmission models with varying detail to identify general criteria for allocating a prophylactic vaccine between both sexes. The most effective reduction in the population prevalence of infection is always achieved by single-sex vaccination; vaccinating the sex with the highest prevaccine prevalence is the preferred strategy in most circumstances. Exceptions arise only when the higher prevaccine prevalence is due to a substantially lower rate of natural immunity, or when natural immunity is lifelong, and a prolonged duration of infectiousness coincides with increased transmissibility. Predictions from simple models were confirmed in simulations based on an elaborate HPV transmission model. Our analysis suggests that relatively inefficient genital transmission from males to females might render male vaccination more effective in reducing overall infection levels. However, most existing HPV vaccination programs have achieved sufficient coverage to continue with female-only vaccination.

Conclusions

Increasing vaccine uptake among preadolescent girls is more effective in reducing HPV infection than including boys in existing vaccination programs. As a rule, directing prophylactic immunization at the sex with the highest prevaccine prevalence results in the largest reduction of the population prevalence.

Source:PLOS

 

 

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