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Special reports 2018-2019

Prompt detection vital in postpartum mood disorders

24 Jun 2019Paid-up subscribers

Common mental health disorders affect around one in five women during pregnancy and the first year following childbirth. Depression and anxiety disorders are the most prevalent mental health disorders during this period as they are at other times of life. It is important to distinguish postnatal depression from baby blues, which is common and requires no treatment, although it is a potential risk factor for postnatal depression. Postpartum psychosis affects 1 in 1,000 women and can develop very quickly in the first two weeks postpartum, often requiring urgent admission to a specialised mother and baby unit. One in six women with bipolar disorder will develop postpartum psychosis. 

Managing urinary incontinence in women

22 May 2019Paid-up subscribers

A detailed patient history is key to the assessment of patients with urinary incontinence and to guiding initial investigation and management. Clinical examination should include abdominal palpation to assess for masses, including an enlarged bladder. Visual inspection of the perineum and vagina helps determine whether the patient may be hypo-oestrogenic and can confirm the presence and grading of pelvic organ prolapse. Digital vaginal examination enables detection of masses, and an assessment of pelvic floor muscle strength. Urinalysis should also be carried out. Most patients will have either stress, urgency, or mixed urinary incontinence.

Improving outcomes in obese pregnant women

24 Apr 2019Paid-up subscribers

For obese women the risks of adverse outcomes during pregnancy, for both the mother and her child, are significantly higher than for the general population. In 2016, 21% of all women attending antenatal services in the UK were reported to have a BMI of 30 kg/m2 or higher. In 2003-2005, 27% of all maternal deaths occurred in women with a BMI of 30 kg/mor higher. Obesity increases the risk of venous thromboembolism, gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia and hypertension. There is an increased likelihood of induction of labour, instrumental delivery and postpartum haemorrhage. The greatest effect on risk reduction is weight loss prior to conception.

Early treatment vital in pelvic inflammatory disease

23 Apr 2018Registered users

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is caused by infection ascending from the cervix. It can affect the uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, and peritoneum. Important sequelae include infertility, ectopic pregnancy and tubo-ovarian abscess. PID is associated with sexually transmitted infections. These are more prevalent in younger women. A diagnosis of PID should be considered in any sexually active woman with recent onset pelvic pain associated with tenderness on bimanual examination where other differentials have been excluded. Delay in commencing treatment for PID has been shown to increase the risk of long-term complications.

 

Symposium: Women's health

Investigating the cause of heavy menstrual bleeding

25 Mar 2019Registered users

Heavy menstrual bleeding has been defined as ‘excessive menstrual blood loss which interferes with a woman’s physical, social, emotional, and/or material quality of life’. Heavy menstrual bleeding affects 25% of women of reproductive age and is estimated to be the fourth most common reason for gynaecological referrals. Women should be asked about pelvic pain which might suggest endometriosis and pressure symptoms which might suggest significant fibroids. Examination is appropriate if there is intermenstrual or postcoital bleeding and, if the woman is actively bleeding, may identify the source of the bleeding.

Diagnosis and management of premenstrual syndrome

25 Mar 2019Paid-up subscribers

The term premenstrual syndrome (PMS) refers to a constellation of mood and physical symptoms that occur during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle. The National Association for Premenstrual Syndrome suggests that: ‘If PMS symptoms affect personal and/or social and/or professional quality of life then this should be regarded as being clinically significant PMS.’ Some women give a clear history of onset during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle, with improvement taking place within a few days after the onset of menses. However, other women present with fluctuating symptoms without making a connection with their menstrual cycle. There are no diagnostic tests for PMS; diagnosis is dependent on the history. 

