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By SMH Webmaster on 8/19/2016 4:03 PM
Each month I teach a class at Shawnee Mission Medical Center (SMMC) called “Babies Don’t Bark.” The name might make you laugh, but this class is one of the most important things you can do to prepare for your baby if you or another caregiver have a dog at home. Dogs and children can have wonderful relationships, but there are also many examples of things that can go terribly wrong when babies are brought into a home with a dog. By taking this class and doing some basic prep work, you’ll ensure your real baby and your fur baby will get along seamlessly. 
By SMH Webmaster on 3/21/2016 7:38 AM
Zika virus is a viral infection spread by the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. These mosquitos can carry a variety of other viral infections, such as Dengue and Yellow fever, and are found in every continent except Antarctica. They bite primarily during the day. Though rare, there have been reported cases of Zika virus through sexual transmission from an infected male to a female partner.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has found a correlation between Zika virus infection in pregnancy and fetal transmission (meaning the virus can cross the placenta and infect the baby while in the womb). Some infants with Zika virus have microcephaly (small head size) or other birth defects. It is not yet known the rate at which mothers pass the virus to their offspring, or how often those babies will exhibit birth defects.  

Most people who are infected with the virus are without any symptoms.  Only 20 percent of infected people will have a mild viral illness, generally lasting from five to seven days, and consisting of conjunctivitis (red eyes), fever, rash and joint pain.  Symptoms typically occur within 10 days of viral exposure.
By SMH Webmaster on 7/1/2013 11:21 AM
Angelina Jolie is known the world over as a talented actress, humanitarian, devoted mother and beauty icon. Now she can add cancer activist to that list. Recently, Jolie revealed that she had undergone a double mastectomy with breast reconstruction as a result of being positive for the BRCA gene mutation. Overnight, hereditary breast cancer risk assessment, gene testing and treatment options were being discussed on a worldwide stage. Time magazine dubbed this tremendous public service as the “Angelina Effect.”

About one in eight women (just under 12 percent) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. An estimated 230,000 new cases of invasive cancer and 60,000 new cases of pre—invasive (in—situ) cancer are diagnosed each year. While the vast majority of these cancers are sporadic (non—hereditary, non—familial), there is growing understanding about a subset of women who develop hereditary cancers. Two breast cancer susceptibility genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2, have been identified. Women...
By SMH Webmaster on 5/17/2013 11:21 AM
What’s All the Buzz about Vaginal Birth after Cesarean (VBAC)?

Vaginal Birth after Cesarean (VBAC) is a delivery option for women who have had a Cesarean section delivery in the past. VBAC means giving birth vaginally instead of having a repeat Cesarean section. Years ago, Cesarean sections were routinely followed by more Cesarean sections; vaginal delivery was rarely an option.

In the past several years, Cesarean section rates have gone up dramatically, and currently about one in every three deliveries in the United States is a Cesarean section. Many mothers who have had Cesarean sections would prefer to deliver vaginally in the future if possible and VBAC is encouraged by the medical community for its health benefits, so with the high number of Cesarean section deliveries, VBAC has become a hot topic.

Is VBAC an option for me?

VBAC is an option for many women who have had Cesarean sections. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists states that women who have had one Cesarean section with a low—transverse incision are generally candidates for VBAC and their doctors should discuss VBAC with them. Other women may be candidates as well. Your doctor will look at your specific medical history and current medical conditions to decide whether you are able to attempt a VBAC delivery.

By SMH Webmaster on 5/7/2013 11:04 AM
What is Pertussis?

Pertussis (sometimes called “Whooping cough”) is a very serious and highly contagious respiratory infection (in the lungs and breathing tubes) caused by the Pertussis bacteria. It causes violent coughing you may not be able to stop. Pertussis is most harmful for young babies and can be deadly.

How common is Pertussis?

In 2012, more than 41,000 cases of Pertussis were reported, with 18 Pertussis—related deaths. The majority of deaths occur among infants younger than three months of age.

Why should I get Tdap?

