Women's Health Articles
15 Great Reasons to Breastfeed - Nature's design for feeding babies
It’s common knowledge that breastfeeding is best when it comes to babies. Why? It benefits both babies and moms, and even makes economic sense. Benefits for babies include lower risk of diarrhea, ear and lung infections, asthma, sudden infant death syndrome, and obesity and childhood diseases. Breastfeeding encourages the best possible brain development, leading to a higher IQ. Moms recover more quickly after delivery, have less stress, lose pregnancy weight sooner, and are less likely to get pregnant while breastfeeding. They also have less risk of heart disease, obesity, and certain types of cancer.
Abnormal Menstrual Bleeding - a problem that occurs in women of all ages
Problems with menstrual periods occur in women of all ages. They are most common in the early teens and around menopause. Abnormal menstrual bleeding is a cause of concern for patients and is a frequent complaint in the doctor's office.
Approaching Menopause - you experiencing menstrual mayhem?
Hot flushes, heavy or erratic periods, mood swings, trouble sleeping, a sudden rapid heartbeat – all can signal the approach of menopause. Many women wonder if menopause is beginning at age 45, 47, and even as young as 35. Unexpected changes may appear for a few months, then all becomes regular and predictable again. The reality is that menopause may still be anywhere from two to ten years away.
Are You Anemic? - Anemia is a common condition
Anemia can leave you feeling tired, weak, dizzy and irritable. It is very common. Almost all women in their childbearing years have anemia at least once. (Men have it much less often.) Many chronically ill people are anemic all the time. Anyone with major trauma, major surgery, or chemotherapy goes through it. Understanding how to detect and deal with anemia can help you to feel better.
The Birth Control Pill - it can make a positive difference in other health conditions
The birth control pill as a method of contraception has become more popular over the past 30 years. The birth control pill as it exists today consists, in most cases, of two hormones given together for 21 days of each month. These hormones, estrogen and progesterone, occur naturally in a woman's body. They produce the characteristics of being female.
Birth Control - what's new and what's in the news
Have you heard about new methods of contraception that recently became available in Canada? Have you read reports that some birth control methods may carry a higher risk? If you have questions about contraception, a visit to your family doctor is a great way to find out more. There, you can discuss what you have seen or heard and get reliable answers. Everyone is different, so choosing the right method of contraception is a very individual decision.
Busting Breastfeeding Myths - The facts about nursing
Most people know that breastfeeding is the healthiest way to feed a baby, offering many benefits for both mother and child. While most women in Canada try to breastfeed their babies, many find it difficult and stop before they planned to do so. While information and advice about breastfeeding is available from friends, family, health professionals, books, and the Internet, much of it can be inaccurate. Knowing the difference between truth and myth can be reassuring.
Changes to Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines - What's Best for My Breast?
For decades, women have been told to schedule an annual breast exam with their doctors. Recent changes to this advice have left women wondering. Do I need a breast exam? How often? Should I do self-exams? How do I know if this lump is normal or not? What if my great aunt had breast cancer? If my friend had a mammogram at age 40, why do I not need one until I am 50?
Screening for Breast Cancer - How to do a breast self-examination
Many women worry about breast cancer, both as a concern for themselves and for the increased occurrence among women in general. Fortunately there are things individual women can do to increase the chance of early detection and cure.
Considering Breast Health - A lifetime of changes
Breasts are very important parts of a woman’s body. They are symbols of femininity, nurturing, motherhood and sexuality. They are also physiologically significant, producing milk to nourish our offspring. Throughout history and cultures, breasts have been admired and criticized. Different trends in culture still dictate what is considered the best size, shape and function. The topic of female breasts is emotionally charged. Women have strong and varied opinions about the reason for and value of their breasts.
Contraception - answers to common questions
Family planning is an important aspect of life and a basic human right. In 2003, the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada brought together a group of health care professionals to update the Canadian Contraception Consensus. Here are the concensus guideline answers to commonly-asked questions about contraception.
Conquering Cystitis - Facts about bladder infection in women
If you are running to the bathroom more often than usual, feeling pressure in your lower abdomen or pain when passing urine, you may have cystitis. The bladder, urethra, ureters and kidneys make up the urinary system. Also called the urinary tract, this system produces, stores and eliminates urine. However, it is prone to infection. Such infections are called cystitis or urinary tract infections (UTIs).
Screening for Cervical Cancer - Guidelines have changed
For over 25 years, Pap smears have been used to test for cancer of the cervix. Women accept and use the test. Most now believe that they need an annual pap smear. Afterward, many women feel comfort in having done the right thing. For some, it feels almost preventive – as if having the test done will prevent cancer.
