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Ulcerative Colitis
Urinary Incontinence
Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
Uterine Cancer
Uterine Fibroids

Ulcerative Colitis
Other name: Colitis

Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease that causes bleeding and sores called ulcers to form in the large intestine and rectum. The cause of ulcerative colitis is uncertain, but one theory is that the body’s immune system has reacted to a virus or bacteria and caused inflammation in the intestinal wall. Symptoms, which may be mild or severe, include:

  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Loss of body fluids and nutrients
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal cramps

Symptoms of ulcerative colitis resemble those of several other intestinal disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease. However, Crohn’s disease causes inflammation deeper within the intestinal wall and is usually in the small intestine rather than the large. Diagnosis, which is usually determined for those between the ages of 15 and 35, requires a thorough physical exam and several tests, which may include a colonoscopy and biopsy.

Treatment depends on the severity of the disease. Many who suffer from ulcerative colitis are treated with medication. Some whose symptoms are triggered by certain foods find they can control their symptoms by avoiding those foods. Those with more severe cases may require surgery to remove the diseased colon. Surgery is the only actual cure.

Please note that this material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice or instruction. Consult your healthcare professional for advice relating to a medical problem or condition. (return to top)

Urinary Incontinence
Urinary incontinence is the inability to refrain from urinating until an appropriate place and time. This condition affects more women than men and is common among the elderly. It may be acute and temporary or long-term.

Causes of acute urinary incontinence include weakened pelvic muscles due to childbirth, limited mobility, drug-related side effects and urinary tract/bladder infections. Causes of chronic incontinence include birth defects, weak bladder muscles, a nervous system injury or nerve disorder.

Symptoms of urinary incontinence include:

  • Leakage or dribbling of urine
  • Loss of bladder control

Diagnosis of urinary incontinence includes a physical exam and review of your medical history. Diagnostic tests may include a urinalysis, ultrasound, X-ray or urodynamic evaluation, which measures your bladder capacity.

Treatment depends on the cause. For example, if the condition is a side effect of a current medication, changing that medication may reverse the condition. Bladder training, biofeedback, a medicated patch or drugs to relax the bladder also may correct the problem. If urinary incontinence is due to loss of pelvic muscle support, surgery may be required.

Please note that this material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice or instruction. Consult your healthcare professional for advice relating to a medical problem or condition. (return to top)

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
Urinary tract infections are serious but common conditions that affect millions of people each year. UTIs occur when bacteria enter the opening of the urethra and spread and multiply in the urinary tract. The bacteria may enter a woman’s urethra during intercourse, or they may be caused by use of a diaphragm or spermicides, wearing tight pants or using bubble bath or other cosmetic products.

Cystitis (a bladder infection), urethritis (a urethra infection) and kidney infections are the most common types of UTIs. Women contract UTIs much more frequently than men. For instance, as many as 20 percent of women develop a UTI and about 20 percent of those will have at least one recurrence. Symptoms include:

  • A strong and persistent need to urinate
  • Painful urination
  • Pain in the lower part of the abdomen and lower back
  • Blood in the urine
  • Cloudy or strong-smelling urine

To prevent UTIs, drink lots of water and avoid waiting a long period of time when you feel the need to urinate. Other preventive methods include taking showers rather than baths, washing the genital area daily, emptying your bladder as soon as possible after intercourse, wiping from front to back and wearing cotton underwear.

UTIs are diagnosed through a physical examination in which the physician will probably press on your abdomen to check for tenderness and request a urine sample that will be tested for bacteria. Early detection is important. If left untreated, UTIs can result in permanent kidney damage or premature births among pregnant women.

Please note that this material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice or instruction. Consult your healthcare professional for advice relating to a medical problem or condition. (return to top)

Uterine Cancer
Other names: Endometrial cancer, cancer of the uterus

Endometrial cancer originates in the endometrial lining of the uterus and is the fourth most common type of cancer among women in the US.

Endometrial cancer is considered an estrogen-dependent disease. Estrogen and progesterone are hormones secreted in the ovaries. Normally, they are secreted in certain proportions to maintain a balance between the two. Chronic exposure to estrogen, without the presence of progesterone, is a major risk factor for this disease. A risk factor is not a cause of a disease but is a factor that has been identified as common among some who have been diagnosed with the disease. Other risk factors include obesity, previous history of cancer, having taken tamoxifen or estrogen replacement therapy and being 50 years of age or older. Symptoms include:

  • Irregular bleeding
  • Abdominal pain
  • White or clear vaginal discharge

Tests for diagnosing endometrial cancer may include a pap smear, biopsy or dilation and curettage (D and C).

Treatment of endometrial cancer depends on a number of factors, including the stage of the disease and the patient's overall health. Treatment strategies often include a hysterectomy, hormone therapy, radiation therapy and chemotherapy.

Please note that this material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice or instruction. Consult your healthcare professional for advice relating to a medical problem or condition. (return to top)

Uterine Fibroids
Other name: Myomas or leiomyomas

Uterine fibroids are tumors made up of muscle cells and tissue that develop gradually within the wall of the uterus. They may be very small or quite large, and they may develop as individual fibroids or as clusters. Most fibroids are not cancerous.

Uterine fibroids are the most common form of non-cancerous tumors that develop in women of childbearing age, and the cause is not known. If the fibroids grow, the uterus may become deformed or blocked and may put pressure on neighboring organs. Symptoms of uterine fibroids include:

  • Increased urination
  • Constipation
  • Painful menstrual periods
  • Heavy menstrual periods
  • Backache
  • Infertility
  • Miscarriage
  • Pelvic pain
  • Bleeding
  • Bloating

Uterine fibroids usually are identified by a physician during a routine pelvic exam. The diagnosis may be confirmed with an ultrasound, MRI, X-ray or CT scan. In some cases, the physician may recommend laparoscopic or hysteroscopic procedures to examine the fibroids more closely.

In some cases, no treatment is necessary for uterine fibroids. If you have mild symptoms, your physician may recommend an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication. If the pain becomes worse, a stronger medication may be prescribed. For those who experience severe pain, surgical removal of the fibroids is likely the best treatment.

Please note that this material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice or instruction. Consult your healthcare professional for advice relating to a medical problem or condition. (return to top)