Ovarian Health: How To Best Take Care Of Your Ovaries
Ovaries begin to age as women reach their early 40s. This process involves a decrease in the number of oocytes (cells that form eggs) that are produced by the ovarian organs, as well as a decrease in the number of follicles that hold these oocytes. This can increase a woman’s risk of health complications.
Does age increase your risk of ovarian cancer?
Dr Trudy Smith, an obstetrician and gynaecologist, says age increases your risk of ovarian cancer. This form of cancer is not common, but results in more deaths than other female reproductive cancers. Early detection greatly improves the chances of recovery, but this kind of cancer can be hard to detect, as many women are asymptomatic or present with very mild symptoms.
Symptoms include a heavy feeling in the pelvis, pain in the lower abdomen, bleeding from the vagina, unexplained weight gain or loss, abnormal periods, unexplained back pain that gets worse, gas, nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite. Click here to find out the causes and treatment of ovary pain.
Can poor ovarian health age you prematurely?
Smith elaborates: “Premature ovarian failure (POF) is when your ovaries stop working before 45 years of age. When this happens, you have early menopause. This puts you a greater risk for many health concerns, such as osteoporosis, heart disease and cognitive decline. Patients with premature ovarian failure need hormone replacement therapy.”
The symptoms of POF include hot flushes, irritability, night sweats, pain during sexual intercourse, poor concentration, decreased sex drive and vaginal dryness.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
PCOS is usually the result of several ovarian cysts. Cysts in the ovaries develop as a natural part of the menstrual cycle and result in pain; however, if they are too large or numerous, they can result in medical complications.
“PCOS is a complex endocrine and metabolic disorder,” explains Dr Sly Nedic, a qualified GP with a special interest in hormone health. She says the criteria for PCOS include an irregular or absent menstrual cycle, excess androgen production, and a lack of evidence of other reasons for the above symptoms. Click here to find out whether PCOS could be resulting in weight gain.
The age factor
50% of women with PCOS can develop Type-2 diabetes by the age of 40, and cardio-metabolic syndrome with increased age. These same women are also at three times greater risk of developing endometrial cancer, if left untreated.
While most of us think about our ovaries only when we want to fall pregnant, it is important to schedule regular check-ups.
Ovarian health is just as important post-menopause as it is during our childbearing years.