Given in the third trimester of pregnancy, Tdap not only protects you, but also provides your baby with passive immunity to Pertussis at birth. Without this protection, infants are not protected at all until they receive their first vaccine at two months old and are not fully protected until six months old, when they have received three doses of the vaccine.

When should I get Tdap?

The Tdap (Tetanus—Diphtheria—Pertussis) vaccine should be...
By SMH Webmaster on 3/11/2013 9:57 AM
You may be surprised to find that not only older women, but women of all ages need to be aware of the condition of their bones and work toward maintaining habits that will reduce the risk of osteoporosis and frail bones in the future.

What is bone density and why is it important? Bone density is the measurement of how strong one’s bones are. In general, bones that are denser are healthier, meaning the bones have more calcium stored. Bones are a living tissue and go through phases of formation. At a younger age, our bodies carry out this process quickly, but as we age our bodies slow and bones may not be reformed at the same pace they once were. This deficit leads to a lower bone density and we become more at risk for fractures and signs of osteoporosis.

What is osteoporosis? Osteoporosis is a disease that affects your bones. When bones are lost or not made quickly enough, they become frail and are more prone to breakage. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, 34 million individuals...
By SMH Webmaster on 2/12/2013 10:57 AM
Have you ever had a physician tell you to be sure you are performing regular self—breast exams? Women often hear this and are afraid to ask detailed questions as to what their physician is referring to. Being aware of what you are feeling for and when to bring a specific area into question is important and often unknown. The following questions are frequently asked and can hopefully bring some clarification to this topic.

What is a self—breast exam?

When performing a self—breast examination you are checking your breasts for problems or noticeable changes. Often times, women area able to located breast problems themselves rather than waiting for their annual exams. However, please note that choosing to carry out self—breast exams does not replace the need for clinical breast exams by a doctor or undergoing an annual mammogram! These steps are still necessary; self—exams can simply be beneficial for the time lapsing between appointments.

When should I perform a self—breast exam?

We have...
By SMH Webmaster on 5/14/2012 8:20 AM
Vitamin D has been a hot topic in the news during the past few years. With so much information coming out so quickly, it is easy to get overwhelmed and confused. Below are is a short Q&A regarding what women need to know about Vitamin D and their health.

What is Vitamin D?Vitamin D is a nutrient the body needs in order to maintain health. It is well—known for helping the body absorb calcium and creating strong bones, but it is also important for muscles, nerves and the immune system. In addition, it plays a part in preventing many common diseases, including hypertension, diabetes and cancer.

What are the sources of Vitamin D?The sun can be a great source of Vitamin D. The body makes its own Vitamin D when skin is exposed to direct sunlight. For most people in the United States, the sun is not at the correct angle during the winter. However, getting sun on the face, arms and legs at midday during the summer helps increase Vitamin D levels. The length of time a person should stay in the sun depends...
By SMH Webmaster on 2/15/2011 12:07 PM
Are your New Year’s resolutions still going strong? If so, congratulations! For most of us, our 2011 resolutions are already history, but that’s no reason to put off better health and more happiness until next year. Here are some simple ways you can improve your health and increase your happiness starting right now.

• Be Good to Yourself:

We all must find time to be good to ourselves in order to be as happy and healthy as possible. Women notoriously feel guilty about taking time for themselves, but balancing your needs with the needs of others is absolutely necessary. If the idea sounds foreign, start by doing something small: read a book, call an old friend, cook your favorite meal, or take a nap. Schedule 10 minutes a day to meditate or engage in a hobby. Learn to say no when you’re asked to do too much. In short, actively work toward your own joy and balance.

• Eat Well:

Food is one of life’s great pleasures, so make sure to eat food that you enjoy. At the same time,...
By SMH Webmaster on 11/1/2010 1:52 PM
Are you exercising regularly? It’s a question that can bring on groans and guilt. The reality is that many people read, talk, or think about exercising more than they actually do it. You know exercise is good for you and you know your doctor is going to ask you about it, but are you actually getting up and being active? If not, we hope to get you moving! Why should I exercise?

