Cervical Polyps During Pregnancy

There are many reasons why cervical polyps might feel scary when they occur during your pregnancy. But the reality is that these growths of tissue are nearly always benign. 

In fact, for the vast majority of patients, cervical polyps are non-symptomatic–to the point that most pregnant women will never notice them. In some cases, however, these polyps can end up causing some light spotting or even discomfort. In those cases, your OBGYN or Midwife can recommend appropriate treatment options.

What Are Cervical Polyps?

A cervical polyp is a growth of tissue that develops in the passage between the uterus and the vagina. In most cases, they look smooth and red (almost finger shaped), but they can sometimes be purple or gray. 

Polyps themselves are relatively fragile (and, as a result, often easy for a medical professional to remove). The polyp structures grow from stalk-looking pieces of tissue that are connected to the cervix. As they grow, polyps may be visible from the vulva. 

Where cervical polyps come from is unknown. There are some theories that speculate the growth of cervical polyps may have something to do with increased levels of estrogen or a history of inflammation (or injury). They do seem to be more common in women over 20 who have had at least one child (and more common still in pregnant women who are in their 40s or 50s). 

Everyone wants a normal and healthy pregnancy. So it’s important to point out that cervical polyps are relatively common and can be quickly and effectively treated. 

Checking for Malignancy

While cervical polyps themselves are generally non-cancerous, there are some forms of cancer that can appear similar to cervical polyps. As a result, your OBGYN or Midwife will want to perform a biopsy on your cervical polyps in order to check for malignancy. Your OBGYN or midwife will let you know what you should get checked and when, and the results of your biopsy will determine your course of treatment.

Symptoms of Cervical Polyps

In the vast majority of cases, cervical polyps may be symptomless. Many women don’t even know that they are present.

However, in some cases, cervical polyps during pregnancy can cause some noticeable symptoms:

  • Spotting or bleeding
  • Pain and discomfort 
  • Soreness after intercourse

Less commonly, you may also experience a yellow discharge. You should report these symptoms to your OBGYN or Midwife once they occur. At that point, your OBGYN or Midwife will check for the presence of polyps.

In most cases, cervical polyps are first diagnosed visually. Your OBGYN or Midwife will be able to easily see these growths during a vaginal exam. Once the polyp tissue is detected, your OBGYN or midwife may perform a biopsy to test the composition of the tissue.

Who Gets Cervical Polyps?

While cervical polyps are not incredibly common, they’re the second most common type of polyp seen during exams.. Most estimates suggest that cervical polyps occur in somewhere between 2%-5% of all women. 

How likely you are to develop cervical polyps is strongly tied to age and whether you have had them in the past:

  • In general, cervical polyps are most common in people over 40 who have had multiple children.
  • They tend to be less common the younger you are (and the fewer children you’ve had). Cervical polyps are quite rare in young individuals who have not experienced menstruation. 

How Are Cervical Polyps Treated?

If you have cervical polyps, there are several ways that they may be treated. Which one is best for you will depend on your overall health, the stage of your pregnancy, and what your OBGYN or Midwife considers the best approach. 

Everyone’s body is different, so there’s no “one-size-fits-all” approach to removal of cervical polyps during pregnancy. You’ll work with your OBGYN or Midwife to develop a treatment plan that works for you and your symptoms.

Physicians tend to take a relatively conservative approach to treating cervical polyps. In cases where they are not causing symptoms or discomfort, your OBGYN or Midwife may recommend leaving your polyps in place, at least for the duration of your pregnancy. 

If symptoms are particularly potent, however, or create an elevated risk of complications during delivery, your OBGYN or Midwife may recommend removal of the polyps.

What Happens When Cervical Polyps Are Removed?

Cervical polyp removal is generally a simple procedure. You might feel some mild discomfort when the polyp is removed, but it’s usually nothing that necessitates heavy pain medication. You may also experience some mild cramping for a few hours after your polyp removal. If you are concerned about pain or discomfort, you can talk to your OBGYN or Midwife about medications to help you manage that.

In general, you should be able to return to almost all normal activities (within the limits of your pregnancy) once your polyp is removed.

Can Cervical Polyps be Prevented?

