• Ultrasound Schedules for Expecting Moms

    Pregnancy is a special time in a woman’s life—once you conquer morning sickness, that is. Expect frequent trips to the Ob/Gyn clinic for prenatal checkups, health screenings, and patient education, like nutritional guidance. You’ll also have routine ultrasound exams. Ultrasound technology uses sound waves, which are completely safe for your baby and you. Ultrasound exams don’t hurt, and there are no needles required, although the gel that’s placed on your abdomen may feel a little cold.

    First Trimester Ultrasound

    Most expecting moms have their first ultrasound at six to eight weeks. Your obstetrician may ask you to arrive at your appointment with a full bladder. This is done to get a clearer image, as sound waves travel more effectively through liquid. Additionally, your first ultrasound might be a transvaginal exam. This requires inserting a very small, thin device into your vagina. It won’t hurt at all, though it may feel a little uncomfortable. Obstetricians conduct transvaginal ultrasounds in order to get a better image at this stage, when your baby is still very tiny.

    Second Trimester Ultrasound

    Usually, your second ultrasound will be scheduled between weeks 18 and 20. (If you have a high-risk pregnancy, your doctor may ask you to return for more frequent ultrasounds.) This exam allows your doctor to thoroughly assess your baby’s development . During this appointment, it’s usually possible to identify the baby’s sex. If you want to be surprised when your little one arrives, let the doctor know this ahead of time.

    Third Trimester Ultrasound

    Third trimester ultrasounds aren’t always necessary, but you can expect to have one if you have a high-risk pregnancy. A third trimester ultrasound may be recommended for moms who go past their due dates. Other reasons for additional exams include fetal growth and placental health concerns.

    Women’s Healthcare Associates is a specialized Ob/Gyn clinic in Houston that offers high-quality ultrasound imaging. We’re on a mission to provide the personalized, compassionate care that women deserve, which means we’ll customize your ultrasound schedule according to your baby’s needs. Give us a call today at (713) 654-8128.

  • A Step-by-Step Guide to Breast Self-Exams

    Many gynecology experts recommend that all women perform breast self-exams once per month. If you aren’t yet in an age range in which mammography is recommended, your breast self-exams and your gynecologist’s professional breast exams may facilitate the early detection of potential problems. However, even after you start having mammograms, you should continue to do self-exams. It’s important to note that many women who are diagnosed with breast cancer do not feel a lump. Regular self-exams let you become familiar with how your breasts generally look and feel, which can also support early detection.

    In the Shower

    A thorough exam involves checking yourself in the shower, in front of a mirror, and while lying down. Use a circular pattern to move the pads of your fingers around the entire area of each breast. Move from the outside to the inside, and also check your underarm area. Feel for any lumps, knots, or thickened areas.

    In Front of the Mirror

    Stand in front of a large mirror with your hands on your hips and your shoulders straight. Visually inspect your breasts and underarm areas for the following:

    • Nipple inversion
    • Nipple discharge (blood, or fluid that is yellowish, milky, or watery)
    • Swelling
    • Redness
    • Rash
    • Dimpling or “orange peel” appearance of the skin
    • Asymmetry
    • Changes in shape or size

    After you’ve examined yourself with your hands on your hips, raise your arms above your head. Check yourself for the same changes in appearance.

    While Lying on Your Bed

    Lie down with your upper body unclothed. Put your right arm above your head, resting it on the bed. Use your left hand to examine your right breast. Then, put your left arm over your head, and use your right hand to examine your left breast. Remember to use small, circular motions. Some women prefer to check up and down their breasts, in vertical rows, while others prefer to feel around the perimeter of each breast, and move inward.

    A gynecologist at Women’s Healthcare Associates will be happy to help you learn the steps of breast self-exams during your well-woman exam. Give us a call today at (713) 654-8128. Our Ob/Gyn clinic in Houston has a convenient location downtown, on the St. Joseph Parkway.

  • Talking to Your Doctor About Chronic Pelvic Pain

    Pain that lasts six months or longer, and is located between your hips and beneath your belly is called chronic pelvic pain. This discomfort may be caused by a treatable, underlying medical condition, or it may be idiopathic—without a known cause. Regardless, you shouldn’t wait too long to consult your gynecologist. Take a few minutes to prepare for a productive conversation at the Ob/Gyn clinic.

    Write down a few notes about your family medical history and personal medical history. Your doctor will likely ask about any prior issues related to digestive, urinary, and reproductive health, such as uterine fibroids, interstitial cystitis, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Additionally, expect the gynecologist to ask about specific times when you experience pain, such as during sex or after sitting for a long time. Be prepared to describe your pain, including whether it feels dull, severe, or like cramping.

    At Women’s Healthcare Associates, you’ll find a welcoming setting and warm healthcare providers who will work closely with you to help you achieve optimum wellness. Call (713) 654-8128 if you’ve been suffering from chronic pelvic pain and live near Houston.

