Being Active Can Positively Impact Women’s Health

Many of us are choosing to stay at home to do our part to lower the impact of coronavirus. We might not be able to do the regular exercise that our bodies are used to doing. Or, maybe, you haven’t really kickstarted your exercise routine and staying at home is another excuse to stay dormant. Either way, there is no better time than now to start moving!  Being active has enormous health benefits! 

Keep reading below to learn why being active can positively impact women’s health and tips for how you can stay active during the quarantine. 

The Benefits of Regular Exercise for Women

Decreases Risk for Several Illnesses

Many studies have shown that when a woman regularly exercises, they decrease their risk for several major medical issues. Some examples include:

  • Dementia 
  • Osteoporosis 
  • Depression 
  • Breast Cancer 
  • Cardiovascular disease 

Boosts Mental Health 

Regular exercise benefits mental health in women as well! On top of improving self-confidence, working out regularly also improves a woman’s ability to focus and provides higher levels of productivity. In addition, exercising is a great way to destress after a long day. 

Benefits Sex Life 

Since exercise helps to boost your confidence, it’s no wonder it also has a positive impact on a woman’s sexual desire and response. If you’re finding yourself unmotivated when it comes to sex, consider exercising for as little as 20 minutes a day. 

How to Stay Active During Quarantine 

The world as we know it has changed. While we’re all staying at home to help flatten the curve in cases of the coronavirus, it can be tempting to stay as comfortable as possible and spend most of your time sitting down. But it’s important to stay active and healthy. The benefits of regular exercise we listed above explains why! 

Here are some pointers if you need help finding ways to stay active during the coronavirus pandemic:

  • Use online resources: Since so many people are going through similar situations, there are bountiful online resources available to those looking for exercise classes. A simple Google search should show plenty of results. 
  • Take a walk outside: Get your steps in while enjoying the scenery around you. Taking a walk outside means you can still practice safe social distancing while also moving throughout the day. 
  • Use house items as weights: Use what’s available to you to strengthen those muscles! Whether it’s jars of pasta sauce or your nearby children, nothing is off limits for your imagination. 

If you have any more questions about why being active can positively impact women’s health, reach out to the women’s health experts at Covington Women’s Health Specialists by clicking here or giving us a call at 770-385-8954

Avoid Alcohol-based Hand Sanitizers During Pregnancy

Hand Washing with Soap and Water is BEST!

By Cathy T. Larrimore, MD, FACOG

Even before Coronavirus, pregnant women were worried about germs.  But now, with the coronavirus, the concern is at a fever’s pitch!  

Handwashing and the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers are the currently recommended procedures for the control of infections such as the flu, colds, and even coronavirus.  But the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecology (ACOG) advises that “women should avoid alcohol entirely while pregnant or trying to conceive.” So, is the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers by pregnant women a risk to their unborn fetuses?  Do we know if any of the alcohol is absorbed through the skin?  And what if the women breathe the sanitizer in while it is drying on their hands?  And how many applications a day are safe?

Few studies have been done to measure blood alcohol concentrations after the use of these alcohol-based hand sanitizers.  But the studies that have been done concerning the application of hand sanitizer to the skin and breathing it in showed that a small level of alcohol is absorbed and can be found in the user’s bloodstream.  

The amount of alcohol absorbed would increase with multiple uses of the hand sanitizer.  That is concerning because ACOG states that “adverse effects of prenatal alcohol exposure on child behavior at age 6 to 7 years are evident even at low levels of exposure.”  So, the safety of the repetitive use of hand sanitizer during pregnancy is uncertain.  

Handwashing with soap and water is the preferable way to clean your hands and fight germs during pregnancy.  Reserve hand sanitizer use for once in a blue moon when water and soap are not accessible to you.

Why STDs Testing Is Important

Sexually transmitted diseases or STDs are more common than you think. It’s estimated that 376 million people will be diagnosed with an STD every year.  And, yet, STD testing isn’t a commonplace discussion topic. Maybe it’s because of the sensitive subject, or perhaps it’s because not many are educated on the importance of being tested for these infections. 

So, it’s important to think about receiving regular STD testing at your next gynecology visit, especially if it’s been a few years since your last test. If you’re not sure why, the experts at Covington Women’s Health are discussing why STDs testing is important and answering some of the most common questions about this subject. 

How Do You Get an STD? 

Anytime you have vaginal, anal, or oral sex, you are at risk of being exposed to an STD. While it’s less common to receive an STD from a life-long partner than if your lifestyle involves multiple sexual encounters, it can still occur. Even if you use protection, sometimes the exposure can still occur, especially concerning the virus that causes most cervical cancers, Human Papilloma Virus or HPV. 