You should exercise because your body was designed to move. Modern life—with office jobs, cars, and comfy couches—allows us to survive without exercise, but your body still craves movement and needs physical activity for optimal health. Exercise provides so many health benefits it’s hard to keep track of them all!

Exercise helps prevent or manage chronic health conditions like heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, and cancer. Exercise promotes weight loss. Exercise helps you sleep better. Exercise boosts your energy level. Exercise strengthens your muscles and tones your body. Exercise can prevent...
By SMH Webmaster on 8/27/2010 9:38 AM

He ran your errands, made you laugh, turned on music you love, or the kids are away…but you still have no interest in sex. Sound familiar? For a large number of women, the answer is a disheartened yes. In fact, we see patients for this health concern every day. Sexual interest and function varies greatly among women, and even for the same woman throughout her lifetime, so there’s no defined normal standard.

Decreased libido (sometimes diagnosed as Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder) is a problem when it is sustained or recurrent and you become distressed about it.

What causes decreased libido?

Your sexual desire is based on your lifestyle, your relationship, your physical health, your emotional health, and your religion or belief system. With all of these factors in the mix, there are numerous possible causes for a low sex drive.

Lifestyle: A busy routine, a project that completely engages you, opposite schedules, and a lack of privacy can all contribute to decreased...
By SMH Webmaster on 7/8/2010 7:59 AM
Vegetarian and vegan diets need special consideration during pregnancy. Our article “Nutrition During Pregnancy” gives general nutritional guidelines about what to eat while you are pregnant, but there is more you need to know if you are a vegetarian or vegan.

Can I still eat a vegetarian or vegan diet while I’m pregnant?

Yes, you absolutely can. Vegetarian and vegan diets are healthy for you and your baby during pregnancy as long as you make sure to get enough calories (2,000—2,500 per day) and enough of all the required nutrients. It’s important to let your doctor know that you are a vegetarian or vegan.

What if my doctor isn’t familiar with vegetarian or vegan diets?

While most doctors are knowledgeable about general nutrition, they may not be as familiar with vegetarian or vegan diets. You may want to keep a food diary for several days so your doctor can better understand your diet and then decide whether or not you need supplements. If you have specific concerns and...
By SMH Webmaster on 5/24/2010 10:54 AM
Eating a nutritious and varied diet is extremely important during pregnancy, and our last article gave basic nutritional guidelines about what to eat while you are pregnant. There are a few scenarios, like experiencing cravings for certain foods and experiencing morning sickness, which can complicate things. There’s no need to worry, though. You can overcome these challenges!

How should I handle cravings?Food cravings are natural and can be very interesting. Cravings are often for sweet or salty foods, but they can also be for spicy, fatty, or sour foods. The best way to handle food cravings is to accept them and enjoy a small amount of whatever food you are craving.

Nobody knows exactly why cravings occur during pregnancy, but they may have to do with changing sensitivities to smells and tastes or the body’s need for extra calories. Some cravings may even signal nutritional deficiencies. Craving red meat and ice, for example, might be associated with iron deficiency, and craving chocolate might...
By SMH Webmaster on 3/22/2010 11:42 AM
We all know we should eat a nutritious and balanced diet, but that doesn’t mean we always do it. For women, pregnancy is the most important time to make healthy eating a priority because the food you eat is nourishing both you and your baby. Eating a nutritious diet will help you feel good and encourage healthy development of the tiny person growing inside of you.

So what counts as a nutritious diet during pregnancy? Unfortunately, there’s a good chance that what your mom, friends, and even well—meaning strangers tell you to eat goes completely against the article you just read in a magazine. We know there is a lot of contradictory information out there, so we’re covering the basics.

