Planning for After Your Scheduled C-Section

While not all C-sections are planned, in some cases, a doctor will recommend this procedure ahead of a patient’s anticipated delivery date. Knowing in advance that you’ll be having a C-section can be an advantage, as it will give you time to prepare for a smooth recovery while you care for your baby.

Here are some ways you can get your home and yourself ready for your return after a scheduled C-section delivery.

Consider Meal Prep

Having precooked meals on hand is always a good idea when bringing home a new baby, but it can be especially convenient during C-section recovery. Leading up to your delivery, consider batch prepping a few dishes to freeze or scheduling meal deliveries. If you have all the baby supplies you need, let your family and friends know that you would like food delivery service gift cards so you can spend more time with your baby and less time cooking!

Assess Your Sleep Arrangements

You may find it uncomfortable to get in and out of a bed that’s too high or too low in the first few days home from the hospital. Placing a small step stool near your bed may be helpful. Many new parents also choose to share a room with their baby so they can respond to the baby’s needs quickly. Designate a location for your baby’s bassinet or crib before the delivery so you don’t have to worry about it upon arriving home.

Please keep in mind that your bed is not a safe place for a baby to sleep.  Babies who sleep with a parent in bed have a higher risk of sudden infant death.  Learn more about the American Academy of Pediatrics Safe Sleeping recommendations here AAP’s safe sleeping guidelines.

Place Everything Within Easy Reach

Bending over drawers and cabinets will likely be uncomfortable after your surgery, and you’ll also be advised to lift nothing heavier than your baby as you recover. It is suggested to have all of your postpartum recovery essentials and baby care items within easy reach.

Prepare your bathroom with pads or mesh underwear for postpartum bleeding and a peri bottle for easy cleaning. You might also choose to set up a small tote basket or wheeled cart equipped with your baby care items, such as diapers, wipes, diaper cream, nipple cream, sterilized bottles, formula, and your breast pump.

Make Feeding Comfortable

Breastfeeding can take some getting used to, especially while you’re healing from surgery. To make the process as comfortable as possible for you and your little one, you may find it helpful to have props on hand, such as a breastfeeding pillow or extra couch pillows. This will allow you to get into positions that may be less likely to irritate your incision, such as side-lying or a football hold.

Gather Pain Relievers & Other Meds

Having the right medications on hand can help you manage post-op side effects. You’ll probably begin receiving stool softeners in the hospital to fight constipation, which is common after C-sections, but plan to have some at home, too. Eating fiber-rich foods and drinking plenty of water will also help. Additionally, choosing foods high in protein has been found to reduce pain and speed healing.  Consider protein shakes as well.  Your doctor can recommend the right pain relievers to address your discomfort levels, as managing pain effectively will help you get through the earliest days of parenthood.

Ask for Help

Bringing home a new baby is one of the most exciting times in any parent’s life, but it’s certainly not without its challenges. Asking friends, neighbors, and family members for help in advance can provide invaluable peace of mind. Whether it’s creating a meal train, having someone walk the dog, run errands, or simply hold the baby while you get a quick nap — don’t be afraid to take others up on their offer to lend support.

Staff at Covington Women’s Health Specialists know that giving birth is life-changing. That’s why we’re here to support you through every step. To schedule a prenatal visit, call our office at 770-385-8954 or request an appointment online.

Time After Time: A Patient’s Experiencing Delivering All Three Children with Covington Women’s Health Specialists

Katie Lynn Wade has watched Covington Women’s Health Specialists grow for many years. Over these years, her relationship with Dr. Cathy Larrimore has also grown and become deeper.

“She was there for me when I requested her during all three of my pregnancies,” Katie said. “I love this office and Dr. Larrimore holds a very special place in our hearts.”

Adrian - 1st Born

First Rodeo

When Katie was pregnant for the first time, she was 16 years old and terrified. She knew her young age would create additional challenges, but she was ready to face them head-on.

Unfortunately, she needed a new OBGYN, as her current provider was not a good personality fit. Thankfully, she found Covington Women’s Health Specialists and hasn’t looked back since.

She developed a strong relationship with Dr. Larrimore and nurse practitioner Kerry Dewberry through this first pregnancy, including several bumps in the road. Namely, during her third trimester, the baby was found to be breech, meaning Katie would require a scheduled C-section.

