5 Ways to Reduce Your Risk for Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer is a slow-growing disease that develops within the cells of the cervix and is known to be silent in its early stages. Most cervical cancer is caused by strains of a very common sexually transmitted infection called human papillomavirus, or HPV. Many times, the immune system will prevent HPV from causing harm, but sometimes it can damage cervical cells in a way that can lead to cancer.

There’s no sure way to prevent cervical cancer, but taking the following steps can play a substantial role in reducing your risk.

Don’t skip your screenings.
“The most important thing you can do to help prevent cervical cancer is to have regular screening tests starting at age 21,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. Screening can be accomplished in your doctor’s office in two ways:

  • A pap smear, which looks for cell changes to the cervix that may become cervical cancer in the future if left untreated.
  • An HPV test, which detects the virus itself that can cause the cellular changes that lead to cervical cancer.

Get vaccinated.
The HPV vaccine is important because it protects against the types of HPV that most frequently cause cervical cancer. The vaccine is administered in two-doses for people under the age of 15, and in three-doses for anyone 15 and older.

The vaccine is most effective when it’s given before someone has any exposure to HPV. It’s available for those aged 9 and older, but is recommended for 11- and 12-year-olds. It’s also recommended for everyone 26 and younger. Additionally, some unvaccinated people between the ages of 27 and 45 may choose to get the vaccine, depending on their risk for HPV infection. The vaccine is generally less beneficial for people who fall in this age range, because there’s a stronger likelihood of prior exposure to HPV.

If a pap smear is abnormal, be sure to follow-up on it.
If results of your pap smear are abnormal, your doctor may recommend a test called a colposcopy, which allows them to look at your cervix using a magnifying lens to detect abnormal cells. If your physician identifies abnormal cells, they’ll perform a biopsy for further testing. The colposcopy and biopsy are fairly painless, so don’t panic if you need to get one. Your physician will likely ask you to return for another pap smear at a later date. Don’t skip these tests, as they’re important in allowing your doctor to identify what’s going on in your body.

Practice safe sex.
The key takeaways here are to use condoms and limit your number of sexual partners. Using condoms is associated with lower rates of cervical cancer, according to the CDC, though there are still a lot of unknowns surrounding the effect of condoms in preventing HPV.

Limiting your number of sexual partners is also important because it may reduce your odds of being exposed to HPV infection. HPV can be passed among people through skin-to-skin contact with a part of the body that’s infected with HPV (including the vagina, vulva, cervix, penis, or anus). It’s important to understand that the virus can spread through this skin-to-skin contact even if you don’t have sex.

Keep in mind that limiting your number of sexual partners won’t put you in the clear in terms of getting HPV. The virus is very common, so you can still get HPV even if you only have one sexual partner.

Ditch smoking.
Smoking can double your risk of getting cervical cancer. Staying away from cigarettes is important in lowering your risk for cervical cancer, The American Cancer Society says. 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.

Depression Among Stay-At-Home Moms is Real

Being a stay-at-home mom is a tough job anytime, but especially these days when there are so many extra responsibilities and burdens added into the picture due to the coronavirus. In addition to parenting around the clock, many stay-at-home moms are now guiding their children through virtual learning and managing bustling homes that are far more busy than usual.

Being a stay-at-home mom comes with many rewards, but the job—yes, being a stay-at-home mom is definitely a job—can be challenging, lonely and isolating, and some women even feel a loss of identity. Sometimes, being a stay-at-home mom is even associated with depression. According to WebMD, studies show that depression is more common among stay-at-home moms than among moms who work outside the home.

What contributes to depression among stay-at-home moms?
Many stay-at-home moms are constantly burdened with feeling like they’re not getting everything right and that they should or could be doing more. Many also compare themselves to other moms and feel like they’re not good enough. It’s common for stay-at-home moms to worry that they should be cooking more and their house should be cleaner, they should be spending more time with the kids, they should be excelling in other areas, and the list goes on. It’s important to remember that no one is perfect, even if it appears that way from the outside—especially on social media.

Being a stay-at-home mom can be isolating.
Women who head to the office each day often have numerous opportunities for social contact. In contrast, being a stay-at-home mom can be far more isolating. Many stay-at-home moms have limited contact with other adults throughout the day, and this loneliness can contribute to depression. One way to deal  with isolation and loneliness is to take some time to let someone know you’re feeling isolated—they may be feeling the same way. Another suggestion is to do what you can to prioritize getting out once in a while so you can be around other adults in a way that feels good and fulfilling to you.

Some moms feel a lack of appreciation.
The to-do list is never-ending when you’re a stay-at-home mom. Many stay-at-home moms feel like they’re constantly busy, but find it hard to pinpoint exactly what they’ve accomplished. They also feel like others may not appreciate all that they do throughout the day. To feel more accomplished, try making a list of everything you do throughout the day—this will let you see how many important contributions you make to your family and may help you feel more important and appreciated.

Here’s what to do if you’re feeling depressed.
If depression is interfering in your day-to-day life or feels overwhelming, it’s important to speak with a healthcare provider or a mental health professional. Trained professionals have many resources to help you out.

Some other ideas are to reach out to a friend to talk about your struggles, join an online support group, try to prioritize spending some time outside your home, and set a goal or find some type of activity or hobby that gives you a sense of purpose. Of course, if you miss getting outside the house to go to work, finding a full or part time job might be a good idea to consider, too.

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 You Need to Know About Urinary Incontinence

If you feel as though you just don’t have control of your bladder or if you ever leak urine, you may be suffering from a condition called urinary incontinence. This loss of bladder control and urine leakage can happen when your bladder muscles tighten but your sphincter isn’t able to close off the urethra. This can happen for a number of reasons, such as laughing, sneezing, exercising, stress, pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, and problems with the nerves that control your urethra and bladder muscles.

Now that you understand the basics, here’s what you need to know about urinary incontinence and how it might impact your life:

Urinary incontinence is fairly common.
About one in two women and one in four men experience symptoms of urinary incontinence, according to the Urology Care Foundation. One reason urinary incontinence is more common among women is that childbirth, pregnancy, and menopause all might affect the urinary tract and potentially weaken the pelvic floor muscles. When the pelvic floor muscles are weak, the urinary tract muscles must work harder to keep urine in, and this added stress can lead to urinary leakage.

Another reason urinary incontinence is more common among women is that the urethra is shorter in the female body, leaving women more prone to urinary incontinence.

What causes urinary incontinence?
Most of the time, urinary continence is due to problems with the muscles and nerves that help you hold in urine and pass urine. Some common contributors to urinary incontinence include chronic constipation, being overweight, damage to the pelvic floor muscles during surgery on the reproductive organs, and nerve damage. Short-term urinary incontinence can occur due to urinary tract or bladder infections, as a medication side effect, or after caffeine intake.

Many women experience urinary incontinence during pregnancy.
Up to 40 percent of women experience urinary incontinence while pregnant. Why does this happen? As your baby grows during pregnancy, this puts pressure on the bladder and pelvic floor muscles. This can lead to weakened pelvic floor muscles and you may leak urine. But there’s good news—typically, this problem doesn’t persist long after childbirth.

The pelvic floor muscles can also weaken during a vaginal childbirth, leading to short-term urinary incontinence. Usually this resolves within six weeks of childbirth.

Menopause can cause urinary incontinence, too.
Post-menopausal women produce less estrogen, which might weaken the urethra and lead to issues with urinary incontinence, researchers believe

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.