Reproductive health encompasses the beginning of menstruation for women, choosing the right birth control method for you and your partner, preventing contracting sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and for women, ending with the menopausal transition. Read more: Reproductive Health Article
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Early Pregnancy Symptoms and Signs
Pregnancy symptoms can vary from woman to woman, and not all women experience the same symptoms. When women do experience pregnancy symptoms they may include symptoms include missed menstrual period, mood changes, headaches, lower back pain, fatigue, nausea, breast tenderness, and heartburn. Signs and symptoms in late pregnancy include leg swelling and shortness of breath. Options for relief of pregnancy symptoms include exercise, diet, and other lifestyle changes.
Menstruation (Menstrual Cycle)
Menstruation (menstrual cycle) is also referred to as a "period." When a woman menstruates, the lining of the uterus is shed. This shedding of the uterine linking is the menstrual blood flow. The average menstrual cycle is 28 days. There can be problems with a woman's period, including heavy bleeding, pain, or skipped periods. Causes of these problems may be amenorrhea (lack of a period), menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea), or abnormal vaginal or uterine bleeding. There are a variety of situations in which a girl or woman should see a doctor about her menstrual cycle.
Pregnancy (Week by Week, Trimesters)
Signs and symptoms of pregnancy vary by stage (trimester). The earliest pregnancy symptom is typically a missed period, but others include breast swelling and tenderness, nausea and sometimes vomiting, fatigue, and bloating. Second trimester symptoms include backache, weight gain, itching, and possible stretch marks. Third trimester symptoms are additional weight gain, heartburn, hemorrhoids, swelling of the ankles, fingers, and face, breast tenderness, and trouble sleeping. Eating a healthy diet, getting a moderate amount of exercise, also are recommended for a healthy pregnancy. Information about the week by week growth of your baby in the womb are provided.
STDs in Men
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are infections transmitted during sexual contact. They may be caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites. STDs in men cause no symptoms or symptoms like genital burning, itching, sores, rashes, or discharge. Common infections that are sexually transmitted in men include gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, hepatitis C and B, genital warts, human papillomavirus (HPV), and genital herpes. Some STDs in men are treatable while others are not. STDs are diagnosed with tests that identify proteins or genetic material of the organisms causing the infection. The prognosis of an STD depends on whether the infection is treatable or not. Use of latex condoms can help reduce the risk of contracting an STD but it does not eliminate the risk entirely.
Menopause is the time in a woman's life when menstrual periods permanently stop, also called the "change of life." Menopause symptoms include hot flashes, night sweats, irregular vaginal bleeding, vaginal dryness, painful intercourse, urinary incontinence, weight gain, and emotional symptoms such as mood swings. Treatment of menopausal symptoms varies, and should be discussed with your physician.
Birth Control Options (Types and Side Effects)
Birth control is available in a variety of methods and types. The method of birth control varies from person to person, and their preferences to either become pregnant or not. Examples of barrier methods include barrier methods (sponge, spermicides, condoms), hormonal methods (pill, patch), surgical sterilization (tubal ligation, vasectomy), natural methods, and the morning after pill. Side effects and risks of each birth control option should be reviewed prior to using any birth control method.
Placenta previa is a condition during pregnancy when the placenta lies low in the uterus either partly or completely blocking the uterus. Women with placenta previa generally deliver their baby via cesarean delivery. There are several types of placenta previa: 1) a low-lying placenta, 2) a partial placenta previa, and 3) a total placenta previa, which covers and blocks the cervical opening. Women who are at risk of placenta previa are women who have delivered a previous baby by cesarean section, and are also at risk of placenta accreta, placenta increta, or placenta percreta.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases in Women (STDs)
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are among the most common infectious diseases in the United States. STDs can be spread through any type of sexual activity involving the sex organs, the anus or mouth, or through contact with blood during sexual activity. Examples of STDs include, chancroid, chlamydia, gonorrhea, granuloma inguinale, lymphogranuloma venereum, syphilis, genital herpes, genital warts, trichomoniasis, pubic lice (crabs), and scabies. Treatment is generally with antibiotics; however, some STDs that go untreated can lead to death.
