468252643The intrauterine device (IUD) is one of the most effective forms of birth control on the market, but only nine percent of women of childbearing age in the U.S. use it. Changing that rate, however, is the aim of many medical groups and professionals. Why? It comes down to three good reasons:

  1. It’s effective. IUDs offer a failure rate of one in 100 per year, meaning that only one women out of 100 will become pregnant while wearing an IUD over the course a year. The failure rate for birth control pills in nine in 100; condoms offer about a 12 in 100 failure rate.
  2. It’s safe. Studies by organizations such as the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) have shown that IUDs are safe. Complications and infections are rare and discomfort is minimal. The AAP even recently recommended IUDs as the best form of birth control for teen girls. The IUD’s safety and efficacy were touted as reasons for that recommendation.
  3. It’s hassle-free. A physician inserts an IUD into a woman’s uterus, where it stays for 3-12 years. Progestin or copper, depending on the type of IUD, is emitted from the device to kill sperm.

Despite these facts, women are still are not using IUDs for two reasons: 1) They are unaware of it and its efficacy; and 2) Misconceptions abound. The most popular form of IUD from the 70s and 80s are associated with miscarriages, infections and other adverse side effects and eventually pulled from the market. Today’s options for IUDs are safe and effective.

If you’re interested in learning more about IUDs and how it fits into your family plan, give us a call. We’re happy to discuss the IUD in more detail to determine if it’s right for you.

 

Interested in women’s sexual health? Contact us for an appointment.

coupleHypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) affects 1 in 10 American women. HSDD is a biological lack of desire to have sex, and it is the most common sexual complaint among women. While men have the option of Viagra and research for a treatment for women has been going on for over thirty years, there is still no FDA-approved treatment for women living with HSDD. Yet, there are over 26 FDA-approved medications for men with sexual dysfunction. This is unacceptable and it’s time for a change. Now.

The FDA is holding a public meeting on October 27 on Female Sexual Dysfunction and we need your voice to be heard. You can be a women suffering from HSDD, a loved one, a health care provider or an advocate. Every voice matters and will make the difference in giving women equality when it comes to sex, but myself and other professionals can only do so much. It’s the patients that truly matter.

Now the question, how can you make your voice heard? There are many ways to make your impact! You can attend the meeting that will be taking place at the FDA White Oak campus on Monday, October 27 from noon-5 p.m. This meeting is for patients to share their perspective on the symptoms of female sexual dysfunction and the current approached to treatment. Five hours dedicated to hearing your voice, not academia, not professionals – only you. There will also be a scientific workshop the following day on Tuesday, October 28th from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

Can’t make it to the meeting or workshop? No worries. Your voice can still be loud and clear even with the absence of your presence.

  • You can sign a petition to the FDA Commissioner, Margaret Hamburg, for equal treatment for women when it comes to sex.
  • Get your cameras ready and take a #WomenDeserve selfie and share it on social media.
  • Join #WomenDeserve’s Thunderclap: click on “Support with Facebook/Twitter/Tumblr” and a post or tweet will go out from your handle on October 27 at noon with every other #WomenDeserve Thunderclap supporter
  • Stay up-to-date with #WomenDeserve by following them on Facebook and Twitter

For more information, please visit womendeserve.org. The time is now. Make a difference because #WomenDeserve.

 

Interested in women’s sexual health? Contact us for an appointment.

176999332Are you reluctant to discuss sexual health issues with your doctor? If you answered “yes” to this question, you’re not alone. All too often, women avoid bringing up sexual health difficulties due to embarrassment, fear of being judged, or even worse, they’re scared their concerns will be dismissed. But truth be told, your doctor is the one person with whom you should never be apprehensive when discussing stuff that is going on “down there.” No matter how terrible, gross or silly you think your question is, let me assure you I’ve heard it before, and as a matter of fact, more times than you would probably imagine. And that’s okay because answering these questions is an important part of my job.

Don’t wait for the conversation to start…it may never happen

Even in today’s sexually charged world, many doctors worry that raising the topic of sexual health could offend or embarrass patients. As a result, sexual health is only discussed when there is a problem. And many times this problem has gone unaddressed for a long period of time and has caused much angst.

