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Category Archives: Health Tips

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder that usually affects women who are of reproductive age. About 1 in 10 women have PCOS during their lifetime. When a woman has PCOS, it means the natural hormone levels in her body are imbalanced. Women struggling with PCOS often experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Irregular periods. Women with PCOS often have heavy, absent, infrequent, or unpredictable periods.
  • Infertility or difficulty getting pregnant 
  • Hirsutism, or increased hair growth. 1 in 7 women with PCOS report excess hair growth on their face, chest, or upper thighs.
  • Obesity. About 4 in 5 women with PCOS struggle with obesity or metabolism problems
  • Severe acne and/ or oily skin
  • Patches of thick, darkened skin
  • Multiple small cysts on the ovaries 

There is no one cause of PCOS. Instead, the disorder is believed to be a result of many different factors working together. Some factors that can contribute to PCOS are insulin resistance, imbalanced levels of specific hormones like androgen, insulin, and progesterone. High androgen levels can prevent normal ovulation, lead to infertility, cause acne and excess body hair. Women with PCOS often struggle with insulin resistance. Insulin manages blood sugar levels in the body. All of these hormone imbalances may increase the lifetime risk of other health concerns including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, endometrial cancer, and depression. 

There are several treatment options for PCOS. Treatment plans are usually tailored to a woman’s specific symptoms, medical history, and reproductive plans. If you are not currently trying to conceive, birth control pills are a popular form of treatment because they contain the hormones estrogen and progestin, which regulate the menstrual cycle, decrease acne and body hair growth. Medications often used to treat diabetes have also proven effective in treating PCOS because they help the body respond to insulin and improve menstrual regularity. Healthy eating, routine exercise and even small weight losses have also proven helpful for women struggling with irregular periods and infertility due to PCOS. With proper treatment, the symptoms of PCOS are manageable and it is possible to have a healthy pregnancy and delivery.

If you are experiencing irregular menstrual cycles, severe acne, or excessive hair growth, talk to your healthcare provider. They can help you map out a customized treatment plan. The doctors at Westside OB/GYN are happy to address all of your health concerns and questions. Call 954-473-2011 to request an appointment.

Breastfeeding, the original food, has been gaining in popularity over the past decade with science continuing to support the benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and child. Breast-fed infants have decreased rates of some common childhood infections and decreased rates of childhood obesity. Moms who breast-feed have decreased rates of high blood pressure, diabetes and breast and ovarian cancers. 

But for many women, it is not as easy as simply choosing to breastfeed. Breastfeeding can be a difficult journey for mothers of all backgrounds. Learning how to successfully latch your baby takes practice, and maintaining milk supply is a challenge for many mothers. Breastfeeding moms also have to deal with breastfeeding through their children’s teething, their own bodily changes and navigating family and outside work responsibilities. Breastfeeding takes patience and dedication, even at the best of times.

Breastfeeding may seem like a no-brainer for some, but the breastfeeding playing field is not a level one. It’s challenging for many women. In some communities of color, especially Black communities, breastfeeding is much less common. About 69.4% of Black women attempt breastfeeding after giving birth, compared to 83.2% of women overall. Black women also have the shortest breastfeeding duration of all women (about 6.5 weeks). At 6 months, about 44% of Black women are still breastfeeding compared to 57% of women overall. 

This week, August 25-31 marks Black Breastfeeding Week dedicated to celebrate and support moms in their nursing journey. 

So, what resources can Black women turn to?

-Talk with your doctor during your pregnancy about your desire to breastfeed. Ask what resources are provided by your hospital, insurer and employer to help you start and maintain lactation. 

-Does your hospital have lactation consultants trained to help mothers successfully breastfeed. They walk you through latching your baby correctly and how to know if your baby is getting enough to eat during feedings.

-Support groups are a great resource for breastfeeding mothers, as having a supportive community is extremely beneficial to successful breastfeeding. A simple google search can supply support groups online and in your area. 

blackmothersbreastfeeding.org provides virtual information sessions, support groups, tips for increasing milk supply, and other resources for Black breastfeeding mothers.

-Most insurance companies offer low or no cost breast pumps. Some hospitals and governmental assistance programs like WIC, may rent pumps. 

