Jeanne's Ramblings

It Costs How Much??

After many years, I finally went to the Gynecologist. Since I have no insurance, I was wondering how much it is going to cost for everything the DR. wants to do. The exam, finger stick (to see if my blood count had come up at all–it did, from 6.2 to 9.2), pap and other test cost $102.00.

Monday I’m supposed to have an ultrasound, which I just found out will cost $601.00. Then I have to go back Friday to get the results and pay another office visit fee ($80-$100). Then of course, we go from there with treatment. If I have to have surgery, that is scary because I know it will cost in the thousands of dollars. Good grief!

Isn’t it wonderful to be a woman?!

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October 17, 2009 Posted by | Endometriosis, PCOS, Rambling, Women | Leave a comment

Finally Have Some Energy

After being almost completely wiped out for months, I actually had energy today, wasn’t tired at all and got a lot of cleaning done. You don’t know how good it is to feel ‘normal’ until you feel lousy all the time!

Now I might tackle the closets and organize everything for once. It’s hard when MH never wants to get rid of anything. I swear he hoards everything! I get rid of it eventually, a little at a time, so he doesn’t get too worked up about it.

I’m the kind of person who keeps very little and likes everything in it’s place. I don’t like clutter. Who wants to have to clean around all that anyway?

October 10, 2009 Posted by | Anemia, Endometriosis, PCOS, Rambling, Women | Leave a comment

Anemia

Today I had my yearly checkup and found out why I have been extremely tired for the past four days…I’m severely anemic (my blood count was 6.2) and now have to take 3 iron pills a day. My doctor told me if I start having chest pains to go to the ER because I would need to get a blood transfusion. She said she was surprised I was up walking around and not laying in bed.

So I came home and went to bed. Sleep feels so good and walking around is so tiring. It’s even work to hold my head up! I guess I better pay more attention to my health.

July 27, 2009 Posted by | Anemia, Endometriosis, PCOS, Rambling, Women | 2 Comments

I Live With Endometriosis and PCOS

I have been living with Endometriosis and Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) for years now. I was diagnosed, finally, in my 30’s after my last surgery, in which my OB/GYN removed some endometrial tissue, polyps, and did a D&C. I knew I had to do something because I was in so much pain– driving, walking, working–that I would just bend over, and I was missing time at work. I wasn’t diagnosed with PCOS until a few years after that surgery. The ultrasound of my ovaries looked just like a pearl necklace on each side. I’ve had precancerous tissue removed from my uterus also.

So, I’ve lived with the pain, miscarriages, heavy bleeding, nausea, bloating, constipation, weight gain, hair growing everywhere, etc. for quite a while now. I have had treatments/surgeries, etc but it has only been a temporary fix. Within months, I am back to how I felt before. Everyone kept telling me to get a hysterectomy, but all of the OB/GYN’s I’ve seen (there has been quite a few) will not do it because I’m too young, and I haven’t had any children (but I have accepted two as my own!)…

So, that’s part of my life. I did a post a while ago about Less Invasive Surgery for Women, which I have had, but it still took me at least a month to recover from everything I had done. The scars aren’t very noticeable either, a good thing. You can view it HERE. Here is some info for those who don’t know what I’ve been talking about–taken from Web MD–

What is Endometriosis?

Endometriosis (say “en-doh-mee-tree-OH-sus”) is a problem many women have during their childbearing years. It means that a type of tissue that lines your uterus is also growing outside your uterus. This does not always cause symptoms, and it usually is not dangerous. But it can cause pain and other problems.

The clumps of tissue that grow outside your uterus are called implants. They usually grow on the ovaries, the fallopian tubes, the outer wall of the uterus, the intestines, or other organs in the belly. In rare cases, they spread to areas beyond the belly.

How does endometriosis cause problems?

Your uterus is lined with a type of tissue called endometrium (say “en-doh-MEE-tree-um”). It is like a soft nest where a fertilized egg can grow. Each month, your body releases hormones that cause the endometrium to thicken and get ready for an egg. If you get pregnant, the fertilized egg attaches to the endometrium and starts to grow. If you do not get pregnant, the endometrium breaks down, and your body sheds it as blood. This is your menstrual period.

