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Help Teach Little Girls (and Boys) How to Take Care of Their Bodies

As a parent, you have a lot of responsibilities.  The lessons you teach your children can stay with them for their entire lives. An important part of raising your children is teaching them about their bodies and the best ways to take care of them. Especially for little girls, these lessons can be vital in ensuring you raise healthy, well-rounded adults.

If you’re a parent and are lost on how to help teach little girls how to take care of their bodies, the women’s health experts at Covington Women’s Health Specialists are here to help. While these physicians are dedicated to the care of women, these tips will work for little boys as well!

Let’s start with the basic tips below on teaching your kids how to take care of their bodies.

Bodies Come in Different Shapes and Sizes and All are Beautiful

Diversity is an important lesson, so start early. Show them that bodies come in different shapes, sizes, and colors. Let them know that their body belongs to them!  Tell them that their body is perfect and normal, just the way it is, and so is everyone else’s.

Teaching them these body-positive lessons early will really empower them to love themselves and who they are. Every little girl should feel this way!

Teaching them that their bodies belong to them will give them a sense of pride and lays the groundwork for them being able to recognize inappropriate touching from others.

Physical Strength is Healthy

Exercising, eating healthy foods, and avoiding unhealthy behavior such as smoking will help keep your children strong and will help them avoid illnesses.  A strong body is more productive in helping your child have fun at play, do their daily chores, and exercise will help keep them deal with stress if this occurs.

Teach your Children about Mental Health

 

Let them know all the ways the mind is powerful, it lets them learn our world and themselves.  Their ability to learn and think is very special and important to keeping your kids happy and healthy, too.

Encouraging them to discuss their feelings. Let them know that discussing their emotions is healthy.  Make a promise to always be there for them to talk about what is happening or what is bothering them.

When they tell you what they tell you their ideas, let them know that you like the way they think!  When they tell you what they have learned, praise them for learning the information and sharing it!  Answer their questions, even if you have to Google the subject before answering!  Encourage their quest for knowledge.

Inform Them About Puberty

Telling your child what to expect as she grows is empowering and will help her not be frightened as her body changes. Explaining the process and giving them great detail will not only teach them that this process is normal, but it can also lessen stress and worries during the experience itself.  Promise to be there if she has questions or wants to tell you or show you how things have changed for her.

Talk About Sex

 

Included in the talks about puberty should also be discussions about sex! Many parents believe that not discussing sex with children will discourage them from participating in it. However, this is not a great tactic.

Children are curious and it is normal for them to touch themselves while trying to figure out what their body parts are for and why they feel the way they do.  While this is NORMAL, please let your child know that this should be done in privacy and that no one else should touch them in that way.  Answer their questions in a way that you are comfortable but punishing them and telling them that this is bad may be harmful.

Let them know how relationships and sex work when you feel they are old enough.  Teach them how they should handle their feelings and urges when the time comes.  Most importantly, teach them about respect. Remind them that others should respect them and that they should respect others.

Reassure your kids that you will be there if something uncomfortable happens to them or if they have questions and concerns.

Show Them Healthy Habits

 

Encourage your children to keep up healthy habits by keeping up with healthy habits yourself!  When you exercise and eat healthy foods in reasonable portion sizes, they will learn from you.

The goal of exercise is to keep the body strong and healthy.  Avoid obsessing over your weight or talking about the goal of being “skinny.”  Avoid smoking since children will want to smoke if you smoke.

If you have any more questions about how to help teach little girls how to take care of their bodies, reach out to the women’s health experts at Covington Women’s Health by clicking here or giving us a call at 770-385-8954.

Sweating Down There? It’s Normal!

It happens to all women. You’re out and about enjoying your day while it happens to be warm, or you’re putting your all into a work-out, and very quickly your underwear or groin area becomes drenched with sweat. On top of sweating through your armpits, you probably notice perspiration gathering underneath your breasts and in your vagina.

Sweating down there might be “gross,” but don’t worry! It’s 100% natural and something all women do. To help spread awareness on why this is so, the experts at Covington Women’s Health are discussing why women sweat at their vulvas.

Why Do I Sweat Down There?

Sweating is an absolutely necessary part of life. It’s your body’s way of cooling down your skin and preventing you from overheating.