Because we don’t know much about why cervical polyps form in the first place, there are no clear prevention strategies for cervical polyps. However, there are some strategies that can help you catch cervical polyps early:

  • Ensure your provider knows if you have had cervical polyps in the past. In some cases, those who have had polyps in the past are more likely to develop new polyps in the future. 
  • Let your OBGYN or Midwife know if you are having bleeding after sex or in between menstrual cycles. 
  • Make appointments for regular screenings. The vast majority of polyps are detected during routine examinations with your OBGYN or Midwife. 

If you are diagnosed with cervical polyps or have had them in the past, it’s important to talk to your OBGYN or Midwife about what your regular follow up care should look like. This is especially true if you’re pregnant or plan on becoming pregnant.

Will Cervical Polyps Impact My Pregnancy?

In the vast majority of cases, your cervical polyps will not have an impact on your overall pregnancy. However, there are a few things to keep in mind. There is some evidence, for example, that removing polyps in the first trimester can lead to an increased risk of spontaneous preterm birth or late abortion. 

There is also the possibility that polyps left in place could complicate labor or lead to an increased risk of bleeding during labor. You’ll want to discuss your risk profile with your OBGYN or Midwife to make the best possible decisions.  

What is the Long Term Outlook for Cervical Polyps During Pregnancy?

Once the polyps have been removed, the immediate problem will have been solved. But patients may wonder about the long term implications associated with polyps. And there are some things to keep an eye on.

  • Recurrence: Many patients wonder whether their polyps will be a recurring concern. Usually, once they are removed, cervical polyps will not return. However, this is not a guarantee, and recurrence has been known to happen. It’s just not typical.
  • Fertility: There’s some evidence to suggest that specific types of cervical polyps can impact your overall fertility. Once the polyps are removed, your fertility (if impacted) should return to normal. When you’re pregnant, this might not be your top priority, but it’s something you should talk to your OBGYN or Midwife about!
  • Infection: Once polyps are removed, your OBGYN will want to make sure the site does not become infected. Your physician may provide medications or instructions designed to prevent infection. If an infection does occur, it will be treated immediately.

In most cases, cervical polyps during pregnancy are nothing to worry about. But if you have questions about any possible lingering impacts, talk with your OBGYN or midwife.

Are Polyps Different During Pregnancy?

Whether they are discovered before, during, or after your pregnancy, the physical composition of your cervical polyps will not change. So why does a polyp during pregnancy feel a little bit different? 

There are a few reasons:

  • Treatment may be more limited: There may be some common medications that your OBGYN or Midwife will want to avoid because you are currently pregnant. This could make removing your polyp a little more challenging.
  • Increased risk of pregnancy loss: As noted above, there is some evidence that seems to link polyps to a slightly elevated risk of pregnancy loss. This increase in risk may be small–but the outcome is so important that even a small increase is worth taking seriously.
  • Early detection really helps: In general, smaller polyps are easier to remove than larger polyps. And, when you’re pregnant, larger polyps can cause more problems. That’s one reason why early detection can be especially helpful when you’re pregnant.
  • It’s easier for polyps to hide when you’re pregnant: Asymptomatic polyps are a little more common when you’re pregnant. Which means that screenings are more important than ever.

Polyps are not common and generally not worrisome, but if you have any concerns at all about your cervical polyps, be sure to talk to your OBGYN or Midwife about the best way to proceed.

Get Your Polyps Checked Out

Cervical polyps are relatively uncommon, and they will often present without any noticeable symptoms. So, in most cases, you won’t even know that they’re there. For others, cervical polyps may result in vaginal discharge, spotting, or bleeding and discomfort. 

Whether these polyps are removed or not is decided on a case by case basis. Most OBGYN and Midwife teams will prefer to be as conservative as possible when treating cervical polyps, but it depends on the patient as well!

If you want to discuss cervical polyps or other possible complications during pregnancy, contact our Wilmette or Glenview offices to schedule a consultation with an OBGYN or Midwife!

Make the Most of Your Annual Gynecologic Wellness Visit (at Any Age)

The typical rule of thumb is that you should see a doctor at least once a year. These routine and preventative visits are designed to help keep an eye on your overall health and, often, catch new problems early in the process. While many people schedule these annual visits with their primary care providers, it’s a good idea to schedule an annual wellness visit with your OBGYN or Midwife too.

