Monthly Archives: June 2017

What are the Types of Birth Control - Arizona Gynecology Consultants

What Are the Different Types of Birth Control?

Birth control is a major decision for every woman. Choosing the right birth control option isn’t always about contraception, either; some women use different types of birth control to manage the symptoms of gynecological conditions such as endometriosis, ovarian cysts and abnormal uterine bleeding issues.

Birth Control Preferences by State

If you’re considering starting birth control, changing the type of birth control you use, or making other decisions about birth control, it’s important to know your options and speak at length with your doctor about your concerns with any of those options.

Types of Birth Control

Birth control exists in both preventive and situational forms. Some women with hormone irregularities benefit from hormone-based birth control options while other prefer intrauterine devices (IUDs) that have a less hormonal impact. Other women prefer permanent birth control methods.

Before starting any type of birth control, make sure you fully understand the intended effects and potential risks.

Hormonal Birth Control

Hormonal medications in pill form are how millions of American women manage their family planning and control any uterine conditions. It’s easily the most popular form of birth control,

Hormonal birth control exists in pill form as well as dermal patches, injections and implants. Some intrauterine devices also qualify as hormonal birth control, because they release different hormones into the bloodstream.

It’s vital to consider the potential side effects of these options, however. Some women prefer alternatives to hormonal medications due to their effects on mood, cognition and sleep.

Intrauterine Devices

IUDs provide an effective alternative to hormonal medications. It’s important to remember, however, that some IUDs still contain hormones. Non-hormonal IUDs physically obstruct the fertilization process and last anywhere from five to 10 years. Some women elect to have IUDs with low doses of hormones to manage severe menstrual cramping.

Some patients experience complications with IUDs due to anatomical difficulties, incompatibility with materials, and other factors. If you have an IUD implanted, it’s crucial to follow your doctor’s directions and call immediately if you believe the IUD has dislodged from its proper position.

Barrier Contraceptives

As the name suggests, this method of birth control involves placing a barrier between the uterus and a partner’s sperm cells. One of the most common forms of barrier birth control is condom use, but it’s important to remember that condoms are not foolproof.

Condoms can break or degrade, and it’s important to always check a condom for expiration date and package integrity first. If a condom’s package is open, damaged, punctured or torn, discard it and use a new one. If a condom breaks during intercourse, it’s best to stop and have your partner put on a new one before continuing.

Other forms of barrier birth control devices include diaphragms and vaginal sponges. These methods are not surefire methods for preventing pregnancy and require reapplication or reinsertion every time you have sex.

A diaphragm is essentially a reverse condom that fits inside the vagina and holds to the cervix with a ring. The outer layer protrudes from the vagina and the partner enters inside the diaphragm, which then catches the partner’s sperm cells.

Vaginal sponges, on the other hand, effectively soak up the partner’s sperm cells for disposal.

Fertility Awareness

Some couples do not use traditional birth control methods for personal or religious reasons. These couples can often successfully manage their family planning by keeping close tabs on the woman’s menstruation and ovulation schedule. During times when the woman is most fertile, the couple can simply abstain from sex or use barrier contraceptives.

Sterilization

Some women and couples do not wish to ever have children. In these cases, permanent methods of birth control work very well. Sterilization involves either a vasectomy for men or a tubal ligation for women.

A vasectomy is an outpatient procedure that is minimally invasive, reversible and entails very mild discomfort and easy recovery. Tubal ligation is a more invasive and permanent option, so couples should discuss these options at length to decide what would work best for them.

Managing Your Birth Control

Unless you plan to rely solely on barrier birth control methods or fertility awareness, you need to know the various effects any type of birth control will have on you and your body. Hormonal birth control medications and devices can sometimes complicate preexisting medical conditions or conflict with certain aspects of your lifestyle. For example, birth control may not be as effective for a smoker as it would be for a non-smoker.

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not use birth control until a doctor advises that it is safe to do so. The hormones in most birth control options can cause serious fetal harm or other complications with pregnancy.

Women who have had different types of cancer, undergone certain medical procedures or who have serious health problems (such as heart disease, blood clots, diabetes or high blood pressure) need to be careful with birth control as well.

The staff at Arizona Gynecology Consultants is always available to answer patients’ questions and address all concerns about birth control. Starting or changing birth control isn’t an easy thing to do, and our providers aim to provide holistic care that treats the whole person. Learn more about the different birth control options by contacting Arizona Gynecology Consultants today.

What Are Ovarian Cysts - Arizona Gynecology Consultants

What Are Ovarian Cysts?

