ovarian cysts

Ovarian cysts are a very common health problem which doesn’t typically produce any symptoms. While they are usually classed as harmless, sometimes they can be potentially cancerous. They can also be linked to conditions which can make it more difficult to get pregnant.

So, what exactly are ovarian cysts and how can they be treated? Below, you’ll discover everything you need to know.

What are ovarian cysts?

Ovarian cysts develop within the ovaries and are basically sacs that are filled with fluid. They occur naturally and tend to disappear on their own within a few months.

These cysts can either affect one, or both ovaries. The majority occur due to the menstrual cycle and these are known as functional cysts. There are two types of functional cysts including Follicular and Corpus luteum cysts. These types of cysts rarely cause any discomfort or pain and they will clear up on their own.

Other types of cysts are less common and aren’t caused by the menstrual cycle. These include:

  • Dermoid cysts
  • Endometriomas
  • Cystadenomas

Dermoid cysts are also referred to as teratomas and they develop from embryonic cells. These types of cysts can contain tissue and they are rarely cancerous.

Endometriomas are cysts caused by the condition Endometriosis. Tissue can attach to the ovaries, causing a growth to develop. Finally, Cystadenomas tend to develop on the ovaries surface and can be filled with mucous or a watery material.

Are there any symptoms?

With the majority of ovarian cysts, no symptoms do occur. However, if it is a large cyst or if it ruptures for example, this can cause a number of symptoms. The most common symptoms linked to ovarian cysts include:

  • Pain in the pelvic area
  • Swollen or bloated tummy
  • Difficulty when emptying the bowels
  • Heavy or irregular periods
  • Pain during intercourse

As some of these symptoms can also link to other health problems, it is important for patients to seek a diagnosis from their doctor.

What problems can ovarian cysts cause?

Again, the majority of ovarian cysts don’t cause any health problems. However, as there is a small chance they could be cancerous, they do need to be checked out as quickly as possible. It is estimated that just 1 in 1000 ovarian cysts are cancerous in women aged under 50.

The cysts can also potentially rupture, which can lead to heavy bleeding and other dangerous symptoms. If you have been or are going through the menopause, cysts can also present an increased chance of cancer.

If the cysts are caused by endometriosis or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, there is also a chance it could make getting pregnant more difficult. However, this is more to do with the conditions themselves, rather than the cysts.

Can you prevent them?

Unfortunately, it isn’t possible to prevent ovarian cysts, particularly functional ones. However, if you are found to develop cysts frequently, your GP may recommend putting you on hormonal birth control to prevent you from ovulating.

If you do have ovarian cysts, they won’t usually require any treatment. However, in some cases, surgery may be required. So, if you suspect you have ovarian cysts, it is worth getting checked over by a specialist. This will help to determine the type of cysts you’re dealing with and whether any treatment will be required. Call 07835 736627 to book your consultation.

adenomyosis treatment

Adenomyosis is just one of the many conditions that can affect women. Causing the uterine walls to become thicker, it can cause a range of unpleasant symptoms such as pain during intercourse and heavier menstrual bleeding.

It isn’t a condition that is widely talked about, so how exactly do you know if you’re suffering with it? Here, you’ll discover more about Adenomyosis, its symptoms and how to get diagnosed.

What is Adenomyosis?

Adenomyosis is a condition where the endometrial tissue presents in places it shouldn’t. This leads to the uterine walls becoming thicker. It isn’t yet known what causes the condition, although there are some known factors which appear to contribute.

It is thought that the condition largely presents due to an increase in oestrogen levels. It tends to disappear after women go through the menopause when oestrogen levels naturally begin to drop.

Another potential cause includes excess tissue within the uterine walls which were present even before birth. The tissue begins to grow throughout adulthood. It could also be down to stem cells within the walls of the uterine muscle, or due to uterine inflammation which occurs after giving birth.

What symptoms does it produce?

The symptoms of Adenomyosis can vary from mild to severe, and some women may not even experience any symptoms. The most common symptoms of Adenomyosis include:

  • Heavier, more painful menstrual cycles
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Spotting between periods
  • Tenderness within the abdomen
  • Longer menstrual cycles

As these symptoms can also point to other conditions, it’s easy for them to go misdiagnosed. This is why women who are suffering from Adenomyosis don’t often receive a diagnosis right away.