When you have endometriosis, the implants of tissue outside your uterus act just like the tissue lining your uterus. During your menstrual cycle, they get thicker, then break down and bleed. But the implants are outside your uterus, so the blood cannot flow out of your body. The implants can get irritated and painful. Sometimes they form scar tissue or fluid-filled sacs (cysts). Scar tissue may make it hard to get pregnant.

What causes endometriosis?

Experts do not know what causes endometrial tissue to grow outside your uterus. But they do know that the female hormone estrogen makes the problem worse. Women have high levels of estrogen during their childbearing years. It is during these years-usually from their teens into their 40s-that women have endometriosis. Estrogen levels drop when menstrual periods stop (menopause). Symptoms usually go away then.

What are the symptoms?

The most common symptoms are:

  • Pain. Where it hurts depends on where the implants are growing. You may have pain in your lower belly, your rectum or vagina, or your lower back. You may have pain only before and during your periods or all the time. Some women have more pain during sex, when they have a bowel movement, or when their ovaries release an egg (ovulation).
  • Abnormal bleeding. Some women have heavy periods, spotting or bleeding between periods, bleeding after sex, or blood in their urine or stool.
  • Trouble getting pregnant (infertility). This is the only symptom some women have.

Endometriosis varies from woman to woman. Some women do not know that they have it until they go to see a doctor because they cannot get pregnant. Some have mild cramping that they think is normal for them. In other women, the pain and bleeding are so bad that they are not able to work or go to school.

How is endometriosis diagnosed?

Many different problems can cause painful or heavy periods. To find out if you have endometriosis, your doctor will:

  • Ask questions about your symptoms, your periods, your past health, and your family history. Endometriosis sometimes runs in families.
  • Do a pelvic exam. This may include checking both your vagina and rectum.

If it seems like you have endometriosis, your doctor may suggest that you try medicine for a few months. If you get better using medicine, you probably have endometriosis.

To find out if you have a cyst on an ovary, you might have an imaging test like an ultrasound, an MRI, or a CT scan. These tests show pictures of what is inside your belly.

The only way to be sure you have endometriosis is to have a type of surgery called laparoscopy (say “lap-uh-ROS-cuh-pee”). During this surgery, the doctor puts a thin, lighted tube through a small cut in your belly. This lets the doctor see what is inside your belly. If the doctor finds implants, scar tissue, or cysts, he or she can remove them during the same surgery.

How is it treated?

There is no cure for endometriosis, but there are good treatments. You may need to try several treatments to find what works best for you. With any treatment, there is a chance that your symptoms could come back.

Treatment choices depend on whether you want to control pain or you want to get pregnant. For pain and bleeding, you can try medicines or surgery. If you want to get pregnant, you may need surgery to remove the implants.

Treatments for endometriosis include:

  • Over-the-counter pain medicines like ibuprofen (such as Advil or Motrin) or naproxen (such as Aleve). These medicines are called anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs. They can reduce bleeding and pain.
  • Birth control pills. They are the best treatment to control pain and shrink implants. Most women can use them safely for years. But you cannot use them if you want to get pregnant.
  • Hormone therapy. This stops your periods and shrinks implants. But it can cause side effects, and pain may come back after treatment ends. Like birth control pills, hormone therapy will keep you from getting pregnant.
  • Laparoscopy to remove implants and scar tissue. This may reduce pain, and it may also help you get pregnant.

As a last resort for severe pain, some women have their uterus and ovaries removed (hysterectomy and oophorectomy). If you have your ovaries taken out, your estrogen level will drop and your symptoms will probably go away. But you may have symptoms of menopause, and you will not be able to get pregnant.

If you are getting close to menopause, you may want to try to manage your symptoms with medicines rather than surgery. Endometriosis usually stops causing problems when you stop having periods.

What is PCOS?

