Author: Briana Thornton

The Most Effective Ways to Relieve Period Cramps

The Most Effective Ways to Relieve Period Cramps

If you feel pain in your lower abdominal area during your menstrual cycle every month, you are certainly not alone. An estimated 50-90% of women complain about painful periods at some point in their lives. 

If you are one of the many women who suffer each month, here are some ways to relieve the pain.

Getting rid of period cramps without medication

Period cramps generally show up in the days leading up to and through the first few days of the menstrual cycle. This happens as the muscles of the uterus contract to shed its lining in response to a hormone-like substance called prostaglandins. In most cases, cramps are manageable with self-care practices and over-the-counter medications.

Heat therapy

To help your uterine muscles relax, place either a heating pad or hot water bottle on your lower abdomen. Another great option is a warm, soothing bath. 

Exercise

Exercise releases endorphins, a hormone that acts as a natural pain killer and can help reduce cramping. 30-60 minutes of exercise during the days where you are experiencing cramps can greatly help to relieve the pain associated with your menstrual cycle.

Other techniques

Although menstrual cycles are most commonly associated with cramping in the lower abdomen, plenty of women experience pain in other body parts including back pain or even pain in the upper portion of the legs. To combat this, a massage, acupressure, herbal remedies, and acupuncture may help.

Medications that relieve period cramps

Over-the-counter medications are many women’s go-to remedy for alleviating pain and understandably so. They act quickly, are inexpensive, available without a prescription, and are generally easy to dose. Here are some popular OTC medications:

  • Ibuprofen acts as an anti-inflammatory helping to reduce the number of uterine contractions and, therefore, alleviate the pain. You can start taking it as soon as the pain begins then use it as needed for a few days.
  • Naproxen acts in a similar way to ibuprofen.
  • Acetaminophen is an alternative recommended to women who cannot tolerate ibuprofen or naproxen.

When to consult your doctor about period pain

If you find that the pain from your menstrual cycle is so bad it’s disrupting your life, and OTC medications give only minimal to no relief, it is time for a medical evaluation and treatment options. An OBGYN may find that more is going on than just your uterine muscles contracting. 

Sometimes, the pain may be caused by conditions such as endometriosis or fibroids. Fibroids are growths inside the uterus that can increase pain or bleeding during a menstrual cycle. Endometriosis occurs when extra tissue grows on the outside of the uterus. Just like the tissue that lines the uterus, the extra tissue breaks down during the menstrual cycle. Its shedding and removal can become impaired which causes severe pain. 

Both these conditions can cause severe pain during the menstrual cycle, but there are ways to manage and treat them. However, you will generally not know if you have endometriosis or fibroids without a medical evaluation. That is why it is imperative to consult with an OBGYN if you are experiencing severe pain.

What You Can Expect After IUD Removal

What You Can Expect After IUD Removal

Intrauterine devices (IUDs) are a popular, long-term, reversible birth control method that boasts 99% effectiveness at preventing pregnancy. About 12% of women who are on birth control use an IUD. 

Depending on the brand, IUDs can be left in to prevent pregnancy for three to 10 years. However, the IUD will need to be removed either because it’s about to expire, you want to try a different type of birth control, or you’re ready to get pregnant. Having an OBGYN remove the IUD is typically a very quick and simple process.

Leading up to the IUD removal

IUDs expire after three to 12 years, depending on the brand. While you don’t have to get it removed on the exact day it was inserted, you should not wait too long after. Do not delay removal for more than a few weeks without having a direct conversation with your doctor. Depending on the IUD, delaying removal beyond the recommended time frame can cause irregular bleeding, challenges in removal, and an increased chance of pregnancy. 

You can schedule your IUD removal at any point in your menstrual cycle. The only preparation you need to do before having your IUD removed is scheduling the appointment. However, if you are prone to cramping or pain with your period, you can take an over-the-counter pain reliever one or two hours beforehand. 

During the IUD removal

The removal process generally doesn’t take very long. During these procedures, the OBGYN will have the patient lie down on the exam table, similarly to how they would for a pelvic exam. The OBGYN will insert a speculum into the vagina, locate the string on the end of the IUD, and gently extract it. The process takes seconds and requires no anesthesia or other sedatives.

