CBS News medical correspondent and OB/GYN, Dr. Jennifer Ashton, joins The Doctors to go beneath the surface and explain how your body measures up.
Dr. Ashton's book, The Body Scoop for Girls, is a guide for teenage girls and their parents for the many changes that occur during adolescence.
"It's a book [written as if] your best friend was a gynecologist, what would you ask her, and what would she tell you?" Dr. Ashton says. "It's really for parents and teenagers, kind of all the new-age information for that critical decade, 10 to 20. They really get an individualized, modern, current approach. The things you do in that decade really set a foundation for your lifelong health and wellness."
Caitlin, 26, has experienced irregular periods for years. "I've had my period maybe five times in the past year," she says.
OB/GYN Dr. Lisa Masterson describes a normal menstrual cycle and explains why it can be irregular.
"Your period, or your menstrual cycle, really should be looked at like a vital sign," Dr. Ashton says. "A lot of women, they might only get five periods a year, and to them, that might be normal. But [Dr. Lisa] and I know, that is not normal. You really do need to have a period pretty much every month."
Caitlin was prescribed birth control pills to help regulate her cycle, but they caused her to feel ill and she stopped taking them. Last year, doctors tested her hormone levels, which came back suggestive of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a condition in which a woman's hormones are out of balance and may lead to abnormal periods and difficulty getting pregnant, but no final diagnosis was made.
"My main concerns are my fertility and my health," Caitlin says, "and finding out exactly what's happening with my body."
Common Symptoms of PCOS
• Irregular or no menstrual periods for women of reproductive age
• Irregular ovulation, with or without monthly bleeding
• Excess hair growth on the face and body
• Thinning scalp hair
"If you think [PCOS] affects you, or if you're given this diagnosis, really look at it like the glass is half full," Dr. Ashton says. "Once you know about it, then you can be really proactive about managing it, making sure it doesn't give you the symptoms - the acne, the excess body hair - and protecting your uterus and protecting your fertility. And most importantly, down the road, reducing the chances of things like diabetes."
Caitlin visits Dr. Ashton for a physical exam to determine what's causing her irregular periods.
Dr. Lisa and Dr. Asthon explain possible causes of irregular periods, and Caitlin joins The Doctors via Polycom to find out her test results.
• Period Survival Kit
Vaginal Cyst Removal
Charity, 38, has suffered from recurring Bartholin cysts for the past eight years. Doctors recommended a procedure to have the cysts removed, but Charity was worried it would leave her disfigured or unable to enjoy sex. She joined The Doctors in September, 2010, and Dr. Lisa offered to perform the surgery for Charity.
Bartholin glands are located on either side of the opening of the vagina and lubricate the vagina. A cyst develops when the Bartholin duct becomes blocked, and fluid builds up in the gland, making it painful to sit, stand, walk and even lie down. Often, the only treatment for the condition is to have the cyst drained or have surgery.
Charity recently underwent the delicate surgery to correct her problem, and joins The Doctors to reveal her post-surgery results!
"[Post-op has] been great," she reports. "I don't have any cysts. Everything's looking good so far. I actually, for the first time, am able to sign up for some physical activities that are a couple months out, and I've never been able to do that before. I'm excited. You changed my life!"
The fat lying beneath your abdominal muscles can put your health at risk. Casey, 25, says she has always been told her body looks healthy, but is worried her soft midsection may be telling another story about her health. "I don't even know what shape you would call this — the pear or apple?" she says. "There's no way this can be healthy."
Casey visits bariatric surgeon Dr. Carson Liu, who performs a body-fat analysis and MRI on her.
Casey measures in at 5-feet, 5-inches, 126 pounds and a healthy body-fat percentage of 16.6 percent. But it doesn't mean she is in perfect health. "When you put weight around the torso, it's usually a sign of insulin resistance," Dr. Liu explains. "Either you're going to get diabetes, or you're going to get PCOS."
The Doctors explain to Casey that she has excess visceral fat, which is the most dangerous type of fat. It sits deep inside the abdominal cavity, lines the internal organs and is caused by consuming large amounts of saturated fats and a lack of exercise, which can increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
Plastic surgeon Dr. Drew Ordon explains how Casey can reduce her belly fat.
• Try E.R. physician Dr. Travis Stork's Lean Belly Shot!
• Join the 17 Day Diet challenge and start changing your life today!
• Turn your fat belly into a flat belly!