Health Tips for Seniors

Archive for November, 2006

Diseases of the Ovary

The Ovary

The two ovaries are the fundamental heart of the female sexual system, and are located in the lower abdomen, one on each side of the uterus. They are the source of the menstrual cycle before the menopause and lose this function after the change of life, but remain as a frequent source of both large and small growths within the abdomen.

The normal ovaries are too small to feel, but when enlarged, they can range from apple-size to watermelon-size. Sometimes they are hard and sometimes cystic, like water-filled balloons and frequently tax the physician heavily for correct identification. Occasionally ovarian growths give clues to their identity through their hormonal influences. For instances, one specific tumor of the ovary produces a masculine hormone which produces in women, a growth of beard, deepening of the voice, and hair growth on the chest. Another growth of the ovary has a feminizing influence, and occasionally will restart the menstrual period long after the menopause.

Statistics show that after the menopause about fifteen women in every thousand will develop an ovarian tumor, and nearly three-fourths of these will be cancer. It is well to remember that

Tube enlarged
Ovary normal
Ovary uterus

Fig. 96. The uterus and ovaries are the machinery of the female reproductive systems. In them, however, minor or major diseases can arise and sometimes require hospital care.

a mass low in the abdomen is difficult sometimes even for the physician to identify, and very often the exact character of such a tumor cannot be determined until seen at operation, and studied under the microscope. Because of the serious possibilities with ovarian growths, the physician frequently advises their operative removal.

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Disease of the abdomen – Hernia


The abdominal wall is built of layers of strong muscles and fascia which normally hold the abdominal contents within the

Fig. 93. Hernia in females is much rarer than in males. It occurs, however, in the same regions and manner as in the male.

abdomen wall. A hole in this wall however, allows the inner contents of the abdomen to protrude through it. Such a hole is a hernia and when large enough, allows some of the abdominal contents to fall out of the abdomen when we stand, and fall back in when we lie down.

Hernias are usually present since birth, and occur more often in men than in women. They can be small at first, but can eventually become very large. It is popular to disregard this real beginning of a hernia and to blame it on accidents or strains occurring at work. An injury at work constitutes legal grounds for compensation. Ordinarily hernias are found low in the male abdomen, where they are usually noticed as a bulge, slightly to one side under the pubic hair, on one or both sides. This area is called the inguinal region and is the site for most hernias. The reason for

Fig. 94. Hernia in the male is most often in the lower abdomen, called the inguinal region. Usually found on the right side, it is treated best by surgical operation. A truss also is found satisfactory in some people.

Fig. 95. Rupture (hernia) may entrap and strangulate a portion of intestine at any time; immediate operation then becomes necessary to save life. It is best to have hernia operation performed before serious trouble arrives-not afterward.

this is probably that the abdomen which was built for a horizontal position, is given a great deal of upright use. The most serious fact about hernias is their tendency to strangulate when the abdominal contents are pushed out through the hernia and imprisoned so tightly they cannot return. The blood supply may become choked off and immediate surgery is then necessary to save the patient’s life. This danger is an important reason for surgical repair of most hernias.

The Uterus

The uterus, or womb, an abdominal organ, is located in the lowest portion of the abdomen, and is a major part of the female sexual system. It is normally the size of a hen’s egg, and is difficult to feel within the abdomen unless it is quite enlarged.

Enlargements of the uterus are very common before and after the menopause, and are felt when possible in the lower center abdomen. One tumor enlargement, the fibroid, is the most common of all tumors, and may become large enough to appear as a pregnancy. These larger tumors can easily cause pain, low in the back and on the inner sides of the thighs. Tumors, or growths, of the uterus are of great variety, and have long technical classifications. The physician’s examination is required to correctly identify these enlargements and other uterine diseases and to prescribe the proper treatment for them.

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