The woman may feel a bit of cramping as the IUD is extracted through the cervix, vagina and out of the body. Once it is out, the new IUD is placed right away if continued birth control is the patient’s goal.

After the IUD removal

After having an IUD removed, the woman may experience spotting; this is very common and not a cause for concern. She may also experience cramping for a few minutes afterward but this is typically resolved in a few minutes. If this is not the case, take ibuprofen or curl up with a heating pad. If you experience pain that doesn’t go away, contact your OBGYN. 

Once the IUD is removed and/or replaced, you can immediately resume regular activities. 

One important thing to note is that unless you are getting a new IUD put in at the same time, you will need to use another method of birth control right away to prevent pregnancy. This is because fertility returns to normal after the IUD is removed. This is good news for those eager to get pregnant as they can start trying to get pregnant the day the IUD is removed. 

If you are looking to get an IUD removed or want more information on your birth control options, contact Mid-Atlantic Women’s Care.

Bioidentical Hormones: What They Are and Their Best Uses

Bioidentical Hormones: What They Are and Their Best Uses

For many people, the body starts to show the wear and tear of the years that have passed around middle age. As you age, your natural production of hormones may become impaired. Your body may start to produce higher levels of some hormones and lower levels of others. When hormone levels are lower than they normally are – and bear in mind that “normal” is different for every single person – your body may develop uncomfortable symptoms and unhealthy conditions.  Bioidentical hormone therapy can help you feel better. 

Bioidentical hormones are man-made hormones that operate in a very similar way to the hormones produced by the human body. They are often used in men and women whose hormone production is low or out of balance. 

What are bioidentical hormones?

Hormones are chemicals that the glands in the body naturally produce. They are the messengers that tell other parts of the body how and when to work and control most of the tasks in the body from sex and brain function to the breakdown of food. When hormones are out of balance, the body doesn’t work as it should and symptoms can result.

Bioidentical hormones are produced to be very similar to the hormones that run the human body. Common hormones that are matched include estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone which are then used as a treatment for people whose hormones are low or imbalanced. 

Some prescription forms of bioidentical hormones are pre-made by drug companies while other forms are custom-made by a pharmacist based on a doctor’s orders in a process called compounding. The compounded forms have not been tested and approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Both the FDA-approved and compounded hormones come in a variety of dosages and means of delivery whether pills, creams, gels, sprays, or vaginal inserts. 

Why use bioidentical hormones?

As stated before, as men and women age, the levels of hormones in the body may go down. These include estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone which can lead to certain symptoms including but not limited to the following:

  • Hot flashes
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Night sweats
  • Pain during sex
  • Loss of interest in sex
  • Loss of energy
  • Fatigue
  • Issues sleeping
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Mood swings
  • Memory loss
  • Weight gain

Bioidentical hormone treatment is used to replace the hormones that have been lost. This increase in hormone levels can improve symptoms.

How your doctor will determine your dosage

People on bioidentical hormone treatment are monitored very closely by their doctors.  Dosages are adjusted to a patient’s symptoms, needs, and objectives with the goal of keeping the dosage to the minimum required to achieve your goals. Depending on your doctor, you may have to have routine saliva, urine, or blood tests to check your hormone levels. Your doctor may adjust your dosage based on your changing hormonal needs. 

Are bioidentical hormones safe?

The bioidentical hormones that have been approved by the FDA have been tested for safety of consumption. They are past the FDA’s strict standards and are safe for people to use. The compounded hormones, however, have not been tested by the FDA; in fact, little research has been done on them to prove them to be safe or unsafe. Many major medical groups do not support their use because not enough is known about their safety and long-term effects.

What are the risks of bioidentical hormones? 

Research has shown that there are potential risks for women who take hormones as they can increase the risk of blood clots, stroke, and gallbladder disease. In women who are older and use hormone therapy for an extended period of time, the risk of heart disease and breast cancer may also increase. 

What are common side effects of bioidentical hormones?

When the FDA approves the drug, the drug company must provide information about side effects and include this in the paperwork when picked up at the pharmacy. Pharmacies that compound hormones that are not tested by the FDA do not have to report side effects or provide such paperwork. Because of this, many believe that compound hormones are safer, when in fact, doctors are unaware of all the associated side effects of these hormones.

