Medical News Today: Adnexal mass: What to know

Adnexal masses are lumps that occur in the adnexa of the uterus, which includes the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes. They have several possible causes, which can be gynecological or nongynecological.

An adnexal mass could be:

A family doctor can usually manage benign masses. However, prepubescent and postmenopausal individuals will need to see a gynecologist or oncologist.

Malignant adnexal masses require treatment from a specialist.

In this article, we discuss the characteristics of adnexal masses. We also review how doctors diagnose and treat adnexal them.

People report different symptoms, depending on the cause of the adnexal mass.

People with an adnexal mass may report:

  • severe lower abdominal or pelvic pain that is usually on one side
  • abnormal bleeding from the uterus
  • pain during sexual intercourse
  • worsening pain during a period
  • painful periods
  • abnormally heavy bleeding during periods
  • abdominal symptoms, including a feeling of fullness, bloating, constipation, difficulty eating, increased abdominal size, indigestion, nausea, and vomiting
  • urinary urgency, frequency, or incontinence
  • weight loss
  • lack of energy
  • fatigue
  • fever
  • vaginal discharge

Different causes of adnexal masses may have similar symptoms, so doctors usually conduct further investigations to determine the exact cause.

Once the doctor has worked out the cause of the adnexal mass, they can recommend treatment and management.

Adnexal masses include a variety of different conditions that range in severity from benign growths to malignant tumors.

The cause of adnexal masses could be gynecological or nongynecological.

Some of the causes of adnexal masses include:

  • Ectopic pregnancy: A pregnancy where the fertilized egg implants somewhere outside the uterus.
  • Endometrioma: A benign cyst on the ovary that contains thick, old blood that appears brown.
  • Leiomyoma: A benign gynecological tumor, also known as a fibroid.
  • Ovarian cancer: These tumors of the ovary may be ovarian epithelial cancers that begin in the cells on the surface of the ovary or malignant germ cell cancers that begin in the eggs.
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease: Inflammation of the upper genital tract, which includes the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries. It occurs due to an infection.
  • Tubo-ovarian abscess: An infectious adnexal mass that forms because of pelvic inflammatory disease.
  • Ovarian torsion: A gynecological emergency involving a complete or partial rotation of the tissue that supports the ovary, which cuts off blood flow to the ovary.

A doctor may diagnose an adnexal mass by:

  • taking a complete medical history
  • asking questions about symptoms
  • conducting a physical examination
  • obtaining blood samples

Most of the time, people will need a transvaginal ultrasound to allow doctors to evaluate the characteristics of an adnexal mass.

Females who have had a positive pregnancy test result and report abdominal or pelvic pain and vaginal bleeding might have an ectopic pregnancy. An ovarian torsion causes sudden, severe pain with nausea and vomiting. Immediate medical attention is necessary to treat both an ectopic pregnancy and ovarian torsion.

People with pelvic inflammatory disease or a tubo-ovarian abscess may experience gradual pelvic pain with nausea and vaginal bleeding.

Early ovarian cancer may sometimes present with nonspecific symptoms. Sometimes, doctors may only detect cancer when the tumor has become malignant.

Malignant tumors may have one or several of the following characteristics:

  • a solid component of the tumor
  • parts of the tumor have thick divisions larger than 2–3 centimeters separating them
  • they are present on both sides of the reproductive tract
  • the presence of fluid filled lumps

A doctor will choose the most appropriate treatment depending on the cause of the adnexal mass. Women with an ectopic pregnancy will have to end their pregnancy. A doctor may choose one of the following procedures:

  • the administration of a single or two-dose intramuscular methotrexate
  • laparoscopic surgery
  • a salpingostomy or salpingectomy, which are surgical procedures involving the fallopian tubes

Doctors have not yet determined the optimal management of an endometrioma, according to a study that featured in Obstetrical & Gynecological Survey.

Currently, the possible treatments for an endometrioma include:

  • watchful waiting
  • medical therapy
  • surgical intervention
  • inducing ovulation and using assisted reproductive technology in females with infertility

People with pelvic inflammatory disease will require courses of intravenous antibiotics, which may include:

  • cefotetan (Cefotan)
  • cefoxitin (Mefoxin)
  • clindamycin (Cleocin)

Some people can receive treatment outside of the hospital setting with oral doxycycline (Vibramycin) and intramuscular ceftriaxone (Rocephin) or another third generation cephalosporin antibiotic. In some cases, doctors will need to add oral metronidazole (Flagyl).

In the past, tubo-ovarian abscesses required surgical removal of the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes. However, doctors can now prescribe broad-spectrum antibiotics. A person with a ruptured tubo-ovarian abscess may still require surgery.

Ovarian torsion is a gynecological emergency. The only treatment is surgery to prevent severe damage to the ovaries and fallopian tubes.

People with leiomyomas or fibroids may receive hormonal treatments or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to control the symptoms. Once a person stops taking medication, the symptoms may return, and the fibroids may continue to grow. Surgery is the most successful treatment for fibroids.

The treatment options for ovarian cancer include surgery, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy. Oncologists will consider the following factors before recommending a treatment plan:

  • the type of ovarian cancer and how much cancer is present
  • the stage and grade of the cancer
  • whether the person has a buildup of fluid in the abdomen causing swelling
  • whether surgery can remove the whole tumor
  • genetic changes
  • the person’s age and general health status
  • whether it is a new diagnosis, or if cancer has come back

Risk factors depend on the cause of the adnexal mass. Females with ovarian masses have an increased risk of developing ovarian torsion. More than 80% of females with ovarian torsion have masses of 5 cm or larger.