Premature Menopause (Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments)
Premature menopause is when menopause occurs in a woman before the age of 40. Causes of premature menopause include premature ovarian failure, treatments for cancer and other conditions, surgical removal of the ovaries, or chronic diseases of the pituitary or thyroid gland, or psychiatric disorders. Treatment is directed at menopausal symptoms.
Pregnancy Planning (Tips)
Pregnancy planning is an important step in preparation for starting or expanding a family. Planning for a pregnancy includes taking prenatal vitamins, eating healthy for you and your baby, disease prevention (for both parents and baby) to prevent birth defects and infections, avoiding certain medications that may be harmful to your baby, how much weight gain is healthy exercise safety and pregnancy, travel during pregnancy.
Preeclampsia and Eclampsia
Preeclampsia is a condition in pregnant women marked by high blood pressure and a high level of protein in the urine. Eclampsia occurs when preeclampsia goes untreated. Eclampsia can cause coma and death of the mother and baby. Preeclampsia symptoms include rapid weight gain, abdominal pain, headaches, blood in the urine, dizziness, and excessive vomiting and nausea. The only real cure for preeclampsia and eclampsia is the birth of the baby.
Menstrual Cramps and Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) Medication Guide
Menstrual cramps and premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms include abdominal cramping, bloating, a feeling of fullness, abdominal pain, mood swings, anxiety and more. Treatment for menstrual cramps and premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms include regular sleep, exercise, smoking cessation, diet changes, and OTC or prescription medication depending on the severity of the condition.
Doula vs. Midwife (Differences between Care, Costs, & Duties)
A midwife and doula are not the same thing. A doula's job is to provide non-medical, emotional, and personal support to a woman throughout her pregnancy, labor, delivery, and postpartum experience. A certified nurse midwife is a medical health care professional that manages the overall general health of the mother and baby; for example, performs exams, orders laboratory tests, and procedures, and performs fetal monitoring from the pregnant woman's first prenatal visit to post-partum and aftercare. A midwife can deliver the baby, whereas a doula cannot. A midwife usually tries to minimize the use of unnecessary technological interventions. A midwife cannot perform C-sections, use vacuums or forceps during labor and delivery. Midwives generally work with an Obstetrician (a doctor that specializes in pregnancy, birth, and women's reproductive health) when medical intervention by a specialist is necessary. A doula does not require a medical degree, but requires certification in some states. Certification for nurse-midwife in the US requires a certification from the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB). Entrance into the AMCB program requires a Bachelor's Degree and a licensed RN degree. AMBC certification is a Master's Degree program.REFERENCES: Government of the District of Columbia. "Municipal Regulations for Nurse-Midwives." Oregon Health Authority.gov. "Utilizing Doulas to Improve Birth Outcomes for Underdeserved Women in Oregon." Feb 22, 2012. American College of Nurse-Midwives. "Become a Midwife." AMCB.org.
Infertility is the diminished ability to conceive a child. Infertility can be a problem with both men and women. Infertility in men can be caused by medical conditions, unhealthy habits, and toxins from the environment. Infertility in women can be caused by problems with ovarian function, the Fallopian tubes, or the physical characteristics of the uterus. Methods of conceiving for couples that cannot conceive include intrauterine inseminations (IUIs) or in vitro fertilization (IVF), specific drugs, assisted reproductive technology (ART), surgery, and gestational carrier.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infection left untreated causes AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). Still incurable, AIDS describes immune system collapse that opens the way for opportunistic infections and cancers to kill the patient. Early symptoms and signs of HIV infection include flu-like symptoms and fungal infections, but some people may not show any symptoms for years. Highly active antiretroviral therapy (ART) is the standard treatment for HIV infection. These combination drug regimens have made HIV much less deadly, but a cure or vaccine for the pandemic remains out of reach. HIV is usually transmitted through sexual contact or sharing IV drug needles, but can also infect someone through contact with infected blood. Sexual abstinence, safe sex practices, quitting IV drugs (or at least using clean needles), and proper safety equipment by clinicians and first responders can drastically reduce transmission rates for HIV/AIDS.
