Tag: well-women care

Everything You Need to Know About Mammograms

Everything You Need to Know About Mammograms

What is a mammogram?

A mammogram is an x-ray picture of the breast that can be used not only to detect breast cancer in women that are showing no signs or symptoms of the disease but also to check for breast cancer in women after a lump or other sign has been found. There are two different types of mammograms: screening and diagnostic. 

What is the difference between screening and diagnostic mammograms?

A screening mammogram is done as a preventative measure in women who have not displayed any signs or symptoms of breast cancer because the x-ray images allow you to detect tumors that a physical screening may not. 

A diagnostic mammogram is used to check for breast cancer after a lump or other sign of breast cancer has been detected. Just like we mentioned in our Breast Cancer Awareness blog post, there are many other signs of breast cancer besides finding a lump. Some of these signs may include breast pain, thickening of the skin of the breast, nipple discharge, or changes in the size, shape, or appearance of your breasts. These signs can, however, also be related to benign conditions which is why a diagnostic mammogram is important to further evaluate changes that may have been found during a screening mammogram.

Both types of mammograms use the same machine. The major differences between the two are (1) the amount of radiation you will be exposed to is higher in a diagnostic mammogram because more x-ray images are needed to view the breast from multiple angles, and (2) diagnostic mammograms take longer to obtain than screening mammograms. 

What are the benefits of screening mammograms?

Early detection of breast cancer with screening mammography means that treatment can be started earlier, potentially before it can spread. This vastly increases the possibility of overcoming the disease. But we can’t talk about the benefits of screening mammograms without also talking about the risks that can come with them.

What are the potential hazards of mammograms?

Radiation exposure

Mammograms require radiation and, although it is in very small doses and results in low exposure, repeated x-rays have the potential to cause cancer. The benefits of mammography do almost always outweigh the potential harm from radiation exposure, however, you should speak with your health care provider about the need for continued x-rays. You should also be sure to disclose your potential of being pregnant with your health care provider and x-ray technician as radiation can be extremely harmful to a growing fetus.

False-positive results

A false-positive is when a radiologist sees an abnormality that could be a positive on an x-ray picture but there is no cancer present in reality. All mammograms that do find abnormalities should be followed up with additional testing to determine whether or not cancer is truly present. 

False-positive results are most common among younger women, women with dense breasts, women with a family history of breast cancer, women who have had previous breast biopsies, and women who are taking estrogen. 

False-positive mammograms can lead to anxiety and emotional and physical distress and the additional testing required to determine the presence or absence of cancer can be costly, time-consuming, and physically uncomfortable.

False-negative results

A negative result in cancer screening means no abnormality is present. A false-negative result gives the impression that the mammogram is normal despite the fact that breast cancer is present. This occurs most frequently among women who have high breast density and younger women because as women grow older, their breasts become more fatty which makes false-negative results less likely. 

A false-negative result can give a false sense of security and can delay treatment. 

I have breast implants. What can I do about screening mammograms?

While implants can hide some breast tissue and therefore make it difficult for a radiologist to detect an abnormality in the mammogram images, women with breast implants should still get regular mammograms. If you have gotten implants as a result of a mastectomy, ask your doctor whether or not they recommend a mammogram of the reconstructed breast. 

In either case, it is important that you let the mammography facility know that you have breast implants when you are scheduling your mammogram. This will let them know to take the necessary precautions to make sure that as much breast tissue can be seen on the mammogram as possible.

What You Should Know About Birth Control

What You Should Know About Birth Control

While most women have a basic working knowledge of birth control (meaning they know it’s used for contraception), there are many nuances within each type of birth control that make it the best choice for each individual and the other purposes it serves. So today we want to give you an overview of the most popular birth control methods, how they work, which method may work best for you and your needs, and reasons you might choose to use birth control aside from contraception

What are the most common birth control methods?

Condoms

Due to their easy accessibility, condoms are the most popular type of birth control and a preferred method of contraception for people who are not in monogamous relationships because they are effective at protecting from several sexually transmitted diseases. They are also great for reducing your chances of getting an infection from oral and anal sex. Because of this, condoms are often used in addition to other birth control methods that aren’t as effective in this area. But know that they are not 100% effective in protecting against STDs because they do not cover all vulnerable areas. No other birth control methods in this list will protect against STDs

Here are a few steps you should take to ensure that condoms are as effective as possible:

  • Don’t double up. It actually makes them less effective because the friction of the two rubbing together increases the chances of them breaking.
  • Always check the expiration date.
  • Wear the condom from beginning to end, not just when the male ejaculates.
  • Store them at room temperature.

