It’s a Wrap – Top Blog Posts in 2013

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital December 30, 2013

The blog team at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) is wrapping up 2013 with a selection of our most popular posts.  We’d also love to hear from you – what blog topics would you like to see in 2014?

We wish you a safe, happy New Year and thank you for your support.


Face Transplant Recipient Focuses on Her Gifts

Carmen Tarleton, got a new start on life when she became the fifth BWH patient to receive a face transplant. A team of more than 30 physicians, nurses, anesthesiologists and others worked for 15 hours to complete the surgery. Carmen’s story demonstrates how the generosity of neighbors, friends, and strangers can restore hope and healing.


Morning Heart Attacks: Blame It on Your Body Clock

Have you ever wondered why most heart attacks occur in the morning?  According to recent research from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Oregon Health & Science University, you can probably place some of the blame on your body clock which drives day/night variations in a protein known to be a risk factor for heart attacks and ischemic strokes.

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Women’s Health Week: Take Charge of Your Health

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital May 13, 2013

National Women’s Health Week (May 12-18), encourages women to take control of their health. We’ve assembled a collection of HealthHub posts focused on health issues for women of all ages.


Attention All Women, Do You Experience Mittelschmerz?

If you have regular pain in your lower abdomen, you may be experiencing mittelschmerz, a German word used to describe pelvic and abdominal pain around the time of ovulation, usually in the middle of your menstrual cycle. Learn when your should consult your doctor about pelvic and abdominal pain.


Young Female Athletes in Danger of Osteoporosis?

Stress fractures are common sports injuries in women. They also are a potential warning sign of the female athlete triad, a disorder characterized by inadequate nutrient intake, irregular menstrual cycles, and premature bone loss (osteoporosis). This can result in long-term loss of bone density among competitive and recreational female athletes.

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Pelvic Organ Prolapse: Common Yet Misunderstood

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital January 10, 2013

Author: Vatche Minassian, MD, MPH, Chief of the Division of Urogynecology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Associate Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology at Harvard Medical School.

“I have constant low back pain.” “It feels as if I’m sitting on a ball.” “I have difficulty going to the bathroom.” This is how my patients with pelvic organ prolapse describe their condition. Like other urogynecologic conditions I treat, pelvic organ prolapse is more common than most women believe. One study found that a woman’s lifetime risk of having surgery for pelvic organ prolapse was 11 percent.

What is the Pelvic Floor?

Pelvic organ prolapse develops due to weakening of the connective tissue, muscles, and nerves that form the “pelvic floor.” The pelvic floor holds many of your internal organs in place, such as the intestines, bladder, and uterus. The pelvic floor must be strong enough to support these organs and flexible enough for women to give birth and maintain normal bodily functions such as urination and bowel movements.

Uterine prolapse, cystocele, rectocele, and enterocele each refer to specific areas that become weakened in pelvic organ prolapse. When the pelvic floor is weakened, the bladder, uterus, rectum, or small intestine can descend, creating a bulge in the vagina and resulting in the condition known as pelvic organ prolapse. Vaginal childbirth is the most common risk factor for developing pelvic organ prolapse, but women who have never been pregnant can still develop the condition. You can even develop pelvic organ prolapse after a hysterectomy.

Symptoms such as urinary incontinence, difficulty emptying the bladder, and a sensation of pressure in the vagina can occur with prolapse. Pelvic organ prolapse can also make it difficult for women to have bowel movements as pelvic muscles become weakened. Though pelvic organ prolapse rarely causes an immediate threat to your health, it can cause discomfort and interfere with your ability to do many things, including sexual activity.

How a Urogynecologist Can Help

At Brigham and Women’s Urogynecology Group, we find that women are reluctant to seek help for problems related to pelvic organ prolapse. Often women and their doctors assume that surgery is the only treatment. They may also have concerns about the safety and effectiveness of the surgery. Some women do not seek help because they do not understand what is happening to them, especially since symptoms develop gradually over months or years. Women may also be embarrassed to talk about health concerns related to a sensitive area of their bodies.

As urogynecologists, we have experience dealing with these especially sensitive health issues. We can help our patients evaluate both non-surgical and surgical treatment options. Non-surgical options include the use of pelvic support devices like pessaries and exercises such as Kegels. If surgery is recommended, a urogynecologist can help you understand what’s involved. Surgery for pelvic organ prolapse can be performed either vaginally or through a small incision in the abdomen using an instrument called a laparoscope. Even women who are in their 80s and 90s can get help. Complete recovery can take anywhere from four weeks to three months, and you will need to limit heavy physical activities for four or more weeks. Just as with a knee replacement or back surgery, you will need to protect your surgical repairs while you are healing.

If you think you may be suffering from pelvic organ prolapse, there is no reason to be embarrassed or isolated. A urogynecologist can provide guidance on treatment and help restore your quality of life.

Learn more about common urogynecologic conditions:



Urogynecologists: Offering Women Help and Hope

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital December 13, 2012

Urogynecologists can help women with urinary incontinence and other urogynecologic conditions.

As a woman, you might notice it when you laugh, cough or sneeze — a small amount of urine leakage that is more than bothersome, it’s distressing. Urinary incontinence affects 30 to 50 percent of women, yet many are too embarrassed to seek help or believe that nothing can be done. But help is available.

Doctors known as urogynecologists specialize in treating this common yet sensitive condition. They also treat other gynecologic conditions that affect the female pelvic organs and the muscles and tissues supporting these organs. Examples of other conditions they treat include pelvic organ prolapse, frequent and sudden urges to urinate (overactive bladder), recurrent urinary tract infections, and bladder pain (interstitial cystitis).

Pelvic floor conditions can significantly impact a woman’s quality of life, resulting in embarrassment, discomfort, and a disruption to their daily activities. These conditions are experienced often by women who have had children and are in menopause, though they can affect women of all ages. These conditions are also more common than you may realize. The American Urogynecologic Association estimates that one in three women suffers from pelvic floor conditions.

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