Symptom recognition key to diagnosing endometriosis

22 Mar 2018Registered users

Endometriosis affects around one in ten women of reproductive age in the UK. NICE guidance highlights the importance of symptoms in its diagnosis. A normal abdominal or pelvic examination, ultrasound, or MRI should not exclude the diagnosis. Endometriosis should be suspected in women and adolescents who present with one or more of: chronic pelvic pain, significant dysmenorrhoea, deep dyspareunia, period-related or cyclical GI or urinary symptoms, or infertility. If endometriosis is suspected or symptoms persist, patients should be referred for further assessment.

Managing osteoporosis in postmenopausal women

22 Mar 2018Paid-up subscribers

Most patients with osteoporosis are asymptomatic unless they suffer a fragility fracture. A fragility fracture is a type of pathological fracture that occurs as a result of normal activities, such as lifting, bending, or a fall from standing height or less. There are three fracture sites said to be typical of fragility fractures: vertebral fractures; fractures of the neck of the femur; and Colles' fracture of the wrist. Following fracture risk assessment a dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scan may be recommended.

Tailor management to the patient with fibroids

22 Mar 2017Paid-up subscribers

Fibroids are benign, hormone-dependent tumours of uterine smooth muscle and connective tissue. They are commonly asymptomatic, but can cause symptoms such as heavy menstrual bleeding and pelvic pressure symptoms. Around 20 to 30% of women with heavy menstrual bleeding have fibroids. Fibroids are most prevalent in women aged 30-50 years and there may be a genetic predisposition. They are more common in black women than white women. Other risk factors include obesity and nulliparity. Asymptomatic women should only be referred if their uterus is palpable abdominally, if fibroids distort the uterine cavity or the uterus is larger than 12 cm in length.

Preventing stroke and assessing risk in women

22 Mar 2017Paid-up subscribers

Ischaemic stroke is rare in premenopausal women but risk increases with advancing age and doubles in the ten years following the menopause. Up to the age of 75 years men have a 25% higher risk of suffering a stroke compared with women. However, the increased life expectancy of women ultimately results in a higher overall incidence. Twice as many women die from stroke compared with breast cancer. Women with cerebrovascular disease are more likely to present with atypical symptoms than men. Atrial fibrillation and hypertension, although less common than in men, are more potent risk factors for stroke in women.

Managing debilitating menopausal symptoms

21 Mar 2016Paid-up subscribers

Severity and duration of menopausal symptoms varies markedly. Eight out of ten women experience symptoms and on average these last four years, with one in ten women experiencing symptoms for up to 12 years. Menopausal symptoms can begin years before menstruation ceases. A recent study found that women whose vasomotor symptoms started before the menopause suffered longest, median 11.8 years. Women whose hot flushes and night sweats started after the menopause had symptoms for a median of 3.4 years.

 

Research reviews: Obstetrics and gynaecology

Does paternal age affect perinatal outcomes?

22 May 2019Paid-up subscribers

A retrospective population based cohort study from the United States has found a modest correlation between older paternal age and adverse perinatal outcomes.

Comparing incontinence rates following caesarean vs vaginal delivery of twins

23 Jan 2019Registered users

Urinary stress incontinence is more likely following vaginal than caesarean section (CS) delivery of twins, a multinational randomised controlled trial has shown.

Labour induction vs expectant management in nulliparous women

24 Sep 2018Registered users

Induction at term significantly reduced the Caesarean section rate, compared with expectant management, in low-risk nulliparous women in a large multicentre trial from the US. However, it did not confer any benefits in terms of perinatal outcomes.

Active surveillance vs immediate treatment for CIN2

25 Jun 2018Registered users

Active surveillance may be a suitable option in selected, particularly younger, women with CIN2, a systematic review and meta-analysis has concluded.

Bicarbonate for dystocia improves maternal and fetal outcomes

23 Apr 2018Registered users

Administering a drink of sodium bicarbonate dissolved in water to women with dystocia an hour before oxytocin treatment resulted in better outcomes for both mother and child, compared with standard oxytocin treatment alone, a small trial from Sweden has found.