Diagnosing the condition

So, how is the condition diagnosed? Well, firstly you’ll need to undergo a full medical evaluation. This will include a physical examination which will detect whether the uterus has become swollen. The majority of women suffering with the condition, tend to have a uterus that is at least double the size that it should be.

You may also need to undergo other tests, such as an ultrasound. This would help to determine whether there are any tumours on the uterus and help to diagnose Adenomyosis if it is present. If the ultrasound doesn’t produce clear results, an MRI scan may need to be carried out. This produces a high-resolution image, giving the doctor a better look at the health of the uterus.

Can it be treated?

If you are diagnosed with Adenomyosis, you may not require any treatment if the condition is mild. However, if the symptoms interrupt your daily life, various treatment options may be recommended.

Common treatments include anti-inflammatory medications, hormonal treatments, endometrial ablation and surgery.

Overall, very few patients have even heard of Adenomyosis. However, it can have a debilitating effect on your life if you do have the condition. If you suspect you have the symptoms of Adenomyosis, it’s worth seeking a diagnosis from your GP or from a women’s health clinic. Book a consultation with one of our specialists today to discover whether this condition could be the cause of your menstrual troubles.

To book your scan, call 0121 308 7774.

The menopause is a major life event for women, affecting everything from their moods to their relationships. One unpleasant side effect which can be particularly difficult to deal with is trouble sleeping.

Here, we’ll look at how menopause and sleep habits and what you can do to minimise any issues you’re experiencing.

The connection between menopause and sleep?

Sleep troubles are common in all stages of the menopause. This includes the perimenopause, the actual menopause and post-menopause. It is estimated that 28% to 63% of women suffer from sleep troubles relating to menopause.

Sleep problems caused by the menopause:

  • Trouble getting to sleep
  • Poor quality sleep
  • Frequent wakeups
  • Waking up early in the morning

Over time, these sleep disturbances can have a significant impact on your health and wellbeing.

What causes sleep troubles linked to the menopause?

So, what causes the sleep troubles you experience during the menopause? There are a few contributing factors such as hormones, restless leg syndrome and sleep apnoea.

Hormonal changes play a particular role. Before, during and after the menopause, your oestrogen levels start to drop. This leads to issues such as hot flushes, anxiety and bladder troubles. All of these issues can be detrimental to your sleep pattern. Your progesterone levels will also decline due to the menopause. This hormone is partially responsible for inducing sleep.

Those with restless leg syndrome can also find the condition worsens after the menopause. Symptoms can become more severe, although it isn’t known whether this is down to the condition itself, or whether women are more aware of it because of their troubles falling asleep.

Finally, the night sweats associated with the menopause also increase the chances of developing sleep apnoea. This has shown to be more prevalent in women who have gone through surgical, rather than natural menopause.

These are thought to be some of the most common causes of sleep disturbances experienced during the menopause.

Can you prevent menopausal sleep issues?

As sleep troubles experienced during the menopause are largely linked to hormonal changes, it’s difficult to prevent them. However, you can do things to improve your sleep. Ensuring you get regular exercise, for example, is a good way to reduce sleep troubles. You’ll also want to focus on managing stress and eating a healthy diet.

In some cases, medication such as HRT may help to regulate the hormones and reduce sleep issues. You will need to see your GP or women’s health specialist to discover the best treatment options for you.

It’s a good idea to undergo a menopause check too to determine whether it is the cause of your sleep troubles. This typically involves a blood test which measures your FSH levels (Follicle-stimulating hormone). However, if you are taking a contraceptive medication this test may not help diagnose the menopause as they can alter FSH levels.

The menopause is known to cause a lot of unpleasant symptoms. However, sleep troubles are one of the most difficult to live with. If you’ve been suffering from unexplained sleep disturbances, it’s definitely worth undergoing a menopause check.

fertility MOT

More women than ever before are choosing to undergo a fertility MOT. Helping them to establish their chances of conceiving, as well as identifying any potential issues, these fertility assessments can prove invaluable for those thinking of starting a family.

So, what exactly is a fertility MOT and why might you choose to have one? Below, you’ll discover everything you need to know about these assessments and their benefits.

