womens health issues
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The Scary Thing: "You have a backwards uterus."


What you may think: "I am a freak."

Why you can relax a little: All this means is that the uterus, which is normally in a straight, vertical position, is tipped toward the back of your pelvis. On its own, it doesn't usually interfere with fertility or pregnancy. In fact, carrying a baby can tip the uterus into the "middle," or normal, position (or, in a woman whose uterus is already in the typical spot, pregnancy can tip it out of alignment). Many women go their whole lives without knowing about their skewed womb. However, some women with this anatomical quirk report pain during their period or while having sex. Your doctor may be able to recommend exercises or other treatment. Surgery is an absolute last resort.

One more thing: Experimenting with different sexual positions that don't put as much pressure on the rectum and ligaments of the tailbone often alleviates the pain, so feel free to get creative.

The Scary Thing: "This sounds like polycystic ovary syndrome. I'm going to order a few lab tests."


What you think: "What if I can’t have babies?"

Why you can relax a little: You may have heard PCOS referred to as the most common cause of female infertility. Here's the deal: PCOS is a common hormonal disorder that affects between 1 in 10 and 1 in 20 women of childbearing age. Most women with it have small cysts along the outer edge of each ovary, which are a result of not ovulating. The condition may also come with a bunch of unpleasant symptoms: Erratic periods (or none at all), excessive hair growth, acne and obesity. In the past, doctors would surgically remove the cysts, but these days, the condition can be managed through medication (thanks, science!). Your doctor will probably put you on birth control pills (or the ring, or the patch) to regulate your hormones, your period and other related issues, says Lauren Streicher, MD, an associate clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University’s medical school. Then, when you're ready to get pregnant, she'll take you off the pill and, if you need it, put you on a fertility drug like Clomid—Streicher says that most patients respond beautifully.

One more thing: An encouraging new study from Israel of fit women with PCOS suggested that eating a big healthy breakfast and a smaller lunch and dinner can alter hormone levels in a favorable way and improve fertility.

Next: What you should know about this STD