Getting older means overcoming many different obstacles as your life and your body change. But you must deal with one that is uniquely female: menopause and the symptoms that come with it. You know the symptoms commonly associated with menopause—hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, difficulty sleeping, vaginal dryness—but did you know that they are treatable and that menopause doesn’t have to be insurmountable?
If you have moderate to severe symptoms, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is an effective treatment for hot flashes and can also help elevate vaginal dryness and mood issues. It has traditionally been administered with pills like birth control, but also like birth control it can now be taken through patches, creams, gels, and vaginal rings. If you have not had a hysterectomy, you could be prescribed estrogen and progesterone, called combination HRT. If you have had a hysterectomy, estrogen alone would be prescribed.
Not all women are candidates for HRT. Those who have breast or uterine cancer, blood clots, heart or liver disease, or have had a stroke would be better candidates for the following options.
Vaginal estrogen is a lower dose of estrogen that comes as a cream, tablet, or ring and is placed in the vagina to treat vaginal dryness if you don’t have hot flashes. Vaginal lubricants and moisturizers are non-prescription options to treat dryness as well. Lubricants can help decrease friction and ease intercourse, but be sure to only use water-soluble products designed for the vagina to avoid irritating tender tissue. Moisturizers can improve or maintain vaginal moisture if you have mild vaginal atrophy and can also keep your pH level low, ensuring a healthy vaginal environment. They can also be used regularly with longer-lasting effects than lubricants.
Prescription antidepressant medications are often used to treat mood problems, like depression, with relatively few side effects. They have also been used to treat hot flashes. However, if you are having mood issues, be sure to talk with your doctor to identify the cause and decide on the best treatment.
You’d be surprised how far simple lifestyle changes, like eating a healthy diet and regularly exercising, can go in minimizing menopause symptoms. Wearing light-weight pajamas, using layered bedding that can easily be removed, and using a fan in your bedroom can help with night sweats while keeping a regular sleep schedule and nighttime routine can make falling asleep and staying asleep easier.
The onset of menopause is a big change, and dealing with its symptoms can be daunting. But you don’t have to take on this new phase in your life alone. No matter if you are suffering severe symptoms or you just have some questions of what to expect as you get older, our office is here to help. Call to schedule your appointment today.
OBGYNS recommend that women come in for a postpartum visit approximately 6 weeks after giving birth. Unfortunately, medical reports state that the percentage of women that actually go to these appointments is staggeringly low. Of course, while a woman’s primary focus might be to care for their little one, it’s also important that women are getting the proper care they need to tackle their new role as a mother.
Any woman who has just given birth can tell you just how much pregnancy changes your body. Perhaps it changed it in ways you didn’t even imagine. So it goes without saying that those nine months of changes means that it’s going to take time for your body to bounce back to the way it was pre-baby. If you had a vaginal delivery it’s normal to experience vaginal discharge, urination problems, hemorrhoids, mood swings, hair loss, contractions, and vaginal soreness.
It’s important that you have an OBGYN that you trust to answer your questions and provide you with advice and help when you need it. An OBGYN can also be a wonderful source of emotional and mental support, which can be invaluable for a new mother.
One issue that’s often discussed during the postpartum phase is mood swings. Some women experience the “postpartum blues”, which only lasts a few weeks; however, postpartum depression is characterized by intense feelings of sadness and anxiety that can last up to one year. As you might imagine, postpartum depression can have a profound impact on a woman’s outlook and mood, making it particularly challenging when she has a new baby to take care of. An OBGYN can help provide you with the care you need and, if necessary, offer a referral for a mental health professional that can truly listen to your needs and help you on the road to healing.
Furthermore, if a mother has been diagnosed with a chronic medical condition like diabetes, hypertension, thyroid disorders, or mood disorders prior to pregnancy it’s also important that she has a follow-up visit with her gynecologist after the baby is born to ensure that she is still receiving ongoing maintenance and care for these long-term health problems to keep them in check.
It’s important that all women take postpartum care seriously to ensure that they continue to maintain good physical and mental health. Taking the time to care for yourself is important, even though you have a new baby to take care of. Ensuring that your health is in tip-top shape will allow you to spend more time with your beautiful family.
Zika virus has certainly gotten a lot of attention in the news lately. If you’ve been traveling recently then no doubt you’ve also seen the warning signs in the security lines. Despite the headlines in newspaper, websites and the news, perhaps you still aren’t entirely sure what Zika virus is and what it could mean for your pregnancy.
The Zika virus is contracted by a mosquito bite, but it can also be sexually transmitted or transmitted from a mother to her unborn baby. This condition can cause symptoms such as a rash, pink eye, muscle aches, low-grade fever, fatigue, and headaches. The symptoms can last a couple days or up to one week. While the symptoms are usually mild and self-limiting, this virus can be dangerous for pregnant women. If a woman contracts the Zika virus during pregnancy it can lead to brain deformities such as microcephaly, neurological disorders (e.g. seizures), vision and hearing impairments, and developmental problems in the unborn child.
