Sweetwater OB GYN offers gynecological care for most women's health from routine check ups, follow ups, diagnosis, tests and exams, and gynecological problems. Sweetwater OB GYN's state of the art facility will make you feel at home, because our staff and physicians are here to provide the best possible care and understanding.
Women's related health issues are broad and complex that is why at Sweetwater OB GYN we are committed to ensure you receive the proper attention from our award winning staff. Our trained team of physicians specialize in all aspects of reproductive health and gynecological problems.
Heavy or prolonged menstrual periods, or menorrhagia, are the most common type of abnormal bleeding from the uterus. Periods are considered heavy if there is enough blood to soak a pad or tampon every hour for several consecutive hours.
Other symptoms of a heavy period can include:
- Nighttime bleeding that requires getting up to change pads or tampons
- Passing large blood clots during menstruation
- A period that lasts longer than seven days
- In severe cases, heavy menstruation can interfere with sleep and daily activities. Blood loss from heavy periods can also lead to anemia, causing symptoms such as fatigue and shortness of breath.
Causes of Menorrhagia
There are many possible causes of heavy menstrual bleeding.
- Hormonal imbalance, particularly in estrogen and progesterone; this is most common in adolescents who recently began their periods and women who are getting close to menopause.
- Hormonal imbalance may also occur if there is a problem in the function of the ovaries.
- Fibroids or noncancerous tumors of the uterus; fibroids typically occur during childbearing years.
- Miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy -- the implantation of a fertilized egg outside the uterus, such as in the fallopian tube
- Use of blood thinners
- Problems with a non-hormonal intrauterine device (IUD) used for birth control
- Adenomyosis, a condition in which the glands from the lining of the uterus become imbedded in the muscular wall of the uterus; this is most likely to occur in middle-aged women who have had several children.
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), an infection of the uterus, fallopian tubes, and other organs of the reproductive system
- Uterine, ovarian, and cervical cancer; these are rare but possible causes of heavy menstrual bleeding.
- Other medical conditions that can prevent normal blood clotting, including liver, kidney, or thyroid disease, and bleeding or platelet disorders
Call Sweetwater OB GYN today at 281-242-1400 to set up an appointment so you can start getting treated based on your symptoms.
Most women have tender breasts, bloating, and muscle aches a few days before they start their menstrual periods. These are normal premenstrual symptoms. But when they disrupt your daily life, they are called premenstrual syndrome (PMS). PMS can affect your body, your mood, and how you act in the days leading up to your menstrual period.
Some women first get PMS in their teens or 20s. Others don't get it until their 30s. The symptoms may get worse in your late 30s and 40s, as you approach perimenopause.
PMS is tied to hormone changes that happen during your menstrual cycle. Doctors don't fully know why premenstrual symptoms are worse in some women than in others. They do know that for many women, PMS runs in the family.
Not getting enough vitamin B6, calcium, or magnesium in the foods you eat can increase your chances of getting PMS. High stress, a lack of exercise, and too much caffeine can make your symptoms worse.
Common physical signs include:
- Swollen and tender breasts.
- Lack of energy.
- Cramps and low back pain.
It is also common to:
- Feel sad, angry, irritable, or anxious.
- Be less alert.
- Have trouble focusing on tasks.
- Withdraw from family and friends.
- PMS symptoms may be mild or strong and vary from month to month.
- When PMS symptoms are severe, the condition is called premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). But PMDD is rare.
Your doctor will ask questions about your symptoms and do a physical exam. It's important to make sure that your symptoms aren't caused by something else, like thyroid disease.
Your doctor will want you to keep a written record of your symptoms for 2 to 3 months. This is called a menstrual diary. It can help you track when your symptoms start, how bad they are, and how long they last. Your doctor can use this diary to help diagnose PMS.
Call Sweetwater OB GYN today at 281-242-1400 to set up an appointment so you can start getting treated based on your symptoms.
Urinary incontinence, or loss of bladder control, is a frustrating problem for millions of Americans. Never knowing when and where you might have an accident can affect everything from work to exercise to your social life. Urinary incontinence happens to both men and women but is more common in women. Studies show that at least half of older women may have some form of incontinence.
