What You Need to Know About COVID-19

As the number of COVID-19 (also commonly referred to as the coronavirus) cases in the United States continues to rise and more communities are affected, people are growing increasingly concerned and have many questions. It’s important to be well informed about this illness so that you are able to take proper precautions to protect your health and that of those you interact with.

Covid-19

Symptoms of COVID-19
COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by a virus called SARS-CoV-2. The most common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, and shortness of breath. Fatigue, sore throat, and headaches have also been reported among numerous people suffering from COVID-19.

Social distancing is critically important
You’ve likely heard the term social distancing a number of times in the recent weeks. Put simply, social distancing is the idea of limiting your interactions with the people you don’t live with in order to prevent or minimize the spread of COVID-19. Social distancing can take many forms, from staying home from work if your job allows for that, to maintaining six feet of distance between you and people you encounter in public, and not getting together with friends or attending workout classes in a studio.

The United States does not have the capability to handle the number of sick people in hospitals and ICU’s projected as the virus spreads. The purpose of social distancing is to decrease that peak so it is manageable by our healthcare system.  So social distancing is a necessary action to help save fellow Americans that you might know or not know.

“Even if you are young, or otherwise healthy, you are at risk and your activities can increase the risk for others. It is critical that you do your part to slow the spread of the coronavirus,” states The White House and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in a recommendation to the public.

Among a number of guidelines, the CDC and the White House recommend working from home when possible, avoiding social gatherings in groups of more than 10 people (though other guidelines recommend keeping gatherings even smaller), using pickup and delivery options for food rather than dining in a restaurant or bar, and avoiding unnecessary travel. 

If you have a compromised immune system, it’s healthiest for you to stay home
COVID-19 can carry more risk for people with underlying health conditions. For this reason, the CDC recommends that people with compromised immune systems and serious health conditions like heart disease and diabetes stay home and minimize unnecessary contact with others.

It’s early to know a lot about how COVID-19 may affect pregnant women
At this point, little is known about the effects of COVID-19 on pregnant women and infants due to data limitations, and thus the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) hasn’t made any formal recommendations for pregnant women in terms of managing or evaluating COVID-19.

The ACOG highlights that while current research and data doesn’t show that pregnant women are at higher risk of complications from COVID-19, they should be considered an at-risk population given available data showing that pregnant women are at higher risk from other respiratory infections such as influenza.

The CDC recommends pregnant women should follow the same precautions as the rest of the public for protecting themselves from COVID-19. This includes avoiding people who are sick, covering your cough, and frequently cleaning your hands for a minimum of 20 seconds using soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

It’s unclear if COVID-19 can be transferred from a mother to her unborn baby
The ACOG and CDC report that it’s currently unclear if COVID-19 can be transmitted to the fetus during delivery or pregnancy.

It’s important to keep your doctor aware of your travel history, exposure to people with COVID-19, and any symptoms you may be experiencing
This information is important for your healthcare providers to know about and will help inform healthcare and treatment during this pandemic. Let your doctor know right away if you have a fever, breathing issues, or any other symptoms that are outside of the usual. If you suspect you have COVID-19 or if you’ve been in contact with anyone who has, it’s important to let your doctor know prior to visiting their office so they can take proper precautions to keep everyone safe.

A statement from the President of AOA, Mike Urig, MD
As leaders in Women’s Health across the valley, AOA has always strived to set an example of the highest standards for health care. Your health and safety are our top priority as the impact of COVID-19 continues to be felt around the country and in our communities. This is uncharted territory for us all, but we are committed to making decisions that are best for our patients, employees, families, and our providers.

To that end, we have implemented procedures in our offices to limit exposure to COVID-19 by implementing CDC recommended actions, including social distancing, limiting the number of patients, visitors, and staff, and instituting strict cleaning protocols of the waiting rooms and exams rooms.

We are also monitoring the CDC and Arizona Department of Health guidelines daily and will implement new procedures as they are published. We have taken steps to make needed visits to our offices safer, and we will serve our patients with the same compassionate and high-quality care that they have come to expect.

We are here for you and we believe the best way to get through this is together.