She was extremely nervous, but Dr. Larrimore and Kerry were there to help her through.“Both of these amazing ladies calmed me down and assured me that we would both be just fine,” Katie said. “Two days after my 17th birthday, I went in for my C-section with Dr. Larrimore.”

That day, Katie had a beautiful and healthy baby girl, Adrian.

Aria - 2nd Born

Second Time Around

Three years later, Katie was pregnant again at 19 years old. With her second pregnancy, she knew Dr. Larrimore and Kerry Dewberry were the right team for her. Katie was grateful that her favorite doctor and nurse practitioner took the time to see her, even as the practice continued to grow. Their goal was to do a vaginal birth after a cesarean (VBAC).

After 24 hours of labor, Katie’s dilation didn’t progress. For the last 12 hours, she had consistent 2 to 4-minute contractions.

Dr. Larrimore came in to check on Katie and walked her through some options. Katie could try to go home and progress the labor. However, Dr. Larrimore could see her exhaustion. She told Katie that having a C-section would also be okay. Dr. Larrimore emphasized that the most important thing was having a healthy mom and baby. Either way, she respected Katie’s choice.

Katie decided to go with the C-section. She no longer had the energy and didn’t want to risk any possible complications. Within an hour, Dr. Larrimore had Katie in surgery and brought her second baby girl, Aria, into the world.

Unfortunately, the baby had trouble breathing. Katie saw her for a second before they rushed her to the NICU. She was terrified and unsure about what this complication meant.

Dr. Larrimore was there to put Katie at ease while they waited. Soon after, Dr. Larrimore was able to report that the baby was “stable and beautiful” but did require a few more days in the NICU. Dr. Larrimore continued to check in on Katie and her family every day.

Anderson - 3rd Born

Third Time’s the Charm

Four years later, Katie found herself considering a tubal ligation procedure, more commonly known as “getting your tubes tied.” Unsure of her next steps, she put this plan on pause and relied on her IUD to give her more time to think through family planning options.

Months after that decision, she had a positive pregnancy test. Katie was incredibly nervous, knowing the complications of a pregnancy with an IUD. This pregnancy was a very different experience for her.

After three weeks of ultrasounds and visits, they were able to find the baby. Katie was on medication and saw a high-risk specialist, in addition to her usual team at Covington Women’s Health Specialists.

In the months leading up to this third birth, Katie shared with Dr. Larrimore and the team that she was sure of three things: 1) that a VBAC wouldn’t be possible 2) this would be her last pregnancy 3) that she wanted a tubal ligation done afterward.

Dr. Larrimore agreed and they scheduled a date for her c-section and tubal ligation.

However, Katie’s “spunky little boy” had other plans. Two weeks before her scheduled c-section, Katie felt immense stomach pain after a routine ultrasound with her high-risk doctor. They looked her over and said everything appeared fine.

As soon as she got to the car, Katie started getting sick. She called Covington Women’s Health Specialists and was instructed to go home, hydrate, put her feet up, try to rest and see if the pain would subside.

When Katie woke up from her nap, she was in more pain. Her family suggested she eat something, which made her immediately sick for over an hour. While her husband took care of her, Katie’s mom called Covington Women’s Health Specialists.

When they asked her to come into the practice, Katie assumed that it would be for nausea medication and fluids. To Katie’s surprise, the anesthesiologist came in to discuss a C-section that night.

“My C-section is in two weeks, and I am supposed to have Dr. Larrimore,” Katie explained, freaked out. “I’ve signed for a tubal ligation.”

Katie suspected that the chance of Dr. Larrimore being the doctor on call that night was slim to none. Everything was happening so fast. What Katie didn’t know was that she was in active labor and that Dr. Larrimore would walk in moments later.

“To see her and know she was there to see me through this last delivery and last journey of childbearing,” Katie reminisced. “It meant more than she will ever know.”

Within an hour, Katie was prepped and in the operating room. Dr. Jessie Bender assisted Dr. Larrimore. Together, they brought Katie’s baby boy, Anderson, into the world.

“Dr. Larrimore gave me the grace that not many doctors would have given me when I was 16 and pregnant,” Katie says. “She never once made me feel bad, second guess myself, or regret any of my decisions through these years. She always treated me with so much respect and dignity, even as a child in her office. She spoke to me like she does all the moms she would with. I am so very thankful for her being with me through the whole process. And for this amazing practice as a whole. There are so many amazing women here. Adrian (11), Aria (8), Anderson (3), and I all thank you for your amazing practice, my smooth pregnancies, and safe deliveries.”