Side effects can commonly occur when a dosage is first given because the body is not used to the level of hormones. The dose may need to be changed. Some common side effects include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue
  • Acne
  • Headaches
  • Breast tenderness 
  • Cramping
  • Spotting
  • Bloating
  • Increased facial hair
  • Mood swings
  • Indigestion
  • You may experience itching or redness around the area where you get a shot or where you apply your hormones if you use a patch, cream, or gel.

 

If you experience any of these symptoms, you should notify your doctor at once.

Birth Control Can Help With Acne. Here Are Your Best Options

Birth Control Can Help With Acne. Here Are Your Best Options

Where topical acne treatments may fail, birth control is another option that can help to effectively treat acne. For years, this has been an acne treatment that physicians have been prescribing to their patients particularly in treating hormonal acne. 

How does birth control help to treat acne?

A common cause of acne, especially present among teens, is an imbalance of androgens, a type of hormone found in both men and women, but some people may produce it in higher amounts. One side effect of this overproduction is an increase in sebum, a type of oil that your skin naturally produces. Excess sebum can clog pores which leads to acne.

Birth control, however, can help to regulate hormones, reducing androgen production and thereby decreasing the amount of sebum production, and (hopefully) acne as a result. 

Birth controls that fight acne

Not all birth control pills are effective at fighting acne and although other pills may certainly help, the FDA has only approved three birth control medications for treating acne: Yaz, Estrostep, and Ortho-Tri-Cyclen. They are prescribed for the types of hormones they contain.

Yaz

Yaz is considered the most effective of the three as it contains drospirenone which is a synthetic version of the sex hormone, progesterone. It helps to treat acne by blocking the effects of testosterone, a type of androgen.

Ortho-Tri-Cyclen

This birth control contains another type of synthetic progesterone called norgestimate, making it the second most effective of the three. 

Estrostep

Estrostep contains norethindrone and ethinyl estradiol which lower testosterone levels. This is considered the least effective of the three at treating acne.

 

These three birth controls are most commonly prescribed for acne; however, doctors may prescribe other types of birth control that can also work for some patients. Every patient will respond to the various birth control options in a different way.

Who is a good candidate for taking birth control for acne?

Taking birth control comes with risks so you should consider the risk factors before starting with any birth control methods. Once your doctor has approved you as a good candidate for birth control, you will have to determine whether or not the possibility of clear skin is worth the potential side effects and risks. 

The best candidates for birth control are those who have no personal or family history of clotting disorders or blood clots, fall within a healthy BMI, do not smoke, and are under the age of 35. If you are concerned about weight gain and mood swings, you may want to consider options that contain slightly less estrogen.

And be forewarned; birth control isn’t a surefire way to get rid of acne. It is possible that birth control may make your acne worse and it is not uncommon that your skin will get worse before it gets better when you start the pill. Unfortunately, it can take some time and some work to find the right pill to improve your acne with little to no side effects. There is no way to predict what will or won’t work for you. Make sure you discuss your options with your OBGYN and dermatologist to find what works best for you.

Health Benefits of Breastfeeding for Both Mom and Baby

Health Benefits of Breastfeeding for Both Mom and Baby

Expecting and new moms are bombarded with information about all the benefits breastfeeding holds over formula. But this is a very personal decision, one that should be informed by facts and not excessive opinion. Before you make this decision, let’s go through the benefits that breastfeeding can have for both you and your baby. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months and continuing even once solid foods have been introduced, until the baby is at least 1 year or until both mom and baby are ready to stop breastfeeding. The World Health Organization recommends starting as early as one hour after birth for the greatest benefits.

Breastfeeding is not always a possibility and that is OK

Breastfeeding has so many benefits for both mom and baby but it can also be difficult for new moms. It can come with a lot of pressure to produce milk for your baby and may lead to anxiety, perhaps even postpartum depression.

For moms who are struggling with breastfeeding, lactational consultants can be very helpful in addition to making sure you are eating at least 450 to 500 extra calories in balanced meals and snacks. Your OBGYN may also prescribe supplements like gummies or lactational cookies to help with breast milk production. 