Polycystic ovary syndrome (say “pah-lee-SIS-tik OH-vuh-ree SIN-drohm”) is a problem in which a woman’s hormones are out of balance. It can cause problems with your periods and make it difficult to get pregnant. PCOS may also cause unwanted changes in the way you look. If it is not treated, over time it can lead to serious health problems, such as diabetes and heart disease.

Polycystic ovary syndrome (or PCOS) is common, affecting as many as 1 in 15 women. Often the symptoms begin in the teen years. Treatment can help control the symptoms and prevent long-term problems.

What are hormones, and what happens in PCOS?

Hormones are chemical messengers that trigger many different processes, including growth and energy production. Often, the job of one hormone is to signal the release of another hormone.

For reasons that are not well understood, in PCOS the hormones get out of balance. One hormone change triggers another, which changes another. This makes a vicious circle of out-of-balance hormones. For example:

  • The sex hormones get out of balance. Normally, the ovaries make a tiny amount of male sex hormones (androgens). In PCOS, they start making slightly more androgens. This may cause you to stop ovulating, get acne, and grow extra facial and body hair.
  • The body may have a problem using insulin, called insulin resistance. When the body doesn’t use insulin well, blood sugar levels go up. Over time, this increases your chance of getting diabetes.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms tend to be mild at first. You may have only a few symptoms or a lot of them. The most common symptoms are:

  • Acne.
  • Weight gain and trouble losing weight.
  • Extra hair on the face and body. Often women get thicker and darker facial hair and more hair on the chest, belly, and back.
  • Thinning hair on the scalp.
  • Irregular periods. Often women with PCOS have fewer than nine periods a year. Some women have no periods. Others have very heavy bleeding.
  • Fertility problems. Many women with PCOS have trouble getting pregnant (infertility).
  • Depression.

Most women with PCOS grow many small cysts on their ovaries. That is why it is called polycystic ovary syndrome. The cysts are not harmful, but lead to hormone imbalances.

What causes PCOS?

The symptoms of PCOS are caused by changes in hormone levels. There may be one or more causes for the hormone level changes.

PCOS seems to run in families, so your chance of having it is higher if other women in your family have PCOS, irregular periods, or diabetes. PCOS can be passed down from either your mother’s or father’s side.

How is PCOS diagnosed?

To diagnose PCOS, the doctor will:

  • Ask questions about your past health, symptoms, and menstrual cycles.
  • Do a physical exam to look for signs of PCOS, such as extra body hair and high blood pressure. The doctor will also check your height and weight to see if you have a healthy body mass index (BMI).
  • Do a number of lab tests to check your blood sugar, insulin, and other hormone levels. Hormone tests can help rule out thyroid or other gland problems that could cause similar symptoms.

You may also have a pelvic ultrasound to look for cysts on your ovaries. Your doctor may be able to tell you that you have PCOS without an ultrasound, but this test will help him or her rule out other problems.

How is it treated?

Regular exercise, healthy foods, and weight control are key treatments for PCOS. Medicines to balance hormones may also be used. Getting treatment can reduce unpleasant symptoms and help prevent long-term health problems.

The first step in managing PCOS is to get regular exercise and eat heart-healthy foods. This can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol and reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease. It can also help you lose weight if you need to.

  • Try to fit in moderate activity and/or vigorous activity on a regular basis. Walking is a great exercise that most people can do.
  • Eat a heart-healthy diet. In general, this diet has lots of vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, and whole grains. It also limits foods that are high in saturated fat, such as meats, cheeses, and fried foods. If you have blood sugar problems, try to eat about the same amount of carbohydrate at each meal. A registered dietitian can help you make a meal plan.
  • Most women with PCOS can benefit from losing weight. Even losing 10lb may help get your hormones in balance and regulate your menstrual cycle. PCOS can make it hard to lose weight, so work with your doctor to make a plan that can help you succeed.
  • If you smoke, consider quitting. Women who smoke have higher androgen levels that may contribute to PCOS symptoms.1 Smoking also increases the risk for heart disease. For more information, see the topic Quitting Tobacco Use.