Are you an expecting mother looking for family-like OB/GYN care? We’re happy to help. To learn more about the Covington Women’s Health Specialists experience, please call 770-385-8954 to speak to our team, or request an appointment online.

Hysterectomy Nitty Gritty

Hysterectomy is a surgical procedure performed to remove the uterus.  Although the ovaries and tubes are connected to the uterus, the hysterectomy procedure means removal of only the uterus.  There are several reasons why you might require this surgery, as removal of the uterus is used to treat a number of different female health conditions.

While our providers can discuss your medical options with you based on your specific symptoms or concerns, the following points can help you prepare for a hysterectomy consultation.  And it is important to know that if a hysterectomy is recommended or an option for treatment, this means only your uterus will be removed.  Removal of the ovaries (called oophorectomy), may be offered, but is a separate procedure.  Removal of the tubes (called salpingectomy) is commonly done during a hysterectomy because this reduces the risk of ovarian cancer later in life if one or both ovaries are left in place after a hysterectomy is done.

After a hysterectomy, there is no longer a possibility for pregnancy. For this reason, other alternatives may be explored if you wish to have children.

Why Are Hysterectomies Performed?

Some hysterectomies are required such as those done to treat cancers.  But most hysterectomies are requested by patients to treat bothersome or dangerous symptoms such as heavy periods which can cause anemia.  When it is a patient’s choice whether to have the uterus removed or not, it is known as an “elective hysterectomy.”

The most common reason to have an elective hysterectomy is to treat the problems caused by uterine fibroids.  These are noncancerous growths that can cause uncomfortable symptoms like long, heavy periods, pelvic pressure, pain, and sometimes frequent urination.

There are other conditions that cause heavy periods and a hysterectomy to stop the bleeding may be an option.  Dangerously heavy periods can occur even if the Pap smear, ultrasound and other testing is normal, so each patient must be evaluated individually and options for treatment determined for that patient.  Heavy periods that cause anemia should not be ignored because the heart has to work harder in anemic people and over time, this extra work can damage the heart permanently.

Hysterectomy is also sometimes offered as a treatment option for patients with chronic pelvic pain or endometriosis that doesn’t respond to other treatments.   Additionally, sagging (called prolapse) of the uterus may be another reason hysterectomy is recommended.

There are several types of hysterectomy, including:

  • Total hysterectomy, in which the uterus and cervix are removed.
  • Partial hysterectomy, in which the upper part of the uterus is removed but the cervix remains in place; this is also called supracervical hysterectomy or subtotal hysterectomy.
  • Radical hysterectomy, in which the uterus, cervix, part of the vagina, and other surrounding tissue such as the ligaments that hold the uterus in place; this is only performed to treat cancers.

Hysterectomies can be performed through a number of methods, including:

  • Total Vaginal, during which the uterus is removed through the vagina without any incisions in the abdomen.
  • Laparoscopy, during which small abdominal incisions are made, a camera (endoscope) is inserted into the abdomen, and several small tools which the surgeon holds and uses are inserted to remove the uterus which is typically removed through the vagina.
  • Robot-assisted laparoscopy, during which small abdominal incisions are made, but the camera (endoscope which is inserted into the abdomen) and the small tools used to remove the uterus are held by a robotic device which the surgeon controls using a computer console; the uterus is typically removed through the vagina.
  • Abdominal or open hysterectomy, during which the uterus is removed through an abdominal incision; the bigger the uterus, the longer the incision typically is.

The best type and route for a person’s hysterectomy can only be decided after evaluation of that person by the surgeon who will perform the procedure.  But in general, depends on the reason for the hysterectomy, the size of the uterus, the presence of scar tissue such as from past surgeries and the size and health of the patient.

Are Hysterectomies Safe?

Having any surgical procedure comes with certain risks.  Hysterectomy has a low complication rate, so it is generally safe and has excellent success rates.  But it is major surgery, it requires general anesthesia and sometimes a stay in the hospital.  You can think of having surgery like driving your car, even when you are doing everything the way you should, something can still happen that keeps you from getting home safely, but because nothing bad usually happens, you keep driving your car!  More than half a million hysterectomies are performed in the U.S. every year, and most people who have the procedure are satisfied with their choice of having a hysterectomy.

