Ovarian Cysts

While most ovarian cysts are harmless, some can cause serious health problems. What are ovarian cysts? Most women will experience at least one ovarian cyst during their lifetime. The majority of these are small and will vanish within a month or two without any symptoms. However, ovarian cysts also have the potential to rupture or enlarge, causing a great deal of discomfort. Cysts related to the normal menstrual cycle are called functional cysts. These generally disappear within a few cycles and rarely cause issues. There are several types of cysts that are not related to the menstrual cycle including: Cystadenomas – these cysts are filled with a watery or mucous-like fluid and are found on the surface of an ovary Teratomas/dermoid cysts – these form from embryonic cells and are made of various kinds of tissue such as skin or teeth Endometriomas – these cysts are a result of uterine cells growing on the ovary Both teratomas and cystadenomas can grow large enough that they move the ovary beyond its normal position. This has the potential to twist the ovary, also known as ovarian torsion. This is both very painful and has the potential to reduce or halt blood flow to the ovary. It is also possible for a large cyst to rupture, which can cause severe pain and internal bleeding. Additionally, cystic ovarian masses that develop in the years following menopause have the potential to become cancerous. Risk factors for ovarian cysts There are several factors that increase the likelihood of having ovarian cysts including: Pregnancy – cysts can be affected when the normal menstrual cycle is disrupted Endometriosis – when uterine cells abnormally grow outside the uterus they have the potential to [...]

2018-07-20T12:01:14-05:00May 19th, 2018|Info|

Amniocentesis – Amniotic Fluid Exam

Amniocentesis is a test performed during pregnancy that removes a small amount of the fluid surrounding a fetus. What is amniocentesis? Amniotic fluid envelops a fetus throughout pregnancy and contains numerous substances that can to provide information about the health of the baby. Amniocentesis the name given to the prenatal test that checks this fluid for and an indication of birth defects if the parents present a significant genetic risk. Amniocentesis boasts an accuracy rate of around 99.4%. Why consider amniocentesis? Amniocentesis is recommended for a variety of reasons including: Known genetic conditions – women can have a significant risk for genetic diseases because of family history including down syndrome, cystic fibrosis, sickle cell disease and muscular dystrophy Previous pregnancy issues – if a prior birth was affected by a neural tube defect or genetic abnormality, a doctor will likely recommend amniocentesis Abnormal ultrasounds – the procedure can detect some diseases where the brain and spine fail to develop properly, such as spina bifida Geriatric pregnancy – women 35 and older carry a higher risk of chromosomal conditions The complete anatomical ultrasound performed before the amniocentesis can itself be helpful in identifying issues such as heart defects, infection, lung capacity, cleft lip/palate and club food. It is also the most accurate way to determine the baby’s gender during the pregnancy. Additionally, amniocentesis can drain any excess amniotic fluid that has built up in the uterus. How is amniocentesis performed? After a local anesthetic is administered, a small needle is used to enter the uterus through the mother’s abdomen. This usually occurs between the 15th and 18th week of pregnancy. It is guided using an ultrasound until it reaches the sack surrounding the fetus. Less than one ounce of fluid is [...]

2018-07-20T11:56:47-05:00May 12th, 2018|Info|

Embryo Cryopreservation

Cryopreservation of embryos occurs after an egg is fertilized but before it is implanted for use attempting a pregnancy at a later date. What is embryo cryopreservation? Cryopreservation is a technique developed to freeze and then thaw embryos for use in vitro fertilization (IVF). During standard infertility treatment, certain hormones are given to the female patient to provoke her ovaries to develop more eggs than normal.  These eggs are then retrieved and fertilized with sperm in a laboratory. Normally, there are more fertilized eggs — also known as embryos — than can be implanted in the woman’s uterus. This is where embryo cryopreservation comes in. The act of freezing embryos can have many purposes including: Multiple IVF transfers – this the most common reason for freezing because additional transfers are useful if the initial fertilized egg fails to implant properly. It would be quite costly and time consuming to embark on a full IVF cycle after every attempt. Future use – even if an egg implants properly and then develops into a baby, the mother can choose to keep extra embryos frozen for a prolonged period of time in case she wishes to attempt another pregnancy in the future Donation to other parents – since the embryo does not necessarily have to be implanted in the same person who provided the egg, some couples choose to give their fertilized egg to other chosen individuals or make a blind donation to a couple in need Donation to science – this can help researchers discover new breakthroughs for those experiencing infertility Not wasting embryos – some individuals may simply not wish to destroy quality embryos for moral or religious reasons Undergoing treatment – it is also possible to freeze a fertilized [...]

