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Common Problems Associated with Female Reproductive System Aging

written by: R. Elizabeth C. Kitchen • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 11/29/2010

Age-related female reproductive system medical issues are something all women are at risk for as they age. Here you will learn more about what these are.

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    As women age, age-related female reproductive system medical issues are a concern many women do not really think about. Most women know that certain cancers are more likely to develop as they age, but they are often not fully aware of all medical issues that may crop up. It is important that all women know about the medical issues they may face as they grow older so that they can take the steps necessary to try and prevent them.

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    Organ Prolapse

    The bladder, vagina, or uterus may prolapse. A prolapse occurs when the pubic muscles lose tone and one of these organs fall out of position. The structure that collapses determines the name of the prolapse. For example, vaginal prolapse, uterine prolapse, or bladder prolapse. If any of these organs prolapses, additional health issues may occur, such as stress incontinence. In most cases, the prolapse is treatable. Stress incontinence describes losing urine involuntarily during physical activity, such as exercise, sneezing, laughing, and coughing.

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    Atrophic Vaginitis

    This condition is characterized by vaginal inflammation caused by decreased lubrication and thinning tissue. It is associated with a decrease in estrogen levels. With this condition, the walls of the vagina become dryer and thinner, and also may be irritated. The external genitals may also become irritated, known as pruritus vulvae.

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    Dyspareunia

    This term refers to uncomfortable, or painful, sexual intercourse. This pain can occur at anytime during sexual intercourse. The pain is often felt in the pelvic area. As an age-related female reproductive system medical issue, this is often associated with menopause or vaginal dryness.

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    Infections

    The levels of normal microorganisms that are found in the vagina change as women age. This increases a woman's risk of developing vaginal yeast infections. Once a woman has gone through menopause, her risk of urinary tract infections is also increased. She may also experience urinary urgency and frequency.

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    Menopause

    Menopause is a process all women will experience as they age. When the ovaries stop releasing eggs and a woman no longer have menstrual periods, she is considered to be in menopause. The hormones produced by the ovaries, specifically estrogen, are reduced resulting in a variety of symptoms. These symptoms may include hot flashes, headaches, mood disturbances, and sleep disturbances.

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    Osteoporosis

    The decrease in estrogen may cause osteoporosis. Not all women will experience this, however. This condition is characterized by bone tissues thinning and bone density being lost over time. It is estimated that in the United States, approximately one out of five women older that 50 are suffering from osteoporosis. This condition makes fractures more likely.

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    Resources

    MedlinePlus. (2008). Aging Changes in the Female Reproductive System. Retrieved on November 20, 2010 from MedlinePlus: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/004016.htm

    KidsHealth from Nemours. (2010). Female Reproductive System. Retrieved on November 20, 2010 from KidsHealth from Nemours: http://kidshealth.org/parent/general/body_basics/female_reproductive_system.html