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Year: 2016

Tips to Avoid the Holiday Blues

The holidays provide joy and happiness for many. Time off from work, quality time with family and annual traditions generate feelings of warmth and love. But it also can activate many negative emotions for some people. There are many causes for this collection of symptoms that has come to be known as the “Holiday Blues.”

Causes

Decreased exercise

People tend to not exercise as much during the holidays, which can contribute to depression.

Having trouble sleeping

Due to the increase in traveling, scheduling and time spent with family and friends, some people get less sleep than normal. This could lead to a decrease in positive emotion and motivation.

Emotions of lost loved ones

While spending time with family can be very enjoyable, sometimes it can produce the opposite effects. Being around close friends and family can lead to remembering a loved one that has passed away.

Overeating and overdrinking

The holiday festivities can involve indulging in food and alcohol. When either one of these things is consumed at a high rate, it can have adverse effects on one’s physical and mental health.

Stress

Examples of this can be financial,  dealing with schedules, planning and

returning to one’s hometown.

Unrealistic Expectations

It’s easy to get excited about the holidays, but when reality sets in, you can find yourself feeling disappointed. Whether it’s someone not getting as excited about their gifts as they were, or a party not going as expected, it’s possible the holidays won’t live up to what your idea of a perfect holiday was supposed to be.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

This can be related to shorter days and a lack of sunlight.

Symptoms

Negative feelings

This could be in the form of depression, sadness and discouragement feeling of hopelessness

Loss of interest

This could be a decrease of interest in things once found pleasurable.

Eating more or less than usual

Negative emotions can lead to binge eating or a suppression of appetite.

Weight gain or loss

Because of the possibility of an increase or decrease in appetite, weight fluctuation could follow.

Sleep deprivation

Because of the effects depression can have on falling asleep, sleep deprivation can be a resulting symptom.

Lack of energy

This could be the result of a lack of sleep and a change in daily habits and nutrition intake.

Withdrawal from others

There could be many causes for this. It could be the loss of a loved one or the recoil of proximity due to emotional comfort.

Difficulty thinking clearly

A decrease in sleep and straying from a normal routine can lead to a difficulty focusing and thinking clearly.

Treatment

Spend time outdoors

Studies have shown that being outside can help with depressive traits. The natural air, the sun and the calming natural beauty of the great outdoors can ease the mind and help fight causes of depression.

Limit eating out of boredom or downtime

This will help with overeating. Find something else to do during this time.

Keep healthy sleep habits

Stay on track with normal routines and habits. This will keep your physical and mental health by staying on a normal rhythm.

Plan accordingly

By planning your travel and other holiday logistics, it takes some of the stress away from what should be an enjoyable time of the year.

Exercise

Exercise releases brain chemicals that calm the mind. It also reduces immune system chemicals that can worsen depression.

Find proximity balance

Finding the right amount of time to spend alone will help you relax your mind and body.

Sometimes people can confuse the Holiday Blues with SAD. While both can exist at the same time, it is important to talk to your doctor if symptoms persist. He or she can help you find a treatment that is appropriate for you.

How do you V-care?

This month I wish to share with you a book that every woman should have in their library, as it carries a mission near and dear to me – The V Book by Dr. Elizabeth Gunther Stewart. Can you guess the topic? You got it…our lady parts. Dr. Stewart provides an owner’s manual, of sorts, teaching women about their vulva and vagina. Page 1 of the book says it all, “Your private parts shouldn’t be private to you.” She is very clear that this is not a “cocktail party conversation,” but a topic you should feel very comfortable to explore and communicate. You should be able to talk about your vulva and vagina just as you freely speak about your blood pressure and heart rate. It is no argument that our culture, family dynamics and life experiences do certainly dictate the relationship we have, or lack thereof, with our body. As a female, we all know each of us have a vulva and a vagina but history and evolving cultures have either photo shopped it out or sent it mainstream. There seems to be no happy medium. I, join Dr. Stewart’s mission and goal, to empower women to know their bodies, to be informed and to speak the language of our intricate anatomy with utmost certainty and confidence. The vulva and vagina have a topographic landscape just as any map. It is vital that one learns the changes that take place with each stage of life, the appropriate vulvovaginal care and when and how to communicate any concerns, needs or uncertainties. The vulva and vagina are very important to our overall health and wellness. So listen up my Sisters…

