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Cravings, backaches, a big belly and sore breasts—you expect most of these things when you’re pregnant. Vaginal bleeding, little sleep, and mesh underwear—you expect most of these things after giving birth. But what were you not expecting?

When you’re pregnant you spend a lot of time researching every stage of your pregnancy and what labor will be like. But what about life postpartum? What about the mom’s health after birth?

“I went in completely unprepared for what was about to hit me, and it was rough. I did have a couple of friends who let me in on some insider secrets about postpartum, but I still felt like I was flying blind for the most part,” wrote Lauren Hartmann, mommy blogger and writer.

Here are 5 things you may not be expecting postpartum:

Over the last few years women are talking more and more about vaginal rejuvenation. If you’re wondering what exactly vaginal rejuvenation means, don’t worry, you’re not the only one. The term is used to describe the treatments that address the physiological changes to the vaginal tissues that are common after childbirth or menopause. Many times these changes are the cause for urinary incontinence and vaginal dryness. One of these changes is vaginal laxity. The laxity of vaginal tissue can lead to urinary leakage and diminished sexual sensation. Studies have shown 1 in 3 women suffer from urinary leakage and 40% of women suffer from sexual dysfunction. Oftentimes, urinary leakage will happen when women will laugh, cough, sneeze or exercise. Sexual dysfunction is often described as sexual dissatisfaction! Women who have dryness, pain with intercourse or lack of vaginal sensation are good candidates for rejuvenation.  Center for Women’s Health is proud to offer solutions for these common complaints.

The Human papillomavirus, more commonly known as HPV, has quickly become the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. It is estimated that as many as 6 million people will be newly diagnosed every year. Nearly all sexually active men and women will be infected at some point in their life. Of those with an HPV infected partner, 60% will contract the virus.

Most HPV infections have no symptoms and resolve on their own spontaneously. When an infection persists and a woman is unable to eradicate the virus, problems can arise. As many of us know, HPV has been linked to cancer. These strands of HPV are known as “high risk HPV”. Other strands are considered low risk, these types cause genital warts.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, also known as PCOS, is the most common disorder of the endocrine system found in reproductive-aged women. Of these women, 70% present with complaints of acne, hair loss (alopecia), irregular periods, and excessive hair growth of the face, chin, upper lip, lower abdomen or inner thighs.  PCOS occurs when an endocrine imbalance results in elevated levels of estrogen, testosterone and luteinizing hormone (LH), causing a decreased secretion of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH).  Multiple follicular cysts develop on one or both ovaries (hence the name polycystic ovary) and produce excessive amounts of estrogen.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in women in the United States. There are an estimated 2.5 million breast cancer SURVIVORS! Death rates from breast cancer have been declining since the early 1990s, and we believe this is attributed to early detection, proper screenings and increased awareness.  I encourage all of our patients to perform self-breast exams monthly.

In most females, breast tissue can be somewhat lumpy. When women are menstruating, they often experience increased breast discomfort and lumpiness. The ideal time to perform a breast exam or have a mammogram is during the first week after your menstrual cycle. The breast is comprised of milk secreting glands, milk ducts, fatty tissue and lymphatic tissue. There are two major components to a self-breast exam – inspection and palpation. Let’s review proper techniques for both.

Endometriosis is the presence of endometrial tissue (tissue that lines the inside of the uterus) on the outside of the uterus. The most common sites for growth are the ovaries, fallopian tubes, lining the inside of the pelvic cavity, cervix, bladder, bowel, liver and lungs. Approximately 33% of women who suffer from chronic pelvic pain are found to have endometriosis. It is also found in 20-40% of women with infertility. Caucasian race, early onset of menarche, short menstrual cycles, and a first degree relative with endometriosis are all risk factors related for this disorder.