Women with endometriosis at raised risk of ovarian cancer

22 Mar 2018Registered users

The risk of ovarian cancer is increased in women with endometriosis, a large cohort study from Scotland has shown. The study also found that women with endometriosis are likely to undergo more surgical procedures compared with women who do not have the condition.

 

Special report 2014

Diagnosis and management of miscarriage

22 May 2014Paid-up subscribers

Miscarriage is the most common complication of pregnancy. It is defined as a pregnancy failure occurring before the completion of 24 weeks of gestation. It has been estimated that 10 to 15% of all pregnancies end in early spontaneous first trimester miscarriage i.e. before the end of the completed twelfth week of pregnancy. The risk of miscarriage decreases with increasing gestational age, and late miscarriages, from 12 to 24 weeks’ gestation, occur in only 1-4% of cases. While miscarriage is rarely associated with significant health problems, it can cause significant psychological distress to the woman and her partner. [With external links to the current evidence base]

 

Urinary incontinence

Managing urinary incontinence in women

22 May 2019Paid-up subscribers

A detailed patient history is key to the assessment of patients with urinary incontinence and to guiding initial investigation and management. Clinical examination should include abdominal palpation to assess for masses, including an enlarged bladder. Visual inspection of the perineum and vagina helps determine whether the patient may be hypo-oestrogenic and can confirm the presence and grading of pelvic organ prolapse. Digital vaginal examination enables detection of masses, and an assessment of pelvic floor muscle strength. Urinalysis should also be carried out. Most patients will have either stress, urgency, or mixed urinary incontinence.

Improving the management of urinary incontinence

20 Mar 2014Paid-up subscribers

Urinary incontinence is a common condition that is likely to be under-reported. Its frequency increases with age, parity, high BMI, and associated comorbidities. The history should include the circumstances in which the incontinence occurs, the duration and how it affects the patient’s quality of life. The initial assessment should include enquiring for symptoms of urinary tract infection and carrying out a urine dipstick test. [With external links to the current evidence base]

 

Ovarian cancer

Detecting ovarian disorders in primary care

20 Mar 2014Paid-up subscribers

Ovarian cysts occur more often in premenopausal than postmenopausal women. Most of these cysts will be benign, with the risk of malignancy increasing with age. Symptoms which may be suggestive of a malignant ovarian cyst, particularly in the over 50 age group, include: weight loss, persistent abdominal distension or bloating, early satiety, pelvic or abdominal pain and increased urinary urgency and frequency. [With external links to the current evidence base]

Improving early detection of ovarian cancer

22 Jun 2011

Ovarian cancer is the fifth most common cancer in women. The incidence has increased over the past 20-25 years, particularly in the 65 and over age group. The outcome for women with ovarian cancer is generally poor, with an overall five-year survival rate of less than 35%. The survival rates for women with ovarian cancer in the UK are significantly lower than the European average. Despite recommendations, published by NICE in 2005, on referral of patients with suspected cancer, the majority of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer are not electively referred via the ovarian cancer two-week pathway. They are often referred to the wrong specialty or present as emergencies. NICE has now published a clinical guideline on the diagnosis and initial management of ovarian cancer.  [With external links to current evidence and summaries]

 

Editorials

HRT may increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease

22 May 2019Registered users

Postmenopausal women who take systemic hormone replacement therapy (HRT) are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease, although the increase in risk is modest, a Finnish nationwide case-control study has found.

HPV vaccination significantly reduces cervical disease

24 Apr 2019Registered users

A landmark study from Scotland has shown that bivalent HPV vaccine confers significant protection against cervical epithelial dyskaryosis and dysplasia, both precursors of invasive cervical cancer. This study reports statistically significant reductions in all grades of CIN, equating to vaccine effectiveness estimates of 80% or greater after routine immunisation of girls at age 12-13 years.

Diabetes triples risk for occlusive vascular events in women

25 Mar 2019Registered users

Diabetes is known to increase the risk of occlusive vascular events, and this is one of the main causes of premature death associated with the condition. A recent meta-analysis of nearly one million individuals has shown that the risk of occlusive events in diabetes is doubled for men but tripled for women. Importantly, this study was able to control for other major vascular risk factors.

