Reproductive Health

Reproductive Health Concerns.

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

Many will experience symptoms of PMS at some point in their lives, and while it is quite common, it can be a real challenge to navigate - espcially while balancing the demands of daily life. It usually occurs in the lead up to a period starting, and is generally a result of fluctuating levels of hormones in the 2nd half of the menstrual cycle. PMS can include a range of physical and emotional symptoms, that can vary from cycle to cycle - however, many of them can be managed with dietary and lifestyle changes.

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)

PMDD is a severe form of PMS, that effects approximately 3-8% of those with PMS.  Unlike the manageable symptoms of PMS, PMDD is debilitating with it having a significant effect on daily life.  Due to its severity, PMDD requires the attention of a health care professional.   PMDD can be differentiated from Depression by the fact the PMDD resolves soon after menstruation has started.  Research indicates that women suffering from PMDD are particularly sensitive to the changes in neuro-transmitters caused by the hormonal fluctuations of the menstrual cycle.

For more information and support, visit International Association for Premenstrual Disorders
A great first step in recognising whether PMS or PMDD is effecting you, is to record your common signs and symptoms that you experience day to day on a fertility chart. Then after 2-3 cycles, review your charts to see if there is a pattern - this infomation will help to guide your next steps.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

PCOS is a condition that involves both metabolism and hormones, and results in a number of signs and symptoms including;

  • Very long menstrual cycles
  • Absent menstrual cycles (not ovulating)
  • Facial hair, Stomach hair, Thinning hair on head
  • Acne
  • Weight gain (not always the case)
  • Higher than normal testosterone and other androgens
  • Polycystic ovaries (many small cysts on ovaries)

The incidence of PCOS in New Zealand and worldwide  is  5-10%.  As many as 21% of women have some characteristics of the syndrome at any one time, however in order for an official diagnosis, you need to also have other signs. Because of its impact on ovulation, it is a leading cause of infertility. The good news is that with a little work, the hormones can be balanced, and a healthy menstrual cycle resumed.

For more information and tips visit Jean Hailes - PCOS
See the latest from NZ Based Researchers PCOS Research NZ
Research has shown that dietary and lifestyle changes have the biggest impact on an individuals experience of PCOS - this is due to the metabolic involvement on how PCOS develops. The main takeaway is to move your body daily, and reduce your overall carbohydrate intake - especially refined sugars.


Endometriosis is when fragments of endometrial-like tissue (lining of the uterus) grow in places outside the uterus where it shouldn’t be. These growths are usually found in places such as on the ovaries, bladder, bowel and on the pelvic wall. Occasionally, endometrial tissue can be found in other parts of the body. These growths respond to oestrogen just like the endometrium in the uterus and cause inflammation, scar tissue, and adhesions - which worsen during menstruation. It is a progressive and painful condition, which if not managed can lead to difficulty conceiving. In New Zealand it is estimated the incidence is 1:10 of all females, and 1/3 in those presenting with subfertility/infertility. It is most commonly diagnosed in women aged 25-40 although symptoms usually begin in the teen years.

Adenomyosis is when endometrial tissue grows into the muscular lining of the uterus, it is essentially endometriosis of the uterus.  It is more common in women who have had uterine surgery, or after childbirth.  The symptoms are; heavy painful periods, pain during intercourse, swollen tender uterus, and bleeding between periods.

For more information and support, visit Endometriosis NZ
One of the biggest health issues facing girls and women in NZ today is the delay in diagnosing Endometriosis. As Endo is progressive, it does need to be managed appropriately to both preserve fertility, and to reduce the impact that it has on the individual.


Fibroids are non-cancerous growths that form either in the lining of the muscular tissue of the uterus or inside the uterus.  Fibroids are not normally removed surgically, unless they are very large and are causing discomfort – or if they are growing fast.  Fibroids can cause very heavy and prolonged bleeding during menstruation.  Fibroids shrink after menopause.

Ovarian Cysts

A cyst is a sac or pouch filled with tissue or fluid.  Cysts on the ovaries are very common, and usually resolve on their own.


Cysts that form as part of the ovarian cycle, they usually resolve on their own and do not require treatment.

  • Follicular Cysts – formed when the follicle does not burst at ovulation, resulting in a cyst that persists.

  • Corpus Luteum Cyst – formed when the corpus luteum persists past the normal luteal length.


Cysts that form as part of abnormal cell growth, or a disease process.  These are normally monitored for changes, and only removed if they grow very quickly or cause discomfort.

  • Endometrioma or Chocolate Cyst – caused by endometriosis on the ovary.

  • Teratoma or Dermoid Cyst – a cyst filled with connective tissue such as hair and skin.

Find a Fertility Educator near you :

Find an Educator