Although vaginal, laparoscopic and robotic hysterectomies are less invasive than open hysterectomies performed through a large incision, all hysterectomies carry certain risks which in part depend on a person’s body characteristics and should be discussed with your surgeon.  But in general, the risks associated with hysterectomy are similar to other surgeries and include blood clot formation in the arms or legs, infection, excessive bleeding, adverse reactions to medications such as anesthesia, and medical problems like pneumonia.

The surgeons at Covington Women’s Health Specialists perform hysterectomies exclusively in a hospital, the safest place for a hysterectomy to be done.

Choosing the Right Provider

Choosing the right provider can help you feel confident in your healthcare decisions.  You should not be “rushed” into having any surgery, especially not a hysterectomy.  If you are experiencing gynecologic problems, the evaluation of your symptoms should be thorough and your diagnosis and treatment options explained to you.

As mentioned above, hysterectomy is only required if cancer is diagnosed.  Be wary if hysterectomy is the only treatment offered to you.  For most reasons to have an elective hysterectomy, other treatment options are usually available.  The other treatment options may not be as effective as hysterectomy for treating your condition, but the treatment you accept is your choice.

It is helpful to know that if you are seeing a surgeon with Covington Women’s Health Specialists, you are working with a team that is not only experienced in performing the procedure, but also in offering non-surgical treatment options when appropriate.  Our gynecologists utilize the latest technology to ensure optimal surgical outcomes.  Our surgeons are able to perform all types of hysterectomies to meet your needs.

Covington Women’s Health Specialists leverages advances in medical technology to treat a wide range of gynecological conditions with minimally invasive procedures, including robotic, laparoscopic as well as open surgeries. Our team is also dedicated to finding the right solution for each patient’s individual condition and lifestyle needs, from common gynecological issues to menopause symptoms. We will discuss each option for medical and surgical treatment with you as well as the risks they may present so you can make an informed choice.

To learn more about hysterectomies, contact our office to schedule an appointment with one of our providers. You can reach out online or call us at (770) 385-8954.

What are the Benefits of Using Condoms?

Chocolates. Roses. Special dinners and maybe even lingerie — these are some of the things you might expect to either give or receive during a romantic date, but have you considered condoms as an excellent expression of your love instead? Condoms are the only birth control method that does double duty while preventing unintended pregnancy, they also protect you both from some sexually transmitted diseases at the same time.

Made for Guys and Gals!

Condoms are thin, fitted tubes made of latex, lambskin, nitrile, or plastic that come designed for two different body parts: the penis and the vagina. Most people are aware of condoms for guys, but fewer know that there’s a condom designed for women, too.

Never heard of them or thought about trying a female condom? It is worth your time! One of the big benefits of the female condom is that you can insert it well before sex — even while you’re getting ready for your special date. This means all the awkwardness of putting it on can happen in the privacy of your own bathroom. (Added bonuses: having it in place early causes it to warm up to your body temperature which may be more comfortable for both you and your partner and for some women having something in place increases excitement, anticipation, and sensitivity!)  Another benefit is that you can keep female condoms in place after sex, giving a little more time for post-coital connection, and keeping messy cleanup to yourself, as well.

Condoms are Portable & Prescription-Free!

Birth control pills, IUDs, vaginal ring, or patches and shots, all require prescriptions or doctor visits.  Acquiring condoms doesn’t require a doctor’s visit.  And you don’t need any follow up visits for refills or to monitor how they’re impacting the rest of your overall health.

Condoms are also conveniently available in most drugstores and also online retailers, should you want to make your purchase even more privately. They’re small, discreet, and easy to pop into a coin purse, makeup bag, or backpack pocket. But don’t carry them in your wallet against your body, as body heat and friction will wear down the latex and render them ineffective.

When You Use Them Correctly, They Work Well

If you use condoms correctly every single time you have sex (which includes checking their expiration dates), they’re 98% effective at preventing pregnancy.  When taking into consideration the likelihood of human mistakes, condoms are still 87% effective — which translates to about 13 out of 100 people each year getting pregnant if they’re using condoms as a sole form of birth control.