Take a deep breath and talk to your doctor

Sooner than later. More often than not, sexual health problems can be effectively treated. Delaying the conversation can damage your overall health and self esteem as well as put significant strain on a relationship. My advice on making this easier is to not worry about using the proper medical terminology, just tell the doctor what’s going on in your own words. Also, if you’re afraid you’ll get flustered and forget something, write it down. Finally, don’t wait until you’re ready to walk out the door to bring up your sexual health issue. This is an important topic that deserves your doctor’s full attention.

 

Interested in women’s sexual health? Contact us for an appointment.

200274623-001Next month, the media will be buzzing with news and information about breast cancer. But did you know each year in the United States approximately 71,500 women are diagnosed with gynecological cancers and 26,500 women die from it? This month is gynecological cancer awareness month and, though often overshadowed by fears of breast cancer, it’s important to know the symptoms of gynecological cancers because when caught early, treatment is more likely to be successful. With some focusing on less frequent pap smears (according to new guidelines), every women should have a gynecological exam each year. It can be done along with a routine physical or if there are new and unexpected problems.

While gynecological cancers are often discussed as a group, each has its own set of symptoms. Here’s a brief overview of each:

CERVICAL CANCER

Cervical cancer is the only gynecologic cancer that can be prevented by having human papilloma virus (HPV) immunization as a young women, markedly reducing the risk, screening tests (like pap smears or HPV testing) routinely and following up, as necessary particularly if any abnormality is found. It’s also highly curable when found and treated early.

Symptoms:

  • Bleeding after intercourse
  • Excessive discharge and abnormal bleeding between periods
  • NOTE: Most women will have no symptoms making vaccination and a regular Pap test plus HPV test, when recommended, key to preventing cervical cancer.

OVARIAN CANCER

All women are at risk for ovarian cancer, but older women are more likely to get the disease than younger women. About 90 percent of women who get ovarian cancer are older than 40. The greatest number of ovarian cancers occurs in women age 60 and older.

Symptoms:

  • Abdominal bloating
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain
  • Difficulty eating or feeling full very quickly
  • Urinary symptoms – like urgency or frequency without any signs of infection
  • NOTE: Women who have these symptoms almost daily for more than a few weeks should see their doctor, preferably a gynecologist. Prompt medical evaluation may lead to early detection.

UTERINE CANCER

There are two main types of uterine cancer:

Endometrial cancer: The most common type of uterine cancer. Endometrial cancer forms in the lining of the uterus, which is called the endometrium. It is much more common in women who are overweight or obese. Diabetes may be a risk as well.

Uterine sarcoma: A rare type of uterine cancer that forms in the muscle or other tissue of the uterus.

When uterine sarcoma is found early, treatment is most effective.

Symptoms:

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge; younger women should note irregular or heavy vaginal bleeding when bleeding or menstrual periods had been normal in the past
  • Bleeding after menopause. Even brown spotting or a single spot of blood from the vagina is abnormal after menopause and should lead to a prompt gynecologic evaluation.

VAGINAL CANCER

While vaginal cancer is very rare, all women are at risk. Each year, approximately 1,000 women in the United States get vaginal cancer.

Symptoms:

  • Bleeding
  • Pain in your pelvis or abdomen
  • Problems with urination or bowel movements

VULVAR CANCER

Vulvar cancer is also rare, but all women are at risk. Each year, approximately 3,500 women in the  United States get vulvar cancer.

Symptoms:

  • Itching
  • Burning
  • Bleeding
  • Pain in your pelvis when you urinate or have sex
  • Sores, lumps or ulcers on the vulva that don’t go away

 

Interested in women’s sexual health? Contact us for an appointment.

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Vulvovaginal atrophy (VVA) is a common medical condition in which the vaginal walls thin and become dry due to decreasing estrogen levels usually associated with menopause. One of the chief complaints associated with this condition is painful intercourse. But despite the fact that VVA affects 45 percent of postmenopausal women, many women do not know that several very effective treatments are widely available. These include a daily pill and localized estrogen therapy. All such treatments are highly effective with few risks.

Vaginal discomfort affects women and their partners
A survey called CLOSER which stands for “Clarifying Vaginal Atrophy’s Impact on Sex and Relationships” examined the impact vaginal discomfort had on intimacy, relationships and women’s self esteem.  The survey—which included 1,000 postmenopausal women and their male partners—reported that vaginal discomfort was the main cause of intimacy avoidance, loss of libido and painful intercourse. And in some cases, vaginal discomfort caused couples to stop having sex altogether.

