8 Benefits of Birth Control Pills that Go Beyond Preventing Pregnancy

8 Benefits of Birth Control Pills that Go Beyond Preventing Pregnancy

Birth control pills have been on the market for over 50 years. While this form of contraception is still very popular and highly successful among women, it is also known to have some positive effects on other aspects of your health. Here are eight ancillary benefits of taking birth control pills:

  1. It can make endometriosis more manageable. Hormone treatments may help slow the growth and local activity of both the endometrium and the endometrial lesions. Oral contraceptives help make your period lighter, more regular and shorter. Plus, it may provide relief from the pain.
  2. It can conserve your blood. As mentioned above, birth control pills make your period lighter so you lose less blood during your cycle. Diminishing the amount of flow has been known to help manage heavy, painful cycles.
  3. It can save you money on makeup and hair removal. The estrogen in the pill can reduce your testosterone levels. Less testosterone means that your body is making less sebum, the oily secretions of the sebaceous glands that can clog pores and create pimples. Less testosterone also means less unwanted hair growth.
  4. It can lower your risk of developing certain types of cancer. Studies show that birth control pills may lower your risk for both ovarian cancer and endometrial cancer. After five years of use, your risk of developing ovarian cancer decreases by about 50 percent. For endometrial cancer, the protective effect increases with the length of time oral contraceptives are used and continues for several years after you stop taking them.
  5. It can shield you against pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). The pill causes your body to create thicker cervical mucus, making it more challenging for bacteria to reach your uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries. This may help protect you from developing PID, a condition often caused by untreated sexually transmitted diseases.
  6. It can help with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Birth control pills that contain both estrogen and progestin may help regulate your menstrual cycle. These pills decrease androgen production and give your body a break from the effects of continuous estrogen, lowering your risk of endometrial cancer and correcting abnormal bleeding.
  7. It can stabilize your mood during perimenopause. Birth control pills help put your natural ovarian function at rest and provide a steady level of hormones that keep brain function in balance.
  8. It can keep you healthy during flu season. A new study published in the American Journal of Physiology – Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology reported that women who take an oral contraceptive with estrogen may have more protection from the flu virus than others. The researchers discovered that estrogen levels in women who took birth control pills reduced the amount of flu virus that replicated in infected cells.

To find out if birth control pills are right for you, call Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com.

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10 Ways to Put an End to Menstrual Cramps. Period.

10 Ways to Put an End to Menstrual Cramps. Period.

Are menstrual cramps cramping your style? Here are 10 solutions to this common problem, also known as dysmenorrhea:

  1. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS): Anti-inflammatory drugs, such as diclofenac, ibuprofen and naproxen, can help relieve severe period pain. However, these drugs may cause headaches or stomach issues.
  2. Heat or cold therapy: Soaking in a hot bath or using a heating pad on your lower abdomen may ease menstrual cramps. Heat therapy works by relaxing the muscles of the uterus, increasing blood flow and easing pain. If a build-up of blood in your pelvis is causing your cramps, use an icepack to help draw the blood out of the pelvis and toward the extremities. Try using both hot and cold packs to see which works best for you.
  3. Exercise: Studies have found that physical exercise may help reduce the pain of menstrual cramps.
  4. Hormonal medication/therapy: Oral birth control pills contain hormones that prevent ovulation and reduce the severity of menstrual cramps. These hormones can also be delivered as an injection, a patch worn on your skin, an implant placed under your skin, a flexible ring inserted into your vagina or an intrauterine device (IUD).
  5. Clot-busters: Tranexamic acid is used to reduce menstrual blood loss. It’s part of a class of medications called antifibrinolytics.
  6. Chamomile tea: Studies have found that chamomile tea may ease muscle spasms and help fight inflammation.
  7. Vitamins and supplements: Vitamin D helps your body use calcium and may reduce inflammation. Omega-3 fatty acids such as those found in fish oil may help lower inflammation.
  8. Stress reduction: Take positive steps to cut out unnecessary stress and you’ll decrease the frequency and severity of menstrual cramps.
  9. Diet: Reduce fat and eat more vegetables for cramp relief. Eliminate trans-fatty acids that are commonly found in commercially baked goods. Eat foods that are high in calcium such as beans, almonds and green leafy vegetables. Choose foods that are high in antioxidants, including blueberries, tomatoes, cherries, squash and bell pepper.
  10. Acupuncture: Acupuncturists treat menstrual pain based on an individualized assessment of the excesses and deficiencies of energy (qi) located in various meridians. These deficiencies are often detected in the liver and spleen meridians. Moxibustion (a technique in which the herb mugwort is burned over specific acupuncture points) is usually added to enhance needling treatment. Acupressure may also relieve period pain.