It’s important to note that these annual gynecologic wellness visits are for anyone who was assigned-female-at-birth or who has a uterus. If you have any doubts or questions about these annual exams, talk to your OBGYN or Midwife to get personalized information.

Making the most of an annual exam may take a little preparation on your part—but that preparation can pay off in better healthcare and improved outcomes.

What Happens During an Annual Gynecologic Wellness Visit

These annual wellness visits are appropriate for people from their early teens to late in life. What occurs during these visits will vary based on your age, your medical history, and your general health. However, most wellness visits with your OBGYN or Midwife will include the following:

  • Contraceptive discussion and placement: Your OBGYN or Midwife can help you decide on a contraceptive option if you want one. Placement, if necessary, may occur during your wellness exam or during a subsequent visit.
  • General health screenings: Your OBGYN or Midwife will conduct typical wellness screenings, such as blood pressure checks and routine blood tests. You’ll be able to discuss any abnormalities that occur (for example, high blood pressure or high cholesterol).
  • Breast Exam and Mammograms: Depending on your age, you may have a breast exam performed during your visit and be given an order to schedule a mammogram at a local screening center. This is a special screening test designed to help detect breast cancer as early as possible. The frequency of these screenings depends on your age and your overall risk profile (for example, a family history of breast cancer may indicate the need for increased or earlier screenings).
  • Pap smear: A pap smear is a screening test designed to look for the early signs of cervical cancer. How often you get a pap smear will vary, again, depending on your age and your overall risk profile. However, most people with a cervix should count on undergoing a pap smear every three years or so. This may change over time, so make sure to talk to your OBGYN or Midwife if you’re unsure of when your next pap smear should be completed.
  • A physical exam: A physical exam may be an important part of your wellness visit. A physical exam may include many of the screenings listed above, as well as:
    • Recording your weight or changes in your weight
    • Recording your height
    • STI screenings
    • And more, depending on your wellness and medical history.

How Do You Make the Most of Your Gynecologic Visit?

Any relationship with a provider is a two-way street. Good healthcare depends on strong communication—both from your provider and from the patient. As a result, there are several things you can do to make the most out of your visit.

Among them are the following.

Be ready to discuss your health history

A critical part of your annual gynecologic visit, especially but not only during the intake process, is the taking of your medical history. This can include any new prescriptions or new aches and pains. But it can also include some things patients may be used to treating a bit more delicately: your sexual history, for example. It’s important to include these details, too, when you’re talking with your provider. 

In general, you should be ready to discuss the following with your OBGYN or Midwife:

  • Family medical history
  • Personal medical history
  • Alcohol and tobacco use
  • Any drug use
  • Prescriptions
  • Any herbs or vitamin supplements you may be taking
  • What your home life looks like
  • What your relationships look like
  • Sexual history (including activity and partners)
  • Menstrual cycle characteristics (frequency, duration, pain, bleeding amount, etc)

Keep a Health Journal

If you have symptoms that you are worried about or are not sure if they are normal, it is a good idea to keep track of them. Sometimes symptoms come and go with regularity. In other cases, they’re intermittent and don’t follow any sort of pattern. Your health can change daily—and patterns can be difficult to see at first. That’s why many providers recommend that you keep a health journal. This will help you ensure that you’re noticing when things feel normal—and when they don’t.

When everything is written down, patterns can be easier to detect. 

Take Notes During Your Visit

Sometimes your OBGYN or Midwife can throw a lot of information at you. Because of its medical nature, this information can be a little hard to remember! That’s why it’s a great idea to bring a little notebook with you to your appointment. 

As you talk over your visit with your OBGYN or Midwife, take notes. This will make it a lot easier to remember all the details. Because it’s often hard to predict when you might need this little notebook, it’s a good idea to bring it with you to every appointment. You can also use a note-taking app on your phone, if that’s more convenient!

Write Your Questions Out Before Your Visit

Going to the office for a visit can sometimes feel like a stressful situation. Which means that it’s sometimes easy to forget what you wanted to talk to your provider about in the first place! That’s why our OBGYNs and Midwives recommend that you write your concerns down ahead of time. That way, when the time comes for your visit, you won’t forget your most pressing concerns.