Still, 87% effectiveness is a great deal more than you’ll get from not using protection. Even trying the withdrawal method or what some people call “pull and pray,” results in more pregnancies (22 out of 100), and you’re not protecting against any STDs and STIs. (Note that lambskin condoms, while just as effective at preventing pregnancy, are not recommended for the prevention of STIs.)

When used in combination with other forms of birth control like contraceptive film or a diaphragm, the protection provided by a condom can become even more powerful.

Great for Teens Too Because of all the reasons above, condoms are a good way to introduce teens to birth control that they can have control over. “Because condoms don’t involve hormones, they don’t interfere with menstrual cycles, sperm production, or fertility,” assures Dr Sherley Samuels. “This makes them a great ‘gateway’ method of sexual protection for young people.”

Your sexual health is essential to your overall wellness, which is why Covington Women’s Health Specialists is here to support you in this personal department. Bring your contraception concerns and sex questions to our caring team by making an appointment online or calling us at 770-385-8954.

Can Nutrition Help with Endometriosis?

Endometriosis causes a host of uncomfortable symptoms, from painful periods to excessive bleeding. While there are surgeries available to treat it, many women prefer to try lifestyle modifications for symptom control first, particularly if they are trying to become pregnant. As some of our patients have found relief through dietary changes, here’s an overview of what might help.

How Does Nutrition Play a Role in Endometriosis?

In endometriosis, cells similar to those found in the endometrium (uterine lining) develop elsewhere in the body. In most cases, they form on nearby organs like the ovaries. The cells attempt to shed during menstruation, but the blood has nowhere to escape. Trapped blood leads to inflammation of surrounding tissues, leading to issues such as pain and sometimes scar tissue. Since inflammation is believed to play a role in symptom severity, foods that fight inflammation may help to curb symptoms.

Besides anti-inflammatory foods, there are key nutrients that could also improve endometriosis symptoms. For instance, fiber may help the body remove the excess estrogen that intensifies cramping and pain. It can also help to prevent constipation, which may provide helpful relief, considering the other digestive issues that can arise with endometriosis.

Certain vitamins and minerals could also help to relax the muscles and alleviate symptoms. Magnesium, for example, is a natural muscle relaxer that could ease cramping, while zinc helps the body regulate cycles and balance hormones to further control symptoms.

What Are Some Good Foods for Endometriosis?

Many of the dietary approaches for reducing endometriosis symptoms align with basic principles for eating well. For instance, women who eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids tend to have less intense endometriosis symptoms. These healthy fats have natural anti-inflammatory properties that could also boost health in other ways, such as reducing the risk of heart disease. Examples include avocado, olives, nuts, olive oil, and salmon as well as other fatty fish.

To promote digestion and reduce the gastrointestinal distress that can come with endometriosis, adults should aim for 25 to 30 grams of fiber each day. One simple way to get more fiber is to add a whole grain to each meal. Whole wheat crackers, whole grain bread, brown rice, oat bran, and other high-grain cereals are good sources. Fruit and vegetables also contain fiber, as do beans and legumes.

The good news about eating to ease endometriosis is that there’s overlap of many nutrients that can help alleviate symptoms. For instance, while nuts are rich in omega-3s, they also contain magnesium. Legumes such as black beans and edamame also have magnesium, as well as fiber. Leafy greens such as arugula, spinach, kale, and dark lettuce are also both fiber-rich and packed with magnesium.

For hormone-regulating zinc, animal-based products are the best sources. Poultry and shellfish are good options to consider, but it’s best to limit red meat, as there’s some evidence to suggest it could aggravate symptoms. For vegetarians and vegans, zinc supplements may be worth considering.

Whether you’re experiencing uncomfortable endometriosis symptoms, you have another health concern to discuss, or you’re simply due for an annual exam, turn to the team at Covington Women’s Health Specialists for all of your women’s health needs. Our caring practitioners offer a wide range of services, including gynecology and obstetrics. Request an appointment online or by calling 770-385-8954.

What to Do If Your Baby is Diagnosed with Special Needs

Finding out that your baby will have special needs can be overwhelming. Some conditions, such as spina bifida and chromosomal disorders, may be diagnosed during pregnancy. Others may not become apparent until after the baby is born. No matter when you find out that you have a special needs baby, it can be helpful to have a starting point for further steps. Here are several things you can do as you process this news.

Acknowledge Your Feelings

“There will be an initial shock at the news that your child will have special needs,” Dr. Cathy Larrimore, who has had a child with special needs, acknowledges. “You and your partner may also experience emotions like disappointment, fear, and sadness.”

