Vaginal health and wellness is a major area of concern for women of all ages. But what exactly constitutes a healthy vagina? Although the term “healthy” is subjective and dependent on a woman’s age, the vagina is considered healthy when its pH is acidic. A healthy vagina should contain rich quantities of beneficial bacteria to help fight off infections, and it should be naturally lubricated. Even women who are cautious and make regular visits to their gynecologist can be vulnerable to certain gynecological health symptoms. That’s why our experts are happy to provide some tips for how women can maintain a healthy vagina.

4 Tips for Maintaining a Healthy VaginaWear More Breathable Clothing
Breathable clothing and fabrics can help aid in good vagina health. We highly recommend wearing cotton underwear with moisture-wicking properties to limit moisture and prevent potential bacterial growth. Change out of wet clothing ASAP to help reduce your risk for infections and other issues.

Never Miss an Annual Well Woman Exam
Keeping up with your gynecological exams is also crucial for maintaining great vaginal health. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends for women to begin undergoing annual gynecologic screening exams and Pap smears beginning at age 21. Our board-certified gynecologists are trained to diagnose and treat a wide variety of vaginal health concerns that can affect your reproductive and overall health.

Practice Safe Sex
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like HIV, genital herpes, syphilis, gonorrhea, genital warts, and chlamydia can have negative effects on your vaginal health. Additionally, some of them like the human papillomavirus (HPV) can even cause gynecological cancer and other serious health concerns. That’s why it is so important to use condoms and practice safe sex to prevent any potential STI.

Maintain a Vagina-Friendly Diet
Following a balanced, nutritious diet and staying hydrated can have a great many benefits for your body including promoting good reproductive health. Try to reduce your sugar intake, as yeast can feed on sugar. Eating certain foods can even help in treating some vaginal health problems. For instance, yogurt (especially plain, sugar-free yogurt) can potentially help prevent and treat yeast infections thanks to being so rich in probiotics.

For more vaginal health tips, follow along with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Achieving good vaginal health isn’t a one-step process. Thankfully, following these simple steps can be a great way to begin your journey towards the best-possible reproductive health. To schedule an appointment with board-certified gynecologist Dr. Kristine Gould, please contact Gynecology Associates of Gwinnett today.

Matters of reproductive health and wellness can be the source of anxiety. Receiving word from a gynecologist that the results of a recent pap smear came back abnormal can be scary. Not only does the word "abnormal" make it sound as if something is wrong, but since pap smears screen for serious conditions like HPV and cervical cancer, it’s only natural to fear that you may be facing a serious female health concern.

What to do After Receiving an Abnormal Pap ResultHowever, it’s important to remember that abnormal pap results are actually very common and are not necessarily a sign of anything wrong. An abnormal result doesn’t mean that you have cancer. In fact, only a small percentage of women who receive an abnormal result actually are diagnosed with cervical cancer. An abnormal result just means that there has been a change to some cervical cells. An abnormal pap smear can be caused by minor conditions like inflammation or certain infections.

The most common reason for an abnormal pap smear result is ASCUS which occurs when cells don’t exactly look normal. ASCUS paps are considered slightly abnormal results. According to the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals, normal, noncancerous cervical cells are present in about 75% of women with ASCUS results. In some cases, receiving an ASCUS pap can result from a poor sample. This is common for women who recently had intercourse or used certain feminine hygiene products.

As far as what to do after receiving an abnormal result from your pap smear, that depends on your unique situation. We typically recommend that you schedule a repeat test in the near future. For women under 30 who receive an abnormal pap result, the lab will reflexively check for HPV. If this comes back negative, then the pap is considered normal. If it’s positive, then the woman will require a colposcopy. During a colposcopy, a microscope is used to inspect the cervix for abnormal areas. If needed, abnormal cells can be removed using loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP). This can prevent abnormal cells from ever becoming cancerous. For women over 30 who receive routine tests for HPV, a negative HPV result is also indicates a normal pap. If the HPV result is positive, a colposcopy will be needed. Since cervical cancer can’t be diagnosed via a pap test, you may require a biopsy in order to rule out that possibility.

So in short, if you ever receive abnormal results from a pap smear, try not to panic. Odds are that you're going to be just fine. But to be safe, make a follow-up appointment with your board-certified gynecologist and take whatever necessary steps are recommended to help you take control of your reproductive health. To schedule a pap smear appointment, please contact Dr. Kristine Gould at Gynecology Associates of Gwinnett today. And follow us on social media for even more tips, news, and info in our upcoming health & wellness events.

For many women in the US (roughly 1 in every 10), endometriosis can be a source of considerable pain and frustration. Endometriosis is a gynecological condition caused by the tissue that lines the inside of the uterus growing and extending outside of the uterus. In addition to causing a number of unfortunate symptoms including chronic pain in the pelvis (especially during menstrual periods), pain during sex, and heavy or unnaturally long menstrual periods, endometriosis is strongly linked to female infertility and a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer. To help women ease their endometriosis-related pain, our board-certified gynecologists have provided a few tips on how to manage endometriosis symptoms.

3 Tips to Manage Your Endometriosis SymptomsEat Healthy & Exercise

In addition to other more obvious health benefits, eating right and exercising regularly may provide some relief from the symptoms of endometriosis. Since endometriosis has been linked to certain bodily processes like inflammation and estrogen activity, eating foods that aid in these processes can help women prevent exacerbating their symptoms. We recommend that women with endometriosis eat more fresh fruits and vegetables as well as foods high in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon and walnuts. Working out (either high-intensity activity or low-intensity exercise like yoga or walking) can also ease endometriosis symptoms by aiding in the circulation of blood to your organs, maintaining the flow of nutrients and oxygen to all your body systems, decreasing estrogen production, reducing stress, and releasing endorphins in the brain.