What is a fertility MOT?

A fertility MOT is medically referred to as an Antral Follicle Count (AFC) or anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) test. It basically looks into your chances of getting pregnant.

The tests look into how many eggs you have and assess the health of the ovaries, ovarian follicles and the uterus. You can use home testing kits or have a fertility MOT at a specialist clinic. The latter is typically the best option as you’ll know the results are correct and it often takes just an hour to get the results back.

The tests involve blood samples along with ultrasound scanning depending upon which one you are undergoing. They can look into fertility hormone levels, your eggs and they can potentially detect certain conditions too.

What benefits can it provide?

The main benefit of undergoing a fertility MOT is it will show you how many eggs you have. This can help you to plan when to start a family. However, it is worth noting here that it doesn’t tell you the quality of your eggs, just the amount.

There is also the chance these tests can detect potential health problems. Identifying any potential fertility issues early is crucial for those looking to become pregnant. These are the main benefits of taking a fertility MOT.

When should you undergo a fertility MOT?

It’s common for women over the age of 35 to undertake a fertility MOT. However, even younger patients could benefit from taking the test early. The trouble is, when you leave it until you are older, your fertility is already lower due to it naturally deteriorating over time. So, if any problems are detected, it’s going to be much harder to rectify them.

Undergoing a fertility MOT when you’re in your twenties, for example, allows you to plan ahead and detect issues early. Many women have no idea that their fertility starts to drop up to 10 years before the menopause. They also don’t realise that they can lose up to 30-40 eggs per menstrual cycle.

While the rate at which fertility does decline isn’t catastrophic, it is certainly something more women need to be aware of. Attending fertility MOT tests each year can help you to keep track of your fertility health and make any necessary plans as early as possible to address any detected issues.

Even if you aren’t planning on getting pregnant in the near future, keeping an eye on your fertility is a good idea. This will prevent you from experiencing potential heartbreak in the future, while also helping you to keep tabs on fertility health. Contact us for more information.

miscarriage risk factor

A new study has revealed that disability could be a miscarriage risk factor. Published in the Journal of Women’s Health, the study was carried out by researchers across several universities and the National Institute of Public Health.

Miscarriages are devastating to go through, especially for couples who are trying to conceive via IVF. So, understanding the risk factors can be really useful in preventing a miscarriage from occurring. Here, we’ll look at what this most recent study revealed, alongside other risk factors to be aware of.

Understanding the study

The study included data from 3,843 women who had suffered a miscarriage within the last five years. The researchers discovered that those who had disabilities were more at risk of suffering a miscarriage than those who didn’t.

Interestingly, it also revealed that those who had an independent living disability were at a higher risk of suffering two or three miscarriages. Women with disabilities were found to be offered more services to prevent miscarriages than women without them. So, this shows healthcare providers are aware of the increased risks.

Although this new study did reveal a link between a higher prevalence of miscarriage and disabilities, further research is required. Researchers will need to look deeper into the issue to discover why those with disabilities carry an increased risk.

What other risk factors can lead to miscarriage?

The latest study is one of the first to really look into the disabilities and miscarriage link. However, there are so many other risk factors women need to be aware of.

Risk factors can apply to both mother and baby. For example, if the mother is taking certain medications, this could increase the risk. If baby has chromosomal abnormalities, this can also increase the risk of miscarriage. It is thought that the majority of miscarriages are caused by chromosomal abnormalities. The risk of this increases as women age, making pregnancies for those aged over 35 more susceptible to miscarriage.

Other risk factors to be aware of include previous miscarriages, infections during pregnancy and lifestyle choices such as smoking and drinking excessive amounts of alcohol.

What can you do if you’re concerned about the risks?

If you are concerned about your risk of miscarriage, talking through your concerns with a GP is recommended. You could also book an early pregnancy scan or opt for NIPT which can detect chromosomal abnormalities early on.

While it isn’t always possible to eliminate the risks of miscarriage, you can prepare and take steps to reduce the risks. If you do have disabilities, it doesn’t automatically mean you will suffer a miscarriage, just that your risks are increased.

