When Should I Talk to My Doctor About Infertility?

If you are concerned about your fertility, there is no amount of time you need to wait to have a conversation with your OB/GYN. Your gynecologist can help you plan for a healthy pregnancy, even if you have just decided to try to conceive, and give you valuable information about your fertility at any time.

Although you don’t have to wait to talk about infertility, there are certain guidelines that indicate that now is the time for a conversation with your gynecologist. If you are under 35 and have had regular, unprotected intercourse for one year, talk to your doctor. Women over 35 should see their providers after having regular, unprotected intercourse for six months.

Infertility is faced by millions of couples, but help is available. Make an appointment with a gynecologist in Houston at Women’s Healthcare Associates to discuss your fertility concerns and learn about next steps. Schedule a consultation today by calling (713) 654-8128.

Beyond Pregnancy Prevention: Surprising Medical Benefits of Birth Control

Pregnancy prevention is not the only reason to talk to your gynecologist about taking the birth control pill. Many women use birth control to manage medical conditions that have nothing to do with pregnancy prevention. If you are living with any of the following medical conditions, talk to your gynecologist about whether birth control pills can play a role in your treatment.

Acne

If you have moderate or severe acne that isn’t responding to other treatments, birth control pills could be the missing piece of your care plan. The hormones in birth control pills help to prevent or reduce breakouts. Treating acne with birth control pills isn’t a quick solution—it can take a few months to get results—but many people find that birth control is the key to reducing acne flare-ups.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, is a frustrating condition caused by a hormonal imbalance. Women with PCOS often experience weight gain, acne, excessive hair growth, and irregular periods. Birth control pills can help to rebalance hormone levels, so that menstrual cycles become regular and other symptoms are brought under control. PCOS can also cause fertility issues, so if you decide to start a family, talk to your gynecologist about how you can stop birth control and continue to manage your symptoms.

Premenstrual Syndrome

Premenstrual syndrome, or PMS, can affect some women up to two weeks before their periods, causing breakouts, bloating, and mood swings. Some women also suffer from a more severe type of PMS called PMDD, or premenstrual dysphoric disorder, which causes more intense symptoms. Women who suffer from PMS and PMDD can get a significant amount of relief from birth control pills.

Could birth control pills help you find relief from the symptoms of medical conditions? Schedule an appointment with a gynecologist at Women’s Healthcare Associates to find out. To make an appointment with a gynecologist in Houston, please call (713) 654-8128.

Building a Better Birth Experience

There is no single right way to approach the birth of your baby. By discussing your options for labor and delivery with your OB/GYN, you can ensure you create a birth experience that is appropriate for your unique health needs and your preferences.

Watch this video to hear insight from other women about planning for your birth. There are many strategies you can use to make the birth experience positive, calm, and fulfilling. Educating yourself about your options with the help of your OB/GYN is the first step.

At Women’s Healthcare Associates , our OB/GYNs in Houston are committed guiding every woman through a healthy pregnancy, labor, and delivery. For more information about our services, from obstetrics to well woman exams, please call (713) 654-8128.

Genetic Testing before Pregnancy

Genetic testing before pregnancy is something that has become more popular for a variety of reasons. Whether you are a woman over 35 who is concerned about possible birth defects, or you have a family history of a particular health issue, a genetic test can be an effective way to gather additional information. Genetic tests come in a variety of different forms, and which type you get will depend on what you are looking for.

So what exactly is a genetic test? Pre-pregnancy tests are often referred to as “screening” tests, because they are looking for specific markers that may signify abnormal genes. If the screening tests find any gene issues, doctors can take a closer look at the degree of risk the baby may have of inheriting the condition. The test itself is easy: It’s a simple blood test. We administer them all the time at Women’s Healthcare Associates.

Why get a genetic test?

Should you get a genetic test if you’re thinking about becoming pregnant? This is a question only you can answer, ideally with some input from your OB/GYN. Some women appreciate the peace of mind this type of procedure can offer, while others may simply want to know as much as they can about any risks they may be taking if they decide to have a baby. Screening tests offer women the chance to find out information prior to getting pregnant so an informed choice can be made ahead of time, which is ideal.

Any OB/GYN clinic should be able to perform basic screening tests that look for the most common genetic disorders. Conditions that are often tested for include:

  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Thalassemia
  • Tay-Sachs disease
  • Fragile X syndrome

If a genetic marker for a particular condition is identified, further evaluations can be made as to the percentage of risk based on factors such as the mother’s age, the father’s genetic makeup, and more. Your OB/GYN will talk you through the results if something is of concern.