-Your healthcare provider can provide breastfeeding advice and resources. We at Westside OB/GYN are always happy to answer questions about breastfeeding and lactation. Call 954-473-2011 to request an appointment.

For more information on breastfeeding, check out my Breastfeeding FAQs!

Women have quite a lot to deal with on the reproductive health playing field. Between PMS, menstruation, pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause, it sometimes seems like we can’t get a break. All of these are normal and beautiful processes that the female body can go through, but sometimes they come with extra risk or complications. It is important to keep track of your reproductive health to lessen your risk and effectively treat any complications. Uterine fibroids are a complication that affects many women. July is fibroid awareness month, which is a great time to learn about fibroids and what we can do to treat them.

So what are uterine fibroids?

Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous growths developed from the muscle tissue of the uterus. Uterine fibroids affect over 70% of women. Fibroids come in many shapes and sizes. In fact, many women don’t realize that they have fibroids. Fibroids can be so small that they cannot be seen by the naked eye or bigger than a grapefruit. The size and placement of the fibroids determine the severity of symptoms. Fibroids can cause pelvic pain, frequent urination, heavy menstruation, and difficulty getting pregnant. Pregnant women who have fibroids have a higher risk of being unable to carry to term or deliver vaginally. 

There are three types of fibroids:

  • intramural fibroids are located within the muscle wall of the uterus
  • subserosal fibroids grow on the outer part of the uterus
  • submucosal fibroids push on the inner lining of the uterus

Submucosal fibroids often cause more bleeding than other types of fibroids, as they grow just beneath the lining of the uterus. Even small submucosal fibroids can cause excessive bleeding or elongated periods (whereas women are more likely to be unaware if they have small intramural or subserosal fibroids, as they often are asymptomatic). Submucosal fibroids are the most likely to impact pregnancy and delivery. 

There are several options for treating fibroids. Your doctor will recommend a course of treatment based on the location and size of your fibroids, as well as your health history. Your doctor may decide to simply monitor your fibroids, but medication and surgery are two options that are also used as treatment. Prescriptions like birth controls can help regulate the heavy bleeding fibroids cause, and procedures like myomectomy and hysterectomy remove the fibroids or the uterus, respectively. Before any treatment plan is determined, your doctor will discuss your reproductive plans with you. 

If you are experiencing heavy menstrual bleeding or pelvic pain, you should make an appointment for a check-up right away. Dr. Ghea is a top female OBGYN in Plantation, FL with expertise in female reproductive health and symptoms. Dr. Ghea has appointments available at Westside OB/GYN group.  Call 954-473-2011 to schedule an appointment.

Having a hysterectomy can be a scary thought, especially if you aren’t sure what the recovery will be like. As with any kind of surgical procedure, the recovery varies depending on the person. No two women’s bodies are the same. This particular surgical operation is done to remove the uterus, also known as the womb, the organ crucial to the act of reproduction. 

After you’ve gone through a hysterectomy, you will no longer menstruate, nor have the ability to become pregnant.

There are many reasons why a doctor may suggest a woman undergoes a hysterectomy, including things like chronic pelvic pain, uncontrollable vaginal bleeding, fibroids or cancer of the uterus, cervix or ovaries. 

Recovery time can vary depending on the person, the reason, and even the method of surgery. There are three kinds of hysterectomies, all of which require a general or regional anesthetic. An abdominal hysterectomy is when the doctor removes your uterus through a  cut made in the abdomen. Your doctor may suggest this method if your uterus is very large or you have many adhesions from several prior surgeries. In general it requires a longer recovery time. 

A vaginal hysterectomy is when your uterus is removed through an incision made inside the vagina. You will not have any incisions on the abdomen. Usually your hospital stay will be shorter and your return to normal activities will be quicker with this approach than with an abdominal hysterectomy. Not all women  are able to have a vaginal hysterectomy but it is the first choice if your circumstances allow. 

A laparoscopic or robot-assisted laparoscopic hysterectomy is when the doctor uses a laparoscope, which is a long, thin tube with a light and a camera at the front of it. It’s inserted through a small incision made in the abdomen. Then a few small ( about a half an inch long) incisions are made in the lower belly for additional surgical instruments. Using the camera to find the uterus, the doctor will then remove the uterus.