A cyst in any part of the body can be a sign of cancer or other negative health conditions, and this applies to ovarian cysts as well. While some women develop benign ovarian cysts that are not cancerous, these cysts can still cause several uncomfortable symptoms.

Cancerous cysts in the ovaries can quickly develop into more dangerous types of cancer, and ovarian cyst screenings are an important preventive measure against this.

Types of Ovarian Cysts

The ovaries are two small organs located on either side of the uterus. The ovaries house a woman’s eggs and release them periodically during the menstrual cycle.

The hormones created in the ovaries regulate menstruation and ovulation – the cycle of released eggs moving from the ovaries through the fallopian tubes. If a sperm cell fertilizes the egg, it results in pregnancy, and the fertilized egg will implant on the uterine wall and develop into a fetus.

If egg fertilization does not occur, the woman will flush it from her body during menstruation. A cyst is a sac filled with fluid, and ovarian cysts can form inside or outside the ovaries.

Functional Cysts

Follicles in the ovaries help eggs mature and then release them at the proper time. Functional cysts form when an ovarian follicle fails to dissolve after releasing a matured egg or fails to release a matured egg.

Polycystic Ovaries

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that affects the way eggs develop in the ovaries. Clusters of cysts form when these follicles fail to open at the appropriate time.

Endometriomas

Endometriosis is a medical condition that affects the uterine walls. Tissue from the lining of the uterus grows improperly, causing severe menstrual cramps and other symptoms. In some cases, these tissues can accumulate in other parts of the body, including the ovaries.

When endometriosis causes endometriomas to form on the ovaries, this can impact fertility and cause extreme pain.

Cystadenomas

These are fluid-filled cysts that form on the surface of the ovaries.

Dermoid Cysts

These cysts contain cells similar to the ones found in other parts of the body such as the hair, teeth and nails.

What Are Ovarian Cysts: The Symptoms

Some women develop ovarian cysts and do not notice any adverse symptoms for quite a long time. However, screenings are very important, because some types of ovarian tumors share similar traits with ovarian cysts.

While noncancerous, benign tumors may pose no threat and are often easily removable with surgery, malignant cancerous tumors can spread cancer to other areas of the body and require immediate attention. It is, unfortunately, common for ovarian cancer to spread before detection.

Some of the most common symptoms of ovarian tumors and cysts include:

  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Abnormally painful menstrual cramps
  • Weight gain
  • Loss of appetite, coupled with nausea and possibly vomiting
  • Throbbing aches in the lower back
  • Increased frequency of urination
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Abdominal pain and bloating

Women who experience these symptoms should see a doctor immediately for a screening. Most ovarian cysts and tumors are detectable during a routine pelvic exam, and a gynecologist will likely refer the patient to additional screenings after detecting a suspicious lump or other sign of a cyst or tumor.

Follow-up procedures may include:

  • Ultrasounds
  • Laparoscopy
  • Hormone level tests
  • Other imaging tests
  • CA-125 screening

CA-125 is a protein in the blood, and CA-125 levels tend to be much higher in women with ovarian cancer.

Screening and Treatment

Regular health screenings are crucial to early cancer detection and to manage the unpleasant, noticeable symptoms some ovarian cysts can cause. Older women and postmenopausal women are more likely to develop ovarian cancer and therefore require more frequent screenings. It’s important to remember that many types of benign ovarian cysts will dissipate over time without any negative symptoms. Other women will require different solutions if cysts do not go away on their own.

When a doctor identifies a benign cyst, he or she may recommend regular checkups every few months to monitor the cyst. If the cyst progresses into dangerous territory, the doctor may prescribe treatment or recommend surgery. If a cyst grows, causes significant pain or doesn’t go away on its own, a doctor may recommend a laparotomy or laparoscopy procedure to remove the cyst.

A laparotomy involves a large incision in the abdomen, whereas a laparoscopy is a less-invasive procedure performed with a flexible lighted instrument and camera apparatus. Laparoscopy is preferred due to the easier recovery and lower risk during surgery, but larger cysts and ovarian tumors will likely require laparotomy.

Regular Checkups Are Important

Most women discover their ovarian cysts and tumors during routine gynecological exams. These exams are very important for female health, and women should have the utmost confidence in the doctors who treat them.

At Arizona Gynecology Consultants, we understand how important regular gynecological screenings are for women, and we work with an extensive network of trusted providers and health care professionals to provide the best standard of care possible. Get in touch with us if you have questions about ovarian cysts, screenings or other issues related to your gynecological health.