Mike Urig, MD (President of AOA)

Everything You’ve Been Wondering About Female Fertility

Having questions and concerns about fertility—meaning your ability to conceive a child—isn’t just limited to women who are trying to conceive. Many are curious about fertility, including women who might want to conceive in the future, women who are trying to protect themselves against pregnancy, women with irregular periods, and more. Keep reading to learn more about when women are most fertile, how irregular periods might impact fertility, how lifestyle can affect your ability to get pregnant, and more.

Female Fertility

Will I be able to get pregnant?
Women are most fertile in their twenties and start to see a decrease in fertility around age 35. Around age 37, fertility declines more rapidly. But this doesn’t mean it’s impossible to conceive if you’re older—35-year-old women still have more than 50% odds of conceiving naturally during their first year of trying.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), somewhere around 10 percent of women between the ages of 15 and 44 have trouble getting pregnant or staying pregnant, and around one-third of couples in which the woman trying to conceive is over 35 have fertility problems. Along with age-related changes, a number of health conditions can make it difficult or impossible for a woman to conceive, including ovulation disorders, damage to the fallopian tubes, cervical or uterine abnormalities, early menopause, endometriosis, cancer, and cancer treatments.

What is infertility?
For a woman who is under age 35, infertility means not being able to get pregnant after having frequent, unprotected sex for one year. For women who are 35 and older, infertility is defined as the inability to get pregnant after trying for six months. Keep in mind that men can contribute to infertility, too—this isn’t just a problem that affects women. Male infertility contributes to around one-third of all fertility problems.

At what point in trying to conceive should I see my doctor about fertility?
If you’re trying to conceive or think you may want to in the future, it’s a good idea to have a conversation with your doctor so you can make sure you’re taking the most appropriate steps to make it happen.

Many women who have trouble getting pregnant wonder when it’s an appropriate time to seek help or advice from a doctor. If you’re under age 35, the general guidance is to try getting pregnant for a year before seeing a fertility doctor. If you’re 35 or older, you should see a doctor if you haven’t been able to get pregnant after six months of trying. And if you’re older than 40, the recommendation typically is to see a doctor right away. 

If my cycle is irregular, does this mean I may have fertility problems?
If your cycle is irregular or you’re not getting your period at all, you may not be ovulating every month, or you may be ovulating at different times each month. Irregular ovulation can be caused by various conditions including polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), stress, weight, thyroid conditions, and perimenopause. Any condition that causes irregular ovulation and periods can make it more difficult for you to get pregnant, as ovulation is a necessary step in getting pregnant. Keep in mind that irregular periods do not mean you won’t be able to conceive.

Is there anything I can do to protect my fertility?
Your overall health and reproductive health are connected in a big way, so it’s important to keep lifestyle factors like exercise, nutrition, and alcohol use in mind as you’re trying to conceive. Try to maintain a healthy body weight, avoid smoking and heavy alcohol use, and limit stress.

If you would like to meet with a knowledgeable doctor, consider contacting Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com. We have offices in Phoenix, Ahwatukee, Casa Grande, Goodyear, Scottsdale, Gilbert, and Chandler.

What Women Need to Know About Cholesterol

When it comes to living a healthy lifestyle, many of us are well-versed in the benefits of maintaining a nutritious diet, exercising regularly, and keeping up to date with doctors’ visits. But there are areas of health that many people don’t think about as often, and one of them is cholesterol.

Cholesterol

What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a fatty substance that’s found in cells throughout the body. It circulates through blood by binding to substances called lipoproteins. Some cholesterol is produced by the liver, and some comes from food sources—often animal products.

Our bodies need a certain amount of cholesterol to make hormones, vitamin D, and bile acids that help us break down food. But when cholesterol levels get too high, this can be problematic and contribute to health problems such as coronary artery disease and atherosclerosis.

When we talk about cholesterol, we often hear the terms HDL and LDL, both of which are lipoproteins. Here’s what you need to know about each.

HDL: This stands for high-density lipoprotein, and is often referred to as “good” cholesterol. HDL carries cholesterol from the arteries to the liver, where it is then removed from the body. Healthy levels of HDL may protect your body against heart attack and stroke, but HDL levels that are too low can increase the risk of heart disease.

LDL: This stands for low-density lipoprotein, and is often referred to as “bad” cholesterol. High levels of LDL can contribute to harmful plaque accumulation in your arteries, which can narrow your blood vessels, lead to blood clots, and raise your risk of stroke, heart attack, and other harmful conditions. Ideally, LDL levels should be kept under 100 mg.