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To learn more about superior menstrual care, call Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com.

From Pregnancy to Menopause and Beyond: 6 Screenings that Put You in Control of Your Health

From Pregnancy to Menopause and Beyond: 6 Screenings that Put You in Control of Your Health

With most medical conditions, it’s best to catch problems early before they develop into larger issues. Many problems are silent in their early stages and show no symptoms, so regular health screenings and annual exams are vital for remaining proactive about your health. The following guide will help you determine when it’s time to schedule an appointment with your physician:

  1. Prenatal Screening
    • As soon as you suspect you’re pregnant, schedule an appointment with your AOA physician or midwife. It’s important to start taking prenatal vitamins and modifying your lifestyle to promote and protect the health of your baby. Through prenatal screening, genetic testing and ultrasounds, you can find out if your pregnancy is high risk so you can get the appropriate level of care for you and your baby.
  2. Cervical, Uterine and Ovarian Cancer Screenings
    • Cervical, ovarian and uterine cancers can be detected and handled quickly in the beginning stages. However, if left untreated, they can be deadly. Pelvic exams, blood tests and Pap smears may be used to detect these types of cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, all women should begin cervical cancer screening at age 21.
      • Women aged 21 to 29 should have a Pap test every three years. HPV testing can also be done if there are abnormal results.
      • Women between 30 and 65 should have a Pap test combined with an HPV test every five years. It’s ok, however, to choose to have a Pap smear only every 3 years.
  3. Mammogram
    • Your risk of breast cancer increases with age. Mammograms are recommended annually for high-risk women aged 40 and older. Women with an average risk of breast cancer may wait until age 50 and schedule follow-up tests every two years. Regular mammograms are important since breast cancer treatment is much more effective when the cancer is detected at an early stage.
  4. Bone Density Test
    • A bone density test detects osteoporosis, a disease that causes your bones to become fragile and break. A bone density test uses X-rays to measure how many grams of calcium and other bone minerals are within your bones.
    • Your doctor may recommend a bone density test if you’ve lost height, fractured a bone, taken certain steroid medications, received a transplant or had a drop in hormone levels. All postmenopausal women under age 65 and all women age 65 and older should receive bone density testing.
  5. Colonoscopy
    • Women 50 years of age and older should have a colonoscopy to check for colon cancer and screen for precancerous polyps. Early detection leads to a more positive outcome, so being proactive is very important. The results of your first colonoscopy will determine how often you will need subsequent tests.
  6. Cholesterol and Lipid Profiles
    • Healthy women aged 40 and older should have lipid profiles done annually. Additionally, high cholesterol, high blood pressure or a high BMI should be proactively monitored and managed to avoid heart problems.

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To learn more about women’s health screenings, call Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com.

Top 10 Facts About Zika Virus and Pregnancy

Top 10 Facts About Zika Virus and Pregnancy

Worried about Zika? Here are the latest facts about the virus to help you protect your family’s health:

  1. Zika virus can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus during pregnancy or delivery.
  2. The primary way that pregnant women get Zika virus is through the bite of an infected mosquito.
  3. Zika has been linked to a serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly in babies of mothers who had Zika virus while pregnant. Other problems have been detected among fetuses and infants infected with Zika virus before birth, including absent or poorly developed brain structures, defects of the eye, hearing problems and impaired growth.
  4. Pregnant women should avoid travelling to areas where Zika virus is prevalent. This includes more than thirty countries, mostly in the Caribbean and Latin America. If you must travel to one of these areas, talk to your healthcare provider in advance and carefully follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during your trip. Pregnant women who have visited these regions should be tested for the infection.
  5. Evidence suggests that Zika virus can also be spread by a man to his sexual partners through intercourse.
  6. As many as four million people could be infected by Zika by the end of 2016.
  7. Health officials predict that once infected patients have recovered and have developed an immunity to Zika, the epidemic will fade and women can safely become pregnant again.
  8. Many companies are working on Zika vaccines. Delaying pregnancy will buy time for them to arrive.
  9. Women who have had symptoms of the virus or tested positive for Zika should wait at least eight weeks after their symptoms first appeared before trying to get pregnant.
  10. Women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant (as well as their sexual partners) should take the following precautions:
    • Wear clothing (preferably light in color) that covers as much of the body as possible.
    • Use insect repellent.
    • Use physical barriers such as mesh screens or treated netting materials on doors and windows.
    • Eliminate all potential mosquito breeding sites by emptying, cleaning or covering containers that can hold even small amounts of water such as buckets and flower pots.

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To learn more about how to protect your health, call Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com.