pelvic pain and older women

A new study has revealed that pelvic pain is a common concern for older women. Analysing data from women in New Zealand, the study discovered women approaching the age of 40 often complained of pelvic pain; whether it be pain associated with sexual intercourse or menstrual-related pain.

The study also discovered that endometriosis is commonly diagnosed as the culprit behind pelvic pain in older women. However, as pain is difficult to assess due to different perceptions and definitions, the researchers had to estimate their results based upon specific risk factors. They used a non-biased method and discovered some interesting results.

Here, we’ll look at what the study found, and the options women have if they are concerned about pelvic pain.

Understanding the study

Published within the BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, the study used data from a previous study, to assess the prevalence of pelvic pain in 429 women who were 38 years old. It was established 54.5% of the women had experienced pelvic pain within the last 12 months.

It was reported that 46.2% experienced menstrual pain, while 11.6% experienced pain whilst having sexual intercourse. For 17.3% of respondents, they experienced other pelvic pain. These results show that menstrual pain in particular, is a common complaint of women approaching the age of 40.

The study also reveals that those who do experience menstrual pain, have an increased chance of suffering pelvic pain during sexual intercourse too. There was also a link between pelvic pain and a diagnosis of endometriosis.

Women who have experienced pregnancy less likely to develop pelvic pain

One of the most interesting things determined by the study, was that women who had undergone a pregnancy, had a lesser chance of experiencing pain during intercourse. Women who had undergone childbirth were also discovered to have a decreased chance of experiencing other pelvic pain.  However, women who have given birth still had the same prevalence of menstrual pain as those who haven’t.

One concern women have when they experience regular pelvic pain, is the effect it could have on their fertility. The study revealed pelvic pain had no long-term negative impact on fertility. The only time it could impact fertility and reproduction is if the pain is diagnosed as endometriosis. Even then, that doesn’t necessarily mean women won’t be able to get pregnant naturally.

Could Gynaecological scans help diagnose pelvic pain?

Although pelvic pain may not necessarily link to fertility issues, it is still worth seeking a proper diagnosis. Gynaecological scans are one way to determine the cause of pelvic pain. There are numerous types of gynaecological scans available, with each looking out for different issues.

Identifying any potential internal issues ensures treatment can be provided quickly if required. It can also help provide peace of mind to patients who are worried about their pelvic pain and potential issues with fertility.

Overall, pelvic pain is extremely common for older women, but it isn’t usually down to a serious health problem. That being said, it is always better to determine the cause and find a suitable treatment to reduce or eliminate the pain. Gynaecological scans are a great way to identify potential internal issues and help women figure out what is going on.

endometriosis and fertility

Singer Halsey has recently opened up about her struggle with Endometriosis and her decision to freeze her eggs. The 23-year-old claims she is often asked why she plans to freeze her eggs at such a young age, as many people are unaware of the conditions impact on fertility.

While Endometriosis does not necessarily prevent natural conception, it is known to cause several fertility issues. Here, we’ll look at how the condition can impact fertility and the options open to those who are concerned.

How can Endometriosis affect fertility?

Although there has been a link identified between endometriosis and infertility, the exact cause remains unknown. Those with a milder form of the condition are known to have practically the same chance of conceiving naturally. However, some do still experience infertility and experts currently have no idea why. Those suffering from moderate or severe Endometriosis have a reduced chance of conception, though it is still possible.

The reason more severe forms of the condition can lead to fertility issues is because it can lead to an increase in adhesions. These trap the eggs, preventing them from travelling down the fallopian tubes.

Is freezing your eggs a good option?

So, suffering from Endometriosis may not prevent you from experiencing natural conception, but it can reduce your chances. The longer it goes on, the more likely it is to affect the eggs. Therefore, freezing the eggs can be a fantastic way to preserve fertility.

The eggs are collected, frozen and then thawed and inserted back into the ovaries whenever the woman decides they’re ready to start a family. They are collected under sedation or general anaesthetic, before a cryoprotectant is added to protect the eggs while they’re frozen. They will be stored within tanks containing liquid nitrogen until you’re ready to start a family.

