• How Frequently Do I Need to Get a Pap Smear?

    It can be a challenge to know how frequently you need to have a Pap smear , but it is an extremely important test when it comes to women’s health. Pap smears can help your doctor find any potential issues before they become serious. The test helps doctors identify any abnormal or precancerous cells, which can be an early sign of cervical cancer, HPV, or other problems.

    The procedure itself is virtually painless, whether you go to a gynecology office in Houston or have it done by your regular physician. The important thing is to have the test done often enough to identify problems quickly, when they can be most easily treated. If you’re not sure what happens during a Pap test, we encourage you to contact Women’s Healthcare Associates at our Houston, TX, office. We’ll be glad to tell you more.

    General Pap test guidelines

    The first question to answer when it comes to Pap testing is what age you should begin having them. As with anything, the best guideline is to consult with your physician, but most women are advised to start testing no later than age 21. You can have them done by your regular doctor, or if you prefer, you can go to a gynecologist.

    Generally, Pap smears don’t have to be done annually. Women aged 21 to 65 can schedule them every three years if they have has normal results from the previous test. If you are 30 years of age or older, you can consider getting them done every five years, but only if they are combined with a test for HPV. Once a woman reaches the age of 65, regular Pap tests can be discontinued if results have been normal.

    An abnormal Pap test may result in a more frequent testing schedule for women of any age. Please consult with your physician or gynecologist’s office to find out how often you should go for testing after an abnormal test.

    Other things can come into play when it comes to how often a woman should be tested. Certain risk factors, such as HIV, organ transplantation, and chemotherapy, may require a change in Pap test frequency. Again, a physician is in the best position to evaluate these individual situations.

    Screening saves lives

    It’s important to know how often you should go for a Pap smear. Regular testing can save lives, as this test finds abnormal cells and precancerous cells easily—and early. It also bears mention that getting an abnormal Pap test result doesn’t mean you have cancer: It simply means some of the cells that were collected are not normal cells. You may need to be retested, or your doctor might want to consult with you in person to go over the results.

    If you need more information about when you should get a Pap smear, please don’t hesitate to contact Women’s Healthcare Associates for additional clarification. We’re always happy to help you figure out when you should schedule your next appointment.

    Call to learn more about Pap smears.

  • How Your Second Pregnancy Could Be Different

    For many women, a second pregnancy can feel almost more overwhelming than the first one. Although there is the benefit of knowing what to expect, that knowledge can also contribute to the stress, as mothers worry about repeating some of the experiences they had with their first pregnancies. Fortunately, your second pregnancy can be a time to harness your knowledge to ensure that you have the most positive experience possible. With the help of your OB/GYN , here are some things you can do to have a different pregnancy the second time around.

    You may gain less weight.

    Many first-time moms are surprised by the amount of weight they gained during pregnancy. During your second pregnancy, you will have a better understanding that being pregnant doesn’t really mean eating for two and how to balance your diet to keep your baby and yourself healthy. You also know how difficult it can be to take weight off after you deliver, so you’ll be motivated to work with your OB/GYN to manage your weight gain.

    You may have an easier delivery.

    For many second-time moms, labor and delivery are shorter and easier, even if you had a difficult first birth. If your first experience is weighing on your mind, talk to your OB/GYN about things you can do to ensure that your labor and delivery go the way you want them to this time. That includes discussing your options for vaginal birth if you have a Cesarean during your first delivery, if that is a priority for you.

    You know when to go to the hospital.

    First-time moms often either go to the hospital too early and get sent home in frustration, or they wait too long and are sweating that they could give birth in the car on the way. During your second pregnancy, you know what contractions and labor feel like, so you’ll get to the hospital at the right time.

    At Women’s Healthcare Associates, our OB/GYNs are committed to helping you have a healthy pregnancy, labor, and delivery, whether this is your first baby or you’re an experienced mom. Make an appointment with an OB/GYN in Houston today by calling (713) 654-8128.