Stress Incontinence: SymptomsThe main symptom of incontinence is when you pee unexpectedly -- when and how depends on the type of incontinence. If you leak a bit when you laugh, cough, sneeze, jog, or lift something heavy, you may have stress incontinence. This is the most common bladder control problem in younger women.
Stress Incontinence: CausesStress incontinence happens when the muscles and tissue around the opening of the bladder get weak. When there is more pressure against the bladder and this opening does not stay closed, leakage happens. Pressure from coughing or laughing may be all it takes to leak urine. There are a few reasons why these muscles can lose strength.They may be stretched by weight gain, a sports injury, or pregnancies and vaginal childbirths.
Urge Incontinence: SymptomsIf you often have a desperate need to pee but can't get to the bathroom in time, you may have urge incontinence. The sudden urge can come from hearing the sound of running water or sipping a drink. Or there may not be any reason for it. With this type of incontinence, you may leak large amounts of urine. You may also find yourself running to the bathroom even when your bladder is mostly empty.
Urge Incontinence: CausesA sudden, overwhelming need to pee might be caused by spasms of the bladder muscles. These spasms can come from nerve or muscle damage. In some cases, the damage might come from an illness like a stroke, or an infection or inflammation of the bladder.
Overactive bladder is another name for urge incontinence. You get the same sudden, frequent need to pee. But not everyone with overactive bladder has incontinence. Many women are able to “hold it” until they get to the toilet. Instead of leaking urine, the big problem for them is constantly having to stop what they're doing to go to the bathroom.
Medications That Worsen Incontinence
There are several medicines that can cause incontinence or make it worse. In women, some high blood pressure medicines can relax the bladder muscles, leading to stress incontinence. Some types of antidepressants can make incontinence worse, although some may relieve the symptoms. And diuretics or "water pills" create more urine, which adds to the problem.
Emotional Toll of Incontinence
Incontinence is not dangerous, but it can wear you down. Research shows that women with incontinence have lower self-esteem, a less active sex life, and higher levels of depression compared to those with healthy bladders. You might want to stay home and hide, but it doesn't have to be that way. Incontinence can be managed or even reversed.
The first step is to find out exactly what kind of incontinence you have. Your health care provider will ask about your medical history and probably get for a urine sample to check for a urinary tract infection. He or she may ask you to stand and cough, a way to signal stress incontinence. You may also be asked to keep a diary showing how much you drink, how much you pee, and how often you leak.
Diagnosing Incontinence: Tests
There are several tests to help pinpoint the cause of incontinence. Ultrasound imagery can show how the bladder and urethra change when you pee or cough. A pad test shows how much urine you pass throughout the day. A bladder stress test helps check for stress incontinence. Cystometry measures bladder pressure and can help diagnose urge incontinence. An MRI scan (seen here) may show problems that can't be seen with other tests.
Menstrual cramps are sharp pains in a woman's lower abdomen that occur when her menstrual period begins and may continue for two to three days. Symptoms can range in severity from a mild annoyance to severe pain that interferes with normal activities.
Menstrual cramps are the leading cause of absenteeism in women younger than 30. Although over half of women who have menstrual periods experience some discomfort, 10% are temporarily disabled by symptoms.
The following circumstances may make a woman more likely to experience menstrual cramps:
- She started her first period at an early age (younger than 11 years).
- Her menstrual periods are heavy.
She is overweight or obese.
- She smokes cigarettes or uses alcohol.
- She has never been pregnant.
Causes of Menstrual Pain
Prostaglandins are chemicals a woman's body produces that cause many of the symptoms associated with menstrual discomfort. The tissue that lines the uterus makes these chemicals. Prostaglandins stimulate the uterine muscles to contract. Women who have high levels of prostaglandin may experience more intense contractions of their uterus and more pain. Prostaglandins may also be responsible for vomiting, diarrhea, and headaches that accompany painful periods.
Other menstrual-type cramps can be caused by conditions of the reproductive tract, such as the following:
- Endometriosis -- uterine tissue that appears outside the uterus
Fibroids and adenomyosis -- noncancerous (benign) growths in the uterus
- Infections in the reproductive organs
- Abnormal pregnancy, such as an ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy in the tubes, outside the uterus)
- IUD (intra-uterine device) used for birth control
- Ovarian cyst
- Narrow cervix
- If a woman has had menstrual pain ever since her periods started, the condition is classified as primary dysmenorrhea. If a physical condition such as pelvic inflammatory disease or endometriosis has developed and is causing the pain, this is called secondary dysmenorrhea. Once the medical condition is treated, the menstrual pain usually goes away.