First let’s talk about anatomy. Do you know your vestibule from your fourchette or your labia majora from your minora? The vulva and vagina are complex organs, with orchestrated form and function. This V-organ and its individual components function as a living biosphere, swirling with hormones, functional glands and transitory passengers of various bacteria and yeast. The interplay of this community is certainly influenced by one’s age and stage in life, just as we are influenced by the time of year and our weather pattern. It is a dynamic environment and must be monitored. This is no different than the way we currently promote self-breast awareness and performing our own breast exams. I challenge you to go to the mirror and practice your V-awareness. Learn what your vulva looks like, as no two vulvae are created alike. As you transition through each life stage, be aware of the changes that occur. The vulva and vagina are very different when compared across puberty, pregnancy and menopause. Take heed of each life stage, its needs and that which keeps the vulvovaginal environment in balance. Appropriate daily V-care depends on this knowledge to promote vulvovaginal health.

I receive numerous calls daily regarding discharge, pain and irritation. Depending on your age as well as style of V-care, the etiology can vary widely. Many women perceive vaginal discharge as abnormal. Unless it is malodorous or causing irritation, it can be entirely normal with respect to age, day of the menstrual cycle or even pregnancy status. Bottom line, no matter the condition, the treatment varies and not always easily treated over the counter, over the phone or without a pelvic exam. When it comes to the vulva and vagina, when she is angry, she stalks. When she is ignored, she persists. We all know that she will NOT be ignored! Pain or irritation can be a warning sign of infection or even cancer. If symptoms persist or do not improve with initial treatment, please seek medical evaluation to determine the source of your symptoms.

No matter your age or life circumstance, it is important to know how to best care for your vulva and vagina. This is a buzzing industry, whether it be at the drug store, on-line or provided by aesthetic services. You can spend a small fortune. Although the pleasant scents, frills and treatments seem like a perfectly relaxing way to indulge, the regret comes in the aftermath! The vulva and vagina thrive with specific requirements. There is a balance of tissue integrity, environmental demands, and hormones, bacteria and yeast. Depending on the treatment, this balance may be upset and sends such symbiotic relationships into raging conflict. This conflict brings about opportunistic infection, irritation and pain. Daily V-care can be as simple as using water, wearing cotton, avoiding perfumes, dyes or soaps and listening to the changing needs of your vulva and vagina.
I challenge you to consider your vulvovaginal health. It is a matter of good health, wellness and ensuring a danger sign does not go unnoticed. Please seek out the references I have offered below. As always, you are welcome to come see me as your Vulvovaginal Healthcare Advocate!

Reference:
“The V Book “– A Doctor’s Guide To Complete Vulvovaginal Health. Elizabeth Gunther Stewart, M.D. and Paula Spencer.
Vulvovaginal Health. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Survivor Stories: LaDena

My name is LaDena Renwick Tilley.

I fought breast cancer twice and I won!! I was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1999 and had a lumpectomy with chemotherapy and radiation. I was 30 years old. Then, in 2013, I was diagnosed again and had a bilateral mastectomy. I never thought in a million years that I’d be going through it again.

This last battle was the hardest due to the fact that both of my breasts were being removed, my body was being transformed. As a woman having breasts is part of our womanhood. If it wasn’t for my FAITH IN GOD and the support of my loving, incredible husband, family, friends and my Greenville Women’s Clinic family I couldn’t have gotten through it.  

Having breast cancer did affect me, mentally and emotionally. I allowed myself to grieve because I was experiencing a loss, but then I thought if my FAITH is going to be authentic then it must be tried. Always remember that doubt sees obstacles, but FAITH sees the way. I had to learn that my breasts don’t define me as a woman, for a phenomenal woman isn’t defined by her physical appearance, but by the content of her spirit and she doesn’t allow her flesh to overrule the righteousness of GOD that is destined in her life. Her beauty lies within.

