U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration

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Gynecological and Reproductive Disorders

Gynecological disorders affect the internal and external organs in the female pelvic and abdominal areas. These disorders include dysmenorrhea (pain associated with menstruation), vulvodynia (unexplained chronic discomfort or pain of the vulva), and chronic pelvic pain (a persistent and severe pain occurring primarily in the lower abdomen for at least 6 months).

Some problems can affect the proper functioning of the reproductive system and may affect a woman’s ability to get pregnant. One example, polycystic ovary syndrome, occurs when immature follicles in the ovaries form together to create a large cyst, preventing mature eggs from being released. Another reproductive disorder, endometriosis, occurs when the type of tissue that lines the uterus grows elsewhere, such as on the ovaries or other abdominal organs. Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous tumors that grow in the uterine cavity, within the wall of the uterus, or on the outside of the uterus.

In 2005–2006, 9.3 percent of women aged 20–54 years had ever been told by a health professional that they have endometriosis and 12.6 percent had been told that they have uterine fibroids. Overall, endometriosis was most common among those aged 35–44 years (13.4 percent), while uterine fibroids were most common among those aged 45–54 years (25.6 percent).

In 2006, 34.1 per 1,000 physician visits among women aged 18 years and older were for gynecological or reproductive problems. Women aged 18–24 years were most likely to visit a physician for gynecological or reproductive disorders (57.8 per 1,000 visits), while women aged 65 years and older were least likely (16.7 per 1,000).

Some women take supplemental hormones for gynecological or other health problems, sometimes to reduce the symptoms of menopause. In 2005–2006, 27.0 percent of females reported ever having taken female hormones (not including birth control or fertility medications). Non-Hispanic White women (31.8 percent) were more likely than non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic women to report having ever taken hormones (17.2 and 11.6 percent, respectively; data not shown).1

1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2005-2006. Analysis conducted by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau.

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