What are the signs and symptoms of uterine fibroids?
If you have uterine fibroids you may experience:
- Frequent urination
- Pain with intercourse
- Lower back pain or rectal pressure
- Bloating or fullness in the abdomen
- Breakthrough bleeding
- Heavy, painful periods
Can uterine fibroids impact my pregnancy?
For some women, having uterine fibroids during pregnancy may present a problem, which is why you should speak with your OBGYN and go to all your scheduled prenatal appointments and checkups. While you may never experience any issues during your pregnancy, uterine fibroids may be more likely to result in:
- A breech birth
- Needing a cesarean section
- Labor that doesn’t progress
- Preterm delivery
- Placental abruption
If a woman isn’t pregnant there are certain medications that she can take to help improve symptoms. Surgery may also be recommended to remove more severe fibroids; however, treatment for uterine fibroids in pregnant women is rather limited because many of these treatment options could pose a threat to the unborn child. In this case, bed rest and staying hydrated are two of the best ways for expectant mothers to manage fibroids. Also, talk with your gynecologist about the right pain medications to take to help control your discomfort.
Even though most fibroids won’t cause any problems for most women during pregnancy, an OBGYN also understands what to look for and signs that could put you and your unborn child at risk to ensure that you get the immediate care and attention you need.
The pancreas is responsible for producing insulin, which helps your body store sugar from food to use for energy; however, when you are pregnant the placenta also produces hormones that can impact insulin levels and lead to insulin resistance. If your body doesn’t produce enough insulin, this can result in gestational diabetes.
It is possible for a pregnant woman to have gestational diabetes and not even know it, which is why you should keep up with prenatal visits with your OBGYN so that they can perform the necessary testing to keep both you and your baby healthy throughout your pregnancy and delivery.
- Blurry vision
- Increased hunger and thirst
- Urinating more often
Many women can improve their blood sugar levels through simple measures such as healthy eating, exercising regularly, managing stress, and monitoring their blood sugar levels. By controlling this issue now you can prevent gestational diabetes in the future, as well as the development of type 2 diabetes. Sometimes your doctor may also prescribe insulin medication to help control your blood sugar.
Signs of PPH
It’s important to recognize the signs of PPH so you can call your OBGYN or 911 to get immediate medical attention. Some signs of PPH include,
- Heavy vaginal bleeding that won’t stop
- A drop in blood pressure (a sign of shock)
- Nausea or vomiting
- Pale and/or clammy skin
- Pain or swelling around the vagina
Risk Factors for PPH
While PPH can happen without warning, there are risk factors that can predispose women to develop PPH. If you’ve had PPH in the past, you are more likely to have it in the future. PPH is also more common among Hispanic and Asian women.
You may also be more likely to develop PPH if you have any of these health problems,
- Uterine atony: When the muscles of the uterus don’t contract or tighten there is nothing to stop the bleeding
- Uterine inversion: When the uterus turns inside out during childbirth
- Ruptured uterus: When the uterus tears during delivery (this is rare)
- Conditions that impact the placenta such as placenta increta or placenta previa
- Undergoing a C-section
- Undergoing general anesthesia (often for a C-section)
- Medicines that induce labor such as Pitocin
- Vaginal tearing during childbirth
- Fast labor (less than six hours if this isn’t your first child) or augmented labor (more than 14 hours if this is your first baby)
- Placental infections
- Gestational hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Blood conditions
Osteoporosis can happen to anyone
You don’t have to have a family history of bone disease to be impacted by osteoporosis. While a family history of bone disease can certainly put you more at risk, we also see many otherwise healthy women develop osteoporosis during their perimenopausal and menopausal years.
Other risk factors for osteoporosis include:
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Sedentary lifestyle
While not all menopausal women will develop osteoporosis, one in two postmenopausal women will have osteoporosis. This is because estrogen protects the bones, and as estrogen production drops this also increases the chances for osteoporosis. It’s also important that women during this stage of life are getting enough calcium to keep their bones healthy.
If you aren’t sure that you are incorporating enough calcium into your diet, it’s important to talk with your OBGYN about whether or not to supplement. The body also needs enough vitamin D to absorb calcium, and with the number of Americans with vitamin D deficiency and suboptimal levels, it’s also important that you have your vitamin D levels checked regularly to make sure you are getting enough.
There are preventive measures you can take now
Most women assume that once they have osteoporosis there is nothing they can really do to prevent permanent damage. This is simply not true! Ways of strengthening and supporting good bone health include:
- Getting regular exercise that includes weight-resistance training
- Eating a healthy diet that includes enough calcium and vitamin D, as well as protein, magnesium, vitamin C, and vitamin K
- Quitting smoking, if you are currently a smoker
- Limiting alcohol consumption or avoiding it altogether
If you are experiencing symptoms of menopause, you must have an OBGYN that you can turn to for care, support, and answers during this time. An OBGYN can also provide you with the right treatment options to help prevent and manage osteoporosis.
Okay, so you just turned 35 years old. Should you be concerned about getting pregnant?
Well, not necessarily. It isn’t like everything changes overnight. OBGYNs have been providing care to pregnant women of all ages so they know that when it comes to assessing risk everyone’s needs are different. Just because a woman is 35 years old doesn’t necessarily mean that she will face challenges during pregnancy.
A lot of it has to do with her genetics, medical history, and current health. Women in their 30s and 40s who are in great health may not ever face complications or problems, but it’s still important to recognize these risks ahead of time so that you and your OBGYN can find ways to prevent them from happening.
Your Health is Key to Conception (and a Healthy Pregnancy)
Your health is going to play one of the biggest factors in conceiving after age 35; however, it is important to note that the number of eggs your body produces does decrease with age. The decline occurs in the early 30s with a more serious decline after 37 years old. So, does this mean that you won’t be able to conceive naturally?
Not necessarily. Some women can still easily become pregnant in their early 40s; however, if you’ve been trying to conceive for several months and you’re having trouble, it may be time to talk with your OBGYN.
Possible Complications in Advanced Maternal Age
Women who get pregnant after 35 years old are more at risk for developing certain complications such as high blood pressure or gestational diabetes. Pregnant women over 35 years old are also more likely to face ectopic pregnancies, Down syndrome and other genetic disorders, stillbirth, and preeclampsia.
It’s important to speak with your OBGYN if you are trying to conceive, as certain tests can be performed to check for chromosomal and genetic abnormalities. You may also need to come in more regularly for checkups throughout your pregnancy.
If you are thinking about becoming pregnant and you are over the age of 35, it’s a good idea to speak with your OBGYN to find out if there are certain things you can do before becoming pregnant to keep you healthy and less likely to face complications. Your OBGYN is going to be an integral part of the care you receive both before, during, and after your pregnancy.
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