The pelvic organs include the vagina, uterus, bladder, urethra, and rectum. These organs are held in place by muscles of the pelvic floor. Layers of connective tissue also give support. Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) occurs when tissue and muscles can no longer support the pelvic organs and they drop down.
Uterine fibroids are benign (not cancer) growths that develop from the muscle tissue of the uterus. They also are called leiomyomas or myomas. The size, shape, and location of fibroids can vary greatly. They may be inside the uterus, on its outer surface or within its wall, or attached to it by a stem-like structure. A woman may have only one fibroid or many of varying sizes. A fibroid may remain very small for a long time and suddenly grow rapidly, or grow slowly over a number of years.
Menopause is the time when a woman’s menstrual periods stop permanently. Menopause is confirmed after 1 year of no periods. The average age of menopause is 51 years, but the normal range is 45 years to 55 years.
The years leading up to this point are called perimenopause. This term means “around menopause.” This phase can last for up to 10 years. During perimenopause, shifts in hormone levels can affect ovulation and cause changes in the menstrual cycle.
Abnormal bleeding can occur at any age. However, at certain times in a woman’s life it is common for periods to be somewhat irregular. Periods may not occur regularly when a girl first starts having them (around age 9–14 years). During perimenopause (beginning in the mid–40s), the number of days between periods may change. It also is normal to skip periods or for bleeding to get lighter or heavier during perimenopause.
Heavy menstrual bleeding is very common. About one third of women seek treatment for it. Heavy menstrual bleeding is not normal. It can disrupt your life and may be a sign of a more serious health problem. If you are worried that your menstrual bleeding is too heavy, tell your obstetrician–gynecologist (ob-gyn).
Chronic pelvic pain is pain in the pelvic area that lasts for 6 months or longer. Chronic pain can come and go, or it can be constant. Sometimes chronic pelvic pain follows a regular cycle. For example, it may occur during menstruation. It also can occur only at certain times, such as before or after eating, while urinating, or during sex.
Endometriosis is a condition in which the type of tissue that forms the lining of the uterus (the endometrium) is found outside the uterus. Endometriosis occurs in about 1 in 10 women of reproductive age. It is most often diagnosed in women in their 30s and 40s.
Pain associated with menstruation is called dysmenorrhea. Dysmenorrhea is the most commonly reported menstrual disorder. More than one half of women who menstruate have some pain for 1–2 days each month.
An ovarian cyst is a sac or pouch filled with fluid or other tissue that forms in or on an ovary. Ovarian cysts are very common. They can occur during the childbearing years or after menopause. Most ovarian cysts are benign (not cancer) and go away on their own without treatment. Rarely, a cyst may be malignant (cancer)
Endometrial hyperplasia occurs when the endometrium, the lining of the uterus, becomes too thick. It is not cancer, but in some cases, it can lead to cancer of the uterus.
Cervical cancer screening is used to find abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix that could lead to cancer. Screening includes the Pap test and, for some women, testing for a virus called human papillomavirus (HPV)
Outpatient surgery, also called ambulatory or same–day surgery, does not require an overnight stay in the hospital, meaning that you can go home the same day if your condition is stable. You will need someone to drive you home. Outpatient surgery may be done in a hospital, health care provider’s office, surgical center, or clinic. Inpatient surgery takes place in a hospital and requires an overnight stay.