Is It Ever Safe to Stop Getting Mammograms?

A mammogram is a special type of breast x-ray that allows medical professionals to look for changes in breast tissue and detect early signs of breast cancer. Regular mammograms are extremely important because they’re the best way to detect breast cancer early, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). In some cases, mammograms are able to detect breast cancer three years before it can be felt or detected otherwise.

You’re probably beginning to get the point by now that regular mammograms are an important step in protecting your health, even if you don’t have any problems or symptoms related to your breasts. But are mammograms necessary throughout life? Keep reading to find out.

Here’s how often you need to get mammograms
For women with no history of cancer, the American Cancer Society recommends seeing your doctor for a mammogram every year from age 40 through age 54, and every other year from that point on. From age 55 onwards, you can transition to a mammogram every other year until you are 75. Once you hit 75, you’ll want to have a conversation with healthcare provider about whether you should continue to have mammograms, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

If you have a history of breast cancer, the recommendations for mammogram screening may be different. Recommendations from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and the American Cancer Society suggest continuing yearly mammograms for women who have had a unilateral mastectomy or lumpectomy. These mammograms may play an important role in detecting a recurrence of breast cancer or new breast cancer. 

But among women who are older than 75, the guidelines aren’t as cut and dry. ASCO points out two scenarios where regular mammograms may not be recommended or necessary.

The first scenario is among women with significant medical conditions, such as stroke or heart disease, that may pose a higher risk of death than breast cancer. In these situations, it’s not entirely clear whether continuing mammograms through the lifespan is necessary, ASCO points out.

The next scenario is among women who were previously treated for lower-risk types of breast cancer and are now taking medication that lowers their risk of breast cancer. In these situations, mammograms may not as important compared to a case where someone isn’t on this type of medication.

Since mammogram recommendations vary from one woman to another, the best thing you can do once you get close to age 75 is have a discussion with your healthcare provider to come up with a plan that makes the most sense for you.

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.

Improve Your Sex Life with Six Simple Exercises

When life gets busy, it’s easy to let exercise fall out of your regular routine. But we have some potentially motivating news that may encourage you to keep exercise in your day-to-day life. In addition to a tremendous number of health benefits, exercise may also boost your sex life by increasing arousal, desire, and satisfaction. Sex boosts sexual function for number of reasons, such as by increasing blood flow, improving strength and stamina, and increasing levels of testosterone, which may potentially increase sex drive.

Family morning exercise. Mother doing plank, father holding their baby on her back, so he would ride her, including child in activity. Family quarantine, domestic life in self-isolation. Sunset light from the windows.

With that in mind, here are six exercises to improve your sex life:

Go for a jog or bike ride.
Cardiovascular exercise improves your blood flow, including to the regions you experience sexual pleasure. Research shows that cardiovascular exercise can increase pleasure for men and women, leading to increased arousal for women and stronger erections for men. Additionally, getting regular cardiovascular exercise—whether by running, walking, swimming, cycling, or another activity you love—has other benefits on your sex life, such as boosting endurance, strength and flexibility.

Get in the routine of doing Kegels.
Kegels help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, which play an important role in bladder control and may also benefit your sex life. Here are some tips for getting Kegel exercises right, courtesy of the Mayo Clinic:

  • Start by identifying your pelvic floor muscles—an easy way to do so is to stop urinating mid-stream.
  • Work on your technique. “Imagine you are sitting on a marble and tighten your pelvic muscles as if you’re lifting the marble. Try it for three seconds at a time, then relax for a count of three,” the Mayo Clinic suggests
  • Make sure you’re only tightening the pelvic floor muscles rather than engaging additional muscles. And don’t hold your breath!
  • Repeat until you get the hang of it. The Mayo Clinic suggests completing three sets of between 10 and 15 repetitions each day. One great thing about Kegels is you can do them from anywhere.

Challenge yourself to a plank.
Planks and other core exercises can help improve your sex life by building strength, balance, and stamina. To get your core at its strongest, think planks, crunches, and other similar exercises.