Symptoms of Menstrual Pain
In addition to cramps in the lower abdomen, a woman may also experience some of these symptoms with menstrual cramps:
- Lower back pain
- Leg pain, radiating down the legs
- Fainting spells (in extreme cases)
When to Seek Medical Care
Most women have significant improvement with home care. However, a woman should call her health care provider in these situations:
Menstrual cramps continue to be painful for longer than usual.
The pain is suddenly worse or different from what she may have experienced before.
- Bleeding is excessive, requiring more than one pad or tampon per hour.
- Signs of infection, such as fever, chills, and body aches, are present at the time of the period.
- Menstrual cramps began in a woman older than 25 years.
- The woman suspects she may be pregnant and any of these symptoms occur.
- The woman's doctor can help her manage most symptoms.
However, she should go to a hospital's emergency department if any of thefollowing problems occur:
- She faints.
- She experiences repeated dizziness when standing up.
- A sudden, intense pelvic pain causes her to double over.
- Tissue is passed in the menstrual flow. Tissue often appears silvery or grayish.
- She thinks she might be pregnant and has menstrual-type pain.
Exams and Tests
The doctor will ask for medical history details, as well as questions about the menstrual pain and symptoms.
Be prepared to discuss these details:
- The timing of the cramps in relation to the start of the period
- Type of pain
- Age when the cramps first started
- Any recent change in the pain
- Irregular periods
- Vaginal discharge
- Pain with intercourse
- History of pelvic infections
- Age when first period occurred
- Current medications
- What things seem to improve or worsen the pain
- Sweetwater GYN will perform a pelvic exam to check for any problems. If there are concerns about a possible infection, cervical cultures and a blood test will confirm the diagnosis. Additional tests may be ordered.
Sweetwater GYN may order a pregnancy test if the periods are irregular or the woman is not using birth control regularly.
An ultrasound exam is necessary if the doctor discovers any abnormal masses during the pelvic exam or there is a new onset of menstrual pain.
A doctor may recommend a laparoscopy, which is a minor surgical procedure allowing the doctor to look directly into the pelvic cavity with a fiber-optic scope. This is an outpatient procedure using very small incisions.
A hysteroscopy is another possible procedure. By inserting a hysteroscope (thin lighted tube) through the vagina, the doctor can see the cervix and the inside of the uterus without incisions. This can be done in our office or a hospital.
Call Sweetwater OB GYN today at 281-242-1400 to set up an appointment so you can start getting treated based on your symptoms.
Is this topic for you?
Sometimes a woman may not use birth control, or her method may fail. If this happens to you, you may still be able to prevent pregnancy if you act quickly. For more information, see the topic Emergency Contraception.
What is birth control?
Birth control is any method used to prevent pregnancy. Another word for birth control is contraception (say "kon-truh-SEP-shun").
If you have sex without birth control, there is a chance that you could get pregnant. This is true even if you have not started having periods yet or you are getting close to menopause.
The only sure way to prevent pregnancy is to not have sex. But finding a good method of birth control you can use every time can help you avoid an unplanned pregnancy.
What are the types of birth control?
There are many different kinds of birth control. Each has pros and cons. Learning about all the methods will help you find one that is right for you.
- Hormonal methods include birth control pills, shots, the skin patch, the implant, and the vaginal ring. There is also a hormonal IUD that releases a small amount of hormone. Birth control that uses hormones is very good at preventing pregnancy.
- Intrauterine devices (IUDs) are inserted into your uterus. IUDs work very well and are very safe. There are two main types of IUDs: copper IUDs and hormonal IUDs.
- Barrier methods include condoms, diaphragms, and sponges. In general, these do not prevent pregnancy as well as IUDs or hormonal methods do. Barrier methods must be used every time you have sex.
- Natural family planning (also called fertility awareness) can work if you and your partner are very careful. You will need to keep good records so you know when you are fertile. And during times when you are fertile, you will need to skip sex or use a barrier method.