Whenever we hear the word cancer it brings fear upon us but allow courage to take center stage so that fear has no place in your life. My experience with breast cancer has been one of self-growth and assurance.

Assurance that I am more than a conqueror, a warrior, a victor and not a victim. I’ve grown in love, patience, peace and strength and learned how to thrive in the midst of troubled times. Every survivor of breast cancer is a CEO, which is a CHOSEN EMPOWERED OVERCOMER, therefore we must be prayerful daily, humble in our living and a service to others.

I salute all those who have lost the fight, are fighting or will be fighting this disease. 

May I say to you, be determined to fight with LOVE, DIGNITY, and DILIGENCE!! When I look in the mirror I am reminded of the battle that I fought, but more importantly the VICTORY that I’ve WON!!! The road to recovery has been a long one, but as Maya Angelo said “I wouldn’t take nothing for my journey,” I am so Blessed to be a two-time survivor.


During the month of October when you make a donation to Greenville Women’s Clinic to provide financial assistance to local breast cancer survivors in need of post-mastectomy care with Avila Physical Therapy -OR- share a story or image related to breast cancer month or a survivor and tag Greenville Women’s Clinic in the post on Facebook you’ll be entered into a drawing to win one of the following items donated by The Spa at Merle Norman:

  • 25-minute Swedish Massage
  • A Signature Hydrating Manicure
  • You and up to 3 Guests receive a Hydrating Body Treatment in the Grotto and use of all spa amenities
  • Additional prizes will also be available!

Depending on your Facebook privacy settings, you will need to be sure to share the post using the setting “public”, you may also share the picture directly on our page.

pink-gloves

Breast Cancer Debate

Have you heard about the current debate over breast cancer screening? It is a hot and heated topic. We are all at risk for breast cancer, even our male counterparts. Our risks increase with our age. Well, ladies, age is the current debate. What age is best to start breast cancer screening if you have no family history or risk factors?

Let’s look closely at this debate. This has come about due to the new recommendations by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). This task force is now recommending that a woman starts her routine breast cancer screening NOT at age 40, but ten years later, meaning at age 50. To be clear, this is if you have no family history of breast cancer or risk factors like dense breast, history of chest radiation or other medical concerns. The recommendation also states that mammogram screenings not be done annually but every 2 years unless medically indicated otherwise. The reason behind this is that the benefit of a mammogram increases with age and the evidence supporting mammograms truly finding cancer starts at age 50. You may be feeling mixed emotions at this thought, especially if breast cancer has hit close to home.

The USPSTF was created in 1984 as an independent panel of national medical experts who volunteer to review current healthcare practices and then compare this to our evolving knowledge of evidence-based medicine. Based on this review, this panel then makes recommendations that aim to improve the health of all Americans through screening, counseling or primary care medical services offered. Our U.S. Congress has authorized this panel to convene annually to present any needed recommendations to affect change to improve our healthcare practices. The topic at present for them is now breast cancer screening. The Panel believes that the evidence supporting the practice of performing mammograms prior to age 50 in the general population may not warrant the risks to women of a younger age. They now recommend that mammograms done between the ages of 40 to 49 be done after a discussion between Patient and Health Care Provider any then only perform every 2 years. This is a direct contrast to the recommendations by the American College of Obstetrician Gynecologists (ACOG). ACOG recommends that a mammogram be done starting at 40-years old and continue annually. USPSTF has also found that the evidence supporting mammograms after age 75 is “insufficient to assess the balance of benefit and harm.” According to ACOG, it is again a decision between Patient and Provider, as we know the risk of breast cancer does increase with age.