Suffering a miscarriage at any point of a pregnancy can be extremely difficult to deal with. Therefore, this new research is crucial to give patients an idea of the risks involved if they have disabilities. Talking through your concerns with a healthcare practitioner will help you to determine what your risk levels are and whether you can do anything to bring them down.

ovarian cancer test

A large new study has revealed that an ovarian cancer test could be a lot more effective than previously thought. Experts claim these new results will have implications on the diagnosis of the condition within general practice.

Ovarian cancer is notoriously difficult to diagnose early. Here, we’ll look at what the study revealed, why it matters and what it means to patients.

What did the study involve?

The study was one of the largest of its kind, assessing data from 50,780 women. The women had attended a GP appointment in England for potential ovarian cancer symptoms between 2011 and 2014.

Each patient had undergone CA125 ovarian cancer testing, with 10% of them who did have high CA125 levels, shown to have been diagnosed with the condition. This figure is higher than previously thought, showing how effective the test can be. In 2011, NICE guidelines suggested that detection rates with the test would be approximately 1%.

The research was presented at the annual conference of the National Cancer Research Institute in Glasgow. GPs have welcomed the research, claiming it will now help them to improve their diagnostic rates in patients over the age of 50.

Ovarian cancer one of the most challenging to diagnose

Ovarian cancer is known to be one of the most challenging cancers to diagnose. It also has a low life expectancy rate due to frequently being diagnosed in the later stages. Smear tests have so far been one of the main tools used to detect the cancer, but it isn’t a diagnostic tool.

The cancer is known to be three times more likely to occur in women over 50. Around 17% of patients included in the trial over 50 who showed abnormal results, were diagnosed with other types of the disease such as womb, lung and pancreatic cancer.

What the results mean for patients

Now that GPs know how effective the CA125 test can be, it can be more widely used as a diagnostic tool. This could help to diagnose patients much earlier, improving the chances of survival.

The test itself is very easy to access for GPs and is minimally invasive. If abnormal results are detected, more invasive testing can be carried out. The test would prove especially beneficial for women over the age of 50.

Clinical guidelines can also be updated to reflect the recent findings. Due to how large the study was, it gave researchers to look at each patient in more detail, gathering a much better picture of how effective the test is at detecting ovarian cancer and other types of the disease.

Overall, this new research is an exciting and crucial development. It can be used to potentially diagnose ovarian cancer much earlier than it currently is. The life-changing effects this can have on a patient are substantial. Patients who are concerned they may have ovarian cancer should request the CA125 blood test. Although it cannot always diagnose the condition, it is ten times more effective than doctors previously thought.

To arrange your ovarian cancer screening, call us on 07835 736627 to arrange a consultation.

gender pregnancy scan

Finding out you’re pregnant is a joyous and exciting time, particularly if you’ve been trying for a while. Understandably, you might be excited to discover the sex of the baby as soon as you can. The question is, how soon can you find out whether your little one is a boy or a girl?

Here, you’ll discover everything you need to know about learning the sex of your baby and how early it can be done.

When can baby’s sex be determined?

The majority of women discover the sex of their baby at their 20-week scan. However, it may be possible to determine baby’s sex before this. There are different types of pregnancy scans and tests available, and some may be able to tell you the sex as early as nine weeks.

However, you need to keep in mind that if you do opt to undergo an earlier scan or test, there is no guarantee the sex will be determined. It all depends upon baby’s position on the day of the test if you’re undergoing an ultrasound scan.

Another thing to keep in mind with an ultrasound scan, is that boys and girls can look very similar up until 14 weeks into the pregnancy. So, as difficult as it may be, it is worth waiting until your 20-week scan to get a more accurate idea of baby’s sex.

Can I find out during NIPT?

Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT) is a simple blood test which is carried out to test for chromosomal abnormalities such as Down’s Syndrome. It can be done as early as 10 weeks into the pregnancy.

The test looks for male sex chromosomes, which can ultimately tell you if you’re having a baby boy or girl. The test is usually only offered to women with a high-risk pregnancy. However, you can choose to have the test even if you have a low-risk pregnancy by discussing it with your healthcare provider.

Be aware that this type of testing isn’t always 100% accurate. So, you’ll want to confirm the sex at your 20-week ultrasound scan.

What about NUB development?

