Posts for category: Women's Health Care
Endometriosis is a gynecological condition affecting millions of American women of child-bearing years. An extreme overgrowth of the lining of the uterus (endometrium), this painful and persistent malady leaves some women infertile, in pain and even debilitated from the symptoms. Are you one of them? A visit with your OB/GYN doctor will uncover the reasons and treatments for your endometriosis.
Symptoms of endometriosis
The most frequent symptom is severe cramping before, during and after menstruation. Periods may be unusually long in duration or very short. Lower back pain and migraine headaches occur through out the monthly cycle, and many women report difficulty with bowel movements and a feeling of "heaviness"in the lower abdomen.
Some sufferers of endometriosis experience weight gain and unfortunately...infertility. Endometriosis can block the fallopian tubes and interior of the uterus so sperm cannot reach and fertilize eggs. Endometrial tissue often appears in odd areas such as on the ovaries or the bowel.
Who gets endometriosis?
The Office on Women's Health reports that a full 11 percent of women between the ages of 15 and 44 suffer with endometriosis. The condition appears to run in families, and it is common among women who have never had children. Autoimmune conditions such as allergies, MS and Lupus often co-exist with endometriosis.
Finding and treating endometriosis
Reporting your symptoms of endometriosis to your obstetrician/gynecologist is critical to diagnosis and treatment. He or she will perform a pelvic examination and may do ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging.
Treatment options vary, but frankly, surgery usually is not a first choice. Medical management with hormones and pain medications is preferable. Your OB/GYN will want to monitor your symptoms and treatment plan closely to help you manage this often-frustrating condition.
In addition, many women experience significant symptom relief if they:
- Exercise regularly.
- Deep breathe through periods of abdominal or lower back pain.
- Manage stress levels and the amount of cortisol, the stress hormone, in the bloodstream.
- Eat more vegetables and fruits, and reduce gluten and refined sugars which produce inflammatory reactions in the abdomen.
As you might imagine, women’s bones are smaller than men’s, which puts women at a risk for developing osteoporosis, a chronic condition that causes a loss of bone density and can leave women prone to fractures. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, 80 percent of Americans with osteoporosis are women and half of women over the age of 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis.
Why does osteoporosis mostly affect women? During childbearing years, your body produces estrogen, a hormone that is not only implemental in your reproductive and sexual health but also serves to protect your bones; however, as women approach menopause their estrogen production decreases drastically, which makes women prone to fractured and broken bones.
Fortunately, your gynecologist and women’s health team are instrumental in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of osteoporosis. Bone density is influenced by many factors including hormone levels, lifestyle, nutrition, medications, health problems, and genetics. Common risk factors include:
- Family history
- History of broken bones/fractures
- Poor nutrition
- Heavy alcohol consumption
- Lack of calcium or other vitamins in your diet
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Low body mass index (BMI) and weight
The good news about osteoporosis is that it can be prevented through proper screenings and medications/therapies used to slow the progress of osteoporosis. Your initial screening will provide the information you need to help you and your gynecological team make an informed decision about the type of treatment options available to you. An X-ray is the most common diagnostic tool for checking the density level of your bones.
Getting an osteoporosis screening is highly recommended for all postmenopausal women (women 65 years old or older). If a woman is at an increased risk of developing osteoporosis, she may want to consider getting screened even earlier.
Osteoporosis treatment will include lifestyle changes along with medications/treatments. Simple everyday measures you can take to lessen your chances of bone fractures include:
- Making sure you get enough Vitamin D and calcium in your diet
- Reducing alcohol consumption
- Exercise regularly (include both cardio and strength training)
- Quit smoking
There are also a variety of different prescription medications on the market (also known as bisphosphonates) that can aid in preventing bone loss. Along with medications, your gynecologist may also recommend hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which will supply your body with the estrogen it needs to both prevent and treat osteoporosis.
1. Maintaining a normal pH balance is important for a healthy vaginal environment.
2. It is imperative to practice safe sex.
3. Vaginal hygiene is another important key to a healthy vagina.
4. Adequate vaginal lubrication is another important aspect of vaginal health.
5. Your overall health also plays a major role in your vaginal health.
Being proactive and preparing for pregnancy can really work in your favor. Here are 9 important items to consider when you're thinking about having a baby.