Menstrual cramps (pain in the belly and pelvic area) are experienced by women as a result of menses. Menstrual cramps are not the same as premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Menstrual cramps are common, and may be accompanied by headache, nausea, vomiting, constipation, or diarrhea. Severity of menstrual cramp pain varies from woman to woman. Treatment includes OTC or prescription pain relief medication.
Sex and Menopause (What to Expect)
Menopause is often associated with a change in sexual functioning. Loss of estrogen, bladder control issues, anxiety, stress, health concerns, medications, and sleep disturbances often result in a decrease in libido. Though there are currently no good drugs for treating sexual problems in women, there are ways to increase intimacy with a partner and treat vaginal dryness.
Pregnancy and Drugs (Prescription and OTC)
Taking prescription medications or over-the-counter drugs or supplements should be discussed with your doctor. There are some medications that have been found to cause no problems in pregnancy, however, medications such as Accutane for acne, should never be taken during pregnancy.
Pregnancy Changes and Body Discomforts
Pregnancy can bring challenges like weight gain, stretch marks, varicose veins, heartburn, constipation, hemorrhoids, problems sleeping, and wondering if it is safe to have sex while pregnant. Learn how to manage and move through these challenges during pregnancy.
Pregnancy Diet (Menu Plans)
When a woman is pregnant she needs more vitamins, minerals, and other foods in her diet to stay healthy and deliver a healthy baby. A healthy pregnancy diet menu plan should consist of lots of fruits, vegetables, lean meats (unless you are vegan or vegetarian), and dairy. Examples of healthy pregnancy diet meal plans include: Holistic pregnancy diet Vegan or vegetarian diet Low-carb diets Begin your healthy eating plan around three months before you begin trying to conceive, and follow the same eating plan until after you have stopped breastfeeding. If you are overweight or obese, being pregnant is not the right time to try to lose weight. Discuss your options with your health-care professional.
Sexual health information including birth control, impotence, herpes, sexually transmitted diseases, staying healthy, women's sexual health concerns, and men's sexual health concerns. Learn about the most common sexual conditions affecting men and women.
Preeclampsia (Pregnancy Induced Hypertension)
Preeclampsia is related to increased blood pressure and protein in the mother's urine. Preeclampsia typically begins after the 20th week of pregnancy. When preeclampsia causes seizures, it is termed "eclampsia" and is the second leading cause of maternal death of in the US. Preeclampsia is the leading cause of fetal complications. Risk factors for preeclampsia include high blood pressure, obesity, multiple births, and women with preexisting medical conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or scleroderma. Pregnancy planning and lifestyle changes may reduce the risk of preeclampsia during pregnancy.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases and Pregnancy (STDs)
When you are pregnant, many sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) can be especially harmful to you and your baby. These STDs include herpes, HIV/AIDS, genital warts (HPV), hepatitis B, chlamydia, syphilis, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis. Symptoms include bumps, sores, warts, swelling, itching, or redness in the genital region. Treatment of STDs while pregnant depends on how far along you are in the pregnancy and the progression of the infection.
Pain Relief Options for Childbirth
Women experience and tolerate pain differently. For some pregnant women, focused breathing is all they need to get through labor and childbirth; but for others, numbing of the pain is desired. There are a number of different medications a woman can take during labor and childbirth. It is important for you to learn what pain relief options are available. Please discuss the options with your health care provider well before your "birth day" so that when you are in labor you understand the choices.
Treatment & Diagnosis
Medications & Supplements
Prevention & Wellness
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