In Medicine, we work hard to keep Patients safe no matter the task at hand. We are constantly assessing the balance of risk and harm, hoping the odds favor true benefit rather than harm. The most common harm that a mammogram could impose on a woman prior to age 50 is an inaccurate result. You may have received that dreaded call, “Ma’am we need you to return for additional imaging.” If an initial mammogram is not conclusive, then additional tests and procedures must follow. For example, if a 40-year old woman is told her mammogram is concerning for breast cancer, she then goes on to have more imaging and ultimately a breast biopsy. The biopsy shows normal breast tissue. The initial mammogram was therefore wrong. Could this biopsy have been avoided? Did this biopsy cause harm? Does this cause unnecessary anxiety or added discomfort to a woman? What are the overall costs to society? Bottom line, is it all worth it? This is the argument. The battery of tests and procedures following this initial inaccurate screening result leads to major costs to our healthcare system.

I can tell you, there is a great divide in medical opinion about how and when breast cancer screening should be done in the United States. As an Obstetrician Gynecologist, our national organization, The American College of Obstetrician Gynecologists, has held firm, that at present, we believe it is best to start breast cancer screening at age 40 for ALL women. We also feel it is a personal decision and discussion between you and your healthcare provider, and the decision to start annual mammograms even sooner is based on your family and medical history. I feel strongly that the present debate might also place our personal choices, access to screening and medical insurance coverage in jeopardy. Many commercial insurance carriers do alter their coverage based on recommendations like that of the USPSTF It is therefore so important that we remain knowledgeable and an active voice in this debate.

Let me show you some of the evidence for breast cancer that we know at present. Unless you have a family history of breast cancer, we all have a 1 in 8 risk of developing breast cancer in our lifetime. Meaning, think of you and 7 other of your girlfriends. One of you will develop breast cancer in your lifetime. If you have a family history, the chances are even higher. To make this even more real to you, let’s look at the evidence.

The lifetime risk of breast cancer by age is as follows:

  • In our 20s, 1 woman in 1,760 has a chance of breast cancer.
  • In our 30s, 1 woman in 220 has a chance of breast cancer.
  • In our 40s, 1 woman in 69 has a chance of breast cancer.
  • In our 50s, 1 woman in 42 has a chance of breast cancer.
  • In our 60s, 1 woman in 29 has a chance of breast cancer.

Do you see how age and our risk of breast cancer relate? If we delay breast cancer screening until age 50 and then only perform a mammogram every other year, how many women would be affected by a missed or delay in diagnosis of their breast cancer? It is important to discuss and consider this debate, not just from a personal perspective, but to help educate and advocate for all women and our health. Breast cancer screening is proven to play an important role in diagnosing breast cancer early, and therefore improving a woman’s chances for survival through early treatment and ultimately a cure. The pain to lose a loved one from a completely detectable and survivable cancer cannot be described.

You have the power to be a part of this ongoing debate and the time is now. One would think it is only logical to find breast cancer fast and find it early, right? Well, unfortunately with this and really any cancer screening, it is not so simple. It is a matter of evidence-based medicine, meaning we track hard evidence about current medical practices and patient outcomes. This information is then used to apply a recommendation or practice, which is best for the entire population. It is not just a matter of medicine sadly, but of access, effectiveness, cost and certainly insurance coverage. The guidelines for insurance coverage follow recommendations created by our national organizations and governmental guidelines. It is therefore important to be a part of the conversation as decisions are made.

For our current debate over breast cancer screening, you may become involved by contacting your local government representative, discussing with your healthcare provider and the U.S. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has invited you to participate and voice your opinion by going to their website: www.screeningforbreastcancer.org