If you have had an abdominal hysterectomy, you may need to stay in the hospital for a couple of days. While you are in the hospital, your doctor will ask you to walk around the hospital as soon as you can — this helps to prevent blood clots from forming in the legs.  The recovery period does not end once you’ve returned home though. For this type of surgery, recovery typically lasts 6 weeks. Worried about a visible scar? Don’t be. Incisions made during this surgery are usually made low in the belly along the natural skin folds to minimize the appearance.

If the procedure was less invasive, i.e., vaginal or laparoscopic-assisted  an overnight hospital stay may not be necessary. Women who have had these kinds of surgeries can go home sooner after the procedure, and the recovery time is much quicker, sometimes only about two weeks. 

During your recovery period, it is recommended that you do not do any kind of heavy lifting or pushing/pulling of any items (i.e., a vacuum cleaning), do not have sexual intercourse for at least 6 weeks, do not put anything (including tampons) into your vagina, and continue to walk as much as possible. Take walks outside or around the house to keep the blood circulating in your legs.

Are you are thinking about having a hysterectomy or have one scheduled, and have questions or concerns? Dr. Ghea is the top female OBGYN in Fort Lauderdale, for you to meet with. She can speak with you at length about the procedure, risks, benefits, and of course, give you her best women’s health tips to follow during recovery period following the surgery.

If you are looking for an OBGYN in Plantation, make an appointment with Dr. Ghea at Westside OBGYN Group, a Plantation OBGYN office, by calling 954-473-2011.

Nausea. One of the most notoriously dreaded pregnancy symptoms. 

Why does one of life’s biggest joys make us feel sick? The actual cause of nausea during pregnancy isn’t 100% clear, but according to the American Pregnancy Association, this nausea peaks around the same time as the human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) hormone is produced. This is a specific hormone the body produces once the fertilized egg attaches to the uterine lining, and is usually referred to as a “pregnancy hormone.” 

There are many other theories out there that speculate about the factors that could contribute to this common pregnancy symptom, including things like the production of estrogen during early pregnancy, a sensitive stomach, stress and fatigue. 

This common morning sickness tends to start before you’ve reached the 9 week mark, and can last as long as several weeks or months, or your entire pregnancy — but that’s not always the case. Some women only experience it until the second trimester begins.

While normal nausea and vomiting is completely normal, there is a very small amount of severe cases referred to as hyperemesis gravidarum. This only occurs in up to 3% of pregnancies and is diagnosed if the women has lost 5% of her prepregnancy weight and has problems related to dehydration. In these cases, the woman needs treatment in order to stop the vomiting and restore her body fluids.

If you’re worried about the length of time you feel nauseous or the amount you are vomiting, it’s important to see your doctor or OBGYN right away in case treatment is needed. 

As a female OBGYN in Fort Lauderdale who has had a child, Dr. Ghea is an excellent resource to use when you need women’s health tips about how to manage your nausea and any other symptoms you might be experiencing during your pregnancy. 

If the nausea is really getting to you, making a few necessary diet and lifestyle changes will help you feel much better. Take a multivitamin and drink lots of fluids, avoid any smells that bother you, and consume real, fresh ginger (i.e., ginger ale with real ginger, ginger tea, ginger candies and capsules). You can also try eating smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day instead of three larger meals, and follow the “BRATT” diet, which stands for bananas, rice, applesauce, toast and tea — bland foods that are low in fat and easy to digest. 

As long as you are staying hydrated and can keep food down, mild to moderate nausea and vomiting will not harm you or your baby. If you are unable to eat a balanced diet due to this nausea, make sure you are taking a prenatal vitamin to get the necessary nutrients for you and your baby.

Dr. Ghea, a top female OBGYN in Plantation, is always happy to answer any of your questions about morning sickness, or any questions or concerns you have about your pregnancy in general. If you are looking for a Plantation OBGYN office, Dr. Ghea has appointments available at Westside OBGYN Group. Call 954-473-2011 to schedule an appointment.

Periods. 

Once a month is enough, wouldn’t you agree? Sometimes, however, we are surprised by random spotting, or vaginal bleeding occurring between your regular monthly periods. The spotting could be as light as a few drops of blood on your underwear, or you could bleed as much as you would when you start your period. 

Spotting is common. The reasons for this irregular bleeding can vary depending on each individual woman’s health situation, but there are some very common causes, such as pregnancy, birth control and infection. 