- Permanent birth control (sterilization) gives you lasting protection against pregnancy. A man can have a vasectomy, or a woman can have her tubes tied (tubal ligation). But this is only a good choice if you are sure that you don't want any (or any more) children.
- Emergency contraception is a backup method to prevent pregnancy if you forget to use birth control or a condom breaks.
For hormonal or barrier methods to work best, you have to use them exactly the way your doctor or the package instructions say. Even then, accidents can happen. So it is a good idea to keep emergency birth control on hand as backup protection.
How do you choose the best method?
The best method of birth control is one that protects you every time you have sex. And with many types of birth control, that depends on how well you use it. To find a method that will work for you every time, some things to think about include:
- How well it works. Think about how important it is to you to avoid pregnancy. Then look at how well each method works. For example, if you plan to have a child soon anyway, you may not need a very reliable method. If you don't want children but feel it is wrong to end a pregnancy, choose a type of birth control that works very well.
- How much effort it takes. For example, birth control pills may not be a good choice if you often forget to take medicine. If you are not sure you will stop and use a barrier method each time you have sex, pick another method.
- When you want to have children. For example, if you want to have children in the next year or two, birth control shots may not be a good choice. They can make it hard to get pregnant for several months after you stop them. If you never want to have children, natural family planning is not a good choice because it often fails.
- How much the method costs. For example, condoms are cheap or free in some clinics. Some insurance companies cover the cost of prescription birth control. But cost can sometimes be misleading. An IUD costs a lot up front. But it works for years, making it low-cost over time.
- Whether it protects you from infection. Latex condoms can help protect you from sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as HIV. But they are not the best way to prevent pregnancy. To avoid both STIs and pregnancy, use condoms along with another type of birth control.
- If you've had a problem with one kind of birth control. Finding the best method of birth control may involve trying something different. Also, you may need to change a method that once worked well for you.
If you are using a method now that you are not happy with, talk to Sweetwater OB GYN's physician about other choices.
A hysterectomy is an operation to remove a woman's uterus. A woman may have a hysterectomy for different reasons, including:
- Uterine fibroids that cause pain, bleeding, or other problems
- Uterine prolapse, which is a sliding of the uterus from its normal position into the vaginal canal
- Cancer of the uterus, cervix, or ovaries
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding
- Chronic pelvic pain
- Adenomyosis, or a thickening of the uterus
- Hysterectomy for noncancerous reasons is usually considered only after all other treatment approaches have been tried without success.
Types of Hysterectomy
Depending on the reason for the hysterectomy, a surgeon may choose to remove all or only part of the uterus. Patients and health care providers sometimes use these terms inexactly, so it is important to clarify if the cervix and/or ovaries are removed:
- In a supracervial or subtotal hysterectomy, a surgeon removes only the upper part of the uterus, keeping the cervix in place.
- A total hysterectomy removes the whole uterus and cervix.
- In a radical hysterectomy, a surgeon removes the whole uterus, tissue on the sides of the uterus, the cervix, and the top part of the vagina. Radical hysterectomy is generally only done when cancer is present.
The ovaries may also be removed -- a procedure called oophorectomy -- or may be left in place.
Surgical Techniques for Hysterectomy
Surgeons use different approaches for hysterectomy, depending on the surgeon’s experience, the reason for the hysterectomy, and a woman's overall health. The hysterectomy technique will partly determine healing time and the kind of scar, if any, that remains after the operation.
There are two approaches to surgery – a traditional or open surgery and surgery using a minimally invasive procedure or MIP.
There are several approaches that can be used for an MIP hysterectomy:
- Vaginal hysterectomy: The surgeon makes a cut in the vagina and removes the uterus through this incision. The incision is closed, leaving no visible scar.
- Laparoscopic hysterectomy: This surgery is done using a laparoscope, which is a tube with a lighted camera, and surgical tools inserted through several small cuts made in the belly or, in the case of a single site laparoscopic procedure, one small cut made in the belly button. The surgeon performs the hysterectomy from outside the body, viewing the operation on a video screen.
- Laparoscopic-assisted vaginal hysterectomy: Using laparoscopic surgical tools, a surgeon removes the uterus through an incision in the vagina.
