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.

The Benefits of Breastfeeding

By Brenda Barlowe, CNM, MSN

Breastfeeding is the most natural way to feed your new baby. It’s also one of the best ways to bond with baby and has numerous benefits for the health of both mom and child. However, breastfeeding can also be a confusing and frustrating time. Often times, new moms worry baby isn’t getting enough nutrition, wonder why their baby is rejecting their breasts, and can, in general, find the whole process difficult. The truth is that, even though breasts produce milk naturally, new moms and babies still have to learn to breastfeed together. Confidence is gained with practice, and breastfeeding can often require taking extra steps to get it right.

If you’re struggling to breastfeed correctly or want to learn more about the process in general, keep reading below.

How to Learn More About Breastfeeding

There are many resources available for support and additional information about breastfeeding.  Some examples include the internet, lactation specialists, nurses, midwives, physicians, community lactation groups, and professional organizations like La Leche League.  However, it’s important to note that every mom and baby pair is unique. What you learn best from might be different than other women in your life, so take the time to explore all your options.

Seek help, be calm, and don’t give up if you want to breastfeed your baby!

Benefits of Breastfeeding

There are so many benefits to breastfeeding. For starters, breastmilk is the perfect food and is easily digested.

Other benefits include:

  • reduces risks of viruses and infections of respiratory/ GI tract, asthma, and ears
  • protects against allergies and eczema
  • lessens SIDS risk
  • contains immunity-boosting antibodies and healthy enzymes
  • protects against diseases with mom’s immune factors and white blood cells
  • new studies show that breastmilk may decrease adult obesity and increase IQ scores

There are benefits for mom also:

  • lowers the risk of breast and ovarian cancer
  • helps mom to lose pregnancy weight faster by burning 300-500 calories per day
  • may reduce the risk of osteoporosis
  • saves money (formula cost approximately $134-491/month)
  • promotes closeness to infant
  • cultivates friendships with other breastfeeding moms.

How is Breast Milk Produced?

4-5 ounces of breastmilk is the nutritional equivalent of 8 ounces of formula. The body’s production of breastmilk is linked to the needs of the infant. It increases during growth spurts and as baby nurses more frequently. If production is an issue, as in premature birth, then there are herbs to help increase the milk supply as well as pumping. Herbs that are helpful are alfalfa, milk thistle, and mothers milk, to name a few.

This article is meant to encourage breastfeeding if only for a week, month, or year.  Any amount is beneficial for baby and challenges can be overcome if they arrive. If you need assistance with breastfeeding or would like to learn more, click here to contact the experts at Covington Women’s Health Specialists.

Dr. Larrimore Appears on “The Weekly Check-Up”

Dr. Cathy Larrimore of Covington Women’s Health Specialist’s appeared on “The Weekly Check-Up” on News/Talk WSB Radio on Sunday, September 1st.

During her segment, Dr. Larrimore discussed a variety of women’s health issues such as the Zika virus, cervical cancer, HPV vaccinations, and how age can affect pregnancies. 

Dr. Larrimore also explained how her practice, Covington’s Women’s Health Specialists, offers an intimate option that is between a large hospital and home births. She talked about the risks that can come with home deliveries and how it’s safer to deliver in a hospital or center. Dr. Larrimore commented, “That’s why–if you can offer some natural childbirth techniques in the hospital–it’s the best scenario.” 

Additionally, Dr. Larrimore provided details on a program that her practice offers called CenteringPregnancy. Visits at this clinic last two hours and occur with a consistent group of 8 to 12 women who all have similar due dates. 

Participants learn how to take their own vital signs and be active in their prenatal care. Topics discussed during these visits include what to expect during labor, childcare, breastfeeding, parenting, and healthy diet habits.

Dr. Larrimore explained, “I like to think of the CenteringPregnancy program as excellent medical care combined with group therapy and good old fashioned peer pressure. The program is the only method that’s been proven to eliminate the health discrepancies between white and black expectant mothers.” 

Listen to archive of this show.

Dr. Cathy Larrimore’s Thoughts on Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month

Ovarian Cancer Is One of the Deadliest of Women’s Cancers

Each year, approximately 22,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer. This cancer typically occurs in women in their 50s and 60s. Many women who are diagnosed with ovarian cancer have a genetic history that may include carrying the BRCA mutation gene and having a strong family history of ovarian cancer.

 Symptoms May Include:

  • Bloating
  • Pelvic or Abdominal pain
  • Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
  • Urinary urgency or frequency
  • Nausea, indigestion, gas, constipation or diarrhea
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Backaches
  • Weight Gain

There is no adequate screening test of ovarian cancer at this time which is one of the reasons that this cancer is often discovered in later stages. Your ANNUAL GYN visit is important. We offer Women’s Wellness visits, ultrasound if needed and BCRA testing when indicated.

Cathy Larrimore, MD, FACOG

Founder and Gynecologist of Covington Women’s Health Specialists

Dr. Cathy Larrimore, Covington, Georgia

Cathy T. Larrimore, M.D. is Board Certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG). She graduated from Georgia Tech with Highest Honors in 1988 and from Emory University School of Medicine in 1992. Dr. Larrimore practiced General Medicine for four years before completing her residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Naval Medical Center in Virginia. After serving for three years as a faculty member and staff OB/GYN at the Naval Medical Center, Dr. Larrimore returned to the Atlanta area where she opened her private practice in January 2004 in Covington, Georgia.

Dr. Meridith Farrow’s Thoughts on Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month

By Dr. Meridith Farrow, MD, FACOG

Reports in the news about the annual well-woman exam are confusing! Do women need an examination every year? Is a Pap needed every year? The answers are YES and MAYBE! The annual well-woman visit is an excellent opportunity for counseling concerning a healthy lifestyle, minimizing health risks, and the physical exam that is done assesses overall health. The collection of the Pap is individualized based on the woman’s age and history.