For the perfect plank pose, start on your hands and knees with your knees directly beneath your hips and your hands directly beneath your shoulders. Extend your feet back one at a time, maintaining a straight line from your head to your heels, so that your body resembles the shape of a plank. Tighten your abs, glutes, and quadriceps and hold for 30 seconds. After resting for 30 seconds to a minute, try holding plank pose for another 30 seconds. Check out this piece from Women’s Health for a visual.

Get strong with mountain climbers.
Requiring no equipment but your body, mountain climbers are a great way to work on stability and balance. This is a particularly good exercise because it requires many of the same muscles you activate during sex.

To do mountain climbers, get in the position you would assume for a plank or a pushup. While keeping your back straight, bend one knee into the chest and then return it to the starting position. Then do the same with the other leg. Once you get the hang of it, begin to move more quickly, switching back and forth between legs.

Strengthen with a bridge.
In addition to strengthening the pelvic floor, bridges also strengthen the glutes and hamstrings, both of which are used as you thrust during sex.

To practice this exercise, lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the ground with your arms extended along your sides. Push through your heels as you raise your pelvis, keeping your shoulders and upper back on the mat. Squeeze your glutes when you reach the top of your bridge pose before lowering your pelvis back to the ground in a slow and controlled movement. Repeat 10-15 times. Alternatively, you can hold your bridge pose for 30-60 seconds.

Perfect your pushups.
Pushups are a full-body strength-building exercise that are extra helpful if you prefer to be on top during sex and for any positions that require full body engagement.

To do a pushup, begin by coming into a plank-like position with straight arms and palms beneath your shoulders. With your core engaged and while maintaining a stable and straight line from head to feet, slowly bend your elbows and lower your body until your chest hovers just above the ground. Push into your hands as you extend your arms and return to the position you started, again maintaining a straight line to avoid sagging in the hips or any other part of the body.

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.

Don’t Cancel Your Doctor Appointments During the Pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has thrown many changes and challenges our way. Many aspects of our lives that were once routine—like having friends over for dinner—now feel like a distant memory. And while it’s important to change our habits to protect our health and reduce opportunities for COVID-19 transmission, some aspects of life shouldn’t be avoided or put on hold, including medical care.

If you’ve recently cancelled a routine medical visit or thought twice about seeking out care for a new ailment that’s bothering you, you’re not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), up to 40% of adults reported that they have delayed or avoided medical care over the course of the pandemic due to COVID-19-related concerns. Some even avoided urgent care and visits to the emergency department, as evidenced by a decline in the number of emergency visits for heart attack, stroke, and other conditions.

Unfortunately, in some cases, you could be putting your health at risk by avoiding medical care. Determining whether to stay home or visit a healthcare facility during these challenging times is a decision that must be carefully considered—there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to medical care during a pandemic.

Here are a few points to keep in mind:

Don’t avoid visits to the emergency room.
If you’re facing an emergency medical situation, it’s important to see a healthcare provider, whether at a hospital, urgent care facility, or at your physician’s office. If you’re having trouble breathing, suffering from chest pain or pressure, experiencing uncontrolled bleeding, and other emergency conditions, it’s best to seek treatment rather than stay home.

Continue your treatment for chronic conditions.
It’s important to continue to see your healthcare provider to manage chronic conditions. Many conditions can be managed virtually, while some require visiting a healthcare facility, so it’s a good idea to speak to your physician to come up with a plan to continue your care in the safest way possible. If you are at increased risk for COVID-19, speaking to your healthcare provider to come up with a care plan is particularly important.

Don’t skip out on routine cancer screenings
If you have an upcoming mammogram or pap smear, it’s best not to put this off‚ especially if you’re at high risk for cancer and other conditions. These exams are particularly important if you have a personal or family history of cancer or have received abnormal results from a screening in the past.

Visit your provider for important vaccines
You may be tempted to skip a flu vaccine this year, but the CDC reports that the influenza vaccine is more important than ever before this fall. In addition to seeing your physician, you may be able to get this vaccine at a pharmacy or a walk-in clinic. 

Look into COVID-19 safety protocols ahead of time.
Many healthcare facilities list their COVID-19 safety protocols on their website—take a look before leaving the house (or even before making an appointment) so you know what to expect and can plan ahead. Your provider may offer the option to fill out forms online or to wait in your car until it’s time to see your healthcare provider.

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.