2018-07-20T11:50:16-05:00May 5th, 2018|Info|

Hormone Replacement Therapy

Learn more about how hormone replacement therapy could help you. Hormone replacement therapy Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) normalizes a female’s hormone levels by adding hormones that match those that are naturally occurring in the body. These hormones have a molecular structure identical to those that are produced at a younger age. HRT can benefit women who are experiencing hormone imbalance as a result of menopause. When to use HRT The balance of women’s hormones is affected as they age and this is especially true during menopause. HRT can be used to treat those imbalances before, during, or after menopause. Women can experience an array of conditions or symptoms because of menopause: Irritability Changes in memory, especially memory loss Joint pain Anxiety and fatigue Increase in weight Insomnia Adult acne Hot flashes, night sweats Decreased sex drive Osteoporosis HRT may not be appropriate for individuals with the following conditions: Blood clots Breast, endometrial, or uterine cancer Heart disease or heart attack Liver disease Stroke Benefits and side effects of HRT Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can reduce the severity and frequency of the conditions or symptoms associated with menopause. Some conditions or symptoms can be stopped through the use of HRT. The hormone level adjustments offered through HRT can increase energy levels and/or improve sex drive. Our specialists will determine the best HRT plan for you based on your combination of conditions and/or symptoms. Patients using HRT can experience some side effects, including: Headaches Mood changes Nausea Vaginal bleeding Swelling or tenderness of the breast Bloating Planning to use HRT Blood tests are used to identify hormone imbalances, which are critical insights for your customized therapy plan. Our specialists will utilize those insights in conjunction with [...]

2018-07-20T11:09:20-05:00April 28th, 2018|Info|

Miscarriage and Its Effects

Learn about miscarriage and its effects on the body and mind. What is Miscarriage? Miscarriage, otherwise known as spontaneous abortion, is the most common loss of pregnancy. This condition is very common, with a reported 3 million cases in the United States each year. Many women miscarry before they are even aware they are pregnant or before confirmation from a doctor. While there are certain factors that may contribute to a miscarriage, the most common cause is abnormal development of the fetus. Other risk factors include smoking, drinking, advanced maternal age, disease, hormonal or structural abnormalities, or physical trauma such as a car accident. Symptoms of Miscarriage A miscarriage can develop over several hours, days, or even weeks. Symptoms of miscarriage may include spotting, mild to severe cramping or contractions, back pain, nausea or vomiting, white-pink mucus, passing tissue or clot-like material, or weight loss after steady pregnancy weight gain. Sometimes there are no symptoms, and a miscarriage is not detected until a doctor confirms the absence of a heartbeat. Women experience miscarriage differently; some may feel no pain while others may feel the equivalent of labor pain for prolonged periods of time. Effects of Miscarriage Miscarriage can be devastating and painful both physically and mentally. Women and their partners can expect varying challenges in recovery. Physical Recovery It can take between a few weeks and a few months to fully recover from a miscarriage. Often, recovery corresponds with how far along the mother was in her pregnancy before miscarrying. Because of this, most doctors and midwives recommending waiting for a period of time before getting pregnant again. Women may experience vaginal bleeding for up to a week after the miscarriage, light bleeding or [...]

2018-07-20T11:26:33-05:00April 21st, 2018|Info|

Menopause – Symptoms and Treatments

Discover why menopause occurs as well as the symptoms and treatments associated with it. What is Menopause? Menopause is the life stage when the menstrual cycle ends after the ovaries stop functioning and pregnancy is no longer possible. Menopause occurs 12 months after a woman has her last period. As menopause approaches, the ovaries stop releasing eggs into the fallopian tubes and stop producing as much of the female hormones, estrogen, and progesterone. Those hormones control menstruation, maintain cholesterol levels, and affect the body’s use of calcium. This and other symptoms result in many changes to a woman’s overall well-being. Some women experience menopause as early as their 40s, but other in their 60s. However, the end of estrogen production or damage to the ovaries can cause menopause earlier in life. Such cases can include: Smoking Chemotherapy Radiation therapy Removal of the ovaries The time surrounding menopause is sometimes referred to as perimenopause. For discussions of symptoms after menopause occurs, the term postmenopausal is used. Symptoms of Menopause Symptoms are unique to each woman, but they can include: Abnormal periods Vaginal dryness Interrupted sleep patterns, fatigue Hot flashes, night sweats Incontinence Memory trouble Inability to concentrate Headaches Joint and muscle pain Mood swings Weight gain Osteoporosis and heart disease are complications that can occur postmenopause. The decreased levels of estrogen in the body also influence postmenopausal diminishing of the bone or osteoporosis. Treatment of Menopause While the symptoms of menopause and peri/postmenopause may not be completely resolved, they can be treated. Treatment options for abnormal periods can include: Low-dose birth control pills Hormone replacement therapy Options for vaginal dryness: Over-the-counter vaginal lubricants Options for hot flashes: Keeping the work and home cooler Dressing in [...]