The only issue is the cost. While singer Halsey may be able to afford to pay for the treatment, most women may need to save up for the procedure. Those who do have the funds are recommended to seek this form of treatment.

What other options are available?

If the cost of freezing your eggs is a little too expensive, there are other options available. Drug treatments have found to be effective in mild forms of the condition, while surgical treatment has proven to be effective at treating more severe Endometriosis. It involves removing adhesions, cysts and nodules. However, it is worth noting that even after surgery, the condition may come back, and the development of further adhesions is possible.

The treatment recommended will depend upon the severity of the condition, how long the woman has been trying to conceive and various other fertility factors. For this reason, it’s crucial patients seek a thorough consultation prior to seeking treatment.

Overall, Endometriosis can have an impact on fertility and egg freezing is an ideal solution for those who can afford it. However, there may be other treatment options available. Book a consultation today to discover which form of treatment would best suit you.

diet and menopause

A new study into diet and menopause has revealed that oily fish could delay the onset of the menopause by three years. Carried out by the University of Leeds, the study also discovered fresh legumes such as beans, could also help delay the natural process. In contrast, it discovered eating just one daily portion of refined carbohydrates such as pasta, could trigger the menopause to begin earlier.

The average age women go through the menopause in the UK is 51. So, could your diet really impact how quickly you experience the menopause? Here, we’ll explore the findings of the new study and how diet and menopause are linked.

Understanding the results of the diet and menopause study

The new research which has been published within the Journal of Epidemiology analysed data from over 14000 women in the UK. The data covered a period of four years, with over 900 of them experiencing the menopause naturally within that time. It is the first study to look into the link between the condition and certain food groups.

One of the most prolific findings of the research discovered that a 90g daily serving of oily fish was linked to a delay in the menopause by 3.3 years. It also found that a 90g daily serving of fresh legumes could delay the menopause by one year.

This wasn’t the only food link discovered in the research either. Meat eaters were shown to also have a one-year delay of the menopause compared to vegetarians. Those who consumed more zinc and Vitamin B6 also were likely to go through the condition a little later.

Why might these foods impact the menopause?

Although the study only observed that certain food groups did appear to affect the menopause, it didn’t look into the cause and effect. However, experts do have their theories as to why oily fish and legumes may delay the onset of the condition[ii].

Largely, it is believed that antioxidants found within legumes and oily fish can impact the release of eggs within the body, as well as their maturation. This, in turn, can therefore help to preserve menstruation. The Omega 3 fatty acids present in oily fish can also enhance the capacity of antioxidants within the body.

The reason refined carbohydrates could speed up the menopause is thought to be because they can increase insulin resistance risk.

How a healthy diet could ease menopausal symptoms

Did you know as well as impacting the onset of the menopause, certain foods can also help to treat the symptoms?

Hot flushes, tiredness, weight gain and even dry skin can all be eased with the right diet according to previous studies. Avoiding caffeine and other stimulants can reduce hot flushes while increasing complex carbohydrates and cutting back on fat can reduce the risk of weight gain. There is no set diet you should follow, just focus on consuming a healthy, balanced diet with as few processed foods as possible.

So, while the recent research doesn’t provide proof of the cause and effect of food groups on the menopause, it does clearly show a positive link. This can help women make better food choices to prepare them for the menopause and potentially delay it.

Non Invasive Prenatal Testing

Are you trying to decide whether or not to undergo non-invasive prenatal testing? If your doctor has recommended it, or you’re considering undergoing the test, you may understandably have a few concerns.

Here, you’ll discover everything you need to know about non-invasive prenatal testing to help you make the best decision.

What is non-invasive prenatal testing?

Non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) is a blood test carried out before baby is born and is largely used to detect Down’s Syndrome. However, it can also pick up other chromosomal conditions such as Edward Syndrome and Patau Syndrome[i]. Otherwise referred to as non-invasive prenatal screening, it works by using the maternal scrotum cell-free circulating fetal DNA to identify abnormalities.

NIPT can be performed after just 10 weeks of the pregnancy, with results taking around 10-15 days to come back. It has shown to have an impressive accuracy rating of more than 99% when detecting Down’s Syndrome, making it one of the most reliable tests now available.