Know What to Avoid

Annual gynecologic visits will often include (but not always) a routine pelvic exam. To get the clearest results possible, it’s generally recommended that people avoid intercourse, douching (always avoid), or vaginal insertion of medication for the day before your appointment. You should always check with your provider before you stop taking any medications.

Your Annual Gynecologic Visit Changes Over Time

Annual Visit In Adolescence

People can begin seeing their OBGYN as early as their teens. During these adolescent years, your OBGYN or Midwife can help you with the following:

  • Contraceptive management
  • Body image and mental health issues
  • Vaccinations (for example: chickenpox, hepatitis B, and HPV vaccines)
  • Exercise and nutrition consultation
  • STI screenings
  • Sexuality and safe sex practices

This list is not exhaustive. Every person’s screenings may be different, depending on their overall health and needs. 

Annual Visit in Adult Years

In your adult years, your annual gynecologic visit will focus more on your overall health and your reproductive health. For example, a gynecologic visit in your adult years may also include:

  • Family planning consultations
  • Prenatal, birth, and postnatal care
  • Mammograms and other breast examinations
  • Cervical cancer screenings
  • Blood pressure screenings
  • Cholesterol screenings

These visits will often emphasize your long term wellness, giving you the counseling you need to build healthy habits.

Annual Visits in Your Older Years

In your middle age and older years, your visits may change focus again. As you go through perimenopause, your care may change to emphasize managing symptoms. Cancer screenings will also continue, depending on your risk profile. You should always talk to your OBGYN or Midwife about what screenings are appropriate for your age.

Annual Gynecologic Wellness Visits Help You Check in With Your OBGYN Provider

An annual gynecologic wellness visit is your chance to check in on your reproductive care and overall wellness. As a result, it’s important to schedule these visits annually. This allows your OBGYN or Midwife to keep track of your health. You’ll be able to notice problems earlier—and get the care you need.

To schedule an annual gynecologic wellness visit, contact our Wilmette or Glenview offices today!

 

When Your Newborn Needs to go to the NICU

Most parents hope for a smooth, healthy birth. And that’s usually the way it goes. According to the World Health Organization, somewhere between 90-95% of births are normal and healthy. But when your newborn needs to go to the NICU (or Neonatal Intensive Care Unit), it means that the baby requires a higher level of care–and intensive intervention may be required.

There are several reasons why your baby might need to spend some time in the NICU. In all of those cases, the NICU will give your baby the best possible chance for a long, happy, and healthy childhood. But there’s no getting around the fact that this can be a stressful, lonely, and understandably scary time for parents. 

The more you know about what to expect, the better prepared you can be if and when your baby needs to go to the NICU.

Why Might Newborns Need Intensive Care?

There are several reasons why your newborn may need to spend some time in the neonatal intensive care unit. Some of the most common include the following:

  • Preterm birth.
  • A difficult or challenging birth.
  • Low birth weight.
  • Illness or other conditions.
  • Your baby is born with certain birth defects.

We don’t often think about it this way, but even a normal birth is a shock to a baby’s system. Their lungs must suddenly start breathing air. Your newborn’s digestive system must suddenly function independently. And their heart must start pumping blood in a whole new way. While these changes often occur as a matter of routine, some newborns have a harder time with transition outside the womb. In some cases, this is because their bodies simply are not developed enough. 

Neonatal Intensive Care Units are designed to help babies through this transition when problems arise. 

What is the NICU?

The neonatal intensive care unit is a section of a hospital designed to help newborns who are critically ill or have other serious conditions. A NICU will have special nurses, doctors, and technology specifically devoted to helping newborn patients recover. Not all hospitals will have equally capable or equipped NICUs, so it’s possible your newborn will need to be transferred to a better equipped facility. This will depend on the nature of their condition.

NICUs are designed to have a limited number of visitors. To the extent possible, however, parents are invited and encouraged to take part in their newborn’s care during this time.

What Should You Do When Your Newborn Needs to go to the NICU?