Sweat comes from the sweat glands located throughout your body. There are two types: eccrine glands and apocrine glands. The latter are the ones that are in your vulvar area, because they are connected to the hair follicles there.

Just like there are two different types of sweat glands, there are also two different types of sweat! The sweat that happens in your vulvar area has a milk-like texture and can have a strong order. However, as mentioned above, while eccrine gland sweat is the process that cools down your body, many scientists and medical professionals aren’t sure of the purpose of apocrine sweat.

But, it’s still a totally natural process.

Is There Such a Thing as Too Much Sweat?

Just like with excessive sweat through the armpits, this can also happen at your vulva! If you’re noticing a large amount of sweat at low-energy efforts, then it might be a sign you have a problem with excessive sweat in your vagina.

One example of a common reason why this happens is a medical condition called hyperhidrosis, which causes people to sweat more than others.

If your level of sweat is bothering you and impacting your quality of life, there are several things you can do! The best first step is to reach out to your trusted gynecologist to discuss what’s happening. They will be able to give you a plan to see if you can lessen the impact of your excessive sweat.

If you have any more questions about sweating down there, reach out to the women’s health experts at Covington Women’s Health by clicking here or giving us a call at 770-385-8954.

Birth Control 101: Pros and Cons of Common Options

If you know you’re not looking to build a family any time soon, then birth control is something you’re ready to start taking. But there are countless types of birth control available to everyone and figuring out which type is best for you takes planning and considering. Figuring out your best option might be dizzying and more stressful than it once was. 

The experts at Covington Women’s Health Specialists are breaking down all the birth control options and discussing the pros and cons of each option. Keep reading below to see which might be best for you! 

Scheduled Options 

  • Patch: The skin absorbs the hormones from this patch that can either go on the belly, upper arm, butt, or back. It prevents eggs from being produced and sperm traveling to the egg. 
    • This option is fantastic for women who are almost ready to give birth. Not only is it effective at about 91%, but when you stop taking it, you can get pregnant right away. It also has other health benefits, like reducing acne, and can make your periods better. However, it does require you to change the patch weekly. 
  • Pill: One of the most commonly known options, this birth control type requires women to take a daily pill. Doing so stops ovulation, which means there’s no egg to produce a baby, and also prevents the flow of sperm to the eggs. 
    • If you can remember to take the pill every single day, then this option might be great for you with 91% accuracy. It’s pretty affordable, has other health benefits such as helping with iron deficiencies, and can make your periods better. However, some women have reported negative side-effects, such as headaches.
  • Shots: Requiring women to come in every three months to receive an injection, this birth control option releases the same hormone as the above, creating the same effects. 
    • If you really hate shots, maybe don’t consider this option. But for those who don’t mind it, you only have to worry about receiving it four times a year with 94% effectiveness. It also has added health benefits like preventing cancer, lessens your period. However, you will have to wait about 10 months to get pregnant after stopping the shot, and there are negative side effects like depression. 
  • Vaginal Ring: Similar process to the above options, the NuvaRing is a ring that is placed inside your vagina to prevent pregnancy.
    • With this option, you don’t have to worry about taking something every day to prevent pregnancy and you still receive a 91% effectiveness. It also has added health benefits like preventing bone thinning and it can help lessen your periods. However, if you don’t like the idea of having to replace monthly or the negative side-effects that often come with it, like nausea, then consider something else. 

More Permanent Options 

  • Tubal Ligation, or Sterilization: Also known as “getting your tubes tied”, this is a permanent birth control option that involves safe and successful surgery. During the process, a physician will permanently close your fallopian tubes, not allowing eggs to travel to the place in your body where they will meet with sperm to create a child. 
    • If you know you will never have kids, tubal ligation is a great way to go. You’ll never have to worry about getting pregnant with a 99% effective rate. However, if you change your mind, it’s costly and sometimes not effective to reverse this process. You and your partner need to be absolutely certain if you want to get your tubes tied. 
  • Vasectomy: Similar to the above, a vasectomy is the male version of permanent birth control. In this procedure, a doctor will cut off the small tubes in a scrotum that is responsible for allowing sperm to leave the body. 
    • Again, if you know you and your partner never want kids, you can’t go wrong with this 99% effective form of birth control. Just like sterilization, reversing a vasectomy is costly, complicated, and sometimes doesn’t work. So only pick this option if you’re 100% sure. 