It isn’t currently available on the NHS, so women do need to undergo the test privately.

What benefits does non-invasive prenatal testing provide?

The main benefit of NIPT is the fact it doesn’t pose a risk to mother or baby. Up until now, more invasive methods such as amniocentesis have been the only option available. These invasive tests have posed a risk of numerous complications, and in rare cases can even lead to miscarriage. So, the fact NIPT is safe as well as accurate, is a significant benefit to pregnant women.

The test can also provide peace of mind to women who are worried about the health of their unborn baby. However, it is recommended that those with a low risk avoid having the test. Even though it is non-invasive, any unnecessary testing should always be avoided.

Evaluating your risk factor

NIPT is recommended for women who are at high risk of trisomy. If you do not know whether you’re considered high risk, there are a couple of factors you can look at.

Firstly, women aged over 35 are considered to be at a higher risk. However, the best way to determine your risk factor is to undergo routine screening that is offered between 11 and 14 weeks into the pregnancy. This involves having an ultrasound and a blood test which looks out for certain proteins within the blood. The doctor looks for markers which could pinpoint Down’s Syndrome and then assesses your age to determine your risk factor. They’ll let you know if you’re considered high risk or not.

It’s worth keeping in mind that this type of screening is not automatically provided. You will usually be given the option, but if not, don’t be afraid to ask for the screening to be carried out.

NIPT has a very low false positive rate too. So, if you are classed as a high risk, it is definitely worth undergoing NIPT privately. Contact us today to book a consultation and arrange your NIPT appointment.

gynaecology scans

Going for a routine pregnancy scan could reveal much more than you expected as one new mum-to-be recently discovered.

Louise Mitchell was excited to attend her 12-week scan but was shocked to discover she was growing more than her precious unborn baby inside. Doctors identified an ovarian cyst which Mitchell had no idea about. After tracking the cyst throughout the pregnancy, it was eventually removed after Mitchell gave birth. It was then that the doctors discovered the cyst was cancerous. So, her initial pregnancy scan had actually saved her life.

Many women are unaware of the hidden benefits of pregnancy scans. However, they have the ability to not only detect problems such as cysts but identify what type of cyst it is. Here, we’ll look at some of the biggest benefits of pregnancy scans and gynaecology scans.

Understanding ultrasound scans

Ultrasound scans have been used since World War II, though the method has changed dramatically over the years. They were initially designed to detect abnormalities, though are now more frequently used during pregnancy.

Today, a probe known as transducer, is placed against the skin, before high-frequency ultrasound is pulsed into the body. The ultrasound waves are then reflected off the tissue, where the probe picks it up and produces an image.

Gynaecology scan and cysts

Pregnancy ultrasounds aren’t designed specifically to only detect baby. So, it is possible they can detect cysts. However, depending upon the size, shape and type of the cyst growing within the body, the practitioner may not be able to pick up on the cyst if they aren’t really looking for it.

Pregnancy scans also don’t necessarily tell you which type of cyst you have if one is detected. So, accuracy wise, they can prove accurate, but it will depend upon the nature of the cyst and the experience of the practitioner carrying out the ultrasound.

Is it worth undergoing a gynaecology scan?

If you are concerned about your gynaecology health, it could be worth undergoing a specialist scan. As well as pregnancy scans, at SureScan, we offer comprehensive gynaecology scans too.

These scans can detect a wide range of abnormalities. They can be used to detect abnormal bleeding or discharge, endometriosis, fibroids, chronic pelvic pain, menstrual disorders and Polycystic ovaries to name just a few conditions. Another thing they can detect is congenital anomalies.

Congenital anomalies are known to increase the risk of miscarriages. While 2D scans can detect them, 3D scans provide a much more accurate diagnosis. 3D scans are also more accurate at pinpointing the location, size and type of issue detected, such as cysts and fibroids. The benefits of a gynaecology scan definitely make them worthwhile, whether you’re pregnant or hoping to get pregnant in the not too distant future.