However, some women are simply not able to produce a lot of breast milk. When that is the case, their OBGYN may grow concerned that the baby’s nutritional needs are not being met and will suggest formula as a supplement. Mother’s can still continue trying to breastfeed while using formula to ensure the baby is getting enough nutrients. 

The mental health of a breastfeeding mother is very important. If breastfeeding is causing anxiety and depression for her, that risk is not worth the benefits of breastfeeding. We never want to be putting unrealistic expectations or unnecessary pressure on mothers. 

How breastfeeding benefits your baby

Human breast milk has been called “a living fluid” because of its ability to adapt to a baby’s needs. Unlike formula, the nutritional content of breast milk changes from one feeding to the next, ensuring the baby is getting the nutrients he or she needs to grow. Breast milk contains antibodies, vitamins, fat, lactose, and minerals and offers the following benefits for the baby. 

Breastfeeding helps the baby with digestion

Babies that are breastfed tend to have lower rates of nausea, vomiting, constipation, colic, gas, and other feeding-related problems. Breast milk has a well-balanced nutritional profile that aids in digestion for newborns. 

Breast milk is also easier to digest than formula. Formula contains equal parts whey and casein (two types of protein) while breast milk has a higher level of whey during a baby’s first 6 months. Whey is easier and faster to digest than casein, making it gentler on a newborn’s stomach.

Breastfeeding helps to treat and prevent infection and disease

A mother’s body produces immunoglobulins that the baby is able to get through breast milk. Immunoglobulins, also known as antibodies, are large proteins that the body’s immune system uses to neutralize pathogens like bacteria and viruses. If a baby falls ill, these help to fight the infection as a newborn’s immune system is not fully developed and continues to rely on the mother’s defenses in addition to its own.

The milk has anti-inflammatory capabilities in addition to the antibodies that help to protect the baby both short and long-term. Breastfeeding reduces the risk of obesity, leukemia, ear infections, and type 1 and 2 diabetes. Breastfed babies also have a lower risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), a syndrome that is characterized by a baby’s unexplained and sudden death, usually while sleeping. 

How breastfeeding benefits new moms

The benefits of breastfeeding extend far beyond the baby’s health as it can not only help to foster a bond between mother and child but also helps to improve the mother’s health. 

Breastfeeding fosters a mother-child bond

Researchers are unsure exactly which factor of breastfeeding creates a mother-child bond, but they have some ideas. They’ve hypothesized  the emotional facilitation between mother and child can be attributed to breastfeeding, skin-to-skin contact, or some combination of both. Perhaps it’s the baby’s positioning when nursing which creates an opportunity for eye contact between mother and child. Either way, breastfeeding creates an undeniable bond between mother and child.

Breastfeeding can reduce postpartum bleeding

In the first few days postpartum as the uterus slowly shrinks back to its normal size, new moms may experience some discomfort, cramping, and bleeding. Breastfeeding can help by speeding up the rate at which the uterus shrinks back to its pre-pregnancy size. Nursing causes the brain to release oxytocin, a hormone responsible for uterus contractions and decreased bleeding.

Breastfeeding can help with postpartum weight loss

Breastfeeding can help women hoping to return to their pre-baby body shed the baby weight. It takes about 500 calories a day to breastfeed your baby, as your body is constantly making milk and burning extra calories.

We’re not just talking a few extra pounds. A study of over 2,000 women showed that those who exclusively breastfed for at least the first 3 months were more likely to return to their pre-pregnancy body mass index compared to women who did not breastfeed or partially breastfed. 

Breastfeeding reduces the risk of certain diseases

Breastfeeding produces a lot of protective health benefits for the mom. Generally, in breastfeeding, your hormones stay consistent rather than fluctuating throughout the month. That consistency has both short and long-term effects on the body. For example, breastfeeding lowers a woman’s life-long exposure to the hormone estrogen, which is linked to an increased risk of ovarian and breast cancers. Women who breastfeed have lower rates of breast and ovarian cancer, in addition to lower rates of type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

How long should mothers breastfeed?

In an ideal world, women would exclusively breastfeed for one year. But, we tell our patients that any amount of time is great. If you can make it to one year, that’s great but even if you can do six, or three months, any amount of breastfeeding is incredibly beneficial for mom and baby. 

At around four to six months, parents should slowly introduce solid food to the baby. By this age, infants have generally developed the motor skills to swallow food and not spit them out.