- Robot-assisted laparoscopic hysterectomy: This procedure is similar to a laparoscopic hysterectomy, but the surgeon controls a sophisticated robotic system of surgical tools from outside the body. Advanced technology allows the surgeon to use natural wrist movements and view the hysterectomy on a three-dimensional screen.
Comparison of MIP Hysterectomy and Abdominal Hysterectomy
Using an MIP approach to remove the uterus offers a number of benefits when compared to the more traditional open surgery used for an abdominal hysterectomy. In general, an MIP allows for faster recovery, shorter hospital stays, less pain and scarring, and a lower chance of infection than does an abdominal hysterectomy.
With an MIP, women are generally able to resume their normal activity within an average of three to four weeks, compared to four to six weeks for an abdominal hysterectomy. And the costs associated with an MIP are considerably lower than the costs associated with open surgery, depending on the instruments used and the time spent in the operating room. Robotic procedures, however, can be much more expensive. There is also less risk of incisional hernias with an MIP.
What to Expect After Hysterectomy
After a hysterectomy, if the ovaries were also removed, a woman will enter menopause. If the ovaries were not removed, a woman may enter menopause at an earlier age than she would have otherwise.
Most women are told to abstain from sex and avoid lifting heavy objects for six weeks after hysterectomy.
After a hysterectomy, the vast majority of women surveyed feel the operation was successful at improving or curing their main problem (for example, pain or heavy periods).
Not every woman is a good candidate for a minimally invasive procedure. The presence of scar tissue from previous surgeries, obesity, and health status can all affect whether or not an MIP is advisable. You should talk with your doctor about whether you might be a candidate for an MIP.
HRT (also known as hormone therapy, menopausal hormone therapy, and estrogen replacement therapy) uses female hormones -- estrogen and progesterone -- to treat common symptoms of menopause and aging. Doctors can prescribe it during or after menopause.
After your period stops, your hormone levels fall, causing uncomfortable symptoms like hot flashes and vaginal dryness, and sometimes conditions like osteoporosis. HRT replaces hormones your body no longer makes. It’s the most effective treatment for menopause symptoms.
Why Does Your Body Need Estrogen?
You might think of pregnancy when you think of estrogen. In women of child-bearing age, it gets the uterus ready to receive a fertilized egg. It has other roles, too -- it controls how your body uses calcium, which strengthens bones, and raises good cholesterol in the blood.
When Should You Take Progesterone?
If you still have your uterus, taking estrogen without progesterone, another pregnancy-related hormone, raises your risk for cancer of the endometrium, the lining of the uterus. Since the cells from the endometrium aren’t leaving your body during your period any more, they may build up in your uterus and lead to cancer. Progesterone lowers that risk by thinning the lining.
Once you know the hormones that make up HRT, think about which type of HRT you should get:
Estrogen Therapy: Doctors generally suggest a low dose of estrogen for women who have had a hysterectomy, the surgery to remove the uterus. Estrogen comes in different forms. The daily pill and patch are the most popular, but the hormone also is available in a vaginal ring, gel, or spray.
Estrogen/Progesterone/Progestin Hormone Therapy: This is often called combination therapy, since it combines doses of estrogen and progestin, the synthetic form of progesterone. It’s meant for women who still have their uterus.
The biggest debate about HRT is whether its risks outweigh its benefits.
What Are the Risks of Taking Hormone Replacement Therapy?
In recent years, several studies showed that women taking HRT have a higher risk of breast cancer, heart disease, stroke, and blood clots. The largest study was the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI), a 15-year study tracking over 161,800 healthy, postmenopausal women. The study found that women who took the combination therapy had an increased risk of heart disease. The overall risks of long-term use outweighed the benefits, the study showed.
But after that, a handful of studies based on WHI research have focused on the type of therapy, the way it’s taken, and when treatment started. Those factors can produce different results. One recent study by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center reveals that antidepressants offer benefits similar to low-dose estrogen without the risks.
With all the conflicting research, it’s easy to see why HRT can be confusing.
Who Shouldn’t Take Hormone Replacement Therapy?
If you have these conditions, you may want to avoid HRT:
- Blood clots
- Cancer (such as breast, uterine, or endometrial)
- Heart or liver disease
- Heart attack
- Known or suspected pregnancy
- What Are the Side Effects of Hormone Replacement Therapy?