Oral Contraceptives

More commonly known as The Pill, oral contraceptives are another popular and effective means of preventing pregnancy…as long as the woman remembers to take them at the same time every single day. With that being said, the pill may not be the best method for people who are forgetful because forgetting to take it greatly reduces its effectiveness. 

The pill works by preventing ovulation but like we said earlier, the pill is not going to protect you against STDs so it should be used in combination with condoms if you are in a situation where you could be vulnerable to STDs.

Intrauterine Device (IUD)

An IUD is a small piece of plastic, resembling a T, that releases hormones into your bloodstream that either prevent ovulation or block sperm from reaching an egg. 

They are a popular birth control method of choice for women who don’t wish to become a mother any time soon (or ever) because they can be inserted without the woman having to worry about birth control for several years. The span of time depends upon the brand of the IUD so you should discuss options with your gynecologist. They are also great for women who know that they won’t be able to remember to take oral contraceptives on a daily basis. 

The Patch

The patch is also a birth control method that controls your hormones and prevents pregnancy by blocking the ovaries from releasing eggs, increasing the thickness of cervical mucus to prevent sperm from reaching an egg, and causing the lining of the uterus to become porous so that, if fertilization does occur, the egg can’t implant in the uterus. The patch is placed on your skin and must be replaced weekly, available only via prescription. 

Emergency Contraception

More commonly known as “the morning-after pill,” this birth control method must be taken within 72 hours of having unprotected sex (or some other mishap occurred). The morning-after pill works by temporarily stopping the release of eggs from the ovaries. And if an egg has already been released, the pill can prevent that egg from becoming fertilized by sperm. 

The morning-after pill comes with the common misconception that it is an “abortion pill” but that is not the case; in order for an abortion to occur, a fertilized egg has to attach to the uterus. 

None of the birth control methods that we’ve listed above are 100% failproof. It’s important that along with obtaining birth control, you talk to your gynecologist about your overall health and practicing safe sex. There are side effects that come with hormonal alternatives like most birth control methods that can have adverse effects on your body, particularly if you are taking other medications. 

Besides contraception, what are other reasons that people get on birth control?

Some of the most common reasons women may decide to take birth control include:

Treat Acne

Many women with chronic acne who have tried many different types of face washes, ointments, and acne systems with no results will often turn to birth control. Birth control pills can reduce the production of sebum which in turn can decrease the number of breakouts a woman has

Treat Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

PCOS is a hormonal imbalance that results in irregular periods that can manifest itself in unusually heavy menstruation, pelvic pain, and excessive body hair growth. Taking birth control pills can help to regulate your hormones and prevent these symptoms. 

Migraine Prevention

Migraines can be a premenstrual symptom for some women as they are a result of a drop in estrogen. Birth control pills can help to regulate those hormones and significantly reduce or even eliminate migraines that are related to PMS.

Treat Primary Ovarian Insufficiency

This condition, also known as Primary Ovarian Failure, occurs when a woman doesn’t produce enough estrogen for her ovaries to function properly and can result in irritability, vaginal dryness, and hot flashes in women under 40. The pill can once again help to regulate estrogen levels.

Ease Endometriosis

Endometriosis is when tissue, usually only found inside the uterus, starts growing outside the womb. During a menstrual cycle, that tissue is generally released with your period but if it grows outside of the uterus, it has nowhere to go and can cause immense pain or even infertility. Some contraceptives prevent pain that’s associated with endometriosis by preventing the growth of that tissue. 

Contact Mid-Atlantic Women’s Care for More Information on Birth Control Methods

We are confident that any questions you may have about birth control or other health-related inquiries, we have heard countless times and can help you find a solution for it. We work hard to establish great relationships with every single one of our patients and that starts here. Contact us to schedule an appointment.

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.

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.

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.

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.

What You Need to Know Before Getting an IUD

What You Need to Know Before Getting an IUD

IUDs or intrauterine devices are one of the most popular methods of birth control among women, particularly in recent years. Many women like that it offers many benefits that the pill cannot: it is a “set it and forget it” method of birth control, involving a one-time payment, and the patient does not have to remember to take a pill at the same time on a daily basis. If you are considering getting an IUD, there are a few things you should know before having it inserted

What is an IUD?