Doctors diagnose fibroids in about 70% of white females and more than 80% of black females by the age of 50 years. Other factors may increase a person’s risk of developing fibroids, such as:

  • starting periods early in life
  • using oral contraceptives before 16 years of age
  • an increase in body mass index (BMI)

Ovarian cancer can run in families. People with a family history of ovarian cancer may have an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer. Other risk factors include:

The likelihood of developing cancer also tends to increase with age.

Adnexal masses are lumps that doctors may find in the adnexal of the uterus, which is the part of the body that houses the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes. Not all masses are cancerous, and they do not all require treatment.

Different types of adnexal mass can share many of the same symptoms. As a result, doctors need to collect a full medical history and data from physical examinations, blood tests, and medical imaging, including transvaginal ultrasounds.

Doctors need to pinpoint the location and cause of an adnexal mass to determine the appropriate management and treatment.

Medical News Today: Can diet improve a person’s vaginal health?

Certain foods and drinks contain compounds that may improve vaginal health and symptoms of vaginal conditions. These include probiotics, prebiotics, and fermented food and beverages.

The vagina uses natural secretions, immune defenses, and “good” bacteria to keep itself healthy. Eating a healthful, balanced diet might also further prevent infections and improve vaginal conditions.

This article discusses what little research there is into the effects of diet on vaginal health, looks at dietary choices for common vaginal conditions, and identifies other ways to improve vaginal health.

People should speak to a doctor before using diet to address any health concerns.

The vagina is a moderately acidic environment with a pH of around 4.5. This acidity helps healthful bacteria to grow and prevents harmful microbes from developing.

Some good bacteria, such as probiotics, may help balance vaginal acidity levels.

Probiotics

Lactobacillus species bacteria is the most dominant type of “good” bacteria found in a healthy vagina.

Research has suggested that Lactobacillus could benefit vaginal health in the following ways:

  • regulating the microflora in the vagina
  • improving the vagina’s acidity levels
  • stopping harmful microbes from attaching to the vaginal tissues
  • working with the body’s immune system

A 2016 study indicated that using vaginal Lactobacillus supplements after taking antibiotics hindered bacteria growth in people with bacterial vaginosis (BV), and significantly reduced vaginal pH.

A 2015 review study found “no significant evidence” that probiotics were more beneficial than using a placebo or no treatment. However, the authors noted that due to a lack of evidence, “a benefit cannot be ruled out.”

Probiotic supplements are available, but some nutritionists recommend getting them from fermented foods and drinks, such as:

  • yogurt and kefir
  • kimchi and sauerkraut
  • pickles
  • tempeh
  • kombucha

Prebiotics

Prebiotic compounds may also help stabilize vaginal pH by promoting the growth of healthy bacterial populations. Foods rich in prebiotics include:

  • leeks and onions
  • asparagus and Jerusalem artichoke
  • garlic
  • whole wheat products
  • oats
  • soybeans
  • bananas

It is important to note that prebiotics can worsen bowel conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) occur when bacteria enter parts of the urethra, bladder, or kidneys, causing symptoms such as burning or pain during urination and bad smelling or cloudy urine. According to the Urology Care Foundation, about 60% of women will experience a UTI at some point.

Drinking lots of fluids might help prevent a UTI.

Cranberry juice

According to the Urology Care Foundation, drinking cranberry juice or taking cranberry tablets may prevent UTIs from developing.

Research supports this idea — in a 2016 study, researchers found that drinking 8 ounces (oz), or 240 milliliters (ml) of a 27% cranberry juice drink each day for 24 weeks lowered the rate of UTIs in adult women who had recently had a UTI.

Cranberries are rich in antibacterial compounds that kill bacteria. These include antioxidants and organic acids, such as:

  • proanthocyanidins and anthocyanins
  • organic and phenolic acids
  • vitamin C
  • flavanols and flavonols

Research into diet and UTIs has mainly focused on cranberries, but many fruits, especially citrus fruits and berries, are also rich in antioxidants and may have similar effects.

Read about other home remedies for UTIs here.

Candida infections, or yeast infections, are the second most common cause of vaginitis, or vaginal inflammation.

There is no scientific proof that any foods can reduce candida infections. However, some foods contain ingredients that the fungus uses to grow. These ingredients include refined sugar, preservatives, yeasts, fungi, allergens, and trace antibiotics. People may benefit from avoiding these foods.

Researchers are studying the possible benefits of natural remedies with antifungal, anti-inflammatory, or antioxidant properties for candida infection, including tea tree oil, coconut oil, and garlic.

Read more about home remedies for yeast infections here.

Regularly eating a healthful, balanced diet that contains fermented products with probiotics and prebiotics can improve vaginal health.

Following some of these lifestyle habits might also help:

  • cleaning the genital region with mild, unscented soap before rinsing well and patting dry daily or as needed during menstruation
  • wiping from front to back
  • using antibiotics appropriately and only when necessary
  • reducing sweat around the vagina
  • exercising regularly
  • maintaining a healthy weight
  • staying hydrating
  • reducing stress
  • wearing loose-fitting cotton underwear

Avoiding or limiting things that can imbalance the body’s systems or irritate the vagina can help, such as:

  • douching
  • holding in urine or rushing urination
  • personal care products with dyes, flavors, or fragrances
  • spermicidal foam or diaphragms
  • tight pants or underwear
  • smoking
  • prolonged exposure to moisture
  • alcohol
  • processed or heavily refined foods
  • foods or drinks with artificial hormones

Many nutrients contribute to vaginal health. Eating a healthful, nutrient-rich diet can improve all body systems.

Certain nutrients, antioxidants, and probiotics may have particular benefits for vaginal health. However, researchers need to do more studies to work out which nutrients help boost vaginal health and prevent vaginal infections.