So, the next time you’re heading for a pregnancy scan, you may get more than you bargained for. However, the fact pregnancy scans can detect problems such as cysts is highly beneficial. It means early treatment can be sought and the problem can be closely monitored throughout the pregnancy. In some cases, these ultrasound scans could even save your life.

4d pregnancy scans

Expectant parents have always been excited to show off their pregnancy scans. However, it seems handing friends and family a copy of the scan and pinning it on the fridge are no longer enough. Now, you need to get creative if you want to stay on-trend!

Pregnancy scans are becoming a work of art in a new bizarre, yet beautiful trend. A salon in Stockton-On-Tees has recently hit the headlines after painting an ultrasound scan onto her pregnant customer’s nails. Since the story went global, ultrasound nail art has now become very much a thing, with other pregnant women looking to get in on this exciting new trend.

So, what exactly is ultrasound nail art and what other unique ways are expectant parents choosing to announce their big news?

Ultrasound nail art

Ultrasound nail art is the newest baby reveal trend taking the world by storm. It involves painting one, or all of the nails, with the image of their ultrasound. As you can imagine, this takes quite a lot of skill! However, as salon owner Sarah Clarke proved, it’s certainly possible!

Now other salons and stylists are getting in on the trend, offering this unique service to pregnant women. The results are beautiful, though it’s obviously not as long-lasting as the ultrasound scan itself. This isn’t the only creative trend pregnant women are enjoying in 2018. Painted baby bumps are also a thing now.

What are painted baby bumps?

Painted baby bumps are a slightly more bizarre trend sweeping through the UK right now. Pregnant women commission a local artist to paint their bump, creating a little work of art.

While some are following the nail art trend and having their ultrasound scan painted onto their bump, others are opting for more unusual designs such as animals, murals and popular cartoon characters. It all started with celebrities painting their bumps, but now women across the country are following suit.

Interestingly, these baby bump art sessions are being used as a gift. While the designs do wash off, you can always take a photo of the bump, so it can be treasured forever.

3D and 4D pregnancy scans can offer great body art alternative

While ultrasound nail art and painted baby bumps are adorable and fun to create, they are only temporary. They’re also not for everyone, so what options do you have if you want a unique memory of your unborn baby without following these bizarre trends?

3D and 4D pregnancy scans can prove to be an excellent alternative. They reveal details standard scans cannot pick up. 4D scans are especially worth investing in as they also give you a copy of the scan video which you can treasure forever. Unlike 2D scans, these 4D videos reveal surprising details such as baby’s chubby cheeks and features.

Overall, pregnancy scans may be becoming art, but they still can’t beat the actual scans themselves. If you’re looking for a unique way to reveal your baby to the world, 3D or 4D scans are highly recommended.

ultrasound gender scans

Scientists have recently discovered a new way to test a baby’s gender before the typical 12-week scan.  However, this exciting new discovery has caused controversy around the globe, with experts believing it could lead to an increase in gender selection.

There is a fear that parents will use the test to abort the pregnancy if it doesn’t reveal the result they were hoping for. This is especially true in countries such as China and India, where gender imbalance is currently a prevalent problem.

So, is this new test a blessing or a potential curse for parents? Below, you’ll discover more about this new test and how it matches up to an ultrasound.

Understanding the new pin-prick test

The new pin-prick test is actually similar to a new test set to be introduced on the NHS later this year. Developed by a team of Brazilian scientists, the test has proven to be accurate from as little as eight weeks into the pregnancy.

The goal the scientists were working towards, was to improve upon the existing NIPT (Non-Invasive Prenatal Test). The initial test was capable of identifying genetic conditions such as Down Syndrome. However, the new updated version is now able to detect baby’s sex.

They trialled the test on 101 pregnant women and had an impressive 100% accuracy. While this is certainly exciting as it is safer and more accurate than standard 2D 20-week ultrasound scans, there are worries it could be used for controversial purposes.

Could it encourage gender selection?

As the new test can detect gender as early as eight weeks, there is a worry it could increase the number of early abortions. The abortion cut-off is currently 24 weeks, so often parents are deterred from having an abortion if they find out baby’s gender at 20 weeks. Finding out earlier could change this, though the British Pregnancy Advisory Service claims the fears are unfounded.