What is a Cystoscopy - Arizona Gynecology Consultants

What is a Cystoscopy?

A cystoscopy is a medical procedure intended to locate irregularities within a woman’s urethra or bladder. During a cystoscopy, the physician performing the procedure uses a very thin instrument with a light source to look for any problems. The physician will fill the patient’s bladder with sterile fluid to expand the bladder walls to make it easier for the camera to see.

It’s important for anyone expecting to undergo this procedure soon to know how to prepare for it and what to expect afterward.

Preparing for a Cystoscopy

Patients should drink plenty of fluids the day before a cystoscopy. This will hydrate the patient and help flush waste through the bladder, so it is as clear as possible before the examination.

A doctor will typically ask the patient for a urine sample before performing the cystoscopy. Patients who have urinary tract infections or weak immune systems may need to complete a round of antibiotics before undergoing a cystoscopy.

The test will require the use of anesthesia, and different patients may receive different types of anesthesia. If a patient requires general anesthesia, she will likely need to fast for several hours before the cystoscopy. General anesthesia renders a patient completely unconscious, and food in the patient’s stomach can cause life-threatening complications while under the effects of general anesthesia.

Other patients may require only a regional or local anesthetic. A dose of regional anesthesia will take the form of an injection in the spine that numbs the patient from the waist down. Local anesthesia will numb only the area of the body that houses the bladder, and the patient will be awake during a procedure. Patients who undergo general or regional anesthesia should expect a hospital stay of at least a few hours following a cystoscopy.

A Note About Anesthesia

Doctors have a legal requirement to fully inform their patients about the risks of any procedure or treatment option, and this includes anesthesia. Once you have decided on the route you prefer to take for your cystoscopy, it is imperative that you follow your doctor’s preparation instructions. If you forget something or otherwise fail to follow your doctor’s directions, tell your doctor immediately so he or she can make the necessary adjustments.

The Cystoscopy Procedure

When the time comes for the patient to undergo a cystoscopy, the doctor will first instruct the patient to empty her bladder and put on a hospital gown. If the patient receives general anesthesia, she will lose consciousness at this point and awaken after the procedure ends. Patients who receive local or regional anesthesia may also receive sedatives for the duration of the procedure.

The doctor will then numb the urethra with an anesthetic spray or gel. After lubricating the test device with gel, the doctor will insert it into the patient’s urethra. Patients who are conscious of their cystoscopy procedures may feel a sensation like needing to urinate or a slight burning.

Types of Cystoscopy Procedures

Doctors generally perform two types of cystoscopies:

  • Investigatory
  • Biopsy

An investigatory cystoscopy will involve the use of a thin, flexible scope to easily move around the inside of the urethra and the bladder to look for problems. If a more in-depth cystoscopy is necessary for biopsy, the doctor may instead use a rigid scope to allow the insertion of other surgical instruments into the bladder.

During a biopsy, the doctor will extract a cell sample from the target area to have it tested for cancer. A cystoscopy performed with a larger, more intrusive instrument may lead to more severe recovery symptoms.

Patients who receive local or regional anesthesia should expect the cystoscopy to last about five minutes. Procedures with general anesthesia usually take 30 minutes or longer.

Common Postoperative Recovery Symptoms

A cystoscopy can leave a patient with several uncomfortable symptoms that can last several days or longer. One of the most common symptoms reported by patients is a persistent need to urinate or more frequent urination for two or three days after a cystoscopy.

It’s important to remember not to hold it in for longer than necessary during this time. Some cystoscopy procedures may cause bleeding inside the bladder or urethra, and holding it in can cause a blood clot or blockage.

Blood in the urine is another common symptom after a cystoscopy, especially if the doctor performed a biopsy during the procedure. Excessive bleeding or the appearance of bright red blood or bloody tissues in urine are major problems. Patients who experience this, high fever, persistent stomach pain or the need to urinate (but cannot) should contact their doctors immediately.

In some cases, a cystoscopy can lead to a swollen urethra or an infection. A swollen urethra is very common after a cystoscopy and can make urination more difficult. However, this should subside within about eight hours.

If you cannot urinate more than eight hours following a cystoscopy, call your doctor. The appearance of an infection may simply require a round of antibiotics.

Any Other Questions on ‘What Is a Cystoscopy?’

The team at Arizona Gynecological Consultants takes patient satisfaction very seriously and strives to provide the highest standard of care possible. If you have questions about a cystoscopy procedure, reach out to us for more information about preparation and what to expect during and after the procedure.