Solutions to the 5 Most Frustrating Women's Health Issues

Solutions for the 5 Most Frustrating Women's Health Issues

Virtua for Women Primary Care and Wellness Center physician Nermin Lazarus, DO, recently discussed her patients’ top health complaints, why they happen and what can be done about them.

Fatigue

“Fatigue is the number one complaint we hear about in our office,” says Dr. Lazarus. Younger and older women alike may report feeling exhausted, run down or tired all the time.

Why? 
Stress, poor diet, lack of adequate exercise, mental health issues, and insufficient sleep are all common causes.

What to do about it?
Your doctor can help you develop a plan to make lifestyle changes that will help fight off fatigue. If you’ve made those changes and are still suffering, he or she can help you rule out a sleep disorder or any other possible underlying illness.

Discomfort during menopause

Starting in the few years before menopause, and during it, many women experience hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, and a change in sex drive.

Why?
During menopause, your body naturally makes less estrogen, which is largely responsible for the classic set of symptoms described above.

What to do about it?
Lazarus often recommends cutting back on caffeine and alcohol to minimize symptoms, as well as trying dietary supplements like black cohosh or soy. She often orders blood tests that measure hormone levels. With this, she can help women better balance hormones with treatments like Exuberan® by Virtua, a bio-identical hormone replacement therapy. Or, help them explore holistic symptom relief through acupuncture and biopuncture.

High blood pressure and cholesterol

High blood pressure and cholesterol, which greatly increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, are very common in women, especially as we age.

Why?
Some causes are hereditary and cannot be controlled with diet and exercise alone. If your mother, father, or a sibling has experienced a heart attack or stroke before age 50, you’re at greater risk. Non-genetic risk factors include smoking, obesity, poor diet, and physical inactivity.

What to do about it?
“Take care of the things you can control,” says Dr. Lazarus. Develop a healthy eating plan with a registered dietitian, get active at the Virtua Fitness Center, or attend a smoking cessation support group to help make lifestyle changes that can reverse these conditions. If the symptoms are more severe, prescription medication or a consultation with a cardiologist may be necessary.

Urinary incontinence

Women may leak when they cough, sneeze or jump, but laugh it off either out of embarrassment or the mistaken notion that there’s no way to fix the problem. “You don’t have to live with incontinence,” says Dr. Lazarus. “Be sure to tell your doctor.”

Why?
The pelvic floor muscles that help keep the bladder controlled can weaken for a variety of reasons including changes that occur during childbirth and menopause.

What to do about it?
Physical therapy, prescription medication, injections, and minimally-invasive surgery, which are all available through Virtua Pelvic Medicine, can all help regain strength in the pelvic floor muscles.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

IBS symptoms include constipation or diarrhea, excess gas, cramping, and increased urgency. Dr. Lazarus urges women to report any persistent change in their bowel movements.

Why?
The exact cause of irritable bowel syndrome is not known, but it does tend to be more commonly seen in women, those with a family history, and those who have experienced past abuse, depression, or panic and anxiety.

What to do about it?
Pay attention to your own body for clues. You may find that certain foods upset your system more than others. If you smoke or drink a lot of alcohol, you may want to cut back or quit. Taking an oral probiotic supplement is also good idea. For more severe symptoms, you may need to see a gastroenterologist.

Updated June 26, 2017

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