Why Acne During Pregnancy Is Common and How to Get Rid of It

Why Acne During Pregnancy Is Common and How to Get Rid of It

Everyone talks about the glow that comes with pregnancy but for many, the increase in oil secretion can cause breakouts, even in women who haven’t had acne for years. There’s no culprit that we can blame for acne during pregnancy, but dermatologists project that these breakouts are caused by the same thing that causes them during teenage years: hormones. Specifically, a hormone called androgens. If you are breaking out during your pregnancy, here’s what you may want to know about how long it will last, why it happens, and how to safely treat it. 

When is pregnancy acne most common?

Acne may arise at any point during pregnancy since androgen levels and the resulting increased oil production increase early on in pregnancy. Androgen levels are particularly high during your third trimester so expect that if you are dealing with pregnancy acne that it will be especially bad during this period. Androgens actually help get the cervix ready for labor which is why they increase as you near full term. 

The severity of pregnancy acne will vary from person to person. It is, however, more common among women who had acne before becoming pregnant. While having a previous history of acne is the strongest risk factor for pregnancy acne, the underlying causes of acne flare-ups during pregnancy have not been definitively determined. 

There are other risk factors besides the increase in androgens that can make you a likely target for pregnancy acne. The immune system plays a part in fighting off acne and during pregnancy, a woman’s immune system is constantly changing and somewhat suppressed. Additionally, the stress that often accompanies pregnancy can increase levels of stress hormones and trigger breakouts or worsen existing acne. 

How to safely treat pregnancy acne

If you are looking to treat pregnancy acne, discuss treatment options with your OBGYN, even if they are just over-the-counter products. Many skincare products contain chemicals that can be absorbed into the body and harm your baby. Your OBGYN might offer these as safe alternatives:

  • Antibiotics such as clindamycin, which can kill bacteria that causes acne.
  • Sulfur-based washes, which often help with skin inflammation.
  • Azelaic acid, which is a mild anti-inflammatory acid that can reduce swelling and redness. 

But always check with your OBGYN before making any health changes during pregnancy, even with things as seemingly little as skincare. 

There’s no definitive timeline for when pregnancy acne will clear up but as the hormones and immune system function returns to normal, the acne will also resolve if it did not exist prior to pregnancy.

Top 5 Women’s Health Myths Debunked by a Gynecologist

Top 5 Women’s Health Myths Debunked by a Gynecologist

There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding gynecology and obstetrics and with so much information, it can be difficult to determine the truth to take the best possible care of yourself. We have many resources available on our website that explain processes and lay out exactly what you can expect during your visits. Here are some of the myths we most often hear about OBGYNs and the facts that dispel them.

OBGYN Myth #1: It is not necessary to go to the gynecologist unless you are pregnant or have a problem

We hear this a lot, and it cannot be further from the truth. A gynecologist is not just for women who are pregnant or seeking a solution for a gynecologic concern. Going to the gynecologist should be something all women do routinely throughout their lives. For starters, you should begin visiting the gynecologist between the ages of 13 and 15 to begin annual screenings and preventive healthcare. 

Gynecologists offer many resources including birth control, cancer screenings, and family planning options. Plus, your annual gynecology appointment is a great time to discuss any concerns you may have about your body. When and how often you should see a gynecologist depends on many factors including your health concerns and medical history. If you have not already, you should establish a relationship with an OBGYN and see her/him once a year. 

OBGYN Myth #2: If you are on your period, you have to cancel your gynecologist appointment

Whether or not you should cancel your appointment if you’re on your period depends on a few factors: where you are in your cycle, how heavy your bleeding is, why you’re visiting your doctor, and your comfort level. For example, if your flow is light and you are going in for a pap smear, your doctor should still be able to proceed as normal. Before canceling your appointment, call your doctor’s office to discuss the best way to proceed. 

OBGYN Myth #3: You should be getting a pap smear every year

While all individuals with a cervix should start getting pap smears at the age of 21, per the American Cancer Society’s recommendation, the frequency of which you will need to get them varies from person to person. How often you get a pap smear can vary depending on your medical history, health concerns, age, and lifestyle. 