It’s normal to mourn the life you had envisioned for yourself and your child, and you may find comfort in processing these emotions through activities like journaling, talking to others, and joining support groups for parents of children with special needs.

Gather Information

Once you’re ready, learning as much as you can about your child’s condition will help you prepare and plan for the future. Keep in mind that while the internet is a valuable resource, there’s also a fair amount of misinformation online. You’ll therefore want to stick with credible resources when doing your research.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is a reputable source for basic information, but you may also find more specific guidance through the national organization for your child’s condition, or societies that promote education and activism for disabilities. The National Down Syndrome Society and the Arc are excellent resources, for example, and your OB-GYN or family doctor can provide personalized references for you and your family.

In addition to web-based support, you might also begin to research specialists in your area who work with children who have the same difference as your child. If your child is diagnosed during your pregnancy, you also may be referred to prenatal specialists for further testing or monitoring.

Pursue Early Intervention

Through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), children with developmental disabilities qualify for early intervention, which includes a free public education tailored to their needs.

While certain disabilities, including cerebral palsy and Down syndrome, automatically qualify, others may require an evaluation from a professional. Children who qualify for assistance will receive an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP), which is created through collaboration between parents, teachers, therapists, and psychologists. They’ll also receive an Individualized Education Program (IEP), which provides a roadmap for the child’s learning goals, including modifications and services. IEPs also includes quarterly progress reports and annual reviews.

In the state of Georgia, families can get involved with Babies Can’t Wait, an early intervention program that offers a variety of coordinated services for infants and toddlers with special needs, from birth to three years of age. If your pediatrician identifies a need, they can refer your child for enrollment.

Early intervention offers a wide range of medical and therapeutic services, as well as social services such as support groups and counseling. While these resources will be invaluable, you can also continue to consult with appropriate specialists of your choice as your child grows and develops.

Establish Legal Safeguards

All parents should consider life insurance to ensure their child is financially secure under any circumstances. Parents of special needs children may also consider developing a special needs trust, which prevents inherited money from disqualifying special needs individuals from benefits such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income. While most children won’t qualify for these benefits until the age of 18, it’s never too early to put legal safeguards in place.

All of the providers at Covington Women’s Health Specialists are mothers. Many of us have faced such challenges. We know that pregnancy can be both a joyous time, as well as an uncertain experience that comes with many questions. Our providers are here to support you through your entire prenatal journey. Request an appointment online or by calling 770-385-8954.

Should You Try Feminine Hygiene Products?

Though a stroll through the feminine product aisle at your favorite drugstore (or a quick internet search of “feminine hygiene”) will bombard you with flowery products claiming to be just the thing to keep your delicate areas clean, are they really necessary?

Our short answer is no, but there are several reasons why. The biggest one is that in most cases, a wide range of vaginal scents are normal and healthy. The vagina and the area around it (groin skin, vulva, etc.) contain important bacteria that are a part of our healthy microbiome, as well as special sweat glands. These all produce a natural odor that may become stronger at times, such as during heavy exercise, during your menstrual period, pregnancy, or after sex.

But if you rely on heavily scented feminine washes to freshen up, those chemicals and perfumes can make you prone to problems like urinary and yeast infections, or may otherwise exacerbate the problem you’re trying to solve.

Though you do want to keep your nether regions clean, there are great ways to do so without harmfully disrupting the ongoing cleansing process your vagina does marvelously all by itself.

Let It Breathe

Air flow and avoiding dampness are two ways to keep your vagina fresh without touching a bar of soap. Contrary to popular style trends, Lycra and spandex undergarments, yoga pants, or even leggings can trap organisms and produce more odor. More breathable cotton undergarments — or nothing at all, particularly at night while sleeping — will give everything down there a breath of fresh air.

Also be sure to remove wet or damp undergarments, workout wear, or a bathing suit as soon as possible. And avoid wearing panty liners or pads unless absolutely necessary, as these trap more moisture next to the skin and can increase odor.

Keep It On the Outside

Cleaning your vagina should be a gentle process for the outer area you can easily reach. Inserting douches, other feminine hygiene products, or soapy even soapy fingers, can cause an overproduction of harmful bacteria which could actually increase strong odor. If you already have an infection, douches can push these germs further up inside to your uterus, ovaries or fallopian tubes. Yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, and pelvic inflammatory disease are all possible results of douching.