Let’s look at these top three reasons for spotting in between periods more closely. 

If you have just become pregnant, you may experience spotting between periods at the time when the fertilized egg has been implanted into the uterus and is starting to grow. This is referred to as implantation bleeding. 

Implantation bleeding may seem like your actual period, but it is different. One of the main ways it differs is in appearance — implantation bleeding may be lighter in color and amount than what you are used to seeing during your period. You won’t experience any aching, pain or cramping like you may during your regular period either. 

Approximately 25-30% of pregnant women will experience some amount of spotting early on in their normal pregnancy. It could also be the sign of a miscarriage. Spotting may also occur during an ectopic pregnancy, which means that a fertilized egg has been implanted on the outside of the uterus. 

Spotting is normal for those who have just started or just stopped taking birth control or estrogen pills. It can also occur if you’ve accidentally missed taking one of those pills. A contraceptive patch, implant, injection or the IUD can also be a cause.

Certain vaginal, cervical and uterine infections and inflammation conditions can cause spotting, as can sexually transmitted infections including chlamydia, gonorrhea and genital warts.

There are other factors that can cause irregular bleeding in between periods, such as your thyroid levels being too high or too low, having pelvic inflammatory disease or polycystic ovary syndrome (PSOS), and vaginal dryness or atrophy after menopause. 

Spotting may also occur because of certain medications, such as blood thinning medications, antidepressants and corticosteroids. It can even happen because of something as simple as stress.

If you notice that your vaginal bleeding has become heavier than normal, you’ve noticed a change in the bleeding pattern or you’ve passed blood clots, it’s time to investigate. This is the time to make sure and visit your OBGYN.

If you experience spotting or irregular bleeding between periods, you may feel confused or worried about what is happening to your body. If you feel any concern, you should reach out to your OBGYN. As a female OBGYN in Fort Lauderdale, Dr. Ghea can discuss this matter with you and go over the possibilities of what could be causing the spotting to occur.

If you are looking for a Fort Lauderdale obstetrician to discuss your menstrual cycle with, Dr. Ghea is here to help. You can schedule an appointment with her at her Plantation OBGYN office, Westside OBGYN Group by calling 954-473-2011.

The process of giving birth is a natural and beautiful phenomenon, but labor isn’t the most comfortable thing in the world. Whether you decide to perform a natural delivery or not, there are some breathing techniques that may help you through that discomfort. 

Here are some methods to make labor easier on you and your baby. Patterned breathing involves the act of breathing at any range of feasible rates and depths. Some women prefer to breathe deeply through the use of their diaphragm to fill their abdomen with air. Other women favor light breathing, inhaling as much as necessary to fill their chest. Your intention should be to find breathing patterns that leave you feeling calm and relaxed. Your breathing should be at a rate in which you feel comfortable and shouldn’t make you feel winded or light-headed.

As you learn more about labor and birth, you’ll find that different patterns of breathing are used at different stages. You’ll figure out how to use breathing as a way to focus on making every contraction a productive part of the birthing process. 

There are several benefits to mastering patterned breathing. It evolves into an automatic reaction to pain while also making you feel calm, collected, and in control. The steady pace of breathing is comforting throughout labor, and will allow you to be in a more relaxed state and respond in a more positive way to the first sign of pain. The increased oxygen will give you the strength and energy you need. It’ll bring focus to every contraction, making them more productive. You can also apply these techniques whenever you’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or anxious.

It’s important to inhale deeply at the start and end of every contraction. This not only helps hone you focus, but also gives off more oxygen for your baby, your muscles and your uterus.

For the first stage of labor, start breathing slowly once your contractions are too intense for you to be able to walk or talk through them without stopping. Breath slowly for as long as you find it useful. Transition to another pattern of breathing if you grow tense and can no longer relax through the contractions.

The key is to take a solid breath and release a big sigh as soon as the contraction starts. Let go of all tension (go limp from head to toe) as you exhale. Focus all your attention on your breath. Inhale slowly through your nose and exhale through your mouth, as you allow all that air to flow out with a sigh. Through each exhale, focus on calming a different part of your body.

Most women feel the need to shift to light accelerated breathing at some point during the active phase of labor. Let the intensity of your contractions help you decide if and when to use light breathing. Breathe in and out quickly through your mouth at about one breath per second. Keep your breathing light. Your inhalations should make no sound, but your exhalation should be detectable.