Abnormal Uterine Bleeding

Abnormal uterine bleeding is a common problem in women’s health. It may present as bleeding that is excess in volume or that occurs at an unexpected time. When a woman sees her physician to evaluate the cause of the abnormal bleeding, the explanation will fall into one of two categories. The first category is an imbalance of hormones (dysfunctional bleeding) that may be treated with hormones such as oral contraceptives or progesterone. The second category is an anatomic change involving a new growth of tissue in the uterus, such as polyps or fibroids (benign muscle tumors), or less commonly, cancer that can develop in the uterine lining. The evaluation may include a pelvic exam (with a pap smear if one has not been done recently), lab work including a pregnancy test, complete blood count, and occasionally hormone tests that check the function of the thyroid and pituitary glands. Pelvic ultrasound is a very useful test, showing the anatomy of the uterus and ovaries. A sonohysterogram is a procedure in which sterile saline is advanced through the cervix into the uterine cavity during the ultrasound. This allows a detailed image of the uterine cavity and may reveal small changes in the lining. An endometrial biopsy may be performed to assess for pre-cancers, cancers, or infection within the lining of the uterus. This specimen is then sent to the pathologist for evaluation. If the pathologist sees evidence of cancer, the treatment plan will include urgent consultation with a cancer specialist and surgery that includes a hysterectomy and cancer staging procedure.

Most often, the abnormal bleeding is found to be due to a benign cause. If cancer has been ruled out, benign growths in the uterine cavity can be removed through an out-patient surgical procedure called hysteroscopy, where a fiber-optic device inserted through the cervix can be used to remove abnormal tissue and restore the uterus to a healthy condition. In cases of dysfunctional bleeding where hormonal treatment does not resolve the problem, a good surgical option is endometrial ablation, a minor procedure where the uterine lining is destroyed. For many women, endometrial ablation is a good alternative to hysterectomy due to the rapid recovery and conservation of normal anatomy.

In summary, abnormal uterine bleeding is a common problem that can be evaluated and managed by hormonal or surgical treatment, depending on the findings. Women who develop abnormal bleeding should promptly see advice from their health care providers for timely diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Hysterectomy

Having a hysterectomy can be a serious decision and one that should be made carefully. Your physician may have recommended a hysterectomy, but, in many cases it’s optional. You need to be fully informed of your options and the risks and benefits in order to make an informed decision.

Hysterectomy is the surgical removal of the uterus. This procedure ends menstruation and the ability to become pregnant. Therefore, women who want to have children should consider alternatives.

A hysterectomy is only one way to treat problems affecting the uterus. For some conditions, hysterectomy may be the best choice. With uterine or cervical cancer and in cases where a uterine growth causes a blockage of the bladder or intestines, you may have no other option.

The following conditions affect the uterus and require treatment. The treatments may include medication, hysterectomy, or other surgeries:

Uterine fibroids, benign tumors which have increased in size, are painful, or cause bleeding. Hormone medications can be prescribed to shrink uterine fibroids, but they can return when medication is stopped. Medications mimic menopause, so they may also cause symptoms of early menopause. Uterine artery embolization is a non-surgical option performed by a radiologist. During the procedure the uterine artery is blocked and since this artery supplies blood to the fibroid, blocking the flow helps shrink the fibroid. Depending on the severity and positioning of the fibroids, a myomectomy can be performed to remove the fibroids while keeping the uterus intact.

Severe endometriosis, uterine tissue that grows outside the uterus. Since preventing ovulation can reduce the discomfort associated with this endometriosis, oral contraceptives can be used to treat this condition. Hormone medications may also be used to shrink the endometrial tissue. If medications do not effectively treat the endometriosis, laparoscopic surgery may be helpful.

Uterine prolapse, a uterus that has “dropped” into the vaginal canal due to weakened muscles, which can lead to urinary incontinence or difficulty with bowel movements. In some cases, this condition may be improved with Kegel exercises. Since obesity can cause the muscles to stretch, losing weight and quitting smoking can also help relieve pressure on the muscles. Another treatment for uterine prolapse is a pessary, a device inserted in the vagina which holds the uterus and bladder in place. For women past menopause, taking hormones may help keep the pelvic muscles stronger.

Cervical or uterine cancer. Precancerous changes of the cervix which are detected early by a Pap test can be treated with a loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP). LEEP removes the abnormal cells. If the cervical disease moves into deeper layer of tissue or other organs, hysterectomy is usually necessary.

Abnormal bleeding. Treatment for irregular, heavy or severe bleeding depends on the cause. Fibroids, endometrial polyps, hormone level changes, infection, and cancer can all cause abnormal bleeding. Treatments for abnormal bleeding include dilatation and curettage (D&C), hormone medications and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs.) Hysteroscopic assessment and management may also be effective.