As a baseline, it is recommended that individuals get a pap smear every three years if they’re between the ages of 21 and 29. Those 30 and above can consider getting a pap smear and HPV test every five years if they’ve had normal pap smears in the past.

Of course, you should consult with your healthcare provider and follow their personalized recommendations as to how often you should get one.

OBGYN Myth #4: Pap smears test for STIs

Many individuals are under the impression that a pap smear also screens for sexually transmitted infections but that is not always the case. Some medical providers will automatically test women for infections but not all will. If you’d like to get tested, or have noticed a change in your odor, discharge, or are experiencing pelvic discomfort, you should ask your gynecologist to test for STIs. 

As a baseline, the CDC recommends that everyone who is sexually active should get tested for sexually transmitted infections. Make sure to talk to your gynecologist about which tests are right for your lifestyle.

OBGYN Myth #5: If you get the Gardasil shot or a similar vaccine against HPV, you don’t need a pap smear

The HPV vaccine helps to prevent certain strains of the virus but it does not protect against all strains of the virus and therefore cannot prevent all cases of cervical cancer. It is possible to get HPV despite getting the vaccination. So while getting them is important, vaccines are not always 100% effective. 

It is crucial to continue getting screened for cervical cancer even if you’ve been vaccinated.

Medicines That Are Safe for Pregnant Women to Take When Sick

Medicines That Are Safe for Pregnant Women to Take When Sick

When you are pregnant, your immune system doesn’t operate at maximum capacity, which is actually a good thing because it keeps your growing baby protected, and stops your body from thinking the fetus is an intruder. However, this comes with the downside that your body can’t ward off the viruses that cause the common cold quite as effectively. This can leave you vulnerable to the symptoms that come along, including a congested nose, cough, and sore throat. 

As we move into cold and flu season, you may find yourself coming down with a cold, and while you can rest assured that your baby isn’t experiencing any of them, you want to get rid of the symptoms quickly and safely. While colds are mostly an uncomfortable annoyance best managed by a little extra rest, fluids, and patience, you may find yourself seeking out cold medications to alleviate your symptoms. We recommend making a call to your OBGYN so they can steer you in the right direction in terms of cold medications that are considered safe during pregnancy. Here are our own recommendations on what to do if you get sick while pregnant.

Common cold symptoms during pregnancy

Generally, a cold will start with a sore or scratchy throat lasting about a day or two, followed by the gradual onset of other symptoms which may include:

  • Sneezing
  • Mild fatigue
  • A runny, then later stuffy nose
  • A dry cough, particularly as the cold is ending which may continue for a week or more after the other symptoms have mostly subsided
  • A low-grade fever typically under 100 degrees Fahrenheit

Cold symptoms usually last between 10 to 14 days. However, if your symptoms persist longer than that time frame or seem to progressively worsen, you should talk to your primary care physician so they can ensure it hasn’t turned into something more serious like an infection or the flu. 

Is it a cold or the flu?

The best way to tell the difference between a cold and the flu is to take account of the typical symptoms.

  • A cold is milder than the flu. Its symptoms come on gradually and typically you only run a low-grade to no fever. It generally starts off with a sore throat that goes away after a day or two, a cold ends with the main symptoms of a runny nose and cough.
  • Influenza, commonly called the flu, is more severe and the onset is more sudden than a cold. Symptoms include a high fever (typically 101-104 degrees F or higher), headache, chills, a sore throat that typically worsens by the second or third day, intense muscle soreness, and a general feeling of weakness and fatigue. These symptoms, along with sneezing and a cough, can last a couple of weeks or longer.

What to do if you get a cold while pregnant

Before turning to medicine, there are some effective cold remedies that don’t come from a pharmacy shelf. Here are ways to alleviate symptoms and feel better fast:

  • Keep eating: It’s common to not have much of an appetite when you have a cold but it is important to eat a healthy diet while you are sick and pregnant.
  • Rest: While this won’t necessarily shorten the duration of your cold, your body needs rest. Sleeping can prove to be a bit difficult when sick with a cold. Breathe easier by elevating your head with a few pillows. Nasal strips can also help as they gently pull your nasal passages open. They are easy to find, sold over the counter and are drug-free.
  • Stay active: If you can, do some light to moderate, pregnancy-safe exercises. It will help your body to fight off the cold faster.
  • Drink lots of fluids: Symptoms of colds like sneezing, runny nose, and fever causes your body to lose fluids that are essential to you and your baby. Warm beverages like tea with honey (which helps to suppress a dry cough) or hot soup with broth are soothing for your symptoms and cold water and juices work fine as well.
  • Eat foods with vitamin C: Foods like citrus fruits, tomatoes, bell peppers, broccoli, spinach, melon, kiwi, and red cabbage are packed with vitamin C which will help to boost your immune system.
  • Get more zinc: Pregnant women should try to get 11-15 milligrams of zinc each day, including the zinc in prenatal vitamins. Foods like turkey, beef, eggs, yogurt, wheat germ, oatmeal, and pork will also help to boost your immune system.
  • Use a humidifier: Dry conditions in your home can aggravate your symptoms so using a cold or warm air humidifier at night can really help. 
  • Use saline nose drops, rinses, and sprays.  All of these can help to moisten nasal passages, and they’re unmedicated, so they are safe for use while pregnant. We do recommend avoiding neti pots, however, as they can spread germs.
  • Gargle with warm salt water: Gargling with warm salt water can help to ease a scratchy throat and help control a cough.

Medications that are safe for pregnant women to take for a cold

Before reaching for the medications in your medicine cabinet, reach for the phone and call your OBGYN to discuss the recommended remedies you can take for a cold while pregnant. Here are cold medications that are generally safe during pregnancy.

Acetaminophen

Taking acetaminophen like Tylenol can help in the short-term to reduce head and body aches and break a fever.

Cough medicine

Expectorants like Mucinex, cough suppressants like Robitussin, vapor rubs like Vicks VapoRub, and cough drops are all considered safe during pregnancy. But again, make sure to consult your OBGYN about safe dosages.

Nasal sprays

Plain saline drops and sprays are safe and can help to moisturize and clear a stuffy nose. Most steroid-containing nasal sprays are also safe but you should check with your doctor about brands and dosing.

Antihistamines

Benadryl and Claritin are generally safe during pregnancy but, as usual, check with your doctor as some will advise against them during the first trimester.

Medications to avoid during pregnancy

Always check with your doctor or OBGYN before taking any medications – prescription, over-the-counter, or homeopathic – particularly the following. 

  • Pain relievers and fever reducers like aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen can cause pregnancy complications, particularly if taken during the third trimester.
  • Decongestants like Sudafed and DayQuil are generally cautioned against after the first trimester and only in a limited amount.
  • Avoid non-steroidal nasal sprays containing oxymetazoline.
  • Don’t take supplemental vitamins or herbal remedies without medical approval.
How Often You Should Get Tested for STIs

How Often You Should Get Tested for STIs

No matter your relationship status, Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) should be on everyone’s health radar. STI rates are higher than ever before in the US, and both chlamydia and gonorrhea have the potential of becoming antibiotic-resistant. While there may be stigmas surrounding STIs that need to be banished, it is important that you are knowledgeable about STIs, their prevalence, and how they can affect you. Too few women are seeking out screening for sexually transmitted diseases

You should not feel ashamed about your sexual activity or STI status, but rather you should take responsibility for your health and safety and that of your sexual partners. The answer to how often you should get tested for STIs may surprise you. 

Getting Tested for STIs

Because STIs are so common, it’s a safe bet to get tested once a year, even if you’re practicing safe sex and using protection. Your doctor may not automatically test you at every appointment so make sure to ask about it if they don’t offer it. 

Here are some testing recommendations for prominent STIs:

STI Testing for Gonorrhea and Chlamydia

  • If you have HIV.
  • If you are sexually active and at risk for STIs, which can include new or multiple sexual partners.

Testing for gonorrhea and chlamydia is done using a cervical swab or a urine test which is then taken to a lab and analyzed. 

STI Testing for Hepatitis, Syphilis, and HIV

While these infections are not as prevalent, you should still get tested for them annually. These are checked with a blood test.

STI Testing for HPV

Certain types of HPV can develop into cervical cancer while other types of the virus can manifest as genital warts. Many people that are diagnosed with HPV in their lives never develop symptoms and the virus typically leaves the body within two years. 