Put Your Best Face Forward - five common cosmetic procedures
The quest for clear, smooth, youthful skin is not new. For thousands of years we have used products to improve our skin. Still, compare Cleopatra and her sour milk baths to the current multi-billion dollar skincare industry. We are exposed daily to magazine ads, billboards, commercials, and now extreme makeover television promoting a youthful appearance.
Estrogen's Effect on the Brain
Estrogen is a hormone that occurs naturally in the body. Women become very familiar with the word estrogen as they learn about the beginning, middle and end of their reproductive years. Some women continue to hear about the hormone when they use it in the form of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) around the time of menopause.
Endometriosis - treating a painful problem
Endometriosis affects women in their reproductive years. It occurs from the time they first start menstruating as teens, until their periods stop at menopause. One in ten women around the world have been diagnosed with it. Endometriosis involves the female reproductive organs, as well as other sites in the body, including pelvis and abdomen. Most often, it causes chronic pelvic pain, and may lead to difficulty getting pregnant.
Fibroids - a common concern for women
Patricia is 42. She has noticed her periods are getting heavier and her bladder seems to be shrinking while her lower abdomen has enlarged. Her family doctor examined Patricia and told her she had a large fibroid on the front of her uterus. Several questions entered her mind.
Fear of Fracture - Assess your chance of having a break
For older adults, a fractured (broken) bone is more than just an inconvenience. It can mean the difference between independence and being forced to rely on others. For some, a bad break can even lead to early death. For this reason, medical and public health efforts are focusing more on preventing fractures.
Genetic Risks for Breast Cancer
Breast cancer accounts for 32 per cent of all female cancers. This is the most common cancer for women with eight per cent of women having the disease sometime in their lives. The risk of a woman dying from breast cancer is 3.6 per cent.
Could it be a heart attack? - a woman's problem too
Cardiovascular disease, which includes both heart disease and stroke, takes the lives of more of Canada’s mothers, sisters, and daughters than any other condition. What’s more, it is striking more often. Over the past 30 years, the number of deaths it caused in women rose, while dropping in men. In 2004, cardiovascular disease killed more women than men in Canada.
Heavy Menstrual Periods - what are the causes?
In ancient times, the Greeks named the uterus or womb the hustera. They attributed all women's problems to their uterus. The name forms part of the term hysterectomy, referring to the operation to remove the uterus.
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
Doctors often recommend hormone replacement therapies (HRT) to women who are at or beyond the time of menopause. Understanding the benefits and risks of HRT will assist you when you discuss this issue with your doctor.
Hirsutism - When extra hair growth is a concern
If you are a woman and find yourself developing dark hair on your upper lip, chin, chest, abdomen or back, you may have a condition called hirsutism. (This is pronounced: her-shoot-ism.) In many women, dark or heavy hair growth is perfectly normal and related to ethnic background. However, it may also signal a medical condition. In the vast majority of cases, these conditions are not life threatening. However, because they indicate too much male hormone, you should discuss the hair growth with your doctor.
The IUD - an effective method of birth control
Many women use an IUD (intrauterine device) as a method of birth control. It is safe, easy to use, and relatively inexpensive. It has a low rate of side effects and a low failure rate (in other words, few women using the IUD get pregnant).
Menopause and Your Moods - Strategies for coping with menopause
Menopause is a time of transition. Your body is changing as menstrual cycles stop and the reproductive period ends. The time leading up to this switch is called perimenopause. It often begins in the late 40s to early 50s, and can last several years. Once 12 months have passed without a menstrual period, menopause has occurred.
Menopause - what men should know
Men whose partners are at or beyond the time of menopause may want to support and understand their partner as she experiences this natural process commonly called "the change of life". It is not a disease and for the most women the transition to the end of reproductive life is fairly smooth.
Managing Menopause - Should you consider bioidentical hormone replacement therapy?
At a certain point in a woman's life, hormone changes stop the process of menstruation. This phase, called meno pause, usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 55 although the timing varies. Understanding this process and related changes can help a woman cope with moving into the next phase of her life. Today, many myths still exist about menstruation.
Third-Generation Birth Control Pills - the "new" pill
It is hard to imagine any medication that has influenced the lives of women more than “the pill." Oral contraceptives were introduced in the early 1960s. They are now used by more than 65 million women worldwide, about six per cent of women of child-bearing age.
Osteoporosis is a condition where the bones have become thin (osteo = bone,
porosis = porous). Thin bones are weak and more likely to break. Sometimes this may occur even without any apparent cause, such as a fall or a blow.