  • Why Is My Doctor Recommending a Fetal Biophysical Profile?

    During your pregnancy, you’ll have multiple exams and medical tests to check on your baby’s health and development. Some expecting mothers will have a fetal biophysical profile. It’s a combined fetal ultrasound and fetal heart rate monitoring test. It allows the obstetrician to evaluate your baby’s amniotic fluid level, muscle tone, breathing, movement, and heart rate. This test is noninvasive, and perfectly safe for you and your baby.

    Indications for Fetal Biophysical Profiles

    Usually, obstetricians recommend this test when there is an increased risk of pregnancy loss . It’s typically performed after 32 weeks. It could be performed earlier, as long as the baby is sufficiently developed to be viable outside the womb if delivery is necessary. The decision to have a fetal biophysical profile is one that you’ll have to make with your doctor’s guidance. In general, it’s recommended when any of the following risk factors are present:

    • History of pregnancy loss

    • History of pregnancy complications

    • Possible fetal growth problems

    • Decreased fetal movements

    • Multiple pregnancy with complications

    • Preterm rupture of the membranes

    • Too much or too little amniotic fluid

    • Rh sensitization

    Results of Biophysical Profiles

    Your obstetrician will explain the results of the test. Each area is given a score of zero or two points. For example, three instances of fetal movement within 30 minutes will receive two points. Anything less than this will be given zero points. The points from all of the evaluated areas are added together for a total score. A score of eight to 10 is ideal. A score of six warrants another fetal biophysical profile within 24 hours. You might also repeat the test once or twice weekly. If a subsequent biophysical has a score of six or lower, your obstetrician might recommend additional testing, or an early or immediate delivery.

    You’ll find complete prenatal care services at Women’s Healthcare Associates , including biophysical profiles. Our highly trained obstetricians in Houston are committed to helping each of our patients have a healthy pregnancy. Call (713) 654-8128 to schedule a consult if you’re planning to become pregnant or think you might be.

  • What Should I Know About My Post-Menopausal Life?

    Your gynecologist will determine that you’re officially in menopause once you’ve gone 12 consecutive months without having a period. At this point, you’ll no longer be able to get pregnant. Since you won’t get another period, you should alert your gynecologist promptly if you experience any vaginal bleeding. You should still schedule a well-woman exam every year, or as recommended by your doctor.

    During your transition to menopause, you might have experienced a range of symptoms caused by the drop in estrogen. These symptoms often calm down for post-menopausal women, but it’s not unusual to experience issues like hot flashes for years after menopause. Additionally, vaginal dryness tends to be more common among post-menopausal women. Talk to your doctor about any symptoms you experience, and become familiar with your health risks as a post-menopausal woman. These may include heart disease, osteoporosis, and stroke.

    Women’s Healthcare Associates is comprised of a team of compassionate specialists who want to help you live life well at every age . Call (713) 654-8128 to request an appointment to learn about hormone replacement therapy available in Houston.

  • Get the Facts About IUD Insertion

    Intrauterine devices (IUDs) have skyrocketed in popularity in the U.S. during recent years. Thousands of women have chosen this method of birth control because it’s long-lasting, effective, and convenient. Before you decide whether an IUD is the right choice for you, talk to your gynecologist. He or she will need to review your health history to make sure an IUD is safe for you. You should also fully understand the potential risks and what to expect.

    Preparation

    Women respond differently to IUD insertion . For some, it’s only mildly uncomfortable. Others experience intense cramping. Since there’s no way to tell how you’ll respond to it until you have it, you should plan to take the full day off work—just in case. Go to the Ob/Gyn clinic prepared with a sanitary napkin, over-the-counter pain reliever, and bottle of juice (some women get a little dizzy). If you tend to have a low pain tolerance, tell your gynecologist beforehand. He or she might prescribe a slightly stronger pain reliever that you can take before your appointment. Wear comfortable clothes.