For parents, it may be hard to know what’s expected of you when your newborn is in the NICU. When your newborn needs to go to the NICU, your life may feel suddenly turned upside down. After all, this is likely not how you were imagining welcoming your new baby to the world. However, it’s important to remember that time in an NICU is usually temporary.

You will be surrounded by a large array of medical equipment–and you might not necessarily understand what it’s for. Parents are encouraged to ask questions about this equipment and what it does–especially if it makes them feel better!

There are some things that you can do as parents that will help with your newborn’s care:

  • Hold your baby: In some cases, physical contact can be good for you and your baby. Depending on your newborn’s condition, you may be able to hold them even if they’re hooked up to an IV. However, that’s not always true–so be sure to ask your newborn’s doctor. Additionally, for some preterm babies, touch can be stressful. In those cases, your doctor might instruct you to refrain from touching. But generally, skin-to-skin contact with your baby is good–and it helps to start building emotional support bonds as early as possible.
  • Interact with your newborn: Whether you can safely touch your newborn or not, there are other ways you can provide comfort. For example, you could try singing or softly speaking to your baby. 
  • Make sure you follow all NICU rules: Whenever anyone enters the NICU, they must thoroughly wash their hands. That’s because a newborn’s immune system is not nearly as strong as an adult’s, so minimizing the spread of germs is critical to preventing infections. The rules and regulations of neonatal intensive care units may seem strict, but they’re designed to keep all the newborns safe. This is also the reason that you should check with your nurse before bringing toys or other objects for your baby.

Neonatal intensive care units may also require parents to wear certain garments while spending time with their newborn. In some cases, direct contact between newborns and parents will be limited. Much will depend on the condition of your newborn, the nature of their ailment, and their overall health. Parents are encouraged to communicate with their providers to ensure they understand what’s happening and why.

Don’t Forget to Take Care of Yourself

Having a child in the NICU can be an intense and stressful experience. It can also feel quite isolating. For many, it will feel like your world has suddenly transformed. That’s why it’s important to spare some energy to take care of yourself. It becomes much harder to support your newborn’s recovery if you have no energy left.

As a result, it’s recommended that parents do the following:

  • To the degree possible, try to maintain some sense of normality. It’s okay to develop a new routine. Let this routine become your normal day.
  • Make sure you don’t ignore the needs of your other children (if you have any) or stop spending time with them.
  • Have a regular social gathering. Maybe you get together with your family for dinner once a week. You can use this time to talk about what you’re going through.
  • Make time to relax: This can include simple activities like sitting down with a good book, taking a nice hot bath, or binging your favorite show on Netflix. You will need time to recover and recuperate.

Your NICU may have other support resources available for parents. Be sure to ask your provider about those resources.

Not all parents will spend the same amount of time in the NICU. That’s okay. Every family is different. In general, the baby does not need you there every hour of every day. Some parents spend 12 hours a day in the NICU, while others might spend four. 

How Long Will my Baby Be in the NICU?

For understandable reasons, most parents are eager to take their newborns home. Not just because home is more comfortable–but also because it will signal that their baby is healthy enough to leave the hospital.

How long your newborn spends in the NICU will depend on the main reason they are there. Preterm babies, for example, usually spend the longest time in the NICU. That’s because their continued growth is critical to their wellness. Typically, preterm babies average a stay in the NICU of somewhere around 45 days, but this depends on how early they arrived and their overall progress.

For most other newborns in the NICU, the stay is somewhat shorter. The average for non-preterm newborns in the neonatal intensive care unit is close to two weeks. Again, this will vary depending on your newborn and the reason for their admittance to the NICU.

Get the Care You Need

The vast majority of babies and parents will never set foot in an NICU. But it happens. So, if you have questions about the NICU, it’s worth asking your OBGYN or Midwife about what you can expect. The more you know ahead of time, the better prepared you’ll be.

The NICU is there to give your baby the best possible chance at a healthy and happy childhood. To talk to your OBGYN or Midwife about the NICU, contact our Wilmette or Glenview offices to schedule an appointment today.

 

Tips for Traveling When Pregnant

There are plenty of reasons you may want to travel while you’re pregnant. Maybe you want to visit that tropical resort before your new baby makes travel a little more complicated (and expensive). Or maybe you want to visit out-of-state family and reconnect before you welcome your new bundle of joy. Typically, these trips will be quite safe, especially if you talk to your OBGYN or Midwife and follow these tips for traveling when pregnant.