An IUD is a small, flexible, T-shaped plastic device that is inserted into the uterus by a healthcare professional. There are five brands of IUD divided into two different types:

  • Copper IUDs (a.k.a. ParaGard)
  • Hormonal IUDs (include Mirena, Kyleena, Liletta, and Skyla)

Hormonal IUDs work by using the hormone progestin to thicken cervical mucus which blocks sperm. Copper IUDs are wrapped in a small bit of copper, are nonhormonal, and act as spermicide, damaging sperm mobility and viability. The body’s response to the IUD varies from person to person; for some, ovulation is prevented too while for others, it is not. Generally, they all work by preventing sperm from getting to the egg. 

The main difference between the two types of IUDs is how long you can keep them in without benign replaced. ParaGard can remain in place for up to 12 years while the Mirena and Liletta can for six years, Kyleena for five years, and Skyla for three years.

IUDs are ranked for the same effectiveness at preventing pregnancy as getting your tubes tied but they do not impact your future fertility. The IUD has a 99% rate of effectiveness, largely because, unlike the pill, it is not something you can forget to take, therefore, there is no user error involved. 

How is an IUD inserted? Is it painful?

In the insertion process, the cervix is opened and the IUD is placed into the uterus. While the insertion process can be slightly painful, the procedure generally takes just a few minutes. You may experience cramping for about 24 to 48 hours after the procedure as this is a common response among women after an IUD is inserted.

Will an IUD affect my period?

Whether or not your period alters, depends on the type of IUD you choose. Hormonal IUDs tend to make periods lighter and shorter and lessen cramps. IUDs may instead cause a heavier period, but this generally fades over time. Every woman reacts differently but if you are concerned about how you may react to an IUD, you should discuss this with your OBGYN during your consultation appointment

What are the pros and cons of an IUD?

In addition to the advantages previously mentioned, IUDs have long-lasting effects but can be reversed simply by removing the IUD. What makes the IUD appealing to many is that you visit an office once to have it inserted then you don’t have to remember on a daily basis to take a pill. It is the most effective but also reversible form of contraception. 

The biggest disadvantage of IUDs is the discomfort they can cause women. There are a wide array of side effects that can come along with them including abdominal or pelvic pain, nausea, vomiting, migraines, headaches, spotting or irregular bleeding, and breast tenderness. The side effects vary depending on which type of IUD you get. 

This does not typically happen but there is a slim chance your IUD could fall out, most commonly during a period in the first three months. Your OBGYN may recommend that you check to feel for the IUD string occasionally but never pull it out. If your IUD does become dislodged, see your OBGYN ASAP to have it reinserted.

Can STDs Cause Infertility?

Can STDs Cause Infertility?

Finding out that you have a sexually transmitted disease (STD) can come with a host of overwhelming emotions including surprise, anger, and fear and even more questions. You wonder if it’s curable or how it will affect your life. You worry about having to tell future sexual partners or how it might affect your plan to have children someday if that is your hope. Whether or not it will affect your fertility depends on your condition as well as how early you detect it. 

Which STDs can cause infertility?

The problem is that some STDs don’t come with identifiable symptoms so people can live with them for years without being aware of them. This increases the risk of developing complications like infertility or infecting future sex partners. Early detection is the best way to avoid such risk as infertility caused by STDs is highly preventable.

Chlamydia

This is one of the most common STDs. On its own, the disease doesn’t cause infertility, however 40% of women with chlamydia develop pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID affects the cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries, often leading the woman to become infertile. 

Chlamydia is one of the STDs that doesn’t have symptoms so most women that have it are unaware that they do. In some rare cases, a woman may experience signs of the infection including unusual vaginal discharge, a burning sensation while urinating, and painful sex. 

Fortunately, chlamydia can be cured with antibiotics which is why it is so critical that it is caught and treated early.

Gonorrhea

Here is another example of an STD that rarely shows symptoms. People who do show symptoms may experience spotting between periods, burning while urinating, or vaginal discharge that is white, yellow, or green. The infection can affect the urethra and cervix.

Gonorrhea can also be treated with antibiotics but, if left untreated, it can spread to the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries. It can cause the fallopian tubes to scar, making it difficult for the sperm to reach and fertilize the egg and also increasing the possibility of the person getting pelvic inflammatory disease. 

Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

HPV is the most common STD in the US. This is a group of more than 150 viruses, some of which can lead to cancer of the reproductive organs. Most people don’t have symptoms which is why it’s so important that you are scheduling annual exams with your OBGYN. Detecting HPV early can decrease the risk of it developing into cancer of the vulva or cervix which can cause infertility.

Preventing infertility caused by STDs

Since STDs can remain in the body for years without ever showing signs, all sexually active women should have annual screenings where they are tested for STDs.

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