Category Archives: OB-GYN

What is an Ectopic Pregnancy?

The female body is beautiful and extremely complex. Pregnancy can be very tricky and come with many complications. There are also rare and complicated pregnancies every woman should be aware of. Although many women have heard of an ectopic pregnancy, not many of them understand what it is exactly. It’s important for every woman to know and understand what it is, how common it is, and what it does to the body:

What Is It?

Common pregnancies carry the fetus in the uterus. When a woman has an ectopic pregnancy, the fertilized egg attaches itself to a place other than inside the uterus. Most of the time an ectopic pregnancy will involve a fertilized egg found in the fallopian tubes. Since the fallopian tubes are not designed to carry out a pregnancy, it can not develop properly and must be removed as soon as possible.

What Causes This?

A fertilized egg attaching to anywhere but a uterus sounds bizarre, which is why many women want to understand why this happens and what causes it. There are many causes that can lead to ectopic pregnancy. An infection or inflammation in the fallopian tube can cause it to become partially or entirely blocked, leading to an ectopic pregnancy. Other causes include scar tissue from a previous infection or a surgical procedure on the tubes or pelvic area and abnormal growths or a birth defect can result in an abnormality in the tube’s shape.

What are the Symptoms?

There are some symptoms an ectopic pregnancy shares with a normal uterine pregnancy, such as nausea and breast soreness. Symptoms that differ from a uterine pregnancy are sharp waves of pain in the abdomen, pelvis, shoulder, or neck and light to heavy vaginal spotting or bleeding. Other symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy include dizziness or fainting and rectal pressure. If a woman experiences any or all of these symptoms, they must seek medical attention immediately.

What are the Risks?

There are certain factors that can put a woman at risk of having an ectopic pregnancy. If a woman is between the ages of 35-44 while trying to conceive, her risk is much greater. If a woman has had an ectopic pregnancy before, several abortions, or is a smoker, she is also at great risk. Women with Endometriosis or Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) have a greater potential of having an ectopic pregnancy as well.

Common Causes of Menstrual Irregularities

No two menstrual cycles are alike. Every woman’s body is different, therefore every woman will experience their own different cycle. Although women often share similar period symptoms, each cycle is unique. However, sometimes a cycle can be so different that it can be irregular. There are many causes for menstrual irregularities every woman should be made aware of:

Pregnancy

The most common cause of menstrual irregularities is pregnancy. Pregnancy puts a woman’s period to a halt for nine months after conception. There may be a bit of light spotting, but this is a common sign a woman may be pregnant. Other symptoms are nausea, breast soreness, and fatigue.

Birth Control

Another way to cause menstrual irregularities is by taking birth control. Hormonal birth control pills and hormone-containing intrauterine devices (IUDs) can cause irregular bleeding during a woman’s cycle. An IUD can also cause very heavy bleeding.

Perimenopause

As a woman get older, her body begins to go through major changes. When her period stops due to her age, this is called menopause. The time between their period coming to a stop and entering menopause is called perimenopause. This can cause them to have a very irregular period, sometimes going months without bleeding. Women can also experience hot flashes, mood changes, difficulty sleeping, and vaginal dryness.

Being Overweight

It’s important for men and women to stay healthy. Being overweight can cause many health issues. For women, it can lead to menstrual irregularities. When a woman is overweight, their obesity impacts hormone and insulin levels and interferes with your menstrual cycle.

Eating Disorders and Extreme Weightloss

It’s important for your body to find a healthy balance. Obesity isn’t the only weight issue that can lead to an unhealthy menstrual cycle. If a woman has an eating disorder or is experiencing extreme and rapid weight loss, it can interfere with their body producing the hormones needed for ovulation.

Stress

Mental health can have a major impact on the body. For women, stress can be a major factor when dealing with menstrual irregularities. Research has found that stress can interfere with a woman’s menstrual cycle by temporarily obstructing the part of the brain in charge of controlling the hormones responsible for regulating your cycle.

What is Postpartum Depression ?

Childbirth can be an emotional experience for new parents. As you settle in with your bundle of joy, you might encounter something unexpected – depression. Postpartum depression is often left undiscussed but affects many parents. What separates this from postpartum “baby blues”? Sometimes a rare but more severe condition called postpartum psychosis can develop. 

Defining Postpartum Depression

By definition by the National Institute of Mental Health, postpartum depression is a mood disorder that can affect women and birthing parents after childbirth. New parents often experience “baby blues” after childbirth, where they might experience mood swings, crying spells, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping. The symptoms of postpartum depression may be similar but tend to be more severe and last longer, sometimes interfering with your ability to care for your baby and complete other daily tasks.  

Symptoms

Parents can experience depressed mood or severe mood swings, excessive crying, and difficulty bonding with their baby. Other common symptoms include changes in appetite, social withdrawal, and sleep disturbances. Symptoms will usually begin within the first few weeks after giving birth but may begin earlier (during pregnancy) or later, up to a year after birth. More severe symptoms may occur, such as thoughts of harming oneself or the baby, and these require serious and immediate attention. 