Accelerate and lighten the breaths you take as the contraction gets more intense. If the contraction peaks earlier than you expected, then you’ll just have to accelerate early within the contraction. If it peaks more progressively, just build up to peak speed at a slower rate. Keep your mouth and shoulders relaxed.

Follow your light breath along with the peak of your contraction by advancing your breath rate. Breathe in and out through your mouth. Once your contractions start to decrease in intensity, you can slow down your breathing rate and return back to breathing through your nose and out your mouth.

Take your final breath and exhale with a sigh when the contraction ends.

There’s also a variation of light breathing referred to as variable (transition) breathing. It’s sometimes called “pant-pant-blow” or “hee-hee-who” breathing. Variable breathing integrates light breathing with a periodic longer or more prominent exhalation. Variable breathing is practiced in the first stage if you feel overwhelmed, unable to relax, in despair, or exhausted.

For this type of breathing, focus your attention on your partner or a focal point (i.e. a photo). Make sure to breathe through your mouth taking light breaths at a rate of 5-20 breaths in 10 seconds during the contraction.

After every second, third, fourth, or fifth breath, let out a longer breath. You may attempt expressing this longer exhale with a “who.”

When the contraction finishes, take one or two deep breaths with a sigh.

There will be times throughout both stages of labor when you’ll want to push or bear down, but it’s not the right time. Most women try to hold their breath during these especially challenging moments. Avoid holding your breath by breathing in and out consistently or by raising your chin and blowing or panting. This will keep you from adding to the pushing that your body is already doing.

For the second stage of labor, you’ll want to practice expulsion breathing. It’s helpful for when the cervix is completely dilated.

As you take a deep breath and allow your body to loosen up, focus on the baby moving down and out, or on another positive image.

Breathe slowly and let the contraction assist you. Speed up or lighten your breathing if necessary for comfort. When you can’t resist the urge to push, take a large breath, tuck your chin to your chest, curl your body and lean forward. Then bear down, while holding your breath or slowly letting out air by grunting or moaning. Remember to lax the pelvic floor. Help the baby come down by freeing any tension in the perineum.

After 5-6 seconds, let go of your breath, and breathe in and out. How hard you push is determined by your sensation. You will continue the process until the contraction dies down. The urge to push will come and go like waves throughout the contraction. Use these breaks as a chance to breathe deeply and sustain oxygen to your blood and baby.

When the contraction ends, allow your body to relax and take one or two calming breaths.

Learning breathing techniques such as these can help you feel less intimidated and more prepared for when the due date comes knocking. For more important women’s health tips like these, you can talk to Dr. Ghea, a female OBGYN in Fort Lauderdale who devotes herself to making sure you’re comfortable, answering all of your questions, and easing you through those intense months of pregnancy. 

If you’re in need of a female obstetrician who you can feel open with speaking to about your pregnancy and well-being, make an appointment to visit her office at Westside OB/GYN Group by calling 954-473-2011 or by filling out a request online!

It’s perfectly normal to have questions about the use of medication during pregnancy. You may be attempting to get pregnant and wonder how current use of medication could affect your efforts to conceive, or maybe you just realized that you’re pregnant and wonder if any medication you are currently taking is a risk to your baby.

Talk to your OBGYN who prescribed the medication. You might come to find that the benefits of taking the medication outweigh the potential risks. You can work through these factors with them and try to figure out what course of action is best for both you and your baby.

Please note that many women take prescription medication when pregnant for necessary reasons such as diabetes, depression, seizures, anxiety, and other medical conditions. Some pregnant women take medications to help with typical discomforts of pregnancy like heartburn, headaches, or morning sickness. 

Pregnancy can influence the effectiveness of your medication. When you’re pregnant, your blood volume shoots up, and your heart and kidneys both work harder. This means that medications have the potential to pass through your body faster than normal. This could mean that you either have to take more medicine or take it in a different way.

In most cases, there are different kinds of medications to take care of a specific problem. Your OBGYN can switch the type of medication you’re on to take care of your medical needs while reducing any risk to your developing baby.

Every medication has its own risk factor classification associated with potential risk factors throughout pregnancy. These ratings, as well as an evaluation of the risks and benefits of using a certain medication in your situation, will help you and your doctor figure out what medication is best for you to take.