Additional screenings and coverage

Some forms of genetic testing may be covered by your insurance plan, while others may not. It’s important to find out ahead of time what your coverage is, so that you know what portion of the testing you will be responsible for, if any. Contact your health insurance provider for additional information.

Once you are pregnant, a number of other screening tests may take place during the course of your pregnancy to make sure your baby is healthy. Your physician will let you know when these will occur. If there is concern about genetic disorders once you are pregnant, your doctor may suggest performing an amniocentesis to make a diagnosis. They may also order an ultrasound to take a closer look. If you have any questions about genetic screening tests, feel free to contact Women’s Healthcare Associates to learn more. We’ve administered these tests to countless women at our obstetrics office serving Houston-area families, and we’ll talk you through the details.

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What Is Cervical Conization and Why Do I Need It?

If you have abnormal tissue on your cervix—also called cervical dysplasia—then your gynecologist may recommend cervical conization . During this procedure, a small, cone-shaped tissue sample is removed from the cervix so that it can be examined for signs of cancer. Your gynecologist will use the results of the conization to determine which steps, if any, should be taken to address your abnormal cells. If you are having this procedure done, here is what you need to know.

What happens during cervical conization?

Depending on your needs, you may receive general anesthesia for the procedure, or your gynecologist may recommend that you receive sedatives instead, so that you feel relaxed. After inserting a speculum, your gynecologist will remove the issue sample using an electrical current, a scalpel, or a laser. Cervical conizations performed using an electrical current are referred to as LEEP procedures , while procedures done using a scalpel are referred to as cold knife biopsies.

Why do I need this procedure?

If you have an abnormal Pap smear during a well woman exam, your gynecologist will perform a colposcopy procedure, in which a special camera is used to view the cells on your cervix. If your gynecologist sees the abnormal cells, he or she may remove a small sample. If this sample doesn’t provide enough information about the cause of the cellular changes, your gynecologist will perform conization to obtain a larger tissue sample.

What should I expect after my procedure?

It’s normal to experience cramps for about a week after the procedure. You may also have discharge that may be bloody or yellow in color for two to three weeks, and your gynecologist may suggest that you avoid intercourse, tampons, and douching for four to six weeks as you heal. The results of the test will tell your gynecologist if your cells are normal or if you have cancerous or precancerous changes that may require treatment.

Cervical conization is one of the many procedures we provide at Women’s Healthcare Associates. You can learn more about our gynecologic procedures and schedule an appointment with a provider by calling our OB/GYN clinic in Houston at (713) 654-8128.

What You Need to Know about Geriatric Pregnancy

If you’ve heard the term “geriatric pregnancy” you may have visions of a gray-haired woman with a baby bump, but this term is misleading—and, thankfully, not used too often in this day and age. The term actually refers to pregnant women over the age of 35, and it is now often stated as “advanced maternal age” to set it apart from other types of pregnancy.

Although many women are choosing to become pregnant at a later time in life these days, those over the age of 35 may have some special circumstances to consider, depending on a variety of different factors. An experienced OB/GYN can be very helpful in walking you through all of the details, letting you know of any special areas of concern. If you are in this age range and are thinking about getting pregnant, it can be a good idea to visit an OB/GYN clinic that specializes in this type of care.Women’s Healthcare Associates is a resource you can use in the Houston area if you like.

Having a healthy pregnancy

Many of the same recommendations will apply to you as to your younger counterparts. Here are a few of the most important:

  • Eating healthy
  • Exercising in moderation
  • Monitoring weight gain
  • Getting good prenatal care

Taking care of your health is important when you are pregnant, so many of the recommendations for having a healthy baby will be the same for women of all ages.

Some pregnancy cautions

The majority of women who have babies after the age of 35 have healthy deliveries and healthy babies, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be aware of possible issues that may arise. Again, working with your OB/GYN clinic in Houston, TX, is the smartest way to stay on top of any potential problems, since they will know you and your medical history best. Even so, it helps to know that the following things may be more likely in women over 35 years of age:

  • Difficulty conceiving – it may be harder to get pregnant now than when you were younger
  • Gestational diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Certain birth defects – the risk of Down syndrome and other birth defects is higher in older women
  • Multiple pregnancies (twins, triplets, etc.)
  • Premature birth
  • Pregnancy loss

It is important to note that although your risks for these factors go up with age, simply being older does not mean you will have any of these issues. Just like every woman is different, every pregnancy is different!