Abnormal Bleeding Is the Most Common Symptom of Uterine Cancer

Women over the age of 55 are more likely than younger women to be diagnosed with uterine cancer. Younger women, however, can be at increased risk in certain situations. Obesity, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and diabetes are among the conditions that increase the risk. Bleeding that occurs after menopause, heavy bleeding with periods or bleeding in between periods should all be evaluated by a Gynecologist. Early detection is the key to keeping women healthy!

New Pap Guidelines May Miss Some Cervical Cancers in Young Women

Over the last 30 years, the cervical cancer death rate has gone down by more than 50% because of the Pap test. The Pap test finds changes in the cervix before cancer develops. Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers today! Yet many women do not have this testing done. Changes in Pap test guidelines are causing some women to think that the Pap test is no longer necessary. Studies are underway investigating the impact of the new Pap guidelines. Many doctors make the Pap test a requirement for prescribing birth control, therefore many women stop going in for their tests after they have had tubal sterilization or no longer need birth control. Many women do not realize that the risk of developing cervical cancer is still present as they age.

The Pap Test Is Still Necessary for Some Women, and It Saves Lives!

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that all women have an annual visit with a healthcare provider capable of performing a pelvic examination if needed. The Annual Well-Woman visit is a health assessment and should include screening, evaluation, and counseling for a variety of concerns. Based on your age and risk factors, a Pap will be done if needed.

Dr. Jessie Bender’s Thoughts on Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month

Cervical cancer was once one of the most common causes of cancer death for American women. But over the last 30 years, the cervical cancer death rate has gone down by more than 50% because of the Pap test. This screening procedure can find changes in the cervix before cancer develops. Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers today! Yet many women do not have this testing done.

Unfortunately, news reports concerning recent changes in Pap test guidelines have been confusing. Some women think that the Pap test is no longer necessary. Many doctors make the Pap test a requirement for prescribing birth control, therefore many women stop going in for their tests after they have had tubal sterilization or no longer need birth control. Many women do not realize that the risk of developing cervical cancer is still present as they age. The Pap test is still necessary for some women, and it saves lives!

There is a connection between the human papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer. If you have HPV, it’s even more important to get regular Pap tests. Vaccines are available that prevent HPV infection and cancer caused by HPV.

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that all women have an annual visit with a healthcare provider capable of performing a pelvic examination if needed. The annual Women’s Wellness visit is a health assessment.

Cervical Cancer is preventable. Your ANNUAL GYN visit is important. We offer Women’s Wellness visits, with Pap tests and HPV testing if needed. We offer counseling regarding the HPV vaccine and the administration of the HPV vaccine if indicated.

Dr. Michelle White’s Thoughts on Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month

By Dr. Michelle White, MD, FACOG

Vaginal and vulvar cancers are very rare. All women are at risk of these cancers. About 25% of women diagnosed with these cancers die from the disease. For this reason, it is important for every woman to learn about vaginal and vulvar cancers.

Each year, nearly 1,000 women are diagnosed with vaginal cancer and about 3,500 women with vulvar cancer in the U.S. These cancers typically occur in women in their fifties and sixties. Many vaginal and vulvar cancers are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), a common virus that is passed from one person to another during sex. Other risk factors for these cancers include having cervical precancer or cancer, having a condition that makes it hard for your body to fight off health problems, and smoking. Some of these risks can be reduced by the HPV vaccine, limiting sexual partners, and not smoking.

Most vaginal cancers do not cause symptoms early on. When vaginal cancer does cause symptoms, they may include:

  • Vaginal discharge or bleeding that is not normal for you
  • A change in bathroom habits (blood in the stool or urine, more frequent trips to the bathroom, or constipation)
  • Abdomen or pelvic pain especially with urination or sex

Vulvar cancers often cause symptoms that may include:

  • Itching, burning or bleeding on the vulva
  • Color changes to the skin on the vulva
  • Sores, lumps, or ulcers on the vulva that do not go away
  • Pelvic pain especially with urination or sex

There are no tests that can find vaginal and vulvar cancers at this time. Your ANNUAL GYN visit is very important to look for signs of vulvar and vaginal cancer. We offer Women’s Wellness visits, HPV vaccinations to girls and women, and assistance with quitting smoking.

Dr. Sherley Samuels’ Thoughts on Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month

By Dr. Sherley Samuels, MD, FACOG

Uterine cancer is the most common cancer of the female reproductive organs.

It is estimated that approximately 54,000 women will be diagnosed with uterine cancer during the year of 2015. Endometrial cancer, cancer of the inner uterine lining, is the most common type of uterine cancer. Cancer of the muscle layer of the uterus is a rarer form.

Women over the age of 55 are more likely than younger women to be diagnosed with endometrial cancer. Younger women, however, can be at increased risk in certain situations. Obesity increases a woman’s risk of endometrial cancer. Moreover, any ailment that prevents a woman from ovulating for long periods of time, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), can also increase the risk.

Endometrial cancer commonly presents with abnormal uterine bleeding. This includes bleeding that occurs after menopause has already taken place (postmenopausal bleeding), heavier bleeding with periods, or bleeding in between periods. Other symptoms include abnormal discharge, pelvic mass and/or pain, and weight loss. In order to make a diagnosis of endometrial cancer, a sample of the inner lining of the uterus must be examined by a pathologist. This tissue is obtained by an OB/GYN either via an endometrial biopsy in the office or a surgical procedure.

If uterine cancer is diagnosed prior to spreading outside of the uterus, the five-year survival rate is 95%. It is important to seek medical attention if you have any bleeding that is not typical of your menstrual cycle. Early detection can mean a more favorable prognosis!