  • 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!

  • Your PAP Came Back Abnormal. Here’s What You Need to Know!

    As a general rule, not hearing from your doctor after a medical test is usually a good sign. No news is good news, right? So, it’s definitely nerve wracking when your OB-GYN’s office calls to tell you that your PAP smear was abnormal.

    Now, there’s no need to start writing a will and preparing for the worst just yet. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 3 million women will receive unclear or abnormal PAP results this year, but only 10,000 of those cases will actually indicate cervical cancer. So before panic sets in, here are some things you should know about abnormal PAP smears and what you need to do next.

    “Abnormal” simply means change

    When a PAP smear comes back abnormal, it simply means that cell changes were found on your cervix. However, those changes do not necessarily point to cancer. The cells are “abnormal” because they are not dying at the end of their usual life span or are dividing unusually.

    Potential causes of abnormal cervical cells

    Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

    Most abnormal PAP results are caused by the sexually transmitted infection (STI) known as HPV. This infection is so common that almost every sexually active human will get at least one strain of it. In most cases, your body will clear an HPV infection on its own within 2 years. The strains to watch out for are 16 and 18. It generally takes 10-15 years for your cells to go from abnormal to cancerous because of HPV.

    Other sexually transmitted infections

    Some STIs like chlamydia and gonorrhea can cause inflammation in your cervical cells, which makes them look abnormal. Fortunately, these STIs are treatable with antibiotics, and you can protect yourself from contracting them in the first place by wearing condoms during sex.

    Vaginal inflammation

    When the delicate pH balance of the vagina is out of whack, you can develop yeast infections or bacterial vaginosis. These vaginal inflammations weaken your natural defenses and allow bacteria to grow in much higher amounts. Over-the-counter creams, home remedies, or anti-biotics will get you back on track.

    Pregnancy, menopause, or smoking can also have an effect on cervical cells.

    What now?

    Your doctor will most likely recommend that you come back for a follow-up appointment to determine the cause of the cell changes. During your appointment, the gynecologist will perform a colposcopy by taking a closer look at your vagina through a specialized magnifying glass. They may also take a biopsy and send the sample off to a lab.

    How to get rid of precancerous cells

    If your abnormal cells turn out to be precancerous, there are several things your doctor can do to get rid of them once and for all.

    • Laser ablation – burn the cells with a laser

    • Cryotherapy – freeze the cells with a cold probe

    • Diathermy – uses electric current to snip away abnormal cervical tissue

    • Large loop excision of the transformation zone (LLETZ) – similar to diathermy

    • Cone biopsy – surgically remove a cone-shaped area of your cervix

    • Hysterectomy – remove your uterus entirely

    Whether you are due for a PAP smear or you want to find out more information about what your abnormal Pap smear results mean for our future, contact the caring and compassionate doctors at Women’s Healthcare Associates today!

  • If You Struggle with Fertility, Here are Your Options

    You have dreamed about becoming a mom for as long as you can remember, and now that you are all ready to go, things are just not happening the way you expected. Why is it so easy for everyone else around you? All you want to do is start a family naturally, and yet the long months have passed without success.

    If you are struggling with fertility, you are definitely not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 12% of women have difficulty getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term. Fortunately, more than half of couples experiencing fertility issues will conceive after treatment, so do not give up hope! Here are some of the most common things you can do or options you can try to help increase your chances of conception.

    Give your fertility a boost

    Optimizing your health and trying a few low-tech methods for boosting your fertility is a great place to start. Here are some ideas:

    • Eat healthy

    • Stop smoking

    • Maintain a healthy weight

    • Limit alcohol use

    • Reduce stress levels

    • Get acupuncture

    • Be intimate with your partner 3 to 4 days prior to ovulation and up to 24 hours after ovulation

    • Use an ovulation predictor kit

    Fertility drugs

    Whether injected or taken in pill form, fertility drugs release hormones that induce ovulation to boost egg production and make the uterus more receptive to embryo implantation. This is a convenient, low-cost option for women who don’t ovulate regularly or whose partners have low sperm quality. Fertility drugs have a success rate of 40%-45% of women who ovulate as a result of taking pills and as much as 50% of women who ovulate as a result of injections.

    Surgery

    If you have a genetic defect, blocked fallopian tubes, fibroids, endometriosis, or PCOS, surgery may be a great option. Success rates vary. For example, women with endometriosis have a 40% chance of conceiving after laparoscopic surgery while 21%-59% of women conceive after their fallopian tubes are opened. Costs also vary depending on the procedure and your insurance coverage.

    Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)

    Using a thin, flexible catheter, the doctor directly inserts specially prepared sperm into the uterus. Fertility drugs may be used prior to insemination to help increase the chances of fertilization. The chances of conception occurring on the first cycle are 15%-20%, but there is a 60%-70% chance of conception after 6 cycles.

