Women’s Reproductive Health

by Michael_Koger

The recommendations for women’s reproductive health have changed over the decades.

Approaches to birth control have undergone many revisions since it became legal in the United States during the 1960s. Though many effective methods are available today, there is evidence that intrauterine contraception (IUC) is one of the most beneficial tools to prevent pregnancy. In fact, this intervention is 20 times more effective than oral birth control [1].

Researchers find it striking that usage rates of IUCs are higher in some countries other than the United States. Millions of women across the globe have used it [1].

Effective Birth Control

Subdermal implants are also quite effective for contraception, and they do not pose a problem with breastfeeding.  In any event, studies show that IUCs and subdermal implants are more effective than tubal ligation.  The failures which result from this surgical procedure of “tying the tubes” may have to do with variation in their performance as surgeons learn them with different techniques [1].

The use of subdermal implants or IUCs is safe, and they are the most effective ways to prevent pregnancy [1].

Ovarian Cancer

There is much discussion about screening for ovarian cancer.  This is understandable as it is the most deadly of all female reproductive cancers.  In fact, the discovery of its presence in a woman generally takes place when the tumor has already spread beyond the ovary.  Nevertheless, excessive screening may be detrimental to women because the results can lead to surgical procedures and subsequent medical complications [1].

This has especially happened to those who have a false positive cancer antigen (CA) 125 test.  The U. S. Preventive Services Task Force does not recommend routine screening for this illness.  Moreover, studies in the United Kingdom and the United States do not show much benefit from it [1].

The Risk of Ovarian Cancer Algorithm (ROCA) is an approach which researchers in the United Kingdom have utilized, and it includes several variables.  Specifically, age, menopausal status, genetic mutations, family history of ovarian or breast cancer, and the presence of Ashkenazi Jewish descent in the woman may create a predisposition for the disease [1].

Variation of CA 125 levels will also increase risk of ovarian cancer occurrence [1].

For women of average risk, clinicians do not recommend screening for this illness.  In other words, these clients do not need annual ultrasonography or CA 125 screening.  However, death rates from ovarian cancer have not declined much over the last three decades [1].

In premenopausal individuals, it is possible to decrease risk for this infirmity when they breastfeed, use hormonal contraception, or become pregnant [1, 2]. 

There has long been evidence that death rates in women decline because of other variables.  These include clients who have ever been pregnant and those who have breastfed their babies.  Nonsmokers who have used oral contraceptives also demonstrate lower death rates than patients who do not meet those criteria [1].

Conclusion

There is much research available about reproductive health in women, and risk for medical conditions will depend on health behavior as well as factors which they cannot change.

References

  1. Batur, P., Schwarz, E., Walsh, J., and Johnson, K.  (2016).  Women’s health 2016:  An update for internists.  Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine, 83, 905-913.
  2. U.S. National Library of Medicine.  Medline Plus.  (2016).  Women’s health.
  3. The photo shows a library at the Centers for Disease Control and is reprinted with permission from that organization.

Disclaimer

The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be used for diagnosis or to guide treatment without the opinion of a health professional. Any reader who is concerned about his or her health should contact their physician for advice.

Updated: 01/07/2017, Michael_Koger
 
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