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What Puts You At Increased Risk for Ovarian Cancer and What You Can Do To Lower That Risk

Whether you are at an increased risk for Ovarian Cancer or not, it helps to know a little about the risk factors, symptoms, and why it’s important to see your gynecologist regularly. 

Around 200,000 cases of Ovarian Cancer are diagnosed yearly, with many already past menopause. Ovarian Cancer often goes undiagnosed for some time as there are no symptoms in the early stages.

Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer

Many of the symptoms associated with Ovarian Cancer are vague. They could be symptoms of other conditions, but it’s important to bring your doctor up to speed on anything that seems out of the ordinary. Your doctor can continue monitoring you or provide additional testing depending on your needs. The most common symptoms of Ovarian Cancer include:

-abnormal vaginal bleeding (especially for those who are past menopause)

-abnormal discharge

-pain or pressure in the pelvic region

-difficulty eating or feeling full too quickly

-bloating

-abdominal or back pain

-frequent urination or constipation

These symptoms are vague and can be related to other conditions or causes. Still, it’s important to pay attention to any of these changes in your body. Let your doctor know when the changes occurred and what symptoms you are now experiencing.

Risk Factors for Ovarian Cancer

The most significant risk factor for Ovarian Cancer is a family history of Ovarian Cancer or Breast Cancer. If someone in the family who is in the direct line to you, such as a grandmother, mother, or sister, has had or has one of these cancers, your risk is slightly increased. 

There is also an increased risk for women who have never experienced pregnancy. This is why we encourage patients we work with at OC Fertility to meet with their gynecologist annually for a checkup and basic testing. 

Your risk factor for Ovarian Cancer increases as the time you regularly ovulate increases, so for those who start with early menstruation or are experiencing late menopause, your risk increases. 

While we don’t know the exact link, there is also an increased risk for Ovarian Cancer if you have endometriosis. 

Reducing Your Risk of Ovarian Cancer

There are a few ways you can reduce your risk of Ovarian Cancer, and these methods can reduce the risk even for the general population who isn’t at a higher risk. You can reduce your risk of Ovarian Cancer in three ways:

-Taking Oral Contraceptives for more than three months. Oral contraceptives' protection can last for years after taking the medication. 

-Pregnancy can help reduce your risk factor, and your risk continues to be reduced with each subsequent full-term pregnancy. 

-Tubal Ligation once you have completed your family can help reduce your risk even more, but this is recommended only for preventing future pregnancies and not only to reduce your risk of cancer.

September Is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

This is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, and if you are interested in learning more about Ovarian Cancer, symptoms, risk factors, and treatment options, you can visit The American Cancer Society website today.

Scheduling your annual gynecologist exam is the first step in early detection, so make that call if you don’t already have your appointment. Be sure to inform your doctor of any risk factors or symptoms you may be experiencing that could be associated with Ovarian Cancer.

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