1. Start Prenatal Vitamins
I recommend all women start taking prenatal vitamins well before they start trying to conceive, and certainly once they stop using contraception. You never know how long it will take to get pregnant. So start the prenatal vitamin of your choice today!
Some very important nutrients, particularly folic acid, need to be up to par during the first few weeks of your pregnancy, and even before you get the positive pregnancy test. If you wait until you find out that you're pregnant, you may miss the window of time where the extra nutrients are the most beneficial.
2. Stop Contraception
In general, there is not a large delay to conception after you stop taking birth control. But the return to normal ovulatory function is not the same for all birth control methods. The exception may be a few months longer delay after stopping Depo-Provera injections (the birth control shot).
3. Quit Smoking
Smoking leads to an increased risk of miscarriage and a variety of pregnancy complications. Pregnancy, if nothing else, should be motivation enough to give up this noxious habit.
4. Get Screening Tests and Vaccines
Have your doctor check your blood work to see if you are immune to rubella. If you are not, get vaccinated. In addition, if you have not received a tetanus vaccine in the last 5 years, I recommend you get one. The new vaccine covers tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough). By getting vaccinated for whopping cough before having a baby, you can decrease the chances of transmitting this awful disease to your baby when he or she is born.
Also, there are a variety of genetic diseases that can be detected in potential parents prior to conception. Ask your provider what tests, if any, can be performed before you conceive.
5. Manage Chronic Diseases
If you have a chronic disease -- including hypertension, diabetes, lupus, asthma, thyroid disease, seizures, or any psychiatric disorders -- you should be diligent about achieving optimum control prior to getting pregnant. Be sure to see your primary care doctor or specialists and let them know you are planning to have a baby. They can work with you to ensure you optimal health.
6. Get Pregnancy-Safe Medications
If you take any medications on a daily basis, consult with your provider to ensure they are safe to take during pregnancy.Also be sure to check with your doctor before taking any over-the-counter medicines while trying or after conception.
7. Limit Your Alcohol Intake
Social alcohol intake is considered OK while trying to conceive. But once you find out you are pregnant, I recommend that you avoid all alcohol intake during the course of your pregnancy.
8. Practice Weight Control
If a mother is obese during pregnancy, she runs a higher risk of miscarriage, gestational diabetes, pregnancy-induced hypertension, the need for cesarean delivery, and other adverse outcomes for her baby. There is no better time than now -- before or while you're trying -- to start a healthy diet and exercise regimen. If you are markedly obese, I recommend delaying childbearing until you're able to reach a more healthy weight.
9. Seek Financial Stability
Pregnancy care and delivery are very expensive, even for insured patients. However, this is nothing compared to the cost of raising your child and paying for childcare if needed. You want to be comfortable in your ability to financially care for a child. And if you are not, I recommend taking the necessary steps to achieve that level of comfort before conceiving.
If you are having issues conceiving find out if fertility treatments are the next best option.
According to a CNN article published back in 2014, there is a record number of babies being born via IVF. If you and your partner have been trying to get pregnant for over a year without success then it might be time you talked to an OBGYN about whether IVF could improve your chances.
What types of infertility can IVF handle?
There are many reasons why a couple could be infertile. IVF may be a great option for you if you or your partner are dealing with any of these issues:
- Low sperm count or motility
- Uterine or fallopian tube issues (e.g. uterine fibroids; fallopian tube blockage)
- Ovulation disorders
- Antibodies that attack the sperm or egg
- Genetic disorders
What affects the success of IVF?
The age of the woman will be a factor in the success rate of IVF. Women under the age of 35 will have a higher success rate (41- 43 percent) than a woman over the age of 40 years old (13 to 18 percent). Women between the ages of 35 to 37 have a 33-36 percent success rate while women ages 38 to 40 have a 23-27 percent success rate. Of course, as techniques continue to advance and improve, we are finding that success rates in every age group have grown.
What is involved in IVF?
There are five steps to the IVF process:
- Your fertility specialist will prescribe fertility medications to stimulate egg production.
- The eggs will be retrieved through minor surgery.
- The male will provide a sperm sample, which will be combined with the egg.
- During insemination, the lab will mix the sperm and egg together to fertilize the egg. Once the eggs have fertilized they are called embryos.
- Then the embryos are inserted into the uterus about 3-5 days after fertilization.
Learn more about IVF, the fertility treatment that is helping more and more couples be able to conceive. Talk to your gynecologist about whether IVF is right for you.