Of course, your risk of contracting the Zika virus in the US is very low; however, if you are planning to travel internationally and you are pregnant, you will want to check to make sure that the Zika virus cannot be contracted in these regions in which you are visiting.
The best way to protect yourself from Zika virus is to not travel to regions in which you can contract this infection or to avoid sex with anyone who has traveled to these regions (or, at the very least, use a condom everytime you have sex). Of course, if you must travel to these areas while pregnant, there are some precautions that you can take to prevent mosquito bites including,
- Wearing long sleeves and pants
- Applying and reapplying insect repellant often
- Making sure that there are screens on door or windows in the place you are staying
If you start to come down with symptoms of Zika virus then you will want to see a doctor right away. Women who are pregnant who have to travel to these regions should talk to their doctor about regular testing.
The Zika virus can remain within the body for up to six months. Of course, once the Zika virus has gone away, this should not affect any future pregnancies you might have. If you are frequently traveling and you are pregnant, chances are good that you may have questions about Zika virus and protecting both yourself and your unborn child. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a pediatrician if you have any concerns.
Finding out that you’re pregnant can be exciting news; however, if you’ve also been diagnosed with HIV then you may be feeling more concerned about what this means for your pregnancy, the health of your child and your health. Of course, it will provide some relief to know that HIV-positive women can give birth to an HIV-negative baby. The most important thing you can do for you and your child is to visit your OBGYN right away for care as well as turn to other doctors who are providing you with your HIV treatments.
In most cases, the medications used to treat your HIV should be safe to use throughout the course of your pregnancy. Of course, there are some instances in which women may need to change the antiretroviral medications they take. This is why it’s important to talk to your medical team as soon as possible after finding out you are pregnant.
It’s imperative that you continue taking your HIV medication throughout the course of your pregnancy just as you had been prior to your pregnancy. Taking your medication at the same time everyday is also important to your health and the health of your child to make sure that they do not contract the virus.
If you haven’t already started taking HIV medication it’s necessary to get on a medication schedule right away. Women with HIV who start taking their antiretroviral drugs right away during their pregnancy will have a lesser amount of the virus in their blood when it comes time for their delivery.
You will want to work with your HIV doctor and your obstetrician to discuss the best ways to manage your HIV while pregnant to reduce the likelihood of passing HIV onto your child. This first consultation should be scheduled right away. From there, your obstetrician will decide how often you should come in for routine monitoring and care. During these routine visits, an ultrasound will often be used to see how the fetus is developing.
When it comes to your birth plan, this is something you should discuss as soon as possible with your OBGYN. It is possible for women with HIV to deliver their baby vaginally, but the safest and best method for delivery will depend on how low or high the viral count is at time of delivery. Based on the viral load at around 34 to 36 weeks, your OBGYN will be able to determine if a vaginal delivery is possible or whether you will need to undergo a cesarean section prior to going into labor.
Along the way, you may have questions or concerns about your pregnancy and managing your HIV. When you do, make sure that you have an OBGYN that you trust to provide you with the caring and compassionate care that you need to have a smooth and stress-free pregnancy.
When it comes to our babies, we only want to give them the very best. As a new mother, there are so many decisions you will have to make regarding your child’s health and well-being. One of the biggest decisions to make is whether or not to breastfeed. Many women hear that breastfeeding is the best option for providing the proper nutrients to their growing newborns, but why is that the case?
Breast milk is ideal for your little one because it contains all the proper nutrients and vitamins your baby needs during the beginning stages of their life. You may not realize this, but breast milk has the ability to provide your little one with immunoglobulin A (IgA), which they need to help fight against diseases and infections such as meningitis, ear infections, and respiratory diseases.
Breastfeeding your baby may also protect them against certain allergies. Some studies have found that babies who drink formula or cow’s milk were more likely to develop certain food allergies than babies who were breastfed. There have even been some studies that have found a link between cognitive development and whether your child drinks breast milk.
Breastfeeding may also reduce your child’s chances of becoming obese in later years. This may have to do with the fact that breast milk doesn’t have as much insulin as formula or that babies who are breastfed are better able to determine when they are full and should stop eating, which may create a healthy habit that they carry on throughout life.
Breastfeeding can also benefit the mother, too. When you nurse your baby it releases oxytocin, which helps mothers feel more relaxed. Since the first few months with your baby can be new and stressful, having these moments to reduce stress and lessen the symptoms of postpartum depression can make this transition into parenthood much easier.
The American Academy of Pediatrics advises mothers to breastfeed their babies for at least six months, even though they can continue to do so even after the first six months. If you have questions about breastfeeding or if you are having concerns or issues with breastfeeding, this is the perfect time to talk to your OBGYN, who will be able to address your concerns and make the breastfeeding process easier for you and your baby.
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