• What You Need to Know About Breast Self-Exams

    There always seems to be something in the news about breast self-exams (BSEs). Some people recommend that you check your breasts every month while others believe that BSEs most often lead to high anxiety and a rash of false positives. Regardless of which side you are on, there is no question that getting to know how your breasts look and feel is a good idea. By establishing a baseline, you will have a better chance of noticing when something is off.

    At Women’s Healthcare Associates , we recommend that you get to know the architecture of your breasts, including which spots are lumpier than others, so you can identify when changes occur. To find out more information on BSEs, take a look at this simple guide or contact our excellent women’s healthcare clinic today!

    BSE basics

    A breast self-exam is a step-by-step approach that allows a woman to visually examine and feel her breasts to check for abnormalities. If you notice anything unusual, tell your doctor. In many cases, those changes are not cancer, but only your doctor can make that determination.

    How to perform a BSE

    It’s best to do a BSE after your monthly cycle when your breasts are not undergoing and changes due to hormones.

    The mirror test

    1. Visually examine your breasts in the mirror, looking for changes in size, shape, and position, as well as puckering, dimpling, sores, or discoloration.

    2. Examine your nipples for any sores, peeling, or change in direction. Pull outward on each nipple to check for discharge.

    3. Place your hands on your hips and flex your chest muscles, turning from side to side to view the outer part of the breasts.

    4. Bend forward in the mirror and roll your shoulders and elbows forward, tightening your chest muscles. Look for changes in shape or contour.

    5. Clasp your hands behind your head and turn from side to side.

    The shower test

    1. Using hands slippery with soap, feel for changes in each breast. Make sure to check for lumps or thickening in your underarm areas and armpits.

    2. Check for lumps above and below the collarbone.

    3. Raise one arm behind your head and use the flat part of your fingers to press gently into the breast tissue following an up-and-down pattern and moving from bra line to collarbone. Cover the entire breast, then repeat on the other side.

    The lying down test

    1. Lie down and put one hand behind your head. Starting on the upper right portion of the breast, work clockwise using small circular motions, keeping your fingers together, flat, and in constant contact with your breast tissue. Repeat using smaller concentric circles, working toward the nipple until you have felt the entire breast.

    2. Feel beneath the nipple for changes. Press nipple inward (should move easily).

    3. Repeat on other side.

    Important note: BSEs do not take the place of clinical breast exams or mammograms. If you find a lump, try not to panic (8 out of 10 lumps are benign). Simply schedule an appointment with your doctor and go from there.

  • HPV Immunizations and Why You Should Consider Them for Your Children

    Vaccines are always a hot button topic, especially when you pair vaccines with sexually transmitted infections. It’s hard to imagine your preteen needing protection from a sexually transmitted infection like human papillomavirus. After all, why vaccinate when the virus can be prevented by abstinence? But the truth of the matter is that HPV can be contracted through other means than intercourse. At Women’s Healthcare Associates , our doctors want you to have all of the information you need about the HPV immunization so you can make an informed decision about whether or not to vaccinate your children.

    What is HPV?

    Human papillomavirus is the most common sexually transmitted virus in the U.S. It affects both males and females and there are over 40 different strains, many of which do not cause any symptoms and go away on their own. But some strains of HPV can cause cervical cancer in women, as well as less common types of cancer in both men and women, genital warts, and warts in the upper respiratory tract. HPV is so common that over 50 % of sexually active men and women will be infected at some time in their lives. There is no treatment for HPV infection.

    What does the vaccine protect against?

    The HPV immunization is an inactive vaccine that protects preteens, teens, and young adults from the four major types of HPV, two of which cause about 70% of cervical cancer and two of which cause about 90% of genital warts. The vaccine is usually given at age 11 or 12 and is long-lasting.

    Reasons to consider having your children vaccinated

    HPV can be contracted without having sex

    Unlike some STDs, HPV can be transmitted via genital-to-genital or hand-to-genital contact, whether it be mutual adolescent experimentation or undesired contact. Intercourse is not necessary. In fact, a 2012 study found that 11.65 of females who had never had sexual intercourse were positive for at least one strain of HPV.

    Babies can get HPV from their mothers

    Women who are positive for HPV can pass it on to their children during the birthing process. Babies can also contract the disease from hand-to-genital contact during diaper changes.

    HPV warts can grow almost anywhere

    HPV warts can definitely affect the genitals, but they are not restricted to that area. They can also grow on the hands, feet, throat, airway, and lungs.

    The HPV vaccine does not just protect against cervical cancer

    Though mainly associated with cervical cancer, HPV can actually cause many types of cancer that affect both men and women. Cancers associated with HPV also include penis, vagina, anus, throat, and lung. The HPV vaccine protects against the HPV strains most likely to cause cancer.

    Fortunately, most HPV strains clear up on their own, but they often have no visible signs or symptoms and there is no way to predict who will or won’t clear the virus. Why take a chance with your child’s future?

    If you would like to find out more about the HPV immunization, contact the professional team at Women’s Healthcare Associates today!