Women's Health Portal

 Sexual Health for Women

Last Updated: May 06, 2021
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Common female ailments sometimes related to sexual activities

Bacterial Vaginosis External Link (non government) Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a condition that happens when there is too much of certain bacteria in the vagina. This changes the normal balance of bacteria in the vagina. 

Urinary Tract Infections External Link Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are most often caused by bacteria (germs) that get into the bladder, which is part of the urinary tract. UTIs are also called bladder infections. UTIs are common, especially in women. More than half of women will have at least one UTI at some point in life. UTIs are serious and often painful, but most UTIs are easy to treat with antibiotics.

Vulvovaginal Candidiasis External Link (non-government) Some yeast or fungus normally lives in a healthy woman's vagina.  Too much yeast, you can have vaginal burning and/or itching and sometimes sticky, white vaginal discharge.  Vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC) is also called a "yeast infection." 

Birth Control and Family Planning

Intrauterine Devices External Link (non-government) An intrauterine device (IUD) is anything that is placed inside the uterus (womb) to prevent pregnancy.  IUDs are placed in your uterus by a licensed health care provider. 

Pregnancy Tests External Link If you think you may be pregnant, taking a pregnancy test as soon as the first day of your missed period can help you get the care and support you need. A home pregnancy test can tell whether you are pregnant with almost 99% accuracy, depending on how you use it. If a pregnancy test says you are pregnant, you should see your doctor for another test to confirm the pregnancy and talk about next steps.      

Protection - Condom Resources:

Reproductive Health and Contraception Brief (OTSG Women's Health Service Line) This educational brief serves to ensure that all Servicewomen and their providers receive standardized education about contraception (birth control), including long-acting, reversible contraceptive (LARC) methods. 

Menstruation

The menstrual cycle is the monthly series of changes a woman's body goes through in preparation for the possibility of pregnancy. Understand your cycle and recognize abnormal symptoms.

  • Abnormal Uterine Bleeding External Link (non-government) Abnormal uterine (womb) bleeding can occur as either a change in your normal menstrual period or bleeding in between your normal menses. 
  • Premenstrual Syndrome External Link Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a combination of symptoms that many women get about a week or two before their period. Most women, over 90%, say they get some premenstrual symptoms, such as bloating, headaches, and moodiness.  For some women, PMS may be so severe that they miss work or school, but other women are not bothered by milder symptoms. On average, women in their 30s are most likely to have PMS.  Your doctor can help relieve your symptoms. 
  • PMS Symptom Tracker External Link Use this chart to track your PMS symptoms.
  • Menopause External Link Menopause is the time when your menstrual periods stop permanently and you can no longer get pregnant.  After menopause, your body makes much less of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Very low estrogen levels after menopause can affect your health and cause symptoms such as hot flashes.
  • Menopause 101 External Link Army Fact Sheet provides an overview of menopause, common body changes, and additional menopause resources. 

Recommended Health Screening

  • Breast Cancer External Link (non-government) The American Cancer Society recommends that women undergo regular mammography screening for the early detection of breast cancer. 
  • Cervical Cancer External Link (non-government) Cervical cancer is cancer that starts in the cervix, the lower, narrow part of the uterus (womb). Most cervical cancers are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). Cervical cancer is the easiest gynecological cancer to prevent with regular screening tests and vaccination. It is also very curable when found and treated early.
  • Group B Streptococcus External Link (non-government) Group B Streptococcus (group B strep) is a type of bacteria that causes illness in people of all ages. Also known as GBS, group B strep disease can be especially severe in newborns, most commonly causing sepsis (infection of the blood), pneumonia (infection in the lungs), and sometimes meningitis (infection of the fluid and lining around the brain and spinal cord). The most common problems caused by group B strep bacteria in adults are bloodstream infections, pneumonia, skin and soft-tissue infections, and bone and joint infections. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides instructions for the collection of a vaginal/rectal swab for the detection of GBS. 
  • Pap Test External Link The Pap test (or Pap smear) looks for cancers and precancers in the cervix (the lower part of the uterus that opens into the vagina). Precancers are cell changes that might become cancer if they are not treated the right way.

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI)

About 19 million people get an STI each year in the US, but there are steps you can take to reduce your risk.  It is important to visit your health care provider for STI testing, or if you have symptoms or questions.  However, STIs often do not have symptoms, which is why it's essential to be tested regularly.  The following Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) links provide information on the most common STIs and how you can protect yourself and your partner(s): 

HIV and STD Prevention(APHC) Provides resources on HIV and STI prevention, Fact Sheets, and Army policies affecting sexual health. 

HPV Vaccines(APHC) There are vaccines to protect females and males against many types of HPV. Vaccination is the best way to prevent HPV infection. The vaccine is most effective if you get it before becoming sexually active. However, if you are already sexually active, you should still get vaccinated.  Both girls and boys should get 3 doses of HPV vaccine, starting at around age 11–12 years. Older teens and young adults should also start or complete their HPV vaccine series.

STI Information Fact Sheet External Link STI Fact Sheet from the Office on Women's Health.