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Adolescent Reproductive Health: Treatment Options for Reproductive Tract Disorders

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young woman sitting in the doctor's office and talking to a provider

At times, underlying health conditions may surface during puberty. If an adolescent is experiencing issues with pelvic pain, irregular menstrual bleeding or other reproductive tract problems, then a müllerian anomaly could be the problem.

Samantha Pfeifer, MD, a fertility specialist with Penn Fertility Care and a nationally recognized expert in adolescent gynecologic disorders affecting future reproduction states, “Any time a young female has severe cyclic unexplained pain, no period, or severe pain with period, a reproductive congenital disorder should be considered.”

Müllerian anomalies affect up to 4 percent of females. Symptoms generally present at the onset of puberty or when a woman has trouble conceiving, or maintaining a pregnancy. Some anomalies are associated with abdominal or pelvic pain, discomfort during sex, or menstrual abnormalities.

Conditions Treated

Reproductive surgeons at Penn Fertility Care offer a variety of techniques to treat not only müllerian anomalies but other conditions as well. Services include the treatment of:

  • Transverse vaginal septum
  • Obstructed uterine anomalies
  • Imperforate hymen
  • Cervical agenesis
  • Müllerian agenesis (Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser Syndrome)

Diagnostic Testing

Imaging technology can diagnose a müllerian anomaly and may also detect other existing reproductive conditions. Diagnostic testing may include one or more of the following:

  • Pelvic ultrasound
  • Three dimensional ultrasound
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Hysterosalpingogram (HSG)
  • Laparoscopy
  • Hysteroscopy

“In many cases, the condition can be left untreated, in particular when it does not significantly affect reproduction. Müllerian anomalies that prevent menstruation or cause significant pain are usually surgically treated. Surgical intervention depends on the extent of the individual problem.

Müllerian anomalies that affect fertility such as a septated uterus (a partitioned uterus) can be corrected, thus improving chances of having a successful pregnancy.” states Dr. Pfeifer.

Dr. Pfeifer adds, “Women with a congenital reproductive anomaly who have not been able to achieve pregnancy within six months of trying should see a fertility specialist skilled in reproductive surgery. Surgery can repair the defect, eliminate discomfort during menses or sexual relations and improve fertility and pregnancy outcomes.”

Penn Fertility Care’s reproductive surgeons are experienced in caring for adolescents and women with müllerian anomalies and often work in collaboration with pediatric urologists at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. As part of the Penn Center for Advanced Gynecologic Surgery, our physicians also offer surgical options to treat infertility and to preserve a woman’s reproductive function.

Locations

Adolescent Reproductive Health Services are available at:

  • Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania
  • Pennsylvania Hospital
  • Penn Medicine Radnor

For more information or to speak with a specialist call 800-789-7366 (PENN) or log on to PennMedicine.org.

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