There are also alternatives to medication. Your doctor has the best in mind for both you and your little one. You might take a different approach and change the course of treatment by incorporating other methodologies like acupuncture or behavioral techniques. Of course, this depends on what medical conditions you’re dealing with.

You should never start or stop taking medication while pregnant without first consulting your OBGYN. Here are some ways to help make sure you and your baby are properly cared for.

  • First things first, remember to always consult your doctor.
  • Read the Label. Look for warnings or indications of pregnancy. You should also look out for potential allergic reactions along with expiration dates.
  • Be aware of side effects. Speak with your doctor or a pharmacist about potential side effects. Some medications cause side effects like sleepiness, vomiting, or headaches which could be heightened due to pregnancy hormones.
  • Organize your medications: Be careful not to mix up your medications to avoid overdosing.
  • Do not skip medications. Take as prescribed by your doctor. 
  • Do not share medications.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Ask about the medication name, generic alternatives, benefits and risks, and problems to watch for.
  • Keep records: It is always wise to hold on to a record of medications taken whether pregnant or not. This becomes even more important if you’re expecting.
  • Look over pregnancy medication registries: The FDA has a new pregnancy and medication registry that you may find useful.

For more helpful women’s tips like these, contact Dr. Ghea, a top female OBGYN in Fort Lauderdale whose goal is to make you feel comfortable covering anything about your overall health and well-being. If you want to set up an appointment with her, you can call her office at Westside OB/GYN Group at 954-473-2011 or submit a request online.

Have you experienced missed or irregular periods, weight gain or adult acne? These are some of the symptoms that may be associated with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). You are not alone! For a better understanding of what PCOS is and what to do about it, here are some frequently asked questions about PCOS. 

What is polycystic ovarian syndrome? PCOS is a common health problem that occurs when there’s an imbalance of reproductive hormones. The hormonal imbalance creates issues in normal ovarian function. As part of a healthy menstrual cycle, the ovaries are meant to create an egg that is released every month. With PCOS, the egg might not develop the way it’s supposed to or it may not be released during ovulation as it should. 

PCOS can cause missed or irregular periods, failure to release an egg every month ( anovulation) and sometimes lead to infertility. The failure to ovulate happens to be one of the most common causes of infertility in women. PCOS can also lead to the development of multiple tiny cysts in the ovaries. 

What are the symptoms of PCOS? Women with PCOS might miss their periods or have less than eight within a year, which is considered irregular. These women may have periods that come every 21 days, or sometimes even more frequently. Some women with PCOS stop getting their period altogether. 

Another symptom would be having excessive hair on the face, chin, chest or back. This is referred to as hirsutism. Seventy percent of women with PCOS are affected by this. 

Other symptoms include acne on the face, chest, and upper back, thinning hair or hair loss on the scalp, otherwise known as male-pattern baldness, weight gain or struggling to lose weight, darkening of the skin, specifically around neck creases, in the groin, and under your breasts, and often with skin tags, which are small excess flaps of skin in the armpits or neck. 

What causes PCOS? No one knows the exact cause of PCOS. Most experts believe that it is caused by various hormonal factors. 

One cause could be the high levels of androgens, also sometimes called male hormones. All women produce small amounts of androgens, which regulate the development of male characteristics, such as male-pattern baldness. Women with PCOS have more androgens than normal. Higher than expected androgen levels in women can prevent ovulation throughout each menstrual cycle, causing that extra hair growth and acne.

High levels of insulin also play a part in PCOS. Insulin is the hormone that rules how the food you consume is converted into energy. Insulin resistance is when the body’s cells don’t properly react to insulin. Because of this, your insulin blood levels are higher than usual. Many women with PCOS have insulin resistance, especially those who struggle with obesity, take on unhealthy eating habits, don’t work out enough, and have a family history of diabetes (generally type 2 diabetes). Eventually, insulin resistance can cause type 2 diabetes. 

Can I still get pregnant if I have PCOS? Yes. Having PCOS does not mean you can’t get pregnant. You may get pregnant without medical assistance, but know that PCOS is one of the most common and treatable causes of infertility in women. 

Your obgyn can discuss ways to help you ovulate in order to increase your chances of getting pregnant. 