How will you know which treatment is right for you? Based on your condition, you and your doctor should discuss the risks and benefits of each treatment. The treatment used should depend on the nature of your problem and the severity of your symptoms. But, whatever method or option you choose, it’s in your best interest to explore all the treatment options available for your particular condition before choosing hysterectomy.

Birth Control after Pregnancy

Birth control is something all new mothers should think about, even if you’re not feeling ready to have sex. Most people don’t believe they need birth control already, but did you know that:

  • Some women can get pregnant again just six weeks after having a baby.
  • You can still get pregnant if you’re breastfeeding.
  • Your body needs time to recover after having a baby before getting pregnant again.
  • If you’re not doing anything to prevent getting pregnant, it could happen.

Talk to your partner about future plans for the size of your family, and then talk to your provider so they can help you choose the method that is right for you. There are a number of good birth control options for nursing moms.

Oral contraceptives or birth control pills are available in many dosages and types. There is about a 92% effectiveness rate and you have to take the prescribed pill daily in order for it to be effective. If you miss a pill or take certain medications, you should use a back-up method such as condoms.

Nuvaring is a small flexible plastic ring that is placed in the vagina around the cervix. It contains a combination of hormones that function the same way as birth control pills. The device is inserted and left in place for 3 weeks, removed for one week and then replaced. It is as effective as birth control pills when used as directed.

Intrauterine devices are small T-shaped devices that are placed in your uterus by your doctor and have an effectiveness rate of approximately 99%. They act by preventing the egg to be fertilized by sperm. Depending on the type of IUD you get, this method of birth control is effective for 3-10 years.

Nexplanon is an implant that is inserted by your doctor under the skin in the inner area of your upper arm. It is about the size of a match and is about 99% effective in preventing pregnancy by releasing the hormone called progestin. The device is effective for 5 years.

DepoProvera is an injection that is given every 3 months in your arm or buttock. It is a type of progestin and works by preventing ovulation. It has about a 94% effectiveness rate.

Essure is a surgical procedure that involves placement of coils in your fallopian tubes that block them to prevent fertilization. These can be inserted in the office or surgery center depending on the preference of the doctor. It has a 99% effectiveness rate.

Tubal Ligation is a surgical procedure that is done in the hospital or outpatient surgery center. It involves removal and/or closing off the fallopian tube to prevent the egg from moving down the fallopian tube. It has a 99% effectiveness rate. If you are planning to have a tubal ligation, it can be done after delivery while you are still in the hospital but arrangements need to be made before you have your baby.

Vasectomy is a procedure that is performed on your male companion. It involves cutting the tubes, vas deferens, through which sperm travel. It is an outpatient procedure and is usually done by a urologist. This procedure is not totally effective for 2-4 months because there still may be sperm in the vas deferens. He will be tested after the procedure to check his sperm count. A back-up method will need to be used until he is cleared by his doctor.

Condoms are latex sheaths that are placed over a man’s penis prior to intercourse. It prevents the ejaculate from entering the vagina. It must be used each time you have intercourse and provides an 82% effectiveness rate. It provides the best protection against sexually transmitted diseases.

Spermicides are chemicals that destroy sperm before they are able to fertilize the egg. They must be inserted in the vagina close to the cervix before intercourse. They have a 72% effectiveness rate.

Diaphragms are a dome shaped silicone cup designed to fit over the cervix to prevent entrance of sperm into the uterus. It is used in conjunction with spermicides and must be inserted before intercourse. It is left in place 6 hours after intercourse, removed, washed and stored until needed again. It intercourse occurs before the 6 hours is up more spermicide is inserted into the vagina. It has an 88% effectiveness rate.

Withdrawal involves removal of the penis from the vagina prior to ejaculation. This has a 73% effectiveness rate and requires a great deal of discipline.

