For better or worse, when something looks or feels amiss with our body, most of us tend to hit up Google before consulting with a medical professional. Sure, we know that pretty much any set of symptoms you enter will result in a cancer diagnosis, but having access to medical information and resources online has completely changed how we approach health care. We’re no longer completely dependent on doctors to ask the right questions or notice if anything changes or goes wrong — we can be on the lookout for that ourselves.
This is especially true when it comes to women’s health issues. For so long, we were dismissed by medical professionals or told that any pain or discomfort or stress was a result of our “time of the month” and told to move on. Fortunately, we know better now and are advocating for ourselves, and part of doing that involves doing our own research.
Because it’s the end of the year and we’re feeling generous, we’ve reached out to Google, who provided us with the top 10 trending women’s health questions of 2018. And better yet, we’ve saved you the trouble of looking them up yourself and are giving you the answers. You’re welcome.
So what is it? In short, endometriosis is when tissue that is similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside the uterus. This can cause extreme pain and, potentially, infertility. And it’s pretty common; an estimated 1 in 10 women have endometriosis.
It’s not just the pain that has an impact on the lives of people with endometriosis — it also affects their finances, relationships and mental health. In addition, many celebrities — including Lena Dunham, Whoopi Goldberg and Susan Sarandon — have opened up about living with the condition.
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Yesterday I had a two hour surgery to remove my left ovary, which was encased in scar tissue & fibrosis, attached to my bowel and pressing on nerves that made it kinda hard to walk/pee/vamp. Over the last month it got worse and worse until I was simply a burrito posing as a human. *** My mother took this picture after I spent 9 hours in the post op recovery area with v low blood pressure that the nurses were diligently monitoring. I was so out of it that I thought I looked sensually moody a la Charlotte Rampling (turns out it was more of a constipation vibe.) *** A lot of people commented on my last post about being too sick to finish promoting my show by saying my hysterectomy should have fixed it (I mean *should* is a weird one). That I should get acupuncture and take supplements (I do). That I should see a therapist because it’s clearly psychological (year 25 of therapy, y’all. These are the fruits!) But a big lesson I’ve learned in all of this is that health, like most stuff, isn’t linear- things improve and things falter and you start living off only cranberry juice from a sippy cup/sleeping on a glorified heating pad but you’re also happier than you’ve been in years. I feel blessed creatively and tickled by my new and improved bellybutton and so so so lucky to have health insurance as well as money for care that is off of my plan. But I’m simultaneously shocked by what my body is and isn’t doing for me and red with rage that access to medical care is a privilege and not a right in this country and that women have to work extra hard just to prove what we already know about our own bodies and beg for what we need to be well. It’s humiliating. *** My health not being a given has paid spiritual dividends I could never have predicted and it’s opened me up in wild ways and it’s given me a mission: to advocate for those of us who live at the cross section of physical and physic pain, to remind women that our stories don’t have to look one way, our pain is our gain and oh shit scars and mesh “panties” are the fucking jam. Join me, won’t you? *** 📷 @lauriesimmons
2. Yellow discharge
We were very focused on our vaginas in 2018, including what comes out of them. In fact, the second top trending women’s health question on Google in 2018 was “what does yellow discharge mean.”
3. Yeast infection
The third ranking women’s health question of 2018 was “what causes yeast infection.” This is hardly surprising given that 75 percent of people with vaginas will have at least one yeast infection during their lifetimes.
As its name implies, a yeast infection is caused by an overgrowth of yeast in the vagina, and one can flare up for many different reasons, like pregnancy, using antibiotics or even sitting in a wet bathing suit or exercise clothes for too long.
4. PCOS diagnosis
Polycystic ovarian syndrome — or PCOS for short — was also top of mind in 2018. Even though it can be debilitatingly painful and is one of the leading causes of infertility among people with ovaries, little is known about why and how the condition develops. This is why it’s hardly surprising so many people were googling “what is pcos diagnosis.”
For those still wondering, a PCOS diagnosis usually means you have painful and possibly irregular periods, elevated levels of androgen (a male hormone) — which may result in excess facial and body hair and occasionally severe acne and male-pattern baldness — and an increased risk of infertility and type 2 diabetes.
5. White discharge
See, I told you we were all about vaginas and vaginal discharge in 2018! White vaginal discharge is usually a completely healthy and normal part of your menstrual cycle and nothing to worry about at all. Of course, if you notice any major changes to the color, smell or consistency of your discharge, it’s probably a good idea to mention it to your doctor.
6. Endometriosis diagnosis
In addition to looking up what endometriosis is, we also Googled “how is endometriosis diagnosed” a lot in 2018. Again, this isn’t surprising given how common yet misunderstood the condition is, making it difficult to diagnose.
Even though having endometriosis means you have uterine-like tissue growing in other parts of your body, it’s not always detectable through an ultrasound. It can also involve symptoms that have seemingly little to do with your menstrual or reproductive function (like gastrointestinal issues), which could throw medical professionals off course. This is definitely a case of patients needing to make sure doctors are taking their pain seriously in order to get a proper diagnosis.
7. Period cramp relief
Anyone who has ever had menstrual cramps has also wondered how to get rid of them. In fact, according to this list from Google, many a menstruator has clutched their abdomen with one hand and their phone with the other as they looked up “how to relieve period cramps fast.”
Unfortunately, there’s no universal magic cure for painful period cramps that works for everyone, but some people have luck with taking ibuprofen, applying heat, exercising or going on hormonal birth control to regulate their cycle. It’s all about trial and error and figuring out what works for you.
Sometimes referred to as “inside-out endometriosis,” adenomyosis is a condition that causes the endometrial tissue of the uterus cavity to grow into the uterus muscle, which damages the uterine wall. The difference is that with endometriosis, the endometrial tissue grows outside the uterus, while with adenomyosis, it grows inside the uterus.
In August 2018 at the #BlogHer18 Creators Summit in New York City, actor Gabrielle Union opened up about having adenomyosis and how it impacted her fertility, giving the condition a major awareness boost.
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Congratulations to @gabunion on her baby blessing!! I heard her discuss her fertility issues at the #blogher18 conference. One thing she said that hit home. Her DR had her on BC for 20yrs masking her real medical issues. She encouraged the women in the audience to speak up and get a 2nd opinion when seeking medical care As women we’ve been taught to be nice and agreeable. #mommyinfluencer #mommyblogger #mommylife #mommyclub #surrogacy #newmommy
Honestly, we’re surprised it has taken so long to get to a question specifically about pregnancy, but the ninth-highest-ranking women’s health question on Google in 2018 was “when does implantation occur.” Typically, implantation occurs 10 to 14 days after conception and may cause some light spotting or cramps. If you’re wondering whether implantation has in fact happened, you might want to be on the lookout for other early pregnancy signs, including fatigue, nausea and an aversion to certain foods and/or smells.
10. Partial hysterectomy
Most people probably know that a hysterectomy involves removing the uterus, but some were also curious about the difference between a partial and full hysterectomy. During a partial hysterectomy procedure, only the uterus is removed, while the cervix is left intact. A total hysterectomy means that both the uterus and cervix are removed.
So there you have it: Answers to the top trending women’s health questions of the year. Though we don’t know which conditions and queries will top the list in 2019, it’s probably a safe bet that vaginas will once again feature prominently.