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.

In 2006–2008, 4.8 percent of women aged 15–44 years reported that they had ever been told by a health professional that they have endometriosis. Overall, non-Hispanic White women were slightly more likely than Hispanic and non-Hispanic Black women to report having been diagnosed with endometriosis (5.7 versus 3.7 and 3.4 percent, respectively).

If endometriosis is not treated by medication or surgery, or if a woman is affected by other gynecological or reproductive disorders such as ovarian, uterine, or cervical cancer, she may undergo a hysterectomy. This is a surgical procedure during which the uterus, and in some cases the ovaries and fallopian tubes, is removed. In 2007, the rate of hospital discharges for hysterectomies was 33.7 per 10,000 discharges. The procedure was most commonly performed for women aged 45–54 years (72.2 per 10,000 discharges)

Bar graph: Endometriosis and Uterine Fibroids Among Women Aged 20–54, by Age, 2005–2006 [D]
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Bar graph: Physician Visits by Women Aged 18 and Older Due to Gynecological and Reproductive Problems, by Age, 2006 [D]
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