Speak with your doctor about the right birth control method for you. It’s important to refrain from sexual intercourse after giving birth until your doctor tells you it is okay. Most doctors recommend waiting at least six weeks after delivery in order to allow your body time to heal. If you do have intercourse before that time, you need to be aware you can get pregnant even if you are breastfeeding.

5 Tips for Staying Fit While Pregnant

As an expectant mother, carrying around a baby in the womb can be exhausting. All you want to do is kick up your swollen feet and relax, but the fact is that exercise and proper eating can help fight uncomfortable symptoms and make a better overall experience for you and your baby. A fitness routine can help fight fatigue, ensure a better night’s sleep and ease constipation. We’ve compiled several tips to keep in mind as you strive to stay fit while pregnant.

1. Avoid Sugar & Bad Carbs
Sugar and bad carbs will increase extra pregnancy weight and fluid gains. Too much blood sugar converts to body fat which builds up around your stomach, hips, breasts and arms. Try limiting the amount of processed carbs such as white bread, breakfast cereal, pasta and baked goods.

2. Increase Good Fat & Protein
The word “fat” in food automatically gets a bad reputation. However, eating healthy monounsaturated and saturated fats like olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil and quality butter provides you with vitamins A, D, E and K, which are crucial for not only your well-being but also your baby’s development. Quality meats, whole dairy and eggs are also good sources of protein for a complete diet. Protein will reduce your cravings, help you stop snacking on junk food and will help you stabilize your blood glucose level.

3. Drink Enough Water
Drinking plenty of water during your pregnancy will make sure you stay hydrated, which helps reduce fatigue and nausea. Being well-hydrated can also prevent you from overeating. Usually, when you’re hungry your body is really just saying it’s thirsty. We recommend drinking at least 68 ounces of water a day during your pregnancy and more if you’re physically active.

4. Get Plenty of Sleep
Even though it’s important to be physically active, it’s equally as important to get enough rest. Your body improves the most while you are sleeping, which is valuable during pregnancy. If you aren’t sleeping soundly, take steps to get your sleeping on track. Try to get at least eight hours of sleep each night. Your body is growing a baby and you need much more rest than normal.

5. Exercise
To stay motivated with your fitness routine, it helps if you find activities that you enjoy doing. Modify your exercise programs by reducing duration and intensity so you don’t danger your baby by overexerting your body. Choose specific pregnancy exercises that you will enjoy keeping up with during this journey to birth.

Listening to your body is the key to staying in shape during pregnancy. Consult with your doctor if you have any health concerns while carrying your new baby. Your doctor is happy to work with you to create a strategic plan that will ensure you have a safe and healthy delivery.

What You Need to Know About Zika and Pregnancy

Zika virus disease (Zika) is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week after being bitten by an infected mosquito. People usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die of Zika. For this reason, many people might not realize they have been infected.

Zika and Birth Defects

A pregnant woman can contract Zika through the bite of an infected mosquito and also through sexual intercourse with an infected person. A pregnant woman is able to pass the virus to her fetus during pregnancy or at delivery.  Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly. In addition to microcephaly, fetuses and infants infected with Zika virus before birth may experience eye defects, hearing loss and impaired growth.

The Future of Zika

There’s still more research being done to better understand the extent of the impact Zika virus has on mothers and their children. Based on the available evidence, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) think that Zika virus infection in a woman who is not pregnant would not pose a risk for birth defects in future pregnancies after the virus has cleared from her blood. From what the CDC knows about similar infections, once a person has been infected with Zika virus, he or she is likely to be protected from a future Zika infection.

Preventing Zika

Until the CDC knows more, it is recommended that special precautions are made for pregnant women. Women who are pregnant should not travel to any area where Zika virus is spreading. If you must travel to one of these areas, talk to your doctor or other healthcare provider first and strictly follow precautions during your trip.

Take steps to prevent mosquito bites by wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants while you’re outdoors. Stay in places with air conditioning and window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside. Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents as directed. Remove or stay away from mosquito breeding sites like containers with standing water.