Knowing this, you can see why it’s vital to stay on top of receiving regular STD testing. Even if you’re fine this year, something could change next year, especially if you have unprotected sex with someone new. 

Silent Symptoms 

Whether or not you suspect you have an STD is important, but it’s even more important to know is that sometimes STDs will not cause any symptoms at all. It may take many years for symptoms to first show up and, by that time, the disease has been living in your body and potentially causing damage. Some infections can damage your fallopian tubes and cause infertility. 

That’s why it’s better safe than sorry when it comes to STD testing. 

Consequences that Build Up

Unfortunately, STDs can do a lot of damage if left untreated, as mentioned above. Depending on the type you have, medical issues such as increased risk in infertility, weakened immune system, cancer, and more are all possibilities if STDs go untreated. 

And if you have an STD, you could be spreading that disease and potentially doing a lot of harm to those you come in contact with. 

Do the responsible thing and receive regular checking, for your benefit and the benefit of others.  

When Should I Get STD Testing Done?

The answer to this question depends on how sexually active you are. 

  • If you are very sexually active with multiple partners, consider receiving testing every few months. 
  • If you aren’t sexually active or are sexually active with only one person, still plan to receive testing every year, just to be sure. 

The best thing about STD testing is that it’s quick, easy, and painless! Many times all it involves is a swab and blood test while you’re getting your exam at your gynecologists’ office. 

If you have any further questions about STDs testing, reach out to the experts at Covington Women’s Health Specialists. Contact us by clicking here or by giving us a call at 770-385-8954. 

What is Endometriosis?

Despite being a very common medical issue, many people have not heard of endometriosis. Yet, more than 200,000 women in the United States have it every year. This disorder occurs when the tissue that normally lines the inside of a uterus grows on the outside of the uterus in other areas of the lower abdomen and on the ovaries, causing extreme pain for the women who experience it. 

“Endometriosis can cause many issues down the road,” Covington Women’s Health Specialist Dr. Cathy Larrimore explained. “During a normal menstrual cycle, the lining of tissue in your uterus thickens, breaks down, and then leaves the body during the period. However, since the tissue in endometriosis has nowhere to go, it becomes trapped and causes cysts, scar tissue, adhesions, and even fertility problems.” 

Want to learn more about endometriosis? The experts at Covington Women’s Health Specialists explain the basics of this medical disorder below. 

What Causes Endometriosis?

Unfortunately, the exact cause of endometriosis is not known. However, here are some of the possible reasons many scientists and doctors are currently speculating. 

Retrograde Menstruation

This is one of the most commonly believed theories. In this process, menstrual blood with endometrial cells goes back through the fallopian tubes instead of out of the body. This could possibly be what triggers the tissue to grow outside of the uterus. 

Peritoneal Cells

The peritoneum covers the organs inside the body.  Possibly because of hormones or other immune factors, peritoneal cells may turn into endometrial-like cells throughout puberty. This means the cells that are lining the abdomen turn into cells that should be lining your uterus and will breakdown and bleed during your period.

Endometrial Cell Transport

Similar to the above, hormones could be causing our embryonic cells to transform into endometrial-like cells. Since embryonic cells are the cells in our bodies at the earliest stages of development, this can later trigger tissues to grow where it shouldn’t. 

Immune System Disorders

If an immune system is compromised and not working as it should be, the body could not be recognizing tissue that is growing outside of the uterus. Normally, the immune system would see it and destroy any unnecessary tissues. 

Surgical Scar Implantation 

Sometimes, after a major surgery like a hysterectomy or even a C-section, the incision that is left behind can trigger unwanted cells to attach. If the excess endometrial-like cells grow here, that could certainly cause endometriosis. 

Common Symptoms of Endometriosis

  • Painful periods 
  • Excessive bleeding, during and between periods
  • Pain with bowel movements and/or urinating 
  • Infertility struggles 
  • Pain during intercourse. 

Common Treatment Options

  • Pain medications such as ibuprofen
  • Hormonal releasing devices
  • Hormonal birth control medications
  • Hormone therapy 
  • Surgery, such as laparoscopy or even hysterectomy

If you have these symptoms, you should see a gynecologist.  If you are diagnosed with endometriosis or are suspected of having it, it’s important to understand that what may work for some women may not work for you, so speak with your physician to discuss what treatment options will be best for your symptoms and health conditions. 

If you have any further questions about endometriosis, reach out to the experts at Covington Women’s Health Specialists. Contact us by clicking here or by giving us a call at 770-385-8954. 

Most Common Birth Defects

Though you may not realize it, birth defects are extremely common. About one in every 33 babies born in the United States will have some type of birth defect, which translates to about one baby born every four and a half minutes.