    Insertion

    The gynecologist may numb the cervix to prevent pain. Otherwise, the appointment will proceed similarly to a pap smear. The doctor will insert a speculum, and then use a special tool to insert the IUD into your uterus. It only takes a few minutes. You’ll likely feel some cramping and discomfort, but it should lessen once the procedure is complete. Drink your juice if you feel faint or dizzy. If you are prone to dizziness, consider having someone else take you home.

    Recovery

    Some women do go about their normal routines afterward, but there’s nothing wrong with taking it easy for the rest of the day. Grab your favorite book and use a heating pad. It’s normal to have a little bleeding, but call your doctor if you’re concerned.

    Contraceptive counseling in Houston is available from the team at Women’s Healthcare Associates. Our doctors routinely perform IUD insertion and removal, and are always happy to answer any questions our patients have about their birth control options. Talk to our friendly office staff today by calling (713) 654-8128.

  • What It’s Like to Live with OAB

    Women with overactive bladder (OAB) suffer from frequent, sudden urges to urinate, and this can lead to the loss of bladder control. OAB can be an embarrassing, socially isolating medical problem that dramatically disrupts normal life. You can hear what it’s really like to live with OAB when you watch this video. It features several women who were diagnosed, as well as a gynecologist who specializes in urinary conditions.

    These women explain how OAB makes life more difficult. They always had to know where the closest bathroom was, and it was challenging to go on vacations. The possibility of urinary incontinence was a constant threat. But by talking with their doctors about their symptoms, these women were able to get the treatment they needed.

    If you suffer from OAB or another form of urinary incontinence and live near Houston, you can find the help you need at Women’s Healthcare Associates. Call our Ob/Gyn clinic at (713) 654-8128.

  • Planning for Pregnancy: What Women with Diabetes Need to Know

    Many women do fine without a preconception appointment, but for some, it’s essential. Talk to an Ob/Gyn if you’re planning to become pregnant, and you think it might be a high-risk pregnancy. Chronic conditions like diabetes are a common reason for high-risk pregnancies. These issues need to be carefully managed before and during pregnancy to ensure the health of mom and baby.

    Diabetes Medications

    Bring a list of all of your medications and their dosages to your preconception appointment. The doctor will also need to know about your over-the-counter medicines and supplements. Any pill has the potential to cause harm to a developing baby, and so your doctor will need to carefully weigh the benefits and the risks of your medications. You may need to switch to a different diabetes drug. If you take medications for other conditions, such as high blood pressure, these might require adjustments too.

    Diabetes Complications

    There is a laundry list of health complications that can be caused or worsened by diabetes. They include:

    • High blood pressure

    • Heart disease

    • Kidney disease

    • Eye problems

    • Nerve damage

    You’ll have a complete physical exam and perhaps some medical tests to assess your health. If you do have any complications of diabetes, you’ll need to get them under control before becoming pregnant.

    Blood Glucose

    Blood sugar control is always important for diabetics, but it’s particularly essential for expecting moms. Your doctor can help you get your blood glucose levels within your target range prior to your pregnancy. Know that your target range may shift when you become pregnant. You’ll need to carefully manage your blood glucose throughout your pregnancy too.

    Lifestyle

    It can be tricky to balance the baby’s nutritional needs with your own. Consider talking to a registered dietician if you’re having trouble following an ideal meal plan. During your pregnancy, you can talk to your Ob/Gyn if you struggle with morning sickness. Follow the doctor’s exercise recommendations, and remember to check your blood glucose before working out.

    High-risk obstetrics is one of our specialties here at Women’s Healthcare Associates. We’re known for our compassionate pregnancy care for women near Houston, and we invite you to join our healthcare family. New and current patients can call (713) 654-8128 to request a well-woman exam or preconception consult.

  • Making Sense of Perimenopause

    Menopause doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a gradual transition that usually begins during a woman’s 40s. This transition is known as perimenopause, and it can be a confusing time in a woman’s life, especially when it begins earlier than age 40. If you’re experiencing abnormalities, you should schedule a well-woman exam and disclose your concerns to your gynecologist. He or she can help you learn what to expect, and evaluate what you can do to stay comfortable during this transition.