Trust that your body is cleaning things exactly as needed all on its own, without the introduction of a foreign fluid.

A Simple Splash May Be Safest

The truth is, in many cases plain old water usually does the best job of keeping your vulva clean. Water is non-acidic, and doesn’t contain ingredients that could disrupt the pH balance inside your body or kill off the good bacteria that maintains vaginal harmony. Though using a gentle soap during your regular bathing is fine, if you’re self-conscious about your smell, try a splash of cool water and then gently dry things off.

When to See a Doctor

“In general, odors that indicate a problem should be easy to identify,” assures Covington Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner, Kerry Dewberry. “They’re the ones that make your face scrunch up or remind you of something dead. And if there’s a serious underlying cause, you’ll often be experiencing other symptoms, as well.”

Irritation, itching, burning, or pain could indicate bacterial vaginitis, a yeast infection, or possibly  trichomoniasis, a common sexually transmitted infection. There’s a small chance that abnormal vaginal order could also indicate vaginal or cervical cancer, but your regular annual OBGYN exams will be one of the ways you’re already monitoring for that.

Whatever the cause, if you’ve got an alarming odor or any other source of concern, don’t hesitate to reach out to us online. We also welcome your direct calls and questions at (770) 385-8954.

Covington Women’s Health Specialists Awarded Best of Newton 2023

We are proud to announce that Covington Women’s Health Specialists was voted the Best Obstetrics & Gynecology in 2023 Best of Newton Award for the seventh year in a row! 

Every year, Newton County residents get the opportunity to nominate and vote for their favorite local businesses to Covington News. From the best jewelry store, grocery store, and gynecology office, of course!

“We would like to thank our staff for providing tender, loving care to our patients,” Dr. Cathy T. Larrimore said. “Without them, we couldn’t give patients the quality gynecological and obstetrical care that they deserve.”

After three years of the pandemic and countless COVID and in-office visit policy changes, we are still going strong! Thank you for sticking with us during the ride. We couldn’t do it without you.

Thank you to everyone who voted for Covington Women’s Health Specialists for the Best Obstetrics & Gynecology. We are honored to serve you and our community!

What to Know About Long-Term Birth Control

Condoms are a great go-to to protect yourself from sexually transmitted infections and guard against pregnancy — if you use them perfectly every single time you have sex. But if starting a family isn’t one of your current goals, there are several different types of birth control that will last longer than a lovemaking session.

Tried and True: The IUD

As the name suggests, the Intrauterine Device (or IUD) is a small device implanted in your uterus. There, the T-shaped piece of plastic alters the way that sperm and eggs move through your body for as long as it remains in place, blocking a pregnancy from happening.

Originally conceived in 1909, the IUD was a controversial development, as birth control was considered a taboo topic. It gained public popularity during the 1960s and 70s, and today over a hundred million women rely on its effectiveness.

Now there are two types of IUDs: hormonal and non-hormonal. Kyleena, Skyla, Mirena, and Liletta are hormonal IUDs, all of which work by releasing the hormone levonorgestrel. Copper — or Paragard — IUDs are wrapped with a copper wire that creates an environment that is toxic to sperm, rendering them ineffective. Though both types work similarly, copper IUDs have a longer lifetime than their hormonal counterparts, lasting 10-12 years rather than three to seven.

The process of getting an IUD — and removing it when the time comes — can be more painful than other options, but is very similar to a Pap smear or cervical biopsy. There are few risks, and side effects after the procedure are usually limited to mild spotting and cramping.

Longer-term side effects from hormonal IUDs can include headaches, nausea, breast tenderness, mood changes, and potential formation of ovarian cysts. Copper IUDs may cause heavier bleeding and cramping pain during your period. However, many patients with IUDs find these symptoms improve over time.

A Modern Advance: Arm Implants

Approved by the FDA in 1990, the progestin implant is over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy for three years. A thin plastic rod is inserted into your arm with a needle, and once in place it then steadily releases the hormone progestin into your body. This keeps eggs from leaving your ovaries, and also inhibits sperm from reaching the egg in the first place.

Though many patients are unaware of this method, the progestin implant allows for a good deal of freedom and is highly effective. The few drawbacks to take into account are that the procedure can be more costly, and the implants can increase irregular bleeding.

