Have you ever thought, is it just me, or...? We asked Dr. Barbara Frank, Harvard-Affiliated OBGYN and Attn: Grace Medical Advisor, to share some of the most common concerns she’s hearing from her patients right now and how she's addressing them.
If you’re experiencing vaginal dryness, stop and think about what else might be going on in your body. Are you dehydrated? Have you been eating properly? Where are you in your cycle? If you are a post-menopausal, is this something that has been going on for a while or a new problem? There are so many potential causes of vaginal dryness, but in women who are closer to or in menopause, it typically has to do with a lack of or decrease in estrogen. Dryness can also be caused by a lack of use. If your vagina isn’t getting any love – from you or others – that can also make it dry.
Start by checking in with yourself and seeing if the dryness might be caused by something as simple as needing to be more hydrated. If you’re clearly drinking enough water, consider asking your doctor about options for local estrogen. There are also topical wipes that can help with hydration and moisture. Finally, consider enlisting your partner or a vibrator to help stimulate the local tissue, which can increase vaginal moisture.
There are so many reasons for bloating. Again stop and check in. Are you having regular bowel movements? Have you been going out to eat a lot or have you changed your diet? Is the bloating cyclical or have you just noticed it over the past few days?
Typically, where you are in your cycle and what you eat will directly impact your intestinal bloating. For instance, when your progesterone levels are elevated post-ovulation, your G.I. tract slows down, which means it’s taking longer for your body to process the food you are eating, which can cause you to feel more bloated.
The first step in treating bloating is to figure out the cause. I would say that 90% of the time it is G.I.-related. It is way less common for your uterus or ovaries to cause bloating. If you feel a hard mass in your abdomen, this could be a sign of fibroids or an ovarian cyst and you should talk to your doctor.
It is not uncommon to have random spotting at times, especially after intercourse or at times of high stress. Sometimes the cervix is inflamed or there are hormonal changes going on, or something called a cervical ectropion (a benign condition where the soft cells that line the inside of the cervical canal spread to the outer surface of your cervix) that can often cause bleeding after intercourse.
Many of the times the spotting is not coming from inside the uterus. Also, where you are in your cycle can affect the hormones in your cervix. If you are post-menopausal and you are bleeding, it could be from dryness in the vagina or cervix.
Post-menopausal bleeding can also be a sign of abnormal cells in the uterus as opposed to a benign polyp. To be sure, you should see your doctor.