Is cholesterol a concern among women?
It’s a common misunderstanding that only men need to worry about their cholesterol levels, but this isn’t true. In fact, cholesterol levels often rise among women around menopause.

Before menopause, estrogen often plays a protective role in terms of raising HDL or “good” cholesterol levels. But the picture changes when menopause arrives—typically HDL (or “good”) cholesterol levels drop, and LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol levels rise, along with overall cholesterol levels. It’s important to have your cholesterol levels checked if you are going through menopause or nearing it so that you can be aware of these changing levels. This is important even if other factors in your life—like diet and exercise—remain consistent. Cholesterol levels can be assessed with a blood test and can often be managed with a healthy diet, exercise, not smoking, maintaining a healthy body weight, and/or medication.

If you would like to meet with a knowledgeable doctor, consider contacting Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com. We have offices in Phoenix, Ahwatukee, Casa Grande, Goodyear, Scottsdale, Gilbert, and Chandler.

Here’s Why UTIs Are Common After Sex

Many of us are familiar with the feeling of a urinary tract infection (UTI)—it can be uncomfortable, annoying, and painful, and often recurs time and time again. Many are also familiar with the unfortunate experience of getting a UTI after having sex, which can easily interfere with your sex life, especially if it becomes a chronic problem.

UTIs and Sex

Here’s what you need to know about UTIs and why they’re fairly common after intercourse.

What is a UTI?
A UTI is an infection that occurs anywhere in your urinary system. It could be in your urethra or bladder (these are the most common locations), or in your kidneys or ureters. Typically, microbes travel from your urethra into your bladder and cause an infection within the urethra or bladder, but sometimes the bacteria can travel higher up into the urinary system, especially if left untreated.

UTIs are far more common among women than men, which is probably why you don’t hear men talking about them very much. This can be partly attributed to female anatomy—women have a shorter urethra, which means bacteria doesn’t have to travel as far before reaching the bladder. Other risk factors include sexual activity, changes in hormone levels after menopause, an impaired immune system, or abnormalities in the urinary tract that could cause a backup of urine in the urethra, or blockages somewhere within the urinary tract.

What are some common symptoms of a UTI?

  • A burning or painful sensation when you urinate
  • A strong urge to urinate
  • Cloudy or bloody urine
  • Urine that smells different than usual
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Feeling shaky or fatigued
  • Pressure or bloating in the abdomen
  • Abdominal pain and muscle aches
  • Fever and chills
  • Pain or pressure in your back

Why are UTIs common after sex?
When you have sex (this includes oral sex, too), bacteria can get into your urethra and bladder.  Women have a shorter urethra than men, which can make it easier for bacteria to make its way to your bladder. But that’s not all—a woman’s urethra is also close to the anus, which can make it easy for bacteria to get to the urethra.

Is there anything I can do to avoid getting a UTI after I have sex?
You can’t completely avoid getting a UTI, but there are a few things you can do to lessen your chances. One is to make sure to urinate after sex—this may help remove bacteria from the bladder. Urinating and/or washing your genital area with warm water before having sex can be helpful, too. Both of these may reduce the chances of bacteria making its way to your urethra and bladder. If UTIs after sex seem to be a recurring problem, some doctors recommend taking prescription antibiotics, but that’s something you’ll want to talk about with your doctor.

Additional tips include drinking lots of water, wiping front to back to avoid spreading bacteria toward your urethra, making sure to use the bathroom when you need to rather than holding it in, keeping your genital area clean, avoid douching, don’t use scented feminine cleaners and sprays, wear cotton underwear, and change out of damp exercise clothes as soon as you can.

Are UTIs dangerous to health?
Many UTIs clear up within a few days after being treated with antibiotics. But if a UTI is left untreated you risk running into more serious health complications like kidney infections and kidney damage, recurring urinary tract infections, and even sepsis.

UTIs are also more dangerous during pregnancy, when the complications of a UTI carry greater risk for a mother and her unborn baby.  It’s important to see or get in touch with your doctor right away If you have any symptoms of a UTI while pregnant.

If you would like to meet with a knowledgeable doctor, consider contacting Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com. We have offices in Phoenix, Ahwatukee, Casa Grande, Goodyear, Scottsdale, Gilbert, and Chandler.