Depending on your health history and family health history, there may be some additional risk factors for you if you are over the age of 35 and considering pregnancy. Talk to your physician about what you should be aware of ahead of time.

If you have any questions about pregnancy at an advanced maternal age, feel free to contact our team at Women’s Healthcare Associates. We’d be glad to provide you with more information, or schedule an appointment for you.

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Reasons for Endometrial Biopsies

During an endometrial biopsy, your gynecologist will remove a small sample of tissue from the lining of your uterus, called the endometrium. There are several reasons your gynecologist may recommend an endometrial biopsy, which is a short procedure that can usually be performed in your OB/GYN clinic in about 10 minutes.

Endometrial biopsies are performed in order to diagnose diseases of the endometrium. Your gynecologist may perform a biopsy to find out what is causing bleeding after menopause or persistent breakthrough bleeding, to screen for endometrial cancer, or to see how hormonal therapy is impacting your endometrial tissue. A biopsy can also be used to evaluate your fertility if you are trying to become pregnant. No anesthesia is necessary for the procedure, but your gynecologist may recommend that you take an over-the-counter pain medication or a sedative before your biopsy for your comfort.

Endometrial biopsy is one of the diagnostic services we offer at Women’s Healthcare Associates in Houston. Call us today at (713) 654-8128 to make an appointment with a gynecologist.

Breastfeeding Challenges and Solutions

does come with some challenges. Your OB/GYN can provide advice and resources to make breastfeeding easier for you as you adjust to motherhood.

Watch this video to learn about some of the common challenges mothers face when breastfeeding. Not understanding how to manage a poor or painful latch, not knowing when to pump, and dealing with questions from family and friends can all be problematic, but help is available at your OB/GYN clinic.

At Women’s Healthcare Associates , our OB/GYN providers in Houston are here to guide you through every step of your pregnancy, from conception to breastfeeding, as well as all of your women’s health need. Schedule an appointment today by calling (713) 654-8128.

I’m in Perimenopause. What Are My Birth Control Options?

Being in perimenopause does not mean that you cannot get pregnant. At this stage of your life, it is still necessary to use birth control if you do not wish to have any children. The best way to choose a birth control that is right for you is to make an appointment with a gynecologist for contraceptive counseling. Generally, most forms of hormonal birth control that were appropriate before perimenopause will still work for you, but these each have their pros and cons. Here is a look at some of your options.

Combination Contraceptives

Combination birth control pills , vaginal rings, and skin patches include both estrogen and progestin to prevent pregnancy. These birth controls can be extremely effective, but they are not appropriate for everyone. Some women should not use contraceptives that contain estrogen because of the risk of blood clots. Combination estrogen and progestin birth control pills and rings contain less estrogen than patches, so they carry a lower risk of blood clots. Your gynecologist will weigh the risk factors before deciding if this kind of contraceptive is right for you.

Progestin Contraceptives

Progestin contraceptives do not contain estrogen, so they are often safer for women who are prone to blood clots. These kinds of contraceptives are available as an IUD, implant, and pill. They also have the added benefit of reducing the risk of endometrium cancer. This kind of birth control, particularly the progestin pill, may be slightly less effective than combination birth control, but it is still considered to be a reliable option.

Sterilization Procedures

If you are certain that you do not wish to have any more children, you may wish to consider a tubal ligation or request that your partner undergoes a vasectomy. These procedures alleviate the need for ongoing birth control.

During contraceptive counseling, your gynecologist at Women’s Healthcare Associates will review all of your options and help you select a birth control that is right for your health and future family planning goals. To make an appointment to discuss birth control in Houston, call (713) 654-8128.

What Women Should Know About Ovarian Cancer

It’s a common misconception that gynecologists can screen patients for ovarian cancer with pap tests and pelvic exams. Actually, pap tests can only check for precancerous conditions of the cervix—not the ovaries. That’s one reason why about eight out of every 10 women who develop ovarian cancer are diagnosed when the cancer has already spread beyond the ovaries.

As you’ll learn when you watch this featured video, detecting ovarian cancer as early as possible is crucial for a favorable outcome. Talk to your gynecologist about whether you might be at a higher risk for this cancer, and if so, whether you might be a good candidate for ovarian cancer screening tests. These include transvaginal ultrasound and a blood test that checks for the serum marker CA-125.

Compassionate gynecology services in Houston are available at Women’s Healthcare Associates. Call (713) 654-8128 to request a health screening, such as a pap smear or breast exam.