Combined oral contraceptive pill lowers ovarian cancer risk

22 Oct 2018Paid-up subscribers

Women who use the combined oral contraceptive pill (COCP) are at reduced risk of developing ovarian cancer, a benefit that persists for several years after cessation, a nationwide cohort study from Denmark has found.

Pre-eclampsia may raise risk of autism spectrum disorder

22 Mar 2018Registered users

Maternal pre-eclampsia is associated with an increased risk of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in offspring, a meta-analysis has found. Compared with unexposed offspring, children who were exposed to pre-eclampsia in utero were 32% more likely to develop ASD.

 

Sexual health: women and men

Where do patients seek help for genitourinary symptoms?

25 Nov 2019Paid-up subscribers

The majority of patients with genitourinary (GU) symptoms do not attend sexual health clinic (SHCs), although many would consult their GP, an analysis of Natsal-3 survey data has shown. Natsal-3 is a probability sample survey of sexual behaviour involving 15,162 women and men in Britain aged 16-74 years.

Gonorrhoea may be transmitted by kissing in men who have sex with men

24 Oct 2019Paid-up subscribers

Men who have sex with men (MSM) may transmit oropharyngeal gonorrhoea to partners by kissing, a cross-sectional study from Australia has found.

Antiretroviral treatment in gay men minimises risk of HIV transmission

24 Jun 2019Registered users

There is effectively zero risk of HIV transmission in gay men through condomless sex when HIV viral load is adequately suppressed, the findings of the PARTNER2 study, published in the Lancet, suggest.

Adolescents face barriers to accessing sexual health information online

22 May 2019Paid-up subscribers

Teenagers are reticent to search for sexual health information online, a small qualitative study has found.

Orgasm induced by non sexual behaviour

20 Dec 2018Registered users

Orgasm may be a neuropsychological process associated with diverse forms of stimulation, according to the findings of a study published in the International Journal of Sexual Health. The investigators analysed comments from 919 individuals who responded to an anonymous post in 2013 on the website PostSecret.com. The individual, unknown to the research team, described having an orgasm during exercise. The respondents posted comments about their own experiences of non genital/non sexual orgasms.

GP training programme improves HIV testing rates

22 Nov 2018Registered users

Sexual Health in Practice (SHIP), an educational programme tailored to general practice, increased GPs’ rates of HIV testing.

Intrauterine device use associated with reduced risk of cervical cancer

22 Oct 2018Registered users

Women who had used an intrauterine contraceptive device (IUD) were found to have a lower risk of cancer of the cervix in a systematic review and meta-analysis.

Patients at risk of STIs not attending sexual health services

25 Jul 2018Registered users

More than 80% of women and nearly 90% of men who reported having unsafe sex in the past year did not consult sexual health services, findings from the third National Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal 3) study have shown.

Exploring the barriers to fitting IUCDs in primary care

25 Jun 2018Registered users

A general practice study has revealed a reluctance among GPs and practice nurses to fit intrauterine contraceptive devices (IUCDs). An online survey was sent to 69 practices in the south east of England and 208 individuals responded. More than two-thirds of the respondents were GPs and nearly a third were nurses. When asked about statements relating to potential barriers to providing or recommending IUCDs, respondents who were not trained to fit IUCDs were more likely to identify with more barriers than those who had been trained.

Composition of vaginal microbiota may increase risk of chlamydia infection

22 May 2018Paid-up subscribers

 Lactobacillus iners-dominated vaginal microbiota was associated with increased susceptibility to Chlamydia trachomatis infection in women, in a Dutch nested case-control study.

 

Photoguide

Pregnancy related conditions

21 Feb 2011Registered users

  • Superficial thrombophlebitis
  • Polymorphic eruption of pregnancy
  • Chloasma
  • Naevi
  • Jaundice