More Surgical Solutions

If the idea of implanting anything in your body makes you uncomfortable, but you want long-term protection, there are surgical options available. Tubal ligation (“getting your tubes tied”) permanently closes fallopian tubes and prevents eggs from entering the uterus. A vasectomy is the male version: a surgical procedure that incises the small tubes within the scrotum, so that sperm can’t leave the body.

Your choice of birth control can help prevent ovarian cancer later in life!  Tubal ligation can be done by removing the entire tube, and this reduces ovarian cancer later in life for all women including high-risk women who have a family history of ovarian and breast cancers or who have a gene which puts them at risk for these cancers.  For some high-risk women, removal of both the ovaries and tubes is recommended, so it you have a high-risk gene, your care must be individualized.

Before considering surgical options be certain you truly don’t want to become a parent. Reversing either of these procedures is costly and, in many cases, doesn’t actually work.

In addition to the above methods, the birth control pill, patch, and vaginal ring remain alternate options. There are pros and cons for each individual, so talk to a reproductive specialist at Covington Women’s Health Specialists to find the right fit for your lifestyle.

Oral contraceptives reduce the risk ovarian cancer all women including women who have a gene which puts them at risk for these cancers.  The pill can also reduce a woman’s risk of uterine cancer as well as having other non-contraceptive benefits.  If you are considering using oral contraceptives, please have an examination by a physician.  The popularity of on-line birth control availability omits an important step in safeguarding your health.  The providers at Covington Women’s Health Specialists provide comprehensive Gynecologic care and will be able to answer all your questions.

We provide care for each stage of your gynecological health, from puberty to menopause and everything in between. Call for an appointment at (770) 385-8954, or request one online.

How to Ring in the New Year With Better Sex (And How Your Gynecologist Can Help)

Losing weight, quitting bad habits, spending more time with loved ones, and finally cleaning out the garage may be among your new year’s resolutions for 2023. But where’s your sex life included on that list?

Having healthy sex benefits both your body and your brain. It boosts your immune system, reduces the risk of some diseases, and increases your mental vigor, besides just feeling awesome. If you’re looking to improve things with your sexual partner(s) in the new year, we have some advice.

Talk About It (And Not Just Dirtily)

Conversing together about sex increases sexual health in many ways. If you articulate what you like and don’t like, along with your personal history, your sex can improve both physically and mentally — even if doing so feels awkward at first.

Been with your partner for a long time? Keep in mind that new interests may have arisen, and old favorites may have grown stale. And if a new partner has entered your life, talking about sex together beforehand will establish trust and help ensure you’re both satisfied.

Since your gynecologist already knows both you and your body well, they can make some conversation-starter suggestions that feel right to you — wherever you are on your sexual journey.

Experiment and Play

Most of us know that play is important for children, but it also has benefits for adults. Playing elevates our mood and creativity, sharpens our minds, and creates a stronger sense of connection with others.

Which is probably why they call them sex toys for a reason. Vibrators, dildos, beads, rings, and other impact or sensation devices can all provide a sense of play, as well as physical and mental stimulation when used safely and correctly.

Not sure how to incorporate a sex toy or game into your bedroom? Start by doing some research into what’s out there and might be of interest. Close friends can also be a good source of advice. And though your gynecologist may not be the first person you think of to ask, the conversation with them may be much more comfortable and informative than one held in a busy retail shop or with an online chatbot.

Know Your Body

Familiarity with your sexual parts and how they appear to your partner can increase your knowledge and your confidence. Use a hand-held mirror and take a good look at everything down there, gently exploring with clean hands to identify and appreciate everything as it is today. Take note of whatever questions you have, and bring them to your gynecologist, especially if you notice any unusual lumps, bumps, sores, or discharge, which could be an indication of an STI or other condition.

Knowing your body and what makes it feel spectacular will also help your partner do the same. Masturbation and exploratory self-touch (including your chest, stomach, arms and legs) will be your best guide in this department. Doing so regularly (even if you have a steady partner) can help increase your sex drive, while releasing tension, improving sleep, and relieving menstrual cramps.

Sexual health is an important part of both gynecological and overall wellness, and at Covington Women’s Health Specialists we’re here to support you in all of these departments. Bring your sex questions to our caring team by arranging an appointment online or calling for one at 770-385-8954.