Is PCOS related to other health issues? Yes, studies have discovered links between PCOS and other health problems, such as: 

● Diabetes. More than half of women with PCOS are predicted to have diabetes or prediabetes (glucose intolerance) before they reach 40. 

● High blood pressure. Women with PCOS are at greater risk of having high blood pressure compared to women of the same age without PCOS. High blood pressure is a prominent cause of heart disease and stroke. 

● Unhealthy cholesterol. Women with PCOS usually have greater levels of bad cholesterol and low levels of good cholesterol. High cholesterol also increases your risk of heart disease and stroke. 

● Sleep apnea. This is when momentary and repeated stops in breathing get in the way of sleep. Many women with PCOS are obese, which may cause sleep apnea. Sleep apnea heightens your risk of heart disease and diabetes. 

● Depression and anxiety. Both are more likely among women with PCOS. 

● Endometrial cancer. Problems with ovulation, obesity, insulin resistance, and diabetes (all common in women with PCOS) increase the risk of developing cancer of the endometrium (lining of the uterus or womb). 

Will my PCOS symptoms go away at menopause? Yes and no. PCOS affects many of the body’s systems. Many women with PCOS start getting more of a regular period as they get closer to menopause. Unfortunately, their PCOS hormonal imbalance doesn’t change with age, so they may keep facing symptoms of PCOS. Also, the risks of PCOS-related health problems increase as you get older. 

How is PCOS diagnosed? There’s no single test to diagnose PCOS. To help diagnose PCOS and rule out other sources of your symptoms, your OBGYN may ask about your medical history and perform a physical exam along with different tests: 

For a physical exam, your blood pressure, body mass index (BMI), and waist size will be measured. Your skin will be inspected for extra hair on your face, chest or back, acne, or skin discoloration, as will your head for any hair loss. Any signs of other health conditions will also be observed, such as an enlarged thyroid gland. You might have to go through a pelvic exam to look out for signs of extra male hormones (i.e. an enlarged clitoris) and check to see if your ovaries are augmented or swollen. 

Another test that may be performed is a pelvic ultrasound, which uses sound waves to inspect your ovaries for cysts and check the endometrium. However, multiple ovarian cysts alone cannot diagnose PCOS and are sometimes seen in women without PCOS. 

Your OBGYN will have to run blood tests to check your androgen hormone levels. You’ll also be examined for other hormones related to other common health issues that can be mistaken for PCOS, such as thyroid disease. You may also be tested for diabetes and your cholesterol levels. 

By the time other conditions are ruled out, you could be diagnosed with PCOS if you show at least two of the symptoms of PCOS mentioned before. 

How is PCOS treated? There’s no cure for PCOS, but the symptoms can still be managed. With the right OBGYN, you’ll work on a treatment plan based on your symptoms, your plans for having kids, and your risk of long-term health problems. 

What steps can I take at home to improve my PCOS symptoms? You can try to lose weight by eating healthy and being active, which will not only relieve your symptoms, but also lower your blood glucose levels, improve the way your body takes insulin, and help your hormones reach a normal level. Just losing 10% of your body weight can regulate your cycle and increase your chances of getting pregnant. 

To address excess unwanted hair you can try hair removal creams or for more long lasting results laser hair removal to get rid of extra hair. Note that procedures like laser hair removal or electrolysis may not be covered by your health insurance. 

You can also slow your hair growth by using a prescription skin treatment (eflornithine HCl cream) to help slow down the growth rate of the hair in unwanted areas. 

What types of medicines treat PCOS? For women who don’t want to get pregnant, hormonal birth control can help to regulate your period, lessen your risk of endometrial cancer, and help with acne and that unwanted extra hair on the face and body. 

You may need to request birth control that contains both estrogen and progesterone. You can choose between the pill, the patch or vaginal ring. 

One medication to treat Type-2 diabetes, known as Metformin or Glucophage, affects the way insulin regulates glucose and lowers the production of testosterone. Doctors discovered that when some women with PCOS take this drug, ovulation can return to normal and abnormal hair growth can slow down after a few months of use. Recent studies show that another medication, letrozole may be associated with even higher pregnancy and birth rates. 

For women who have trouble getting pregnant, fertility drugs can be used to stimulate ovulation. 

Keeping up a healthy weight can also help women handle PCOS. Having a workout routine and a healthy diet will help the body lower glucose levels, use insulin more productively, and can restore normal periods. 