Prevent yourself from getting Zika through sex by using a condom every time you have sex with a partner who has lived in or traveled to an area with Zika virus. To be effective, condoms must be used correctly from start to finish, every time during sex. Since Zika through sexual transmission is possible, both men and women should strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during their trip.

Contracting Zika

If you suspect you have Zika or you have traveled to an area with Zika, it’s important that you talk to your doctor even if you don’t feel sick. Your baby’s health is at risk, and it’s best to know whether or not you have Zika so you can take proper care.

Resource: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at cdc.gov

Menopause Management and Treatments

Menopause isn’t an illness; it’s a natural stage of a woman’s life. Menopause is defined as occurring 12 months after your last menstrual period and marks the end of menstrual cycles. This transition in life can happen in your 40s or 50s, but the average age is 51 in the United States.

The hormone changes that happen around menopause affect every woman differently. Some changes that might start in the years around menopause include:

Irregular periods. Your periods may:
– Come more often or less often
– Last more days or fewer
– Be lighter or heavier
Hot flashes. These can cause:
– Sudden feelings of heat all over or in the upper part of your body
– Flushing of your face and neck
– Red blotches on your chest, back and arms
– Heavy sweating and cold shivering after the flash
Trouble sleeping. You may have:
– Trouble sleeping through the night
– Night sweats
Vaginal and urinary problems. Changing hormone levels can lead to:
– Drier and thinner vaginal tissue, which can make sex uncomfortable
– More infections in the vagina
– More urinary tract infections
– Urinary incontinence
Mood changes. You might:
– Have mood swings
– Cry more often
– Feel crabby
Changing feelings about sex. You might:
– Feel less interested in sex
– Feel more comfortable with your sexuality
Other changes. Some other possible changes at this time include:
– Forgetfulness or trouble focusing
– Losing muscle, gaining fat and having a larger waist
– Feeling stiff or achy

Menopause requires no medical treatment. Instead, treatments focus on relieving your signs and symptoms and preventing or managing chronic conditions that may occur with aging. Treatments may include:

Hormone therapy. Estrogen therapy remains, by far, the most effective treatment option for relieving menopausal hot flashes. Depending on your personal and family medical history, your doctor may recommend estrogen in the lowest dose needed to provide symptom relief for you. Estrogen also helps prevent bone loss. Hormone therapy may benefit your heart if started within five years after your last menstrual period.

Vaginal estrogen. To relieve vaginal dryness, estrogen can be administered directly to the vagina using a vaginal cream, tablet or ring. This treatment releases just a small amount of estrogen, which is absorbed by the vaginal tissues. It can help relieve vaginal dryness, discomfort with intercourse and some urinary symptoms.

Low-dose antidepressants. Certain antidepressants may decrease menopausal hot flashes. A low-dose antidepressant for management of hot flashes may be useful for women who can’t take estrogen for health reasons or for women who need an antidepressant for a mood disorder.

Gabapentin (Neurontin). Gabapentin is approved to treat seizures, but it has also been shown to help reduce hot flashes. This drug is useful in women who can’t use estrogen therapy and in those who also have migraines.

Medications to prevent or treat osteoporosis. Depending on individual needs, doctors may recommend medication to prevent or treat osteoporosis. Several medications are available that help reduce bone loss and risk of fractures.

Some women try herbs or other natural products that come from plants to help relieve hot flashes. These include:

Soy. Soy contains phytoestrogens, substances from a plant that may act like the estrogen your body makes. The best sources for soy are foods such as tofu, tempeh, soy milk and soy nuts.

Other sources of phytoestrogens. These include herbs such as black cohosh, wild yam, dong quai and valerian root.

Calcium intake. Ingest 1,000 to 1,500 mg of calcium a day. Combine this with regular weight-bearing exercise to avoid osteoporosis and maintain general good health.

Before deciding on any form of treatment, talk with your doctor about your options and the risks and benefits involved with each. Review your options regularly, as your needs and treatment options may change. Learning how to cope with your symptoms now can bring you months of comfort as you transition to the next phase of your life.

References WomensHealth.gov, MayoClinic.org