    In vitro fertilization

    After removing eggs from your ovaries, a doctor will combine them with sperm from your partner in a laboratory. If fertilization is successful, the resulting embryos will then be implanted in your uterus. Fertility drugs are usually taken ahead of time to increase the chances of implantation. IVF can be expensive, but the success rate for women 34 and under is 40%.

    If you are interested in finding out more information about your fertility options, please contact the excellent team at Women’s Healthcare Associates . We have been helping couples conceive for over 25 years, and we are excited to help you on your journey towards parenthood.

  • How to Indicate Abnormal Vaginal Bleeding

    For many women, their monthly cycles come at regular intervals and remain relatively predictable. Fluctuations sometimes happen, but overall, these women only have to deal with vaginal bleeding during their time of the month.

    Unfortunately, there are many other ladies out there who cannot say the same thing. Some chalk up monthly spotting or overly light/heavy periods to simple deviations in their menstrual cycle, but they may actually be experiencing abnormal vaginal bleeding. This type of bleeding is unrelated to normal menstruation and can range from noticing small amounts of blood between periods to having extremely heavy periods that soak a pad or tampon every one to two hours for two or more hours.

    How to tell if you are simply experiencing a heavy cycle or suffering from abnormal vaginal bleeding is not always easy. That’s why the compassionate team at Women’s Healthcare Associates has compiled this simple guide that covers the most common reasons behind abnormal vaginal bleeding.

    Pregnancy

    Spotting to minimal bleeding during pregnancy is normal, but you should definitely consult with your doctor. Heavy vaginal bleeding that occurs before 12 weeks could indicate an ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage. Heavy bleeding after 12 weeks could be a sign of placenta previa or another serious problem.

    Mid-cycle spotting

    Spotting a week before or after your period may or may not be a cause for concern. On rare occasions, it may indicate a cervix abnormality like fibroids, HPV, or even cancer. However, there are several other potential causes that are less serious.

    • About 33% of women experience light, spotty bleeding when an egg fertilizes in the uterine lining.

    • Hormone imbalances caused by thyroid disorders, cysts, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), and endometriosis can also lead to mid-cycle bleeding.

    • Other causes may include stress, rough sex, or lack of lubrication during sex.

    Birth control pills

    If you have just recently started using birth control pills, you may experience minor bleeding between periods for the first few months. You may also have minor bleeding if you do not take your pills at a regular time each day.

    Pelvic infection

    Vaginal bleeding after intercourse or douching may be the result of a pelvic infection. These infections are often caused by sexually transmitted infections (STIs), so talk to your doctor about getting tested if there is a chance you may have been exposed.

    Other causes of abnormal vaginal bleeding

    • Sexual abuse

    • An object in the vagina

    • Structural problems (polyps or urethral prolapse)

    • Uterine fibroids

    • Cancer, hyperthyroidism, or diabetes

    • Extreme emotional stress

    • Excessive exercise

    When to call the doctor:

    • Sudden, severe pain in your belly or pelvis

    • Severe vaginal bleeding (soaking through your normal pads or tampons every hour for 2 or more hours)

    • Dizziness or lightheadedness

    • Fever

    • Bleeding gets worse or lasts longer than 1 week

    If you are at all concerned about abnormal vaginal bleeding, then please set up an appointment with Women’s Healthcare Associates at your earliest convenience.

  • Why Your Pap Smear Is Abnormal [INFOGRAPHIC]

    Women should get yearly Pap smears starting at 21 years old or within three years of becoming sexually active. A Pap smear is a screening that can find abnormal cells or dysplasia in the cervix. Having regular Pap smears can increase the chances of early detection. If your Pap smear comes back abnormal, it’s natural to worry, but educating yourself with this #Infographic can help give you peace of mind.

  • Our Commitment to Healthcare Excellence for Women in Houston

    Women’s Healthcare Associates has been committed to providing healthcare excellence for more than 25 years. We are an Ob/Gyn clinic with a longstanding policy of hiring only exceptional doctors and nurses in their field. Our highly trained Ob/Gyn providers genuinely care about the well-being of the women we serve, and their dedication is reflected in our personalized, compassionate approach.

    When you visit one of our two locations in Houston, you’ll be greeted by warm, courteous staff. Our bilingual staff members make our clinics welcoming and inclusive places to receive care. Here, you can receive a full continuum of Ob/Gyn services, including preventive care, contraceptive counseling, and menopause care. We routinely work with women with high-risk pregnancies, adolescents arriving for their first gynecology exam, and women who need to undergo minimally invasive surgeries. We also perform in-office procedures like Essure and IUD placements.

    It’s our mission to help you optimize your health with compassionate medical interventions and preventive, well-woman exams in Houston. Call Women’s Healthcare Associates at (713) 654-8128, and let us help you work toward your health goals.