“Birth defects can impact any part of the body on the baby,” Covington Women’s Health gynecologist Dr. Cathy T. Larrimore stated. “And they can range from mild to severe, depending on how they impact the child.”

But what are the most common birth defects, and how can they impact moms and the babies that are born with them? Learn more about this from the expert gynecologists at Covington Women’s Health below.

The Birth Defects that Appear Most Often

In total, there are about 45 types of birth defects. Here are the most common types:

Genetic Defects

This type of birth defects affects the genetic make-up of the baby, and it may be caused by the DNA inherited from the parents. However, it’s not 100% clear what causes all of the birth defects under this branch. Some examples include down syndrome, cystic fibrosis, and sickle cell anemia.

Mouth and Facial Defects

This kind of birth defect is caused when the tissues don’t come together properly when the baby is being formed inside the womb. The good news is, however, that most of the time most of these defects can be repaired with surgery. Examples of this birth defect include cleft lip and cleft palate.

Musculoskeletal Defects

These birth defects are the ones that affect the baby’s bones and muscles when they are born, whether that be through the way the baby was formed or issues during the actual birthing process. A common example of this type includes hip dysplasia, which is when the hip joint becomes dislocated due to the fact of the hip socket not covering the bone correctly.

Stomach and Intestinal Defects

These birth defects happen anywhere in the baby’s digestive tract. This means from the esophagus all the way to the anus. Common examples of this type of birth defect are abdominal wall defects or gastroschisis, which is when a baby is born with its intestines outside of its body.

Eye Defects

Just as the same suggests, eye birth defects happen on the baby’s eyes. Common types of this include anophthalmia, when the baby is born without one or both of the eyes, or microphthalmia, when one or both of the eyes are not fully developed.

If you have any more questions about common birth defects or want to learn more about birth defects in general, please reach out to the expert team of gynecologists at Covington Women’s Health Specialists by clicking here or by giving us a call at 770-385-8954.

Heart Disease in Women

* The following article was written by Covington Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner Rhonda Cook and was published in Rockdale Newton Citizen’s “Physicians Guide.” *

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in our country. All women—including African Americans, Hispanics, and Caucasians—are at risk. And most of these deaths are preventable.

Our heart and blood vessels make up our cardiovascular system. More than one in three American women are living with some form of heart or cardiovascular disease. This includes many different problems such as heart attacks, strokes, and heart failure.

Am I at Risk?

Your age, lifestyle, health conditions and your family history contribute to your risk for cardiovascular disease. Your lifestyle includes whether you exercise or sit often, whether you drink alcohol or not, and whether or not you smoke. The choices you make will have a large impact on your health.

Excessive alcohol use can increase your heart disease risk in several ways. Alcohol can cause an increase in blood pressure and contribute to obesity. While some studies have shown that alcohol consumption in moderation may have some benefit to heart health, studies to confirm this are ongoing.

Risk Factors for Heart Disease

  • Lack of exercise
  • Smoking
  • Being overweight
  • Poor diet
  • High blood pressure
  • Elevated LDL (bad cholesterol)
  • Family history of heart disease
  • Excessive alcohol intake
  • Diabetes mellitus

Warning Signs

Almost two-thirds (64%) of women who die suddenly of heart or blood vessel disease have no warning symptoms.  Even if you feel well, you may still be at risk.

Women typically experience different symptoms when having a heart attack than men do. As already mentioned, some women have no symptoms, other women may experience sharp or burning chest pain, frequently while also having pain in the neck, jaw, throat, abdomen or back. Chest pain should never be ignored! Call 911 if you suspect you are having heart symptoms.

Prevention is the Key

Take steps to lower your heart disease risk by changing the behavior you can control.

  • Exercise regularly. 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise weekly is recommended.
  • If you smoke, stop!
  • Maintain healthy body weight. If you are overweight, lose the excess weight.
  • Eat a healthy diet. Fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, poultry, legumes, nuts, low-fat dairy products whole grains, and an adequate amount of water intake. If you choose to eat meat look for the leanest cut meats possible. Also eat less sugar, saturated fats, hydrogenated oils, sodium, and processed foods.
  •  Know your blood pressure. Check it routinely at home. See your doctor regularly for BP checks, cholesterol checks, diabetes evaluation, eye exams.
  • Take your medications as directed.
  • Consume alcohol in moderation. This means a one drink a day limit for women.
  • Control your stress. Practice stress-relieving techniques.

If you have any more questions about heart disease in women, reach out to the experts at Covington Women’s Health by either giving us a call at 770-385-8954 or by clicking here to schedule an appointment.