The Less Maintenance Options 

  • Birth Control Implant: A thin rod that goes into your arm, this implant releases the hormone progestin into your body to prevent sperm from swimming to the egg and also keep the eggs from leaving the ovaries. 
    • Many women love this option as it only needs to be inserted into the arm once and then it continues to work for many years at a very high effective rate of 99%. However, it can be more costly and several women experience painful side-effects, like breast pain.  
  • IUD: This stands for Intrauterine Device, and, just like the name suggests, this option is a tiny device that is placed into your uterus. It alters the way that sperm and eggs move throughout your body, blocking a pregnancy from happening in the first place. Within this option are five other choices, and which you pick will largely depend on your preferences. 
    • While IUDs are very effective at a 99% effective rate and can last for many years, the process of receiving them and removing them can be more painful than other options. Sometimes the side effects that come with IUD, such as irregular periods and pain, might convince women not to use this option. They can also be more costly, but they also help to lessen periods. 

What’s the Best Way to Get Your Birth Control?

As our society continues to move more towards convenience and ease, it might also be tempting to do the same with your birth control. But, when it comes to ensuring you have the perfect type for you, nothing can replace the accuracy of visiting your trusted gynecologist and having a consultation. Together, the two of you can work through your preferences and discuss which will best suit your needs. You’ll leave the office with a clear decision and without a doubt. 

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

The Importance of Sleep to Women

Everyone knows that not getting enough sleep can really ruin your day ahead. But, sometimes, it’s tough to get all your recommended hours when there’s so much to do during the day. 

For women, it can be especially hard to balance. You’re expected to maintain a career, raise your children, be healthy, and keep up all your other passions and hobbies. That doesn’t leave much room for sleep. Plus, many of the physical experiences women go through can impact quality of sleep. Examples included menopause, pregnancy, periods, and puberty. 

However, getting a good night’s rest is absolutely vital to remaining healthy and happy. The experts at Covington Women’s Health Specialists are explaining the importance of sleep to women below. 

What Lack of Sleep Does to Your Mental Health

Studies have shown that not getting enough sleep can have the same impact on you as having a high blood alcohol content. It’s easy to see why knowing the effects of lack of sleep on your mental health:

  • Lack of coordination.
  • Impaired judgment.
  • High-levels of stress.
  • More accident-prone.
  • Mood swings. 

Not Enough Sleep Impacts Physical Health 

Unfortunately, not sleeping enough also impacts you physically. Here are some examples: 

  • Decreased hearing. 
  • Feeling hungrier. 
  • Fatigue. 

Long-Term Lack of Sleep? The Impact is Even Worse

If you’re used to getting a terrible night’s sleep, the impact on your mental and physical health gets even worse. Here’s what you’re at risk for:

  • Additional weight gain, even obesity.
  • Type 2 diabetes.
  • Heart Disease.
  • Dementia.
  • Depression.
  • Quicker aging. 
  • High blood pressure. 

How to Keep Good Sleeping Habits During Quarantine

With all of our schedules out of whack thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, you might also be noticing a difference in your sleep patterns. Many people report staying up much later than they usually do, sleeping longer than they usual might, and often taking naps throughout the day. If you’ve noticed that you’re normal, healthy sleeping patterns aren’t what they used to be, here are some tips for keeping good sleeping habits during quarantine:

  • Schedule a sleep time and a wake-up time and keep to it. Staying strict will ensure you get the sleep you need. 
  • Refrain from working in your bed. Keep your bedroom sacred for just sleeping. 
  • Try your best to get outside and enjoy the sunlight! Getting enough vitamin D impacts your quality of sleep. 
  • Keep yourself active! Working out regularly has been shown to improve your sleep. 
  • Make sure to get off your phone in plenty of time before going to bed so your brain can relax and get ready to sleep. Excessive blue light right before bed can negatively affect your sleep. 
  • While naps can be very tempting during this time, make sure to take them carefully. Napping too long or too much means not getting enough sleep later during the night. 

If you have any more questions about the importance of sleep to women, 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.

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.

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.

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.