Causes

Physical changes and emotional issues play a role in postpartum depression, but there is no single cause for the condition. Hormonal changes after childbirth, such as dramatic drops in levels of progesterone and estrogen, may contribute to postpartum depression. Your risk of developing postpartum depression may increase if you have a history of depression or other mood disorders.

Treatments

Fortunately, postpartum depression is treatable.Treatment and recovery time will vary depending on your individual needs and the severity of the depression. Your medical provider will work on treating the underlying causes and may refer you to a mental health professional. Generally, treatment for depression includes psychotherapy, medication, or both. It is important to continue treatment even after you begin to feel better, as stopping treatment too early may lead to relapse.  Left untreated, postpartum depression can last for many months or longer. 
This post was originally published on DrLoriGoreGreen.org

Constantly Evolving: Weight Gain During Menopause

Women between the ages of 40 and 50 will begin to exhibit changes in their body as it prepares to end their menstrual cycles. Menopause is the time in a woman’s life where they cease menstruation and the ability to reproduce. It is diagnosed officially once a woman has gone 12 months without her period. Just as hormones brought on menstruation, a shift in hormones brings it to an end.

Symptoms of menopause may include: hot flashes and chills, mood changes, weight gain, thinning hair and dry skin, vaginal dryness, and problems with sleep. During this hormonal shift, the body experiences many changes.

Menopause and Weight Gain

When a female begins to go through menopause, it’s not uncommon for them to gain weight. Some believe that the weight is caused by hormonal shifts that mess with metabolism, but this is not the case. Hormonal therapy is almost always given to help balance moods and other unpleasant symptoms, and these supplements also get blamed for middle-aged women being overweight. However, science finds no evidence of any such connections.

As a person begins to age, their metabolism naturally slows. People in their 20’s have an easier time losing weight than that of a person in their 40’s. The fat that has accumulated for many years is very stubborn, and with a body mass decrease, the fat is nearly impossible to lose. To fight the battle of the bulge takes physical activity, but this is the point when most women are ready to settle down and avoid rigorous exercise routines.

A woman in her 40’s or 50’s isn’t typically as physically active as she was in her younger years. With this reduced activity comes a decrease in muscle mass and an increase in weight. However, there may be more to worry about than just a few extra pounds.

While menopause cannot be associated with weight gain, it can be related to a change in the way the body distributes fat. Thus, it affects body composition. Many women change from a pear-shaped body to that of an apple like shape with age. Additional studies are needed to find out exactly how menopause affects body composition. The problem is that most women are overweight by the time they reach this point in their life.

Carrying additional weight around puts a woman at an increased risk for hypertension, osteoarthritis, cancer, and type 2 diabetes. Additionally, her compromised health can cause issues with mobility, self-image, and many other factors. It’s imperative to stay active to be healthy at all ages, but it’s especially important during menopause. A sedentary lifestyle creates too many risks that are not worth taking. Physical Activity is a must.

Originally posted on DrLoriGoreGreen.org on May 13, 2019.

Constantly Evolving: Puberty and Menstruation

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Constantly evolving is a new series documenting the ways in which women’s bodies change. Based on the time of the month or period of life, the series hopes to highlight the magnificence of the woman’s body.  

The previous “Constantly Evolving” article focused on external physical changes girls experience when going through puberty. In conjunction to evolutions in physical appearance, the female body undergoes a massive change internally with the start of ovulation and menstruation.

When girls are born their ovaries contain thousands of eggs called ova. During puberty, the ovaries begin to release estrogen and progesterone leading the lining of the uterus to become thicker.

Simultaneously, the hormones mature an egg and release it from the ovary. The egg travels through the fallopian tube and eventually reaches the uterus. This process is known as ovulation.

This lining of the uterus builds up in preparation for a fertilized egg, which would attach itself to the lining and begin developing. If there is no fertilized egg, the uterus sheds its thick lining and bleeds. The shedding of the uterus is what we call menstruation. This process then repeats month to month.

Girls most often get their periods for the first time between 9 and 14 years of age. Menstruation is often linked to weight, so many girls will not get their period until they exceed 90 pounds. If menstruation hasn’t begun by age 16, seeing a doctor is recommended. Periods may be irregular at first. With time, they begin to fall into a pattern that is easy to track and predict.

Periods can last anywhere from three to seven days. Some pain and discomfort is common, as the uterus is expanding and contracting to shed its lining. Pain can vary in severity, with some girls experiencing extreme cramping and back pain while others only find the cramps annoying. These variances are often caused by the level of prostaglandins the body releases. If experiencing severe cramps that interfere with daily life, girls should speak to their doctors to determine the cause.