Women may be tested for HPV through a Pap smear or an HPV test. If your pap smear shows abnormal results, your doctor will likely recommend further testing and your doctor may check your cervix for HPV or cancerous cells. 

You should get tested for HPV every few years if you have had an abnormal pap smear in the past. 

STI Testing for Genital Herpes

Genital herpes is a bit harder to test for because there are no concrete tests that can be done to detect genital herpes. A culture of a genital sore may be taken but usually only when you have symptoms. A blood test may be able to help detect a herpes outbreak, but the results are often inconclusive because it will not show if you had exposure to oral or genital herpes. 

The dedicated health professionals at Mid-Atlantic Women’s Care want to restore your peace of mind. If you or a loved one has any questions about STIs or are looking to get treated for them, please contact us today.

Your Questions About Endometriosis Answered

Your Questions About Endometriosis Answered

Women are no strangers to the different ways that menstruation can affect life. For many women, this looks like a monthly bout of bloating, cramps, and occasional mood swings. But if you have endometriosis, symptoms can be far more severe and can halt daily life, leaving you miserable and in pain. If you think you may have endometriosis, you are likely filled with questions: What causes it? What are all of the symptoms of this condition? What are my treatment options? Not to worry, we have answers to the most commonly asked questions about endometriosis and treatment options.

What is Endometriosis?

The inner layer of the uterus is lined with a tissue that is called the endometrium. During menstruation, the tissue grows thicker as the tiny blood vessels multiply to prepare for a fertilized egg. If pregnancy does not occur, the tissue breaks down and the blood exits the body through menstruation. 

Endometriosis is a condition in which the endometrium travels outside the uterus and surrounds other reproductive organs, most commonly the ovaries and the fallopian tubes, or it attaches itself to other tissues in the pelvis. As the endometrium is displaced from the uterus, the extra blood and tissue have no way to exit the body which, in turn, can cause cysts to form on the ovaries. For many women that are diagnosed with endometriosis, this means severe pain during their menstrual cycle. 

Endometriosis occurs in about 1 in 10 women of reproductive age. Most often, it is diagnosed in women who are in their 30s and 40s. 

What Causes Endometriosis?

The cause of endometriosis is unknown. However, endometriosis is a condition more likely to develop in women who have other family members who have been diagnosed with endometriosis, women who have undergone a cesarean, and women who have fewer than 25 days between menstrual cycles. 

Endometriosis is diagnosed first by a physical exam, including a pelvic exam performed by your OBGYN. However, the only way to truly tell if a woman has endometriosis is through a surgical procedure called laparoscopy. Sometimes a bit of tissue will be removed during this procedure in a process called a biopsy. 

What Are The Symptoms of Endometriosis?

Some women with endometriosis do not show symptoms, however, those who do show symptoms experience them right before their period. The most common symptom of endometriosis is chronic (long-term) pain in the pelvic region. Endometriosis can also cause pain during sexual intercourse. Endometriosis can also affect the bowel and bladder causing pain during bowel movements or urination, respectively. Heavy menstrual bleeding is another common symptom of endometriosis. Symptoms can be severe enough that they disrupt daily life and can include

  • Heavy periods
  • Severe lower back pain
  • Intense cramps
  • Intense stabbing pains
  • Severe migraines
  • Bloating
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Pain during urination and/or bowel movements
  • Pain during sexual intercourse

Endometriosis can also make it difficult to get pregnant. Almost 40% of women with infertility have endometriosis. The inflammation caused by endometriosis can damage the sperm or egg or interfere with their movement through the fallopian tubes and uterus. In more severe cases of endometriosis, the fallopian tubes may be blocked by adhesions or scar tissue. 

What Are the Treatment Options for Endometriosis?

Treatment for endometriosis will depend on the severity of the condition, the symptoms the patient experiences, and whether or not the patient plans to get pregnant. Endometriosis may be treated with medication, surgery, or both. 

If you or someone you love are suffering from endometriosis, you don’t have to go it alone. The staff at Mid-Atlantic Women’s Care is knowledgeable when it comes to this common condition and we understand what you’re going through. Contact us to schedule an appointment and find the best course of action for you.

Mid-Atlantic Women’s Care consists of over 30 OB/GYN facilities and 6 Imaging Centers throughout the Hampton Roads community
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