Kidney stones in women often go unnoticed. Sometimes, they don’t even cause pain. In this article, we’ll talk more about them.
What is a kidney stone? It’s basically a small, hard deposit that’s usually composed of acid salts.
In the kidneys, these stones typically don’t create any trouble. However, once they begin moving through your urinary tract, they can cause extreme pain.
As they move closer to the urethra and ureter (the smaller parts of the urinary tract), the pain intensifies.
A lot of the time, most women don’t even realize that they have kidney stones until they’re on their wait out. In this article, we’ll talk more about them.
Kidney Stones in Women – Symptoms to Look For
When comparing men and women, there are no big differences between the symptoms they experience with kidney stones.
The big difference, however, is that after the age of 50, women are more likely to develop them.
When kidney stones are so small that they easily pass through the urinary tract, there are usually no symptoms involved.
Here are some common symptoms to know for kidney stones in women:
- Blood in Urine: This happens when the stone begins rubbing up against the tissue in your urinary tract.
- Severe Pain: Depending on the size of the kidney stone, you’re going to experience a large amount of pain.
- Painful Urination: When you urinate, it might feel very painful. This is a common symptom of kidney stones to watch for.
The pain associated with kidney stones will usually come in waves, and spread to areas of the body like the groin, genitals, back, and abdomen.
The pain can sometimes be quite unbearable, so taking OTC pain relievers might be a good idea.
Types of Kidney Stones
Now that we’ve talked about the common symptoms of kidney stones in women, let’s look at the different types of kidney stones that exist:
- Calcium Stones: As their names imply, these kidney stones are made of calcium (technically, calcium oxalate). Calcium oxalate is one of the most abundant compounds in the foods that we all eat. Fruits, nuts, and vegetables are very high in calcium oxalate. Very high doses of vitamin D are shown to increase the concentration of calcium and/or oxalate in the urine.
- Struvite Stones: These stones occur most commonly in the kidneys after an infection (particularly urinary tract infections). In the early stages of struvite stone formation, there might not be any symptoms. But as they grow in size and numbers, you might begin to experience a high degree of pain and discomfort.
- Uric Acid Stones: If you’re not drinking enough water (at least 8 glasses of water per day), then uric acid stones can form. Even if you are drinking enough water, they can form if your body is releasing water too quickly. These kidney stones in women can also be the result of a diet that’s exceptionally high in protein.
- Cysteine Stones: The final stone that we’re going to talk about are cysteine stones. These types of kidney stones are usually formed due to hereditary genetic disorders, meaning you have no control over their formation. If you’re suffering from cysteine stones, realize that there are treatment options available.
Your treatment options will depend directly on the type of kidney stones that you have.
For example, treatment options for uric acid stones will be different than treatment options for calcium stones (and vice versa).
Let’s talk about some of those treatment options now.
Kidney Stones in Women – Treatment Options
Very rarely will invasive treatments will be required to treat kidney stones in women.
Usually, the only time surgery is required is if a kidney stone has become lodged in the urinary tract.
Most kidney stones pass in as little as 48 hours. Sometimes it can take longer, and in other cases, it can happen more quickly.
To make the process happen faster, make sure that you’re drinking enough water (at least 8 glasses per day).
There are many medications that you can take for kidney stones. A common one prescribed by doctors is called Ketorolac.
This drug is anti-inflammatory in nature and is injectable. It works very well at treating the pain associated with kidney stones.
Depending on the severity of your kidney stones, your doctor may recommend that you avoid OTC dugs like aspirin and NSAIDs.
Because these can increase your chances of bleeding excessively.
Can Other Procedures Be Used?
Yes, there are instances in which other procedures will be required to treat kidney stones in women. Let’s look at those instances now:
- Extracorporeal Lithotripsy: This is when shock waves are sent to help break down the kidney stone(s) into smaller pieces. This will make them easier to pass through your urinary tract. It’s one of the most common methods in the U.S.
- Percutaneous Ultrasonic Lithotripsy: This is when the doctor makes a small incision in your back and places a tube within the kidney to help break up your kidney stones. It’s an effective way to make passing them less painful.
- Laser Lithotripsy: With this method, the doctor will use a laser beam to help break up the kidney stones into smaller and smaller pieces. It’s also quite common in the United States as well as in other parts of the world.
- Ureteroscopy: Finally, there’s the ureteroscopy. This procedure is accomplished by inserting a ureteroscope through the bladder to fragment the kidney stones. This makes passing or removing the kidney stones easier.
If you don’t want to try any of these methods, then you may want to try to treat your kidney stones naturally.
Kidney stones in women can be treated using a variety of means. Most of the time, you won’t even know that you have them until the final moments.
If they’re small enough, then it’s possible to pass them without even knowing it! Aside from medications, there are many other medical procedures that can break down the kidney stones to make them easier to pass.