There is a theory that all embryos have a small genital nub which is fixed during conception. Testosterone for baby boys starts to develop at seven weeks, which causes the nub to grow a scrotum and penis. In baby girls, the nub grows a clitoris and labia.

Genital nubs can be spotted on ultrasound scans. However, during your first scan it can be very difficult to find this nub. There is also a large chance it may be identified incorrectly. So, it is recommended you don’t rely upon this method to tell you the sex.

Overall, as excited as you may be to learn whether you’re having a boy or a girl, it is best to wait until your 16 to 20-week scan. This will provide you with the most accurate indicator of the sex of your baby. However, earlier scans can be useful to undergo anyway as they can tell you whether baby is developing at a healthy rate.

To arrange your pregnancy scan, call us on 07835 736627 to arrange a consultation.

male fertility check

Recent reports into the male fertility crisis have revealed that the Western diet was responsible for the increasing problem. However, scientists have now discovered that the issue may actually start in the womb.

Now it seems, infertility issues can occur while male babies are still in the womb as their reproductive organs are produced. Here, we’ll look at this latest discovery scientists have made and what it means for the male fertility crisis.

Issues in womb can reduce sperm count

Recent studies have shown that poor sperm count and quality, could be down to problems experienced in the womb. When the male reproductive system is being developed in the womb, it requires a lot of delicate processes. If any of these processes are disrupted, it may cause damage which can impact fertility later in life.

One study is being carried out by the professor of paediatrics at the University College London, Alastair Sutcliffe. He is looking at data taken from 200,000 men which is currently being stored by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority. His research is being carried out to determine whether infertility issues are caused by early reproduction system issues.

Male infertility also highlights disease risk

Discovering the cause of the male fertility crisis is key, not just for the population but for male health too. Numerous studies have revealed a link between those suffering from male infertility and an increased risk of serious diseases.

The Lund University in Sweden studied data taken from a staggering 1.2 million men. They discovered those who became a father via fertility treatments, were more likely to develop prostate cancer than those who produced a child naturally.

These findings have led experts to recommend men get screening tests for prostate cancer and other serious illnesses within fertility clinics. As the risks of serious disease are increased for infertile men, more screening needs to be offered to detect potential issues early on.

Lifestyle still plays a role

So, if poor sperm quality and count are linked to issues which occurred during the womb, does that mean lifestyle changes would prove useless? While some damage may be unfixable via lifestyle changes, they can still prove useful in many cases.

Many studies have been carried out recently, which have shown the effects the Western diet is having on male fertility. Processed foods are particularly linked to poor sperm quality. Obesity is another risk factor, alongside heavy drinking and drug use. So, lifestyle changes may still prove effective at boosting fertility.

Those who are experiencing fertility issues should book a consultation with a fertility specialist. Even if the problems were caused during the womb, there are still treatments and techniques available which can enable those suffering from male infertility, to have a healthy baby. However, discovering the cause of the problem is still crucial to scientists being able to come up with a solution to this growing issue. One solution they are currently looking into is reducing air pollution. This has been linked to reproductive issues developed while the baby is in the womb.

If you’re concerned about the state of your fertility, call 07835 736627 to arrange a fertility health check.

menopausal symptoms

According to new research, women going through the menopause are being wrongfully prescribed antidepressants. Worryingly, it also revealed that women are becoming more reluctant to go to their doctor about menopausal symptoms because they feel they won’t get the right level of support.

Here, we’ll look at what the new research revealed and why menopausal women aren’t receiving adequate care and treatment.

Understanding the new research

The new research carried out via a survey entitled “What Women Want at Menopause”, revealed more than a third of women who visit their GP with menopausal symptoms are offered antidepressants. Out of these patients, a staggering 80% believe the antidepressants are an ineffective treatment.

In some cases, antidepressants are even making menopausal symptoms worse. The typical symptoms experienced by the majority of women going through the menopause include mood swings, hot flushes, anxiety, a reduced sex drive, headaches and insomnia. These are just a handful of symptoms that can be experienced. While antidepressants can help to tackle mood swings and help with insomnia, they don’t address the wider symptoms experienced.

The research also discovered that 84% of women don’t feel their GP sufficiently answered their questions regarding the menopause. Just three in ten women also stated they were satisfied with the care received by their GP.