A doctor may also prescribe medicines, such as:

  • Birth control pills. They can help your periods be regular and can reduce symptoms such as excess facial hair and acne. An androgen-lowering medicine, spironolactone, may be used with birth control pills to help reduce symptoms even more. These medicines are not used if you are trying to get pregnant.
  • A diabetes medicine called metformin. It can help control insulin and blood sugar levels and reduce androgen levels. This lowers your risk for diabetes and heart disease and can help restore regular menstrual cycles and fertility.
  • Fertility medicines, if you are trying to get pregnant.

It is important to see your doctor for follow-up to make sure treatment is working and adjust it if needed. You may also need regular tests to check for diabetes, high blood pressure, and other possible problems.

It may take a while for treatments to help with symptoms such as facial hair or acne. In the meantime:

  • Over-the-counter or prescription acne medicines may help with skin problems.
  • Waxing, tweezing, and shaving are easy ways to get rid of unwanted hair. Electrolysis or laser treatments can permanently remove the hair but are more expensive. Your doctor can also prescribe a skin cream that slows hair growth for as long as you use it regularly.

July 9, 2009 Posted by | Endometriosis, PCOS, Rambling, Women | Leave a comment

Less Invasive Surgery for Women

As a woman, we all know how scary it can be to hear the word ‘surgery’ while at the Gynecologists office, but there ARE new options out there! All of us should know these options in order to make an informed decision.

There are now less invasive approaches that once required major surgery. Minimally invasive surgery is an option ALL women should consider BEFORE committing to any gynecologic procedure.

One example is gynecologic endoscopy – the use of a miniaturized telescopic device to see inside the abdomen and female organs — it’s unparalleled in its ability to permit the physician visual examination of internal organs and early detection of gynecologic disorders. I have had this done and it is amazing how much they can do with this little device! They make one or two small incisions in the abdomen, either 1 inch or 1/2 inch or smaller in length and insert the device. I can hardly even notice my little scars and if not pointed out beforehand, no one else can notice it either. I was walking around the same day, unlike the ‘old way’ which more than likely involved a hospital stay.

Not all hospitals are equipped with this new technology, so you need to ask your doctor first.

AAGL is a website dedicated to informing women of these new minimally invasive procedures.

They have information about:
*Health Conditions
*New Treatments Recommended
*Glossary of Terms
*Physician Finder

List of Women’s Health Conditions:
Abnormal Uterine Bleeding
Adenomyosis
Cancer
Chronic Pelvic Pain
Cramps (Dysmenorrhea)
Endometriosis
Fibroids
Heavy menstrual bleeding (menorrhagia)
Incontinence
Ovarian Cysts
Overgrowth of the uterine lining (hyperplasia)
Pelvic Congestion Syndrome
Pelvic inflammatory disease
Polycystic ovary syndrome
Polyps (Uterine Polyps)
Prolapse; pelvic organ prolapse
Scar tissue (adhesions)
Tubal Pregnancy (Ectopic Pregnancy)

List of New less invasive treatments available:
Cryotherapy
Cystectomy
D&C
Endometrial Ablation
Fibroid Treatments
Hysterectomy
Hysteroscopy
Incontinence Treatments
Laparoscopic Surgery
Laparoscopy
Laparotomy
Laser Surgery
LEEP (Loop Exectrosurgical Excision Precedure)
Oophorectomy
Operative Hysteroscopy
Ovarian Vein Embolization
Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP) Treatment
Polypectomy
Presacral Neurectomy
Sterilization
Transcervial Resection of The Endometrium

You can read articles about AAGL and new treatment options by clicking
HERE

Thanks to Mom Central, I had the opportunity to find AAGL and let others know about the great advances out there for women!

I have had at least 3 of these procedures and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend any of these to others. Being able to move around and go back to your regular routine is the best part.

October 25, 2008 Posted by | Endometriosis, PCOS, review, Women | | Leave a comment