Common reproductive system disorders

Published on 28th January 2019



Endometriosis is a painful condition where tissue similar to the lining of the womb starts to grow in other places of the woman's body, such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes.

The condition can affect women of any age, but it's most common in women in their 30s and 40s and currently there is no cure but treatments that can relieve the symptoms. 

It's a long-term condition that can have a significant impact on life, depending on the symptoms which can vary. Some women are badly affected, while others might not have any noticeable symptoms.

The main symptoms are: pain in the lower abdomen or back (pelvic pain), pain that stops you doing normal activities, pain during or after sex, feeling sick, constipation, diarrhoea, or blood in the urine during menstruation.  One of the main and more serious complications of endometriosis is that is can lead to difficulty in becoming pregnant or causing (infertility).

For some women, endometriosis can have a big impact on their life and may sometimes lead to feelings of depression.



Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common condition that affects how a woman's ovaries work.

Polycystic ovaries

Every month a woman will release an egg from one of her ovaries as process known as ovulation.

For women with polycystic ovaries, the ovaries contain a large number of harmless follicles that are up to 8mm (approximately 0.3in) in size. The follicles are under-developed sacs in which eggs develop. In PCOS, these sacs are often unable to release an egg, which means that ovulation doesn't take place.

Because some women may have this condition but not be aware or worried about it, it is  difficult to know exactly how many women have PCOS, but it is believed that  about one in every five women in the UK have this condition. . More than half of these women don't have any symptoms.

PCOS is also associated with an increased risk of developing health problems in later life, such as type 2 diabetes and even high cholesterol levels.

The exact cause of PCOS is unknown, but it can be hereditary.  It's related to abnormal hormone levels in the body, including high levels of insulin.

Insulin is the hormone that controls sugar levels in the body. Many women with PCOS are resistant to the action of insulin in their body and produce higher levels of insulin to overcome this. The higher level of insulin can lead to an increased production and activity of hormones such as testosterone.  Women may get more masculine features such as facial hair. Being overweight or obese also increases the amount of insulin your body produces.



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