Menstruation 101

About half of the women population is currently in their reproductive age, which means about 26 percent of the world is currently experiencing their menstrual cycle. A pivotal part of that cycle is the period, which is also called menstruation.

While the topic menstruation covers a large amount of information, we’re covering the basic medical facts you might need to know below.

What is the Technical Definition of Menstruation?

Menstruation is defined as the process of when blood and other materials from the lining of the uterus are discharged out of the vagina due to changes in hormones. When this process starts in young ladies, typically around 12 years old, this means that their bodies are preparing themselves to become pregnant. In fact, if it weren’t for menstruation, we wouldn’t be able to reproduce.

Menstruation happens during the menstrual cycle. When this cycle begins, the lining of the uterus becomes thicker. During this time, eggs are released from the ovary, kickstarting the ovulation process. Two weeks after this, the lining of the uterus falls away, along with bleeding. Then, the process starts all over again.

However, every woman is different and it’s more common to see a variety in the above-described menstruation cycle, depending on which woman you ask.

What are the Symptoms of Menstruation?

Aside from having blood or discharge coming out of the vagina, here are other common symptoms of the menstruation cycle:

  • Cramping.
  • Bloating.
  • Abdomen swelling.
  • Pain in the lower abdomen.
  • Exhaustion.
  • Acne.
  • Constipation.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Mood swings.

Answers to Common Questions About Menstruation

Here are some of the most common menstruation questions answered for you:

  • When do women start their menstrual cycle? Anywhere between ages eight to 15.
  • When does menstruation stop? When menopause begins, which is the process of a woman’s body stopping ovulating and periods. This means that they can no longer get pregnant, stopping the cycle in its tracks.
  • Do men experience menstruation? Biologically, no.
  • How long does the menstrual cycle last? Day one begins when bleeding starts. Day 14 is about when the ovulation process kicks off, which usually stops around day 25 if the woman is not pregnant. Then, the cycle begins again with a new period, most typically around day 28.
  • Can a woman still experience her period even if she is pregnant? No. Vaginal bleeding during pregnancy should be monitored by an obstetrician.
  • If someone is experiencing extremely painful menstruation cycles, what can do they do? Visit their doctor. Their trusted medical professional will be able to kickstart a treatment plan for them, involving options such as birth control and over the counter pain medications.
  • Are there risks of having a menstruation cycle? Yes. Using tampons and pads incorrectly can lead to something called Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS), a rare disease that happens when a pad or tampon is not changed frequently enough. This causes the spread of bacteria throughout the body, which can be deadly. That’s why it’s vital to change the pad or tampon once it becomes soaked with blood or around every four to eight hours.

If you have any further questions or would like to visit with any of our expert gynecologists regarding your cycle, click here to reach out or give us a call at 770-385-8954.

What You Need to Know About Cervical Cancer

While rare, cervical cancer does affect about 200,000 women in the United States each year. For those who do have it, it can be a devastating disease if not caught early enough. That’s why it’s vital to keep yourself informed about cervical cancer, so you and your loved ones can spot it before it gets too serious.

Keep reading below to learn more from the experts at Covington Women’s Health.

What is Cervical Cancer?

A type of cancer that happens in the cells of the cervix, cervical cancer starts when healthy cells in the lower vagina begin to reproduce uncontrollably. There are two types of cervical cancer: squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma. The former begins in the lining of the outer part of the cervix, while the latter begins in the cervical canal.

The biggest risk factors for this cancer are having multiple sexual partners, STIs, smoking, a weak immune system, and having sex early on in your life.

Currently, it’s not known what causes cervical cancer. However, it is clear that HPV plays a part. It is not the only reason though, as HPV is extremely common and many people with it never have cancer. So, HPV paired with environment or lifestyle factors will cause this cancer to develop.

Symptoms

Unfortunately, the early stages of this cancer show no symptoms. Here are the most common symptoms of the late stages of cervical cancer:

  • Bleeding from the vagina after sex.
  • Abnormal bleeding in-between periods or after menopause.
  • Pelvic pain
  • Pain while having sex.
  • Discharge from the vagina that may be watery, bloody, or have a strong odor.

Treatment Options

The good news is that, usually, cervical cancer is treatable, if caught early enough. There are multiple ways to keep an eye on it in your body, such as early screening tests and the HPV vaccination. Speak with your gynecologist today about your screening options and if you should get the HPV vaccination if you haven’t yet.

There are also multiple treatment options available. The most common are as followed:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Surgery
  • Therapy options
  • Radiation
  • Clinical Trials

If you have any further questions, reach out to our professional gynecologists by clicking here or by giving us a call at 770-385-8954.