Manage Your Stress

Endometriosis symptoms can also be triggered by high levels of stress. As these symptoms can often be one of the sources of your stress, we understand that this can seem like a never-ending cycle at times. But certain relaxation techniques and breathing exercises can help you to increase your awareness of your body, refocus on something calming, and reduce the activity of stress hormones.

Consider Medication Options

If diet and exercise don’t help, your board-certified gynecologist can recommend medication options for endometriosis depending on your age, the severity of your symptoms, whether you want to become pregnant in the future, and your unique medical history. These can range from over-the-counter pain relievers to hormone therapies including birth control pills, hormonal IUDs, and GnRH (gonadotropin-releasing hormone) agonists.

Keep in mind that these suggestions are meant to help manage your symptoms, not cure them. In order to properly treat endometriosis, surgery may be required. This can mean conservative surgery to remove the endometrial tissue while keeping the reproductive organs intact or a total hysterectomy for women with more extreme endometriosis, who are not interested in becoming pregnant in the future. For more information or to schedule an appointment today, please contact Dr. Kristine Gould at Gynecology Associates of Gwinnett. And follow along with us on social media for more helpful tips, news, and updates on women’s reproductive health & wellness.

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Breast cancer is a potential threat to all women that should not be taken lightly. This is especially true for women with an elevated risk of developing breast cancer due to a family history of the disease or certain genetic mutations. This is why it is so important to keep up with your annual breast exams and screenings. But not every woman, especially younger patients, knows what to expect from their breast exam. That’s why our board-certified gynecologists have taken some time to explain just what annual breast exams should entail.

What to Expect From an Annual Breast ExamThe first component of the annual breast check-up is undergoing a clinical breast exam (CBE). A clinical breast exam is performed by a healthcare professional, like your board-certified gynecologist, who is trained to recognize different types of abnormalities and potential warning signs of breast cancer like lumps, skin dimpling, and rashes. During the exam, you may be asked to raise your arms over your head, let them hang by your sides, or press your hands against your hips in order to let your provider look for differences in the size or shape between your breasts. Your nipples may also be checked to look for signs of any abnormal discharge.

The second half of the equation is receiving an annual mammogram starting at age 40. Unfortunately for younger women with denser breasts, noticing breast cancer during a mammogram can be more challenging since both more dense breasts and cancer appear white during screening. A mammogram is a screening method that uses x-rays to look for suspicious areas on the breast tissue. Before the screening begins, the breast is exposed to a small dose of ionizing radiation that helps produce an image of the breast tissue. Mammograms complement clinical breast exams by showing lumps and other abnormalities before they can be seen or felt.

Performing monthly breast self-exams can be an excellent way for women to take stock of the condition of their breast health between their annual exams. A breast self-exam is a screening technique women can perform at home to help check for lumps, tumors, cysts, or other abnormalities that can occur in a woman’s breasts. The majority of breast lumps found in women are discovered during breast self-exams. Self-exams are especially important for younger women who may not be receiving annual mammograms yet. Keep in mind that breast self-exams are meant to supplement annual clinical breast exams and mammograms, not replace them.

Although it can be impossible to truly prevent breast cancer, staying on-schedule with your annual breast exams and performing regular breast self-exams can go a very long way towards detecting breast cancer before it has a chance to grow and spread throughout the body. Here at Gynecology Associates of Gwinnett, a breast exam is part of an annual well woman exam designed to assess the reproductive and overall health of each patient. To schedule an appointment for a well woman exam, please contact Dr. Kristine Gould at Gynecology Associates of Gwinnett today or follow us on social media for even more information, news, and more.

The years leading up to the onset of menopause, known commonly as the perimenopause period, can be especially challenging for women. During this time, fluctuating levels of estrogen and progesterone in the body can bring on a number of physical and emotional symptoms ranging from hot flashes and trouble sleeping to mood swings and vaginal health symptoms. This is why many women turn to hormone therapy as a way to control their menopause side effects. Hormone therapy uses medications to supplement the body’s supply of estrogen and/or progestogen to help minimize the effects of menopause.

How to Find the Right Hormone Therapy for YouEven after a woman decides that she would like to begin hormone therapy, the decision making process is far from over. Hormone therapy is broken down into two categories: systemic and local. Below we will explain both of these therapies in detail to help present a clearer picture of which type of hormone therapy may be the best fit for your personal reproductive needs.

The first category of hormone therapy is known as systemic therapy. During systemic therapy, the replacement hormones are released into the bloodstream. This can be done with through the use of a pill, injections, skin patches, or topical gels or sprays that are applied onto the skin. Once they enter the bloodstream, the hormones travel to the organs and tissues where they are most needed. Systemic therapy is typically recommended for women dealing with severe hot flashes and sleep problems.

For women who are experiencing issues more specific to the vagina, including vaginal dryness, local therapy may be the preferred option. Local therapy uses a vaginal ring, tablet, or cream to deliver small doses of estrogen directly into the vaginal tissue. This added estrogen can help restore the vaginal lining while soothing vaginal health symptoms like dryness and itching.

Choosing the appropriate type of hormone replacement therapy depends largely on your health, the degree of your symptoms, your personal preference, and what you hope to achieve through your hormone therapy treatments. That’s why it’s so important to do your research and consult with a board-certified gynecologist to help fully understand all of your potential options. For more information or to schedule a consultation with Dr. Kristine Gould, please contact Gynecology Associates of Gwinnett today. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for more tips, news, and updates on our upcoming Health and Wellness events.

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Gynecology Associates of Gwinnett
601 Professional Drive, Suite 330
Lawrenceville, Georgia 30046   
Phone: 678.380.1980   
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