Estrogen therapy provides effective relief
After estrogen treatment, the majority of women surveyed reported sex was less painful. Specifically, more than 40 percent of women and men said sex was more satisfying. Additionally, 29 percent of the women and 34 percent of men said their sex life improved. Estrogen treatment also had a positive impact on the women’s self esteem. Finally, about a third felt more optimistic about the future of their sex life, and a similar number felt more connected to their partners.

Don’t suffer in silence…talk to your doctor
Many women have a difficult time talking to their doctor because they’re too embarrassed. Others have unsuccessfully tried lubricants and moisturizers—which only provide temporary relief and don’t treat the underlying problem—and feel there are no treatment options available. Even doctors find it difficult to talk to their patients about it. But the truth is VVA is a simple condition to treat. So, please talk to your doctor to see if one of the available therapies is right for you.

Stay tuned! Vulvovaginal atrophy (VVA) is changing its name to Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause (GSM) (GSM actually says what the symptoms are.)

 

Interested in women’s sexual health? Contact us for an appointment.

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New hormone offers promising results for couples trying to conceive
British researchers reported that a naturally occurring hormone called kisspeptin could be used to stimulate egg maturation in women requiring in vitro fertilization (IVF). The modified IVF treatment on trial, which is hoped to be safer than standard IVF, has led to 12 healthy babies being born from 53 women undergoing a single IVF treatment.

 More testing needed
With a record number of women turning to the IVF to improve their chance of conceiving, a safer alternative would definitely help thousands of women. But it’s important to bear in mind that this is just one small study.  While the initial kisspeptin results are encouraging, larger clinical trials will eventually tell us whether success rates with this drug match those with drugs currently in use.

In standard IVF procedures, women are given fertility drugs such as human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) to trigger egg maturation and release from the ovaries. But hCG can sometimes cause ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), which leads to swollen, painful ovaries plus weight gain, shortness of breath, stomach pains, and in small proportion of women (about one to two percent)  a more severe form of OHSS develops that can require hospitalization from cardiovascular complications. About one-fourth of women undergoing IVF procedures get a mild form of OHSS which goes away after a week or so. A. Researchers suspect kisspeptin, which more naturally stimulates the release of reproductive hormones leading to egg maturation, and stays in a woman’s bloodstream for less time than hCG, has the potential to reduce the risk of a woman developing OHSS.

More and more couples turning to IVF
The latest annual report from the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology said that doctors at IVF clinics performed 165,172 procedures, including IVF, with 61,740 babies born as a result of those efforts in 2012. That’s 2,000 more than the previous year. This, despite the fact that the birthrate in the U.S. has been steadily declining since 2007.

 

Interested in women’s sexual health? Contact us for an appointment.

A new study, published last month in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, indicates that couples with high cholesterol levels may have more trouble conceiving than couples with normal levels of cholesterol. The study, conducted by researchers at National Institutes of Health (NIH), the University of Buffalo and Emory University, followed over 500 couples for one year from 2005-2009. It found:

  • dv1356094Couples where both partners had high cholesterol levels had the most trouble conceiving. It took them the longest amount of time to become pregnant;
  • Couples where just the woman had high cholesterol levels took longer to conceive than couples with normal cholesterol levels;
  • Couples where the man had high cholesterol levels did not experience significant delays with conception compared to couples with normal levels of cholesterol.

The couples studied where not receiving fertility treatments at the time.

What’s the link?

We’ve known for some time that cholesterol is necessary to producing estrogen and testosterone, two hormones that play a large role in conception. This study clearly underscores that relationship. When there’s too much cholesterol in our bodies, it interferes with the regulation of estrogen and testosterone, and causes more trouble, and delays, with conceiving.

Eat well, exercise more

To me, this study is more than just the link between cholesterol and infertility. It demonstrates the impact unhealthy habits can have on our overall health. If you and your partner are thinking about starting a family, now is as good of a time as any to start eating better and exercising more. It may help you get pregnant a little sooner; and we know it will help you stay healthy for years to come as you carry, deliver and raise your children.

