Gynaecological problems in women are very common and most often neglected, especially in India. However, the types of gynaecological problems vary per age bars; some specific problems accrue to women of a certain age. For females above 50 years are at the typical age of menopause; while some would be in their premenopausal period, there would be others that would be in their postmenopausal period. Both types of women can face a lot of gynae problems that would need medical attention and care. Here are some of the common gynae problems in females of 55+ years.
Menopause: Menopause is an unavoidable issue which occurs in females over the age of 55 years; the exact age depends per case. In menopause, a woman no longer menstruates and thus, ceases to be fertile. This is a normal condition and is not a disease or problem as such until it starts to develop problematic symptoms. General symptoms of menopause might occur a year before and last till another year post-menopause. It is characterized by irregular periods, lower fertility, vaginal dryness, hot flashes, night sweats, disturbed sleep, urinary problems, emotional changes, learning problems, hair loss, and breast shrinkage. Menopause is a normal life activity and in case it starts to hamper the quality of life, visiting a gyane is required to maintain comfort; the gyane might recommend hormone replacement therapy and other medications to ease the process.
Post-menopausal Bleeding: For women over the age of 55+, it is highly likely that have already reached the menopause stage. Being in a menopause stage implies that the female will not experience any menstrual bleeding. However, in certain cases, it is known that even menopausal women experience bleeding which is a cause of worry. This condition could be caused due to polyps, thinning or thickening of the uterine lining, thinning of the vaginal tissue, cancer, medications, as well as sexually transmitted diseases – for sexually active women. The condition is easily curable but requires immediate medical attention. To diagnose the cause of bleeding, the gynae will conduct a physical exam and might ask for a transvaginal ultrasound, endometrial biopsy, sonohysterography or hysteroscopy. Depending on the cause of bleeding, the doctor will prescribe estrogen therapy, progestin therapy, hysteroscopy, dilation & curettage, hysterectomy, radiation, chemotherapy or hormone therapy, along with other medications.
Vulvovaginitis: While this problem can occur in women of all ages, it is fairly common females of 55+ years. Vulvovaginitis is characterized by inflammation or infection in the vulva and vagina, which is caused primarily by bacteria while other causes include – yeast, viruses, parasites, environment components, chemical irritants, etc. Vulvovaginitis irritates the genital area, itching, foul-smelling vaginal discharge, problem in urinating and more. The condition is easily treatable with some targeted medications depending on the type of infection and organism that is causing the problem.
Genital Prolapse: Genital Prolapse, also known as Pelvic Floor Prolapse is a type of pelvic floor disorder which refers to descending or falling of pelvic floor organs including bladder, uterus, urethra, vagina, small bowel, and rectum. This happens when muscles, connective tissue and fascia supporting the pelvic organs get weakened or stretched. This condition is very common in females of 55+ years (mostly postmenopausal) who have had children. Genital prolapsed disorders are diagnosed by the gynae via conducting a full physical examination including pelvic assessment, as well as by analysing symptoms and health problems. Mild pelvic floor disorder can be treated via some lifestyle changes, exercises and healthy habits. Moderately complicated problems can be treated by placing a pessary to relieve pain and keep the organs in place, and severe cases can require surgery.
Urinary Incontinence: In this disorder, a person is unable to control the release of urine. Sometimes, the case is so because of urinary tract infection and other times, urinary incontinence happens because of problems caused by modifications in bladder muscles and nerves. Urinary incontinence is considered normal with increasing age, especially for women with age over 50. Urinary incontinence can be treated by exercise, medications or surgery if the need be.
Uterine Cancer: Also referred to as endometrial cancer, uterine cancer begins in the layer of the cells that make up the lining of the uterus. The exact cause of this type of cancer is not known, however, it develops due to DNA mutations in the cells in the lining of the uterus. These changes in the DNA of cells causes the healthy cells to perform abnormal activities – expand and multiply at an abnormal rate, without dying at a set time. This mass accumulation of cells causes uterine cancer. Women over 55 years of age are very high risk of this type of cancer. It is easy to diagnose uterine cancer since it produces abnormal vaginal bleeding even after menopause.
These are some of the common gynae problems in females of 55+ years. With due caution, proper treatment and attentive care, these problems can easily be managed to improve the quality of life.