2018-07-20T11:24:43-05:00April 14th, 2018|Info|

Vaginal Neoplasms

What is a Vaginal Neoplasm? A neoplasm, also known as cancer, is a new and abnormal growth of tissue in the body. Vaginal neoplasms constitute less than three percent of female reproductive cancers. Symptoms can include pressure, painful intercourse, obstruction of the vagina or urethra, or vaginal bleeding. Cancers can be detected in routine screenings, but if any of these symptoms occur, individuals are encouraged to seek medical attention for a proper diagnosis. Types and causes Vaginal neoplasms can be classified into four types: squamous cell cancer, adenocarcinoma, melanoma, and sarcoma. Squamous cell cancer starts in the cells that make up the epithelial lining of the vagina. This type of cancer is more common in the upper vagina toward the cervix and makes up about 70% of cases of vaginal cancer. Adenocarcinomas, which make up about 15% of vaginal cancers, begin in gland cells. Melanomas, which are usually found on sun-exposed areas of the body, can develop on the vagina or other internal organs, and make up about 9% of vaginal cancers. Sarcomas are the most rare type of vaginal cancer and form deep in the wall as opposed to the surface of the vagina. While causes of vaginal cancer are not always clear, there are common risk factors that may raise a woman’s risk of developing a vaginal neoplasm. Women at risk include those over 70 years of age, those who are infected with HPV or HIV, and women who smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol. These cancers are usually asymptomatic and not detected until their later stages, so it is important to have routine annual pelvic exams and Pap smears. Diagnosis Doctors may detect cancers during routine gynecological visits through pelvic exams and [...]

2018-07-20T11:23:34-05:00April 7th, 2018|Info|

Cervical Cancer

Learn more about preventing, diagnosing, and treating cervical cancer. What is Cervical Cancer? Cervical cancer is a type of cancer affecting women’s cervix, or the organ connecting the vagina and the bottom of the uterus. If caught in the early stages, it can be cured. Risk factors for cervical cancer One of the most prominent risk factors for cervical cancer is Human papillomavirus infection or HPV. Papillomas are warts that can infect the following areas: external skin, the mouth and throat, anus, and genitals. The warts spread through skin-to-skin contact, especially during sexual activity. Not all of the viruses associated with HPV are linked to cancer, but there are some that are considered high-risk as they can cause cancer. Chronic HPV infections can lead to cervical cancer. Smoking is another risk factor for cancer in general. Many harmful substances are released while someone smokes, which negatively affects that person and those around them. Beyond increasing women’s risk for cervical cancer, smoking also weakens the immune system. Other risk factors for cervical cancer include: Weak immune systems Chlamydia infections Multiple sexual partners Long-term use of birth control pills Use of an intrauterine devices (IUD) Family history of cervical cancer Poor diet Obesity An HPV vaccine is available to reduce the risk of the HPV viruses that are most commonly linked to cancer. Symptoms of cervical cancer Symptoms of cervical cancer can include: Abnormal vaginal bleeding Increases in vaginal discharge Pain during sex Pelvic pain Tests for cervical cancer An abnormal pap smear (a screening test that’s usually part of a well-woman exam) is usually one of the first indicators of cervical cancer. An abnormal result from a pap smear will prompt doctors to perform other [...]

2018-07-20T11:22:24-05:00March 31st, 2018|Info|

Preterm Labor

Learn more about the symptoms of preterm labor and how to take action. Preterm labor Preterm labor happens when contractions cause the opening of the cervix between weeks 20-37 of a pregnancy and result in a premature birth. Health risks for mental and physical disabilities increase the earlier the birth occurs. Premature babies require special care from a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Prevention of preterm labor There are several factors that increase the risk for preterm labor. They include: Lack of good prenatal care Personal or family history of preterm labor Alcohol use during pregnancy Smoking or drug use during pregnancy Health conditions including infections, preeclampsia, diabetes, and blood clotting disorders Traumatic life events Pregnancies with twins or multiples Pregnancies with a baby who has birth defects Pregnancies with a baby conceived through in vitro fertilization (IVF) Pregnancy that occurs less than six months prior to another pregnancy The following actions may decrease the risk of preterm labor: Having regular prenatal care and visits Eating a healthy diet Avoiding risky substances (smoking, drugs, alcohol) Managing chronic conditions (like diabetes or high blood pressure) Taking additional hormone shots, as suggested by your doctor Symptoms of preterm labor Understanding the warning signs of preterm labor is critical. Seeking immediate help can significantly influence the outcome. If you notice the following symptoms, have a doctor check them out as soon as possible: Lower backache. This may be inconsistent pain and dull ache, but the pain will not subside regardless of the actions taken to improve comfort. Contractions. Contractions occurring every 10 minutes or less are a sign that you might be going into labor. Cramps. These are menstrual-like cramps in the lower abdomen. They can feel [...]

2018-07-20T11:20:25-05:00March 24th, 2018|Info|