 

Interested in women’s sexual health? Contact us for an appointment.

92037024As taboo, stigma-filled or embarrassing as it may seem, talking with your doctor about sex is an important part of your health. It’s normal to have these feelings of embarrassment or to be hesitant, but you’re not alone!  Sexual health issues aren’t as uncommon as you think. In fact, forty-three percent of women struggle with a significant sexual problem.

The women I see have various questions and concerns about their sex lives. While it may vary, I routinely see questions and concerns on sex drive, arousal problems, delayed or absent orgasm and pain during intercourse. These are not the only common ones as well. That question you might think is mortifying is most likely one I hear every day.

Even with these encouragements and justifications, women still feel uncomfortable or nervous talking about their sex life and that’s okay! If you’re still having these feelings, follow these tips to help make our discussion easier and more productive during your next visit.

Write down questions and concerns ahead of time

Preparation for your visit is essential. In order to make sure you get all of your concerns heard and your questions answered, write down all questions, symptoms and as many details as you can. These details can be anything from how you’re feeling, whether your period is regular or not, any medications your taking, and what is happening in your life if experiencing problems in the bedroom. The more prepared you are, the more comfortable and confident you will be.

You’re not alone

Like I stated above, sexual issues are common! Almost all couples experience a sexual issue at one point or another in their relationship. Women all over the world experience the same sexual problems and have the same questions and concerns that you have.

Start simply

When you’re ready to start discussing with your doctor, take a deep breath and start simple. Something like, “I have a few concerns about my sex life” can get the ball rolling right away and open up doors to more specific questions or topics. Once you start talking, it will be a relief to get everything off your chest!

I know it’s hard to talk to anyone about sex, but these three tips can make it a little easier to get the conversation started. Once we start the conversation, we can figure out what’s happening together, and come up with the right treatment plan for you.

Remember, when sex is good, it adds 15-20 percent additional value to a relationship. But, when sex is bad or non-existent, it plays an inordinately powerful role draining the relationship of all positive value, about 50-70 percent!

 

Interested in women’s sexual health? Contact us for an appointment.

125753628Once people find out you’re getting ready to hop on the baby train, you’ll get a never-ending stream of advice – whether you asked for it or not. I work with numerous women struggling with infertility and hear all of the advice they’re given daily. I’m here to set the story straight to help you make the right choices with facts and myths about fertility.

Stress can affect fertility

TRUE: Studies have shown that the less stressed a woman is, the more successful she is with IVF. While this is not the case in all situations, it is important to remember the affects stress has on our bodies. I know relaxing is easier said than done when trying to conceive. I always remind my patients to treat themselves and make time for the things they enjoy.

Age Matters

TRUE: Age is one of the top indicators of fertility. The older you are, the more likely you are to have fertility issues. Studies have shown that women are more likely to need help when trying to conceive after 35. But that doesn’t at all mean it’s impossible to have a healthy pregnancy and baby. But try not to wait too long, for many women over 40, it may be very difficult to conceive with her own eggs.

Home fertility tests are just as reliable as doctors.

FALSE: With the popularity of home fertility tests increasing, more women are choosing this convenient option to find out their fertility. This technology is as accurate as ever, but it is still not 100 percent reliable. A quarter of women who took the home fertility test were falsely diagnosed as infertile. So before assuming the worst, come in and have a thorough evaluation with a board certified Reproductive Endocrinologist and Infertility specialist.

Position does matter

FALSE: Despite what your sister, best friend, cousin or even the woman in the grocery store tells you, position doesn’t matter. Have fun! Experiment! Just lay down and relax after sex to help give sperm a little nudge with good old fashion gravity.

Have sex often before, during and after ovulation.

TRUE: Many women think you only need to have sex on the first day of ovulation for the best results. In reality, you should be having sex before, during and after ovulation. Your fertility is highest during that time and the day you start ovulating can change. An egg is only viable for 24 hours after ovulation, so check your fertility calendar and have sex once a day around ovulation! You deserve it!

Fertility advice comes from every direction and it’s hard to distinguish what is fact and what is myth. No matter what tips you’ve been hearing, we’re here to help. All questions are welcomed and encouraged to make sure you take the best steps for you.

 

Interested in women’s sexual health? Contact us for an appointment.

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