At the moment, there is no real evidence to determine how many abortions are carried out for gender selection purposes. However, experts argue that there is a real possibility more couples will see the early gender reveal as an opportunity to control the sex of their baby. Not only do they predict UK based gender selection abortions will increase, but they also worry tourists will take advantage of the service too.

How it stacks up to ultrasound gender scans

The new pin-prick test is less invasive and doesn’t pose a danger to you or baby. The fact it could reveal the gender as early as eight weeks is also a major advantage for those who simply can’t wait to find out. However, there are a few things pregnancy ultrasound scans provide that this new test won’t.

Firstly, ultrasound scans don’t just tell you the sex, they also show you the baby. The scans can be printed off and kept forever. If you opt for a 3D or 4D scan, you can also see much more detail and even take home a video of your unborn baby. You could also potential discover hidden issues such as cysts, and other gynaecology problems.

This new test could be a great way to find out baby’s sex early on in the pregnancy. However, there is certainly a chance it could be used for the wrong purposes.

menopause check

A new study has revealed women who go through the menopause later than the average woman, have a much lower risk of developing dementia.

Although the difference in memory is fairly small, the results do still show the menopause could play a key role in lowering the risk of dementia. More in-depth research will need to be carried out to determine the full link between the menopause and memory, but these initial findings are certainly interesting.

Here, we’ll look at what the study found, along with key things to look out for to detect whether or not you’re on the verge of the menopause.

Understanding the menopause study

The new study was carried out by a team of researchers from the University College London. It looked into the memory of 1315 British women between the ages of 43-69. There were 846 women involved in the study who went through the menopause naturally, while the others had gone through the menopause after surgery.

The team showed the women a list of 15 common words, with one being shown every second. Their job was to remember these words and then write down as many as they could remember. They repeated this test three times.

What it found, was the 846 women who had experienced natural menopause, had different results depending upon age. It revealed that for each year later that the menopause started, women could remember an average of 0.09 additional words.

Can the results be trusted?

There are a few things to keep in mind with this study. First and foremost, the differences in the results were really small. It worked out for every decade the menopause is delayed, women can remember just one extra word. So, the link between the menopause and dementia is extremely small.

On the one hand, it does provide a potential reason why dementia seems to affect more women than it does men. The theory is that oestrogen could be behind a good memory. However, the study couldn’t suggest that women who took HRT to replace Oestrogen also had a better memory. Therefore, it doesn’t appear that the hormone does link to dementia.

How to detect if you’re on the verge of the menopause

The menopause can lead to numerous health issues, especially if you go through early menopause. Therefore, it’s understandable you may want to be aware of the signs. The perimenopause signs develop months, and sometimes years before you actually experience menopause.

Though the symptoms vary between women, the most common to look out for include:

  • Mood swings
  • Irregular periods
  • Weight gain
  • Low libido

Irregular periods tend to be the very first sign. You’ll notice they start becoming less predictable, the symptoms could completely change, and you’ll also start to miss them. Mood swings are also common. Similar to those you get with PMS, mood swings associated with the menopause can be a lot more severe.

These are just some of the common menopause symptoms. However, each can also be an indicator of other potential health issues. Therefore, it’s important to seek a proper diagnosis to determine the true cause of your symptoms. A menopause check which includes scans, such as a gynaecology scan, can help you to discover whether or not impeding menopause is the likely cause of your menstrual issues. 

male infertility

A UK audit has revealed that the biggest cause of couples seeking fertility treatment is male infertility. In recent years, male infertility rates have increased, with poor sperm quality and mobility issues being the most common culprits.

It is estimated that 20% of men experience fertility issues in the UK, leading experts to suggest more research needs to be done to get to the root of the problem. Here, we’ll look at male infertility and the help available for couples experiencing male-related fertility issues.

What is male infertility?

There are a lot of different male infertility causes. The most common include poor sperm production, poor quality sperm, ejaculation issues and testicular damage. Each of these problems could be caused by numerous factors, including poor lifestyle choices.