    Understanding Perimenopause

    During perimenopause, your levels of estrogen fluctuate unevenly. As a result, your menstrual cycles become abnormal. Some menstrual cycles might not involve ovulation, which is the release of an egg. Perimenopause only ends when you’ve officially entered menopause. Your gynecologist will diagnose you as menopausal once you’ve gone for 12 consecutive months without menstruating . The closer you get to menopause, the lower your estrogen levels will drop.

    Considering Your Age

    Most women begin perimenopause at some point during their 40s, but it can begin earlier. Although the transition is natural, some women may be at a higher risk of experiencing perimenopause at an earlier age. These risk factors include:

    • Tobacco use
    • Family history of early menopause
    • Cancer treatment
    • Hysterectomy

    Identifying the Signs of Perimenopause

    The signs of perimenopause can develop gradually, and it isn’t always easy to tell what’s normal and what’s not. Talk to your gynecologist for guidance. He or she will ask you about the following issues:

    • Period regularity
    • Sleep quality
    • Body temperature regulation
    • Mental health
    • Urinary health
    • Sexual function

    Women experiencing perimenopause often report hot flashes, mood swings and irritability, bladder leakage, and frequent urinary infections. And because of the decline in estrogen, perimenopause accelerates the loss of bone mass, placing women at risk of osteoporosis.

    Promoting Wellness During Perimenopause

    If your symptoms are mild, you might not require any special care at all. However, you may need a bone scan to check for osteoporosis and a blood test to check cholesterol levels. If your symptoms are bothersome, your gynecologist might recommend hormone replacement therapy, vaginal estrogen, or antidepressants.

    Women come to Women’s Healthcare Associates because of our warm, welcoming staff members, commitment to patient education, and exceptional standards of patient care. Let our gynecology specialists guide you through every stage of life. Call (713) 654-8128, and request a visit if you’re experiencing menopause-related problems and live in Houston.

  • Emerging Technology for the Early Detection of Preeclampsia

    Preeclampsia is a serious complication that only happens during pregnancy. It typically starts after 20 weeks gestation, and it’s characterized by abnormally high blood pressure, accompanied by other problems like kidney damage. Preeclampsia can be life-threatening, and it requires immediate obstetric care. Currently, preeclampsia can only be diagnosed late in the pregnancy, but medical researchers think they’ve found a way to detect it as early as six weeks.

    The medical investigators say the test would work much like a standard pregnancy test. The technology detects levels of a protein called copeptin in the pregnant woman’s body. This early detection system isn’t available at Ob/Gyn clinics yet, but it’s promising news for future moms-to-be who may be at risk of preeclampsia. In the meantime, women can protect themselves and their growing babies by working with their obstetricians to manage the risks.

    At Women’s Healthcare Associates, you’ll find compassionate care and state-of-the-art medical services available for your high-risk pregnancy in Houston . You can call our friendly office staff today at (713) 654-8128.

  • Spotlight on FASDs and Their Life-Changing Consequences

    Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) are a group of problems that result from the consumption of alcohol during pregnancy. FASD can be particularly heartbreaking because it’s 100% preventable. Unfortunately, expecting mothers are often given conflicting information by well-intentioned, but poorly informed friends and family members. Instead, rely on your Ob/Gyn to help you have a healthy pregnancy.

    Watch this featured video to learn more about FASDs. This obstetrics expert explains that FASDs can lead to physical, behavioral, and intellectual disabilities that are irreversible. You can protect your child from FASD-induced birth defects by not consuming any amount of alcohol at any time during your pregnancy.

    The obstetrics specialists at Women’s Healthcare Associates are a trusted source of evidence-based medical information for expecting mothers . You can call our Ob/Gyn clinic in Houston at (713) 654-8128 to request an appointment.