This highlights the issues regarding not just diagnosis and treatment, but with the amount of information provided to patients.

Why are women being wrongfully prescribed antidepressants?

Antidepressants are great for combatting depression and potentially helping with insomnia. However, as they don’t address the other symptoms, why are they being frequently described for menopausal women?

According to some experts, it’s a shortage of HRT which is leading GPs to issue alternative treatments. However, other than HRT, there are very few treatment options available to combat the symptoms of the menopause. So, antidepressants are being prescribed to target the mood-related issues the menopause delivers.

The trouble is, even for treating the mood swings and depression side of the menopause, antidepressants aren’t overly effective. Many women report that antidepressants haven’t helped them at all with their symptoms. If anything, they just left them feeling numb or disconnected from the world around them.

Whatever the reason women are being prescribed antidepressants for menopausal symptoms, it’s clearly not working.

Is HRT the answer?

HRT is the best treatment for managing menopausal symptoms. However, it has come under a lot of scrutiny over the years regarding its safety. Long-term use of the drug is known to link to various cancers such as breast cancer. However, the risk of this is small, particularly for those who don’t go through the early menopause.

So, HRT is the more effective treatment, it’s just difficult for women to get it when they need it. This recent research shows that more education needs to be provided to GP’s in order to answer patient questions and help them find the best possible treatment options.

Women who feel like they are experiencing menopausal symptoms can book a menopause health check. If it is revealed they are going through the menopause, insisting on HRT treatment may be required.

12 week rule in pregnancy

For years women have been following the 12-week rule in pregnancy. Avoiding telling people you’re pregnant until the 12-week mark is said to protect you in case anything goes wrong with the pregnancy. However, some experts claim this has an insidious effect on women, making them feel more alone and scared during those initial early weeks.

So, where does this 12-week rule come from and should women really follow it? Below, we’ll look at why the unwritten rule exists and whether it’s still relevant today.

Where did the rule come from?

Pinpointing when the 12-week rule in pregnancy started isn’t easy. However, we can establish why it began in the first place.

Largely, women stopped telling people they were pregnant in the early weeks due to the risk of miscarriage. It was considered easier to tell people about the pregnancy once the risk of miscarriage had been reduced. That way, if they lost the baby, they wouldn’t need to go through the heartache of telling other people.

However, it isn’t just the heartache of losing a baby that prevents women from revealing their pregnancy earlier. It’s also the attitude many people have over early miscarriages. There’s a view that early miscarriages don’t really count because the foetus wasn’t yet fully developed. If women are met with this attitude while they are grieving, it can make the experience even more devastating.

So, the 12-week rule appears to have been set up to protect women if a miscarriage occurs. However, what it can actually do is cause women and couples to suffer in silence.

Why could it prove damaging to women?

While the intentions behind the 12-week rule may be good, unfortunately, it can cause additional pain and suffering.

Going through a miscarriage at any stage of the pregnancy can be devastating. This is especially true if the couple has been trying to have a baby for a long time. In order to heal and deal with the miscarriage, women need to be surrounded by a good support system. So, if they haven’t told anybody about the pregnancy, they are going to be left dealing with it alone.

Suffering in silence can lead to a lot of additional problems. It can lead to depression and isolation which can both be detrimental to health and wellbeing. So, while some women may feel more comfortable not discussing their pregnancy until later on, it’s equally important for women to feel comfortable if they do want to disclose it.

More awareness needs to be developed

The debate over the 12-week rule is a great way to start raising awareness over the negative implications it can have. Ideally, it should be down to personal choice whether or not a woman wishes to disclose her pregnancy before the 12-week mark.

From a medical standpoint, the 12-week mark is where couples have a 97% chance of having a live baby. However, it’s also important to realise that miscarriages can happen at any stage of pregnancy. There also needs to be more awareness regarding the impact an early miscarriage can have on women. There needs to be a change in attitude, identifying that even before 12 weeks, the loss of a baby can have the same devastating impact as it can later on.

Overall, women shouldn’t feel like they can’t reveal their pregnancy before 12 weeks if they want to. Even from 8 weeks, the chance of having a live baby is said to be 92%. If anything were to go wrong, it also makes it easier for women to be surrounded by support from friends and family.