HRT comes with side effects. Call your doctor if you have any of these:
- Breast swelling or tenderness
- Mood changes
- Vaginal bleeding
How Do I Know If Hormone Replacement Therapy Is Right for Me?
Your doctor can help you weigh the pros and cons and suggest choices based on your age, your family's medical history, and your personal medical history.
What Is Menopause?
Menopause is a normal condition that all women experience as they age. The term "menopause" can describe any of the changes a woman goes through either just before or after she stops menstruating, marking the end of her reproductive period.
What Causes Menopause?
A woman is born with a finite number of eggs, which are stored in the ovaries. The ovaries also make the hormones estrogen and progesterone, which control menstruation and ovulation. Menopause happens when the ovaries no longer release an egg every month and menstruation stops.
Menopause is considered a normal part of aging when it happens after the age of 40. But some women can go through menopause early, either as a result of surgery, such as hysterectomy, or damage to the ovaries, such as from chemotherapy. Menopause that happens before 40, regardless of the cause, is called premature menopause.
How Does Natural Menopause Happen?
Natural menopause is not brought on by any type of medical or surgical treatment.
The process is gradual and has three stages:
- Perimenopause. This typically begins several years before menopause, when the ovaries gradually make less estrogen. Perimenopause lasts up until menopause, the point when the ovaries stop releasing eggs. In the last 1 to 2 years of perimenopause, the drop in estrogen quickens. At this stage, many women have menopause symptoms.
- Menopause. This is the point when it's been a year since a woman last had her last menstrual period. At this stage, the ovaries have stopped releasing eggs and making most of their estrogen.
Postmenopause. These are the years after menopause. During this stage, menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes ease for most women. But health risks related to the loss of estrogen rise as the woman ages.
- What Conditions Cause Premature Menopause?
Premature menopause can be the result of genetics, autoimmune disorders, or medical procedures. Other conditions that may cause early menopause include:
Premature ovarian failure. Normally, the ovaries make both estrogen and progesterone. Changes in the levels of these two hormones happen when the ovaries, for unknown reasons, prematurely stop releasing eggs. When this happens before the age of 40, it's called premature ovarian failure. Unlike premature menopause, premature ovarian failure is not always permanent.
Induced menopause. "Induced" menopause happens when the ovaries are surgically removed for medical reasons, such as uterine cancer or endometriosis. Induced menopause can also result from damage to the ovaries caused by radiation or chemotherapy.
Most women approaching menopause will have hot flashes, a sudden feeling of warmth that spreads over the upper body, often with blushing and some sweating. The severity of hot flashes varies from mild in most women to severe in others.
Other common symptoms around the time of menopause include:
- Irregular or skipped periods
- Mood swings
- Racing heart
- Joint and muscle aches and pains
- Changes in libido (sex drive)
- Vaginal dryness
- Bladder control problems
How Do I Know When I'm Going Through Menopause?
Either you'll suspect the approach of menopause on your own, or your doctor will, based on symptoms you've told her about. To help figure it out, your doctor can do a certain blood test.
It also helps if you keep track of your periods and chart them as they become irregular. Your menstrual pattern will be an added clue to your doctor about whether you're premenopausal.
What Long-Term Health Problems Are Tied to Menopause?
The loss of estrogen linked with menopause has been tied to a number of health problems that become more common as women age.
After menopause, women are more likely to have:
- Heart disease
- A poorly working bladder and bowel
- Greater risk of Alzheimer's disease
- Poor skin elasticity (increased wrinkling)
- Poor muscle power and tone
- Some weakening in vision, such as from cataracts (clouding of the lens of the eye) and macular degeneration (breakdown of the tiny spot in the center of the retina that is the center of vision)
A number of treatments can help lower risks that are linked with these conditions.
At Sweetwater OB GYN we are dedicated to provide the most comprehensive obstetric care based upon your health background. Our staff and experienced physicians have decades on the field that ultimately benefit each of our patients under any circumstances. We are here to make your pregnancy experience a remarkable each and every time. Call us today or make an appointment at 281-242-1400 and discover our state of the art facility that will make you feel at home surrounded by those you care.
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