Poor sperm quantity and quality can both have a significant impact on fertility. A full sperm analysis can determine the cause and ultimately the best solution moving forward.

What did the audit reveal?  

The report, carried out by The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), revealed male infertility is the most common reason couples seek treatment. Around 37% of couples seeking treatment experience male infertility.

It wasn’t just male infertility rates that the audit revealed. It also showed that age is the most important factor to determine fertility treatment success rates. It also revealed sperm and donor egg treatments are becoming more popular. Exact figures showed a year-on-year increase of 6% for donor sperm and egg treatments.

It also revealed that although same-sex and single patients seeking treatment are on the rise, the majority of those seeking IVF treatment are heterosexual couples.

IVF is strongest it’s ever been

The most promising data revealed by the audit, is that IVF treatment is currently the strongest it’s ever been. It’s been 40 years since the very first child was born via IVF, and figures show in 2016 the number of births recorded after 68,000 IVF treatments, was 20,000. This is a very positive statistic, highlighting just how far IVF success rates have come over the years.

The number of multiple births from IVA has decreased, making the treatment much safer than it once was. While finding out you’re expecting multiple babies through IVF can be wonderful news, unfortunately, they do come with much higher risks and complication rates.

The chair of the HFEA, Sally Cheshire CBE, says although she is delighted to see from the results that more couples are able to access fertility treatment than ever before, we also need to focus on unsuccessful births. If you consider the statistics from 2016 where there were 20,000 live births out of 68,000 treatments, you see there’s still a lot of couples who experience the heartache of unsuccessful pregnancies and births through IVF. Cheshire claims more support is needed for these couples moving forward.

Understanding the reasons behind your fertility issues is key to seeking successful treatment. Therefore, it is advisable to book a consultation with a fertility specialist to determine the best course of treatment suitable for you and/or your partner.

vaping and IVF

A recent investigation into vaping and IVF has revealed that access to free fertility treatment on the NHS is now being refused to those who vape or use nicotine patches. As more health authorities adopt this policy, couples are now finding it more difficult than ever before to receive fertility treatment.

Here, we’ll look at why couples are being refused fertility treatment on the NHS if they vape and what options are available.

Could it simply be a cost-cutting move?

The survey carried out for The Mail on Sunday, revealed 16 NHS authorities have started restricting fertility treatment for those who vape or use nicotine patches. These authorities are also referred to as Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs).

The reason behind the restriction is said to be in place because any amount of nicotine can be harmful during pregnancy. However, some question whether it could simply be a cost-cutting move for the NHS. The results of the investigation come only days after GPs were advised to start informing their patients that vaping is healthier than smoking, by Public Health England.

The impact of vaping on fertility

As it stands, there is currently very little evidence to show whether or not vaping can impact fertility. However, some studies have shown that vaping can cause potential fertility issues in men. In a very small trial, samples were taken from 30 men and it showed those with high concentrations of flavourings had slower-moving sperm.

Some experts are also concerned the new policy could send out the wrong message to women. It could make them feel like switching from smoking to vaping isn’t a healthier option, when in fact it could be much healthier. The truth is, nobody really knows at this point, which is why restrictions are understandable.

It appears to be the lack of data available, which is causing somewhat of a postcode lottery when it comes to fertility policies. All 10 of the CCGs within Greater Manchester have adopted the policy, along with NHS West Suffolk, NHS Crawley, NHS Ipswich and North Sussex, NHS Horsham and Mid-Sussex, NHS Nene within Northamptonshire and NHS Milton Keynes.

Majority of CCGs have no plans to restrict treatment

A total of 117 CCGs were questioned in the survey and the majority (101) stated they had no e-cigarette restrictions in place. Many also had no plans to introduce them in the future. So, as it stands, the majority of couples will still be able to seek free treatment for the time being.

Those who no longer have access to NHS fertility treatment also have private fertility treatment options. IVF has advanced dramatically over the years, now boasting higher success rates than ever before.

Overall, these latest restrictions will no doubt impact many couples seeking fertility treatment. Of course, the healthiest thing to do is to quit smoking and vaping, but those who do vape do have private fertility treatment options available if they no longer qualify for free NHS treatment.