iud birth controlWhen we say “birth control” what's the first type that comes to mind? Probably the pill. But what if there were an alternative that's safe, more effective, and long lasting? That's the intrauterine device, or IUD.

An IUD is a small, T-shaped piece of plastic that could fit in the palm of your hand. It is inserted into the uterine lining. The IUD has a short string attached to it to make removal easy for your doctor. Except for the string, the IUD cannot be felt and will not interfere with sexual activity.

IUDs come in two general types – with or without hormones. The non-hormonal IUD uses a wrapping of copper wire that releases ions to disrupt sperm and keep it from fertilizing the egg. The hormonal IUD uses a small amount of a synthetic hormone that goes into the wall of the uterus to prevent fertilization. Both types are inserted and removed the same way.

An IUD is more effective in preventing pregnancy than the pill or shots. In fact, the IUD is nearly as effective as permanent sterilization, but it's temporary. Your doctor can remove an IUD and the contraceptive effects stop immediately. An IUD is also foolproof because it's implanted once and you're done. You don't have to remember to use it every day, and it lasts much longer than other contraceptive method. A non-hormonal IUD can work for up to 10 years and a hormonal IUD can be effective for up to five years.

If you've had unwanted side effects from the pill or just want to avoid using hormones, a non-hormonal IUD may be right for you. If you'd like to minimize the symptoms of a period, a hormonal IUD may help to reduce or eliminate menstruation.

So who's using this amazing method of birth control? Not many American women. Only about seven out of 100 use an IUD, but a special group of women are the exception. Surveys show that female OB/GYNs are three times more likely to personally use an IUD than any other form of contraception.

If you want to learn more, talk with your health care provider about all forms of birth control and find out if the IUD is the right birth control choice for you.


gyno cancers September is Gynecological Cancer Awareness Month and a good time for a pop quiz – can you name all of the types of cancer that can affect a woman's reproductive organs? Many of us know a few of them, but there are others with their own symptoms. According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are five main types of gynecological cancer:

Ovarian Cancer:  This cancer that starts in the organ that makes female hormones and produces eggs causes more deaths than any other gynecological cancer. Unfortunately, early diagnosis is very difficult and uncommon, as there is no effective screening test. Pelvic ultrasounds, Ca-125 testing, and genetic testing can be utilized in high risk women. Advanced ovarian cancer can have symptoms such as:

 Vaginal bleeding or discharge that's not normal for you.
 Back pain or pain in the area below your stomach and between your hip bones.
 A bloated feeling in the area below your stomach.
 Feeling full quickly while eating.
A change in your bathroom habits, such as increased urination, constipation, or diarrhea.

Cervical Cancer: This is a cancer of the lower, narrow end of the uterus that connects to the vagina. Cervical cancer is highly preventable because of screening tests and a vaccine to prevent human papillomavirus (HPV) infections that are linked to cervical cancer.

Cervical cancer may not have any symptoms in its early stages, and that's why a pap test at the appropriate intervals for a particular woman is important. Advanced cervical cancer may cause unusual bleeding or discharge from the vagina, such as bleeding after sex.

Uterine Cancer: This cancer begins in the uterus, the pear-shaped organ where a baby grows when a woman is pregnant. A common form of uterine cancer is known as endometrial cancer because it forms in the lining of the uterus called the endometrium.

Uterine cancer may cause vaginal discharge or bleeding that's not normal for you, especially if you are already menopausal. It may also cause other symptoms, such as pain or pressure in your pelvis.

Vaginal and Vulvar Cancer: These cancers occur in the outermost parts of the reproductive system. Vulvar cancer starts in the vulva, the outer part of the female genital organs with two folds of skin called the labia. Vulvar cancer most often occurs on the inner edges of the labia.

Vulvar cancer can cause itching, burning, or bleeding on the vulva; changes in the color of the skin of the vulva making it look redder or whiter than normal, or skin changes in the vulva, including what looks like a rash or warts.

Early-stage vaginal cancer may not have any symptoms, which is one of the reasons that annual pelvic exams are still recommended, even if you are not having a “Pap smear” that year.

98,000 American women will be diagnosed with a gynecological cancer this year, and almost 30,000 will die. Don't be part of that grim statistic. Monitor yourself for these symptoms, and schedule an annual visit with your provider who can conduct screening and testing.


ultrasound smMost women are familiar with an ultrasound because it's been a safe part of obstetrical care for over 50 years. An ultrasound uses no radiation; sound waves move through the soft tissue and organs to create an image of your baby.  After a gel solution has been applied the skin to make it easier to get a clear reading, a wand called a transducer is moved across the abdomen.