Am I really eating for two?Well, yes and no. You are eating for two, but that doesn’t mean you should double your calories. An average non—pregnant woman consumes 2,200 calories per day, and you only need to eat 300 extra calories per day during pregnancy. One extra snack will do it. A woman of average...
By SMH Webmaster on 2/4/2010 8:57 PM
You might expect teenagers to become pregnant without planning on it, but did you know that many women in their 20’s and 30’s also have unintended pregnancies—while using contraception? It’s hard to believe, but every year more than 1 million American women get pregnant while using birth control. In our last blog entry, we listed contraception methods and their effective rates, and you may have noticed that most methods fall in the 94%—99% effective range. So how are so many women on birth control getting pregnant?

The answer is usually human error. Many women either use their birth control incorrectly or they use it inconsistently.

The good news is that you are in control and can minimize your risk of having an unplanned pregnancy while on birth control. The table below shows the biggest mistakes to watch out for and tips to maximize effectiveness.

Contraception Method Biggest Mistakes How to Maximize Effectiveness...
By SMH Webmaster on 11/30/2009 5:22 PM
Contraception has come a long way in recent years. The pill is still available in several forms, but women now have many other options to choose from too. We understand that the variety and sheer number of contraception methods available is confusing, so we’ve put together a guide to help you better understand the options that are available today.

Contraception methods fall into two main groups—hormonal and non—hormonal. Hormonal contraception relies on hormones that are released into your body to prevent pregnancy. Non—hormonal contraception prevents pregnancy without the use of hormones, by either creating a barrier between the egg and sperm or by killing the sperm. Here is a breakdown of the different methods:


Oral Contraceptives: This is “the pill.” Pills that contain hormones are taken every day to prevent ovulation. (99% effective rate) The Patch: A new hormonal patch is applied to your skin every week to prevent ovulation. You wear the patch for three weeks out of the month,...
By SMH Webmaster on 8/27/2009 3:53 PM
Don’t worry…There are still several topics to come in our “Questions you’ve always wanted to ask your OB/GYN” series. We are simply taking a break in order to address this timely topic.

As you already know, the H1N1 virus, commonly known as the swine flu, has become a worldwide health concern. Health authorities such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization are monitoring the virus closely, and new data is becoming available every day.

As flu season approaches in Kansas City, the H1N1 virus is of particular concern for pregnant women and their health care providers. That’s because pregnant women, along with people who have chronic diseases such as asthma or diabetes, are considered to be the most at risk. That’s unsettling news for moms—to—be, but there is no need to panic. Being well informed and taking certain precautions can help in the fight against the H1N1 virus.

Why are pregnant women more at risk?Pregnant women have a higher risk of contracting the H1N1 virus because a woman’s immune system is relaxed during pregnancy.

By SMH Webmaster on 8/3/2009 4:36 PM
This blog's topic: Tampons

What are tampons?Tampons are sanitary products made from rayon, cotton, or a blend of the two that are inserted into the vagina and used to absorb menstrual flow inside of a woman’s body.

What are the benefits of using tampons? Tampons provide a clean and comfortable alternative to pads. Many women like the fact that tampons cannot be seen through clothes, felt, or smelled. They eliminate the bulkiness of a pad and the mess of catching menstrual flow outside of the body. Tampons make it easier for women to participate in sports and other activities. What are the risks of using tampons?Tampons have been linked to toxic shock syndrome (TSS), a very rare but sometimes fatal illness. To minimize your risk of TSS, be sure to follow package instructions for correct tampon application and use. By law, tampon packages contain information about the symptoms of TSS, what to do if you believe you have those symptoms, and how to minimize your risk by using tampons correctly....
By SMH Webmaster on 7/22/2009 10:57 AM
What should vaginal discharge look like?Vaginal discharge varies in color and consistency from person to person, and it varies for each woman from day to day based on hormone cycle and activity level. Normal vaginal discharge is clear, whitish, or light yellow. It may be a watery liquid, a thicker paste—like substance, or sticky and stringy mucus. It’s a good idea to get to know what is normal for you. If you notice abrupt changes in the consistency and amount of discharge, or if you experience green or grey discharge, you should make an appointment with your doctor. How much vaginal discharge is normal?The amount of vaginal discharge varies from woman to woman and even day to day throughout the menstrual cycle. The normal amount should be between none and a teaspoon of vaginal discharge each day. In other words, you should not need to wear a panty liner. Some women have no vaginal discharge or very little, and that is ok. Why does the amount of vaginal discharge vary on different days? The amount of vaginal...
By SMH Webmaster on 6/19/2009 12:26 PM
This blog's topic: Anatomy

