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drynessIt's something that affects four out of five women during and after menopause and might put the brakes on your sex life. It's also a taboo subject for many women who think that vaginal dryness is just part of getting older, but it doesn't have to be.


fact versus mythIt seems like everyone is aware of breast cancer in the month of October, with waves of marchers, many of your favorite products and even NFL players all awash in pink. But awareness isn't  knowledge, and there are some important things you should know about breast cancer. Let's start by debunking a few popular myths.

Using deodorant or antiperspirant doesn't cause breast cancer. This myth is fueled by claims that specific chemicals found in these products mimic estrogen and raise a woman’s breast cancer risk. But there's no evidence that antiperspirants and deodorants can cause breast cancer or make it return.

Wearing an underwire bra (or any bra) doesn't cause breast cancer. Studies have found no association between wearing a bra and an increased breast cancer risk among post-menopausal women, regardless of how long a woman wore a bra each day, what type of bra she wore, or at what age she started wearing a bra.

Exposing breast cancer to air will not make it spread. This old myth suggests that surgery allows cancer to spread throughout the body. Surgery may uncover a more aggressive case of cancer, but it cannot cause it to spread.  

A double mastectomy won't necessarily save your life if you have cancer in one breast.  More women diagnosed with breast cancer are now choosing to undergo a higher-risk double mastectomy, but a long-term study of 200,000 women showed that the 10-year survival rate for women who had a double mastectomy was just a few percentage points higher than those who chose a less-invasive lumpectomy followed by radiation.

These are some of the myths, but what are some truths that can help you in the fight against breast cancer?

Trying to lose some weight can help reduce the risk of breast cancer. Estrogen is found in fatty tissue and post-menopausal women may have excess estrogen being made in these fatty tissues. Losing weight lowers your breast cancer risk and can benefit your health in many other ways.

Regular exercise can help reduce the risk of breast cancer. And you don't have to head to the gym. Experts say 30 minutes of brisk walking five days a week may be enough, but more exercise will work even better.

Limiting alcohol can help reduce the risk of breast cancer. Studies have shown that women who drink two or more alcoholic drinks per day have a 50-percent higher risk of breast cancer compared to those who don't drink.

They say knowledge is power, and with more knowledge about what does and doesn't cause breast cancer and by taking some simple steps to protect yourself, you'll have more power in the fight against this deadly disease.

 


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.

 


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.

 

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