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A Patient’s Guide to Losing Weight to Reduce your Risk of Endometrial Cancer

Gynecologic Conditions

A wide variety of benign (non-cancerous) conditions may affect a woman’s reproductive system, which consists of the uterus, vagina, ovaries and fallopian tubes. Most of these conditions affect the uterus, which is the hollow, muscular organ that holds a baby as it grows inside of a pregnant woman. Common types of gynecologic conditions – such as fibroids (non-cancerous growths in the uterine wall), endometriosis (non-cancerous growths of the uterine lining) or prolapse (falling or slipping of the uterus) – can cause chronic pain and heavy bleeding, as well as other disabling symptoms.

When medication and other treatments are unable to relieve symptoms, hysterectomy – the surgical removal of the uterus – is often recommended to provide a more effective, definitive, long-term solution. In fact, this procedure is the second most common surgical procedure for women in the United States, and an estimated one third of all U.S. women will have a hysterectomy by age 60.1

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Common Gynecologic Symptoms

Two of the most common gynecologic symptoms that women experience are pain and excessive or irregular menstrual bleeding.1 Before a medical appointment, it is helpful to track and document your symptoms - the location, frequency, intensity, etc. The more specific you can be in describing your symptoms, the more helpful this will be for your doctor in diagnosing your condition. Bring this information to your appointment. It will help your doctor diagnose your gynecologic condition and offer you the most appropriate treatment options for your condition.


Pain can be described in many ways. Intensity of pain is commonly measured with a simple 0-10 point scale where 0 equals no pain and 10 is the worst pain imaginable. Describing your pain can help your doctor pinpoint the condition. Each of the following descriptions of pain may indicate a different gynecologic condition:

  • Pelvic discomfort
  • Pelvic pressure
  • Abdominal tenderness
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Back ache
  • Back pain
  • Painful urination and/or bowel movements
  • Pain during intercourse 2,4


Monthly menstrual bleeding (your period) is different for each woman. It is important to describe what is normal for you, how often you have your period, how long it usually lasts, and how heavy it usually is. Remember that bleeding patterns can be different before and after childbirth, with age, and with any medications you regularly take. Abnormal bleeding must be compared to what is normal for you. The following are examples of bleeding patterns that may be patterns of specific gynecologic conditions:

  • Excessively heavy or abnormal bleeding
  • Bleeding longer than 7 days
  • Periods more frequent than 21 days
  • Periods more than 35 days apart
  • Spotting/bleeding between periods
  • Spotting/bleeding after menopause
  • Passing blood clots
  • Painful bleeding
  • Bleeding after intercourse
  • Vaginal bleeding (vs. uterine bleeding)
  • Vaginal discharge tinged with blood 4

Other Symptoms

There are other symptoms that can stand alone or accompany pain and bleeding. They also need to be described, in order for your doctor to accurately diagnose your condition:

  • Difficulty with urination or bowel movements
  • Improper bowel/bladder function
  • Infertility
  • Feeling of pressure on your bladder or rectum
  • Slipping or dropping of your vagina or uterus
  • Feeling heaviness or pressure in your pelvis
  • Constant abdominal pressure
  • Swelling or bloating
  • Urinary urgency (feeling the need to go)
  • Recurrent urinary tract infections
  • Pain while standing or walking 5

Talk to Your Doctor

If something doesn't seem right, see your doctor. The symptoms listed above can occur alone or in combination with each other. These symptoms may potentially indicate the presence of endometriosis / adenomyosis, uterine fibroids, uterine prolapse or, possibly, cancer.

You can learn more about each of those conditions here on this site. However, this information is not a substitute for your doctor's advice. Communicating your symptoms in detail with your doctor will help your doctor make an accurate diagnosis and provide you with the most appropriate treatment options for your condition.

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