Am I normal “down there?”Yes, your genital anatomy is most likely normal. There are many variations of female genital anatomy. The labia minora can vary in shape, color, thickness and size. Some labia minora are small, and some hang below the labia majora. Many women have one side that’s longer than the other. The labia minora can be any shade of pink, tan, brown or black, or a combination of colors. All of these variations fall within the realm of normal. You can learn more from an anatomy book or looking up female anatomy on the internet. (Just be sure to choose your search words carefully!) If you are unhappy with the way you look, labial reduction plastic surgery is an option, but it’s usually not considered medically necessary and not covered by insurance. If you are concerned that you have a medical problem, always seek the care and opinion of a GYN professional.

Why does it look different “down there” before and after pregnancy?Your body can look different after pregnancy for several reasons. During pregnancy, your body swells, and it can take 6—8 weeks for your body to seem normal to you again. You may experience hypertrophy, or enlargement, of the labia minora during pregnancy. Hypertrophy in the genital area may be permanent for some women. After delivering a baby, you may notice your skin elasticity change. The vaginal opening is usually enlarged. If you had a tear or episiotomy during delivery, the tear was repaired and should heal nicely. You might have a scar, but it is usually hard to see.

By SMH Webmaster on 6/15/2009 6:00 PM
Ok ladies, let’s be honest. We’ve all had questions related to OB/GYN issues that we didn’t feel like actually asking anyone – even our doctor. Maybe you’ve asked your friends or read magazine articles but wondered if you were getting accurate information.

We, the OB/GYN doctors at Women’s Health Associates, decided to bypass the question asking and simply address several sensitive questions by giving a series of presentations in the Kansas City area. We found that women were very receptive to this topic and wanted to hear the answers as long as they didn’t have to ask the questions. Over the next several blog entries, we’ll be addressing OB/GYN issues you may have questions about. You’ll get the facts you need without having to ask the questions!

This blog's topic is yearly exams.

Do I really need a yearly exam every year? Why?The answer is yes! A yearly exam provides you with a complete gynecological checkup at a regular interval. During a yearly exam, your doctor checks for any abnormalities in your pelvic area and breasts, and a pap smear is performed to check for abnormal cells that could lead to cervical cancer. A pelvic exam consists of your doctor feeling your uterus and ovaries in order to check for enlargement or masses, and your doctor will also examine your genital area visually for any lesions. During a breast exam, your breasts are palpated to check for masses and your lymph nodes are checked for enlargement. To perform a pap smear, your doctor will insert a speculum into the vagina and then use a small brush in order to get a sample of cervical cells. The cells are then sent to a laboratory to be screened. In addition, yearly exams give you the opportunity to ask personal health questions and discuss health concerns with your doctor. Yearly gynecological exams are important so that any abnormality or problem can be recognized and treated as soon as possible.

By SMH Webmaster on 6/1/2009 6:00 PM
Are you thinking about becoming pregnant? If so, you’ve probably got a lot of exciting thoughts running through your mind. You might be making lists of baby names or picking out colors for the nursery. You might also be thinking about health changes you’ll make when you’re pregnant. Pregnancy is a special experience in a woman’s life, and many women know they should take extra good care of their health while they’re pregnant.

Did you know that a healthy pregnancy can actually begin even before conception? You can take charge of having a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby before you even become pregnant by taking care of your health now.

The basics of a healthy lifestyle lay the foundation for a healthy pregnancy:

Get into the routine of eating healthy meals—lots of fiber, low in fat, and include lots of fruits and vegetables. If you are a vegetarian, make sure you are getting enough protein. Exercise three or more times each week. Get to within 15 pounds of your ideal body weight, which...
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