But all ultrasounds are not created equal. Northline Women's Health Center locations in Brownstown and Southgate, Michigan can help you see your baby for the first time with 2D, 3D and 4D ultrasound. What's the difference between them? Think of it like the technology you see in television and movies.

A 2D ultrasound is like an old-fashioned TV – it's a flat image in black and white.  A 3D ultrasound is more like seeing a movie in 3D.  Sound waves are emitted from all angles to create a colorized image that has height, width and depth, so you can see lots of detail.

A 4D baby ultrasound improves on 3D ultrasound technology by combining a sequence of 3D images to show motion. In a 4D ultrasound, you may see your baby yawning or a heart beating.

A 3D/4D ultrasound is recommended between 28 and 32 weeks of pregnancy, when your baby is at the best size to get the closest pictures. There's no special preparation necessary for an ultrasound, but there are a few ways can you make the most of your baby's first pictures.

Have a drink of orange juice or apple juice about 30 minutes before your appointment. As the sugar in the juice is absorbed into the bloodstream, your baby can wake up and provide more movement during the ultrasound.

A cup of coffee or a soft drink with caffeine might also stimulate your baby to move around. Even a cold drink of water just before the appointment may also wake your baby.

It's fun to share the excitement of your 4D baby ultrasound with a friend or family member, but keep it to just one or two people. A crowded room can make it difficult for the ultrasound technician to talk to you and get the best images. A big brother or sister will enjoy seeing the ultrasound pictures of their new sibling, but we don't recommend bringing young children to your ultrasound appointment.


back to school tipsIt won't be long before the lazy mornings of summer turn into hectic wake-ups as kids go back to school. You still have some time before vacation ends, but it's not too early to begin working toward a successful start to the school year.

Sleep schedules can be a top complaint for kids and parents. Who wants to get up two hours earlier just for school? To ease the transition, try rolling back your child's bedtime by 20 minutes every two or three days in the last weeks before school starts.

Now's the time to ditch that summertime diet and get back to healthy eating. Popsicles as a main course might be fun in the dog days of August, but kids need good nutrition for the school day with a balanced breakfast and a healthy lunch that will keep them fueled-up for learning.

If your child complains that they just don't want to go to school, ask what bothers them and don't take “everything” for an answer.  Social worries are common, so help your child identify someone to share the lunch table or spend time with on the playground.  A late summer playdate can help them reconnect with friends from school.

Maybe your child is worried about the classroom work, but remind them that it takes everyone a few weeks to get back up to speed. Acknowledge that some things will be hard and tell them you're willing to help in any way you can, whether that's taking time to review homework or using the services of a tutor.

One way to bring summer to a fun close is to plan a family weekend before school starts.  That's easier in Michigan because state law requires school summer vacation to continue through Labor Day. Let the kids help you pick a fun family activity for the holiday weekend and make it your formal farewell to the summer season.


healthy pregnancyIf plans to grow your family are in your future, you don't have to wait until a positive pregnancy test to get healthy for that baby. Prenatal care begins when pregnancy starts, but there are things you can do now to help prepare for the healthiest pregnancy possible.

1. Eat Healthy Foods
It's easier to eat healthy foods when you plan your meals and snacks ahead of time and have the food on hand. This way, you'll be less likely to make unhealthy eating choices that can lead to being overweight.

2. Be Active
Set aside time for physical activity and aim for 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day. You can break this up into several 10-minute sessions. Being active with a friend can also help you reach your activity goal.

3. Take Folic Acid
Take a vitamin with folic acid every day unless you're eating a breakfast cereal that has 400 micrograms of folic acid in every serving. Make it easy and place the vitamins by your toothbrush so you'll remember to take them each day.

4. Get Your Vaccinations
Vaccinations are your best defense against many diseases that can harm your health and cause serious problems during pregnancy. Make sure all of your shots are up-to-date and remember to get a flu shot every year to protect you and your baby.

5. Reduce Alcohol Intake
Drinking during pregnancy can cause serious health problems for you and your baby. It's easier to stop drinking during pregnancy if you start cutting back now to less than seven alcoholic drinks per week and not more than one per day.

6. Stop Smoking
Smoking is not healthy for you and can make it difficult to become pregnant and have a healthy baby. Don't smoke and avoid being around people who do smoke so there's no second hand exposure.

7. Talk With Us
We can help you prepare for a healthy pregnancy when you're ready for it. Make an appointment at our Brownstown or Southgate, Michigan office to talk with us about family planning that's right for you from Northline Women's Health Center.


Northline Women's Health Center Locations:

15675 Northline Road

Southgate, MI 48195

(734) 282-3600
(734) 282-3603 - Fax

23050 West Road, Suite 210

Brownstown Twp., MI 48183

(734) 362-7000
(734) 362-7077 - Fax