Though information about menstruation is readily available, studies show that many women felt unprepared, shocked, and confused when they got their first period. The Constantly Evolving series strives to shine a light on the beauty of the female body and all the changes it endures to create and support new life. Sex education, as well as open communication about puberty, is necessary to break down stigmas and enhance appreciation for the female body.

This post was originally published on DrLoriGoreGreen.org on April 17, 2019. 

Constantly Evolving: External Physical Changes During Puberty

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Constantly evolving is a new series documenting the ways in which women’s bodies change. Based on the time of the month or period of life, the series hopes to highlight the magnificence of the woman’s body.  

During puberty, the body changes in incredible ways as it prepares itself to enter biological adulthood. Starting as early as 8 years old and as late as 13, the brain begins to release estrogen, the female growth hormone, which induces growth and change in the body.

Puberty is often a difficult time for young women. The body changes in very drastic ways which can be debilitating, uncomfortable, and confusing. Many young women also experience increased levels of self-consciousness during this period of their lives. These feelings are normal, as the amount of change can often make a young girl feel like an alien in their own skin. During this time of life the body changes in a variety of ways:

Weight Gain and Growth Spurts

Two of the first signs of puberty are growth spurts and weight gain. Many young girls will be taller than their male peers at this age since males experience growth spurts later in puberty. Body fat during this period can increase from 8% to 21% as the body prepares itself for menstruation and reproduction.

Body Hair Appears

Hair on the body will begin to grow on areas that have previously been smooth and hair-free, and may become darker and thicker on the arms and legs. Girls will start to develop a few hairs in the pubic area. As puberty progresses, more hair follicles will produce strands and they will start to get thicker and curlier as they grow.

Development of Acne

As hormones begin to surge through the body, girls will often start to experience breakouts of whitehead, blackheads, and pimples. The hormones that are likely to blame for this change are known as androgens, which enlarge the size of pores and create more sebum. Acne during puberty can also be caused by hereditary factors.

Developing Breasts and Hips

Puberty will cause areas of the body to widen. Hips, thighs, and butts will grow during this period since the body is preparing for eventual reproduction and childbirth.

During puberty, girls will also begin to develop breasts. Many girls will feel self-conscious when they start to develop if they feel like they are growing too big too quickly, not fast enough, or unevenly. Breasts continue to grow until women are well into their teens, and if they are growing at uneven speeds will usually even out eventually.

The nipples also begin to change at this time. Some girls nipples will become pink or dark brown, inverted or turned out, and hair may begin to grow in the region. These changes are normal and are mostly based on hereditary factors, as final breast size. Looking to maternal female relatives will often give a clue as to what breasts will look like when they finish maturing.

The ways in which hormones change the physical shape and appearance of women’s bodies is nothing short of incredible, but it can often disrupt a young girl’s sense of self. Suddenly, puberty can make who they see virtually unrecognizable to who they were a year ago. Other evolutions in the body can exacerbate these feelings, such as internal and cognitive changes, which will be discussed in the next few blogs. Check back soon to learn more!

The 101 on Feminine Hygiene Products

Have you ever asked yourself: “Is my discharge normal?” or “Am I supposed to smell this way?” You wouldn’t be the first. In fact, you’re only one of many. To accommodate these fears, the market in the last few years has been flooded by feminine hygiene products aimed at making women more confident surrounding their vaginal cleanliness.

Many doctors are wary of these products, suggesting that they may do more harm than good. After all, the vagina is a balanced ecosystem that produces healthy bacteria and fluids aimed at warding off infections. These normal processes are often mistaken for uncleanliness, so women turn to products aimed at hindering natural smells. Doing so, however, can lead to a variety of issues concerning vaginal health.

Problematic Science Involved

Since vaginal washes and wipes aren’t used internally, any claim that the soap is pH-balanced is unlikely. Even if it is, since it is used externally, doctors are skeptical that they have any effect at all on pH. Dr. Ugwumadu, a consultant gynecologist at St. George’s Hospital in London, writes, “There will be no difference in the pH of a woman using such products and a woman who washes with a normal shower gel – except that one will be lighter of pocket.”

More Prone to Infections

The natural processes your vagina goes through helps to keep you safe from infection. The efficacy of these processes depends on your vagina’s pH. A healthy pH ranges from 3.5-4.5. The bacteria produced helps to keep that pH balanced. Washing with soap, using douches, deodorants and wipes can eat away at that healthy bacteria, essentially making you susceptible to infections.

Not Regulated

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not monitor the production of or the ingredients in feminine hygiene products. Since they are classified as cosmetics, the FDA considers them low-risk products. Because of this, it is important that women have an understanding of the ingredients these products may contain. While some are safer than others, steer free of products containing fragrances, alcohols, and glycerin, all of which can put you at risk for irritation or infection.

Doctors do not generally recommend these products, since they are rather unnecessary. However, it is acknowledged that feminine hygiene products may have a placebo effect that leads women to feel more confident about their smell and health. For that reason, as long as the ingredients are safe, women should feel free to use such products at their discretion.