How does PCOS affect pregnancy? PCOS can cause problems during pregnancy for you and for your baby. Women with PCOS have higher rates of miscarriage, gestational diabetes, pregnancy associated high blood pressure, and Cesarean section (C-section). Your baby also has a greater risk of spending more time in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). 

How can I prevent problems from PCOS during pregnancy? You can lower your risk of problems during pregnancy by eating a healthy diet, watching your BMI and starting a good fitness routine before pregnancy. 

PCOS is nothing to be shy about. If you have any more questions about whether or not you have PCOS or how to treat it, or wish to get pregnant and treat your symptoms, don’t hesitate to ask Dr. Ghea, a top female OBGYN in Fort Lauderdale, for guidance. If you’re looking for an OBGYN to speak freely with about your physical and mental well-being and receive useful tips on women’s health, set up an appointment with her offices in Westside OB/GYN Group by calling 954-473-2011 or filling out an online request.

Before freaking out if you miss your pill and trying to self-diagnose on Google, read this to have a better understanding of what you should do after you’ve missed the pill. Giving yourself anxiety about it will only make you feel worse!

Even though the pill is reported as being 99 percent effective, the reality is that the pill has to be taken properly in order for that to be the case. This means taking it at the same time every single day.

The effectiveness of your birth control pill tends to crash if you accidentally miss a dose. This raises the likelihood of pregnancy, but it’s all dependent on where exactly you are in your cycle and what type of pill you’re on. 

If you’re on the pill that has progestin and estrogen, you’re at highest risk of unwanted pregnancy if you missed one pill during the first week of a new pack and had sex within the last 5 days. 

If you happen to miss a placebo or sugar pill, don’t lose your cool. Since they don’t include hormones, they shouldn’t affect your chances of preventing pregnancy. 

If you’re on progestin-only birth control and you happen to be more than three hours late taking it, it’s more likely for you to get pregnant. 

Generally speaking, progestin-only pill packs don’t include sugar pills, so be sure to follow precautions accordingly if you do forget to take any of your pills.

If you’re taking combined contraceptive pills, technically you don’t actually need backup birth control or emergency contraception unless you already missed more than one pill since combined oral contraceptives prevent ovulation. 

If you missed another pill during your last cycle or earlier in your current cycle and you’ve had unprotected sex, you might want to save yourself with emergency contraception like the Plan B.

If you haven’t had sex but missed more than one pill throughout this cycle or in between this cycle and the last one, use a condom the next time you have sex. 

Continue using extra protection until you’ve finally taken seven hormonal pills in a row. Or just play it safe and don’t have sex until you’ve reached this point.  

If you take progestin-only birth control and you missed your time to take it by more than three hours, you need to use backup birth control until you’ve taken the pill on time for two consecutive days.

If you’ve had sex after forgetting to take your pill, you may want to consider going for that emergency contraception option.

Once you realize you missed your regularly scheduled pill, take it right away. Then, take your next pill when you normally would.

Be aware that there are side effects to doubling up. The most common side effect of doubling up if you missed your birth control pill is nausea because of the high level of hormones in your body. Some women find that taking their pill with a snack or a meal decreases those chances.

If you’re still worried about whether or not you can remember to take the pill on a regular basis, try taking the pill after doing something you would normally do at the end of the day, like brushing your teeth. That first habit will be your cue to remember to take it. You can also set a reminder on your phone, or find an app that reminds you every day at the same time to take it. 

If you find yourself forgetting your pill (and are nervous about an unwanted pregnancy) on more than one occasion, you might want to think about getting on another method of birth control that is more low-maintenance, such as an IUD or the ring. It can lead to hormonal imbalance if you’re on the pill and don’t take it on the daily. That’s why it’s good to have a trustworthy OBGYN to help figure out what’s best for you based on your habits and preferences.

If you want to explore other options of birth control besides the pill, reach out to Dr. Ghea, a female OBGYN in Fort Lauderdale who aims to make you feel at peace, not just with your body – but also with your mind. Based on your needs, she will list the pros and cons to each method you consider, and suggest which would fit best into your lifestyle. 

You can either call 954-473-2011 to make an appointment with her at Westside OB/GYN Group, a Plantation OBGYN office, or fill out a request online.