Painful Menstruation - common causes and treatments
Many women suffer from painful menstruation (dysmenorrhea) at some time in their lives. For some, it is a problem of the teenage years, while for others it comes with older age.
The Pap Test - An essential part of a woman's annual physical
A Pap test screens for changes in the cells of the cervix. Finding changes early makes it easier to catch cancer in the 'precancerous' stage and treat the condition before it becomes serious.
Premenstrual Syndrome - help is available
If you have ever suffered from premenstrual syndrome (PMS), take heart. You are one of about 70 to 90 per cent of women who have some PMS symptoms. About 10 per cent of women are affected severely enough to disrupt their lives. Although the cause of PMS is still uncertain, several measures may ease the symptoms.
Ovarian Cancer - what women must know to get help early
Until very recently, finding and treating early cancer of the ovaries seemed next to hopeless. Only a third of cases were diagnosed before the cancer spread. Thankfully, this is changing. We know much more about early symptoms and better understand who is at risk. More dependable screening is now available, with improvements still to come. With earlier detection, treatment is more effective. More women are now expected to survive ovarian cancer.
Ovarian Cysts - What women should know
Many questions come to mind when you learn that you have an ovarian cyst. What is a cyst? What does it mean to have a cyst on an ovary? Can it be harmful? How is it diagnosed and treated? To know when an ovarian cyst may be dangerous, you must first understand the role of the ovaries.
Screening for Breast and Cervical Cancers - it may save your life
Prevention and early detection can save lives, particularly when it comes to cancer of the breast or cervix. Many provinces encourage screening for these common women's diseases. Screening is often done in partnership with the provincial cancer board, through programs for all eligible women. What does this mean to you if you are in the eligible age groups?
Sexually Transmitted Infections - Always a concern
Since media headlines about HIV have died down, it seems that the possibility of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is less alarming to many people. Unfortunately, HIV is still around. A number of other infections also continue to cause pain, infertility, and cancer. Knowing about these infections and how to prevent them is more important than ever. Just using condoms may not be enough.
Unwanted Hair (Hirsutis) - when and how it should be treated
Body hair can be a source of pride for men and a source of shame for women. Smooth, hairless faces stare out from glossy women's magazines. Bodies that have been shaved and depilated with waxes and creams are the picture of femininity.
After toilet training in childhood, the thought of losing bladder control later in life is unthinkable for most people. Yet, in fact, the unthinkable is not only thinkable. It is common. This loss of bladder control is called incontinence. Thirty-five per cent of women are incontinent at some time in their adult lives and about six per cent of Canadians (over a million and a half people) suffer from this problem on a regular basis.
Is there Viagra for Women? - Talking about female sexual dysfunction
Thanks to clever advertising, most of us are now familiar with the medications Viagra® and Cialis®. Popular culture accepts that men may have difficulty with erections and sexual performance. How about the ladies? Female sexual dysfunction deserves the same attention.
Vaginitis - distressing but rarely serious
Most women have been to a doctor at least once to see about an annoying discharge from the vagina (birth canal). It may have been mild or quite severe, and may have had a foul smell or irritated the surrounding skin.
Varicose Veins - Prevention and treatment
Venous diseases, or conditions that affect the veins, trouble many people. They are a major cost to health care systems in the world. Arteries take blood from the heart to the organs and tissues of the body. Veins return blood to the heart. Veins in the legs contain a system of one-way valves to help blood move against gravity on the return journey. When those valves are damaged, varicose veins can develop.
Vulva 101 - What you should know
Discussing genital health can feel awkward, as we tend to be private about this area. However, the health of the external reproductive organs is as important as that of any other body part. Many women visit the doctor because of issues with the vulva or vagina. Understanding more about female genitalia can help you to know what to do and when to get medical advice.
Yeast Infections - identifying and treating this common problem
Yeast – it’s in all of us. Young or old, male or female, we all carry yeast in our bodies. Most of the time, we live peacefully with our yeast. We are not aware of its constant presence in our lives. However, sometimes yeast can grow out of control and cause unwanted problems. Sometimes, yeast takes hold in the woman’s vagina. A vaginal yeast infection results. Here are answers to some of the most common questions about vaginal yeast infections.
Your Pelvic Floor - understanding a woman's anatomy
Today there is a growing tend towards fitness and well-being, especially among women. More than ever, we are aware of the benefits of healthy diet and regular exercise. Some may exercise at home or go to a gym, while others are active in sports. You may religiously work out your arms and legs, your abdominal muscles and your buttocks. Have you ever thought about exercising those little muscles tucked around the genital region which form the pelvic floor? These muscles need to be cared for along with the rest of your body.