Tip #1: Check With Your OBGYN or Midwife First

Every pregnancy is unique. And traveling can present equally unique healthcare challenges. It depends on your destination, your mode of travel, and even your overall wellness. So, it’s important to run your plans by your OBGYN or Midwife first. 

During this pre-trip visit, you can also ask your OBGYN or Midwife about disease and vaccination-related concerns, especially when it comes to:

  • Zika Virus: The Zika Virus has been known to cause birth defects when pregnant people become infected. And while there are currently no known outbreaks of Zika in the United States, this may not always be the case. Checking with your provider can help you accurately assess your risks and check the CDC website to evaluate “hot zones” where Zika cases could be on the rise if you are traveling outside of the U.S.
  • Covid-19: There are still certain states and countries where Covid-19 is more prevalent than others. In addition to the health concerns, a positive Covid test can complicate your travel plans. As a result, it’s a good idea to talk to your OBGYN or Midwife about these hot spots (especially since they often change).

Talking with your OBGYN or Midwife about your travel plans helps to keep them in the loop, lets them make specific healthcare recommendations (such as possible vaccines or medications you should take), and can help you stay informed about possible health risks (both in terms of your pregnancy and in terms of your destination).

Tip #2: Travel During Your Second Trimester (if Possible)

The first and third trimesters of pregnancy carry the greatest risk of complications. As a result, traveling during your second trimester (weeks 14-28) is generally considered to be the safest.

Your second trimester also tends to be the most comfortable. Your energy levels will likely be rebounding. And your morning sickness will likely be on the way out. During the third trimester, you’ll likely be working with your OBGYN or Midwife to get ready for the birth of your child!

Tip #3: Check with Your Airline Before You Travel

Airlines and cruises will usually have specific weeks after which they will no longer let you board. For airlines, this is usually 36 weeks. For cruises it may be closer to 28 weeks. 

However, this may vary by airline, cruise, or carrier. So, you should just double check with your cruise company or airline to make sure you’ll still be allowed to travel. 

Tip #4: Pack for your Pregnancy

If you’re pregnant, you’ll likely have some very specific needs as you travel. These needs can vary depending on the stage of your pregnancy, your destination, and your mode of travel. However, in general, people who are pregnant should plan on including the following items when you pack for your trip:

  • Prenatal vitamins: You’ll want to make sure you pack enough prenatal vitamins for the duration of your entire trip. You may even want to pack a little extra, just in case a flight gets delayed here or canceled there.
  • Medical records: Even if you’re at a very low risk for complications, the risk still exists—so bringing your medical records with you is a good idea. This can help local providers better treat you if anything should happen. This is especially true if you’re traveling overseas, as communication between providers may be more difficult in these circumstances.
  • Medical provider and Hospital Facility: Before you leave on a trip it is often a good idea to know where you would go for care if you developed any pregnancy concerns during your travels. Doing this research ahead of time can reduce delay in care if an emergency arises. 
  • Provider-approved medications: You don’t want minor discomfort to keep you from enjoying your travels. That’s why most people bring some form of Tylenol with them—along with sleep aids or motion sickness remedies. It’s very important that you talk to your provider about these over-the-counter medications before you pack them (in other words, make sure they’re approved before you take them).
  • Anything that will help you relax: This tip for traveling when pregnant may seem redundant, but it’s important enough to emphasize. Stress is the enemy—and travel can be especially stressful. So be sure to pack anything that will help you stay relaxed. This could be as simple as your favorite pillow, a book you enjoy, or a nice pair of noise-canceling headphones.

Tip #5: Purchase Travel Insurance

Many people (especially young people) have never really thought about travel insurance. And if that’s the case, now’s the time to look into it. Basically, travel insurance can help you recoup costs if something goes wrong, and you have to cancel your trip. From airfare to hotel, making individual cancellations can be stressful—and varying policies mean sometimes you’re out a lot of money.

Traveling while you’re pregnant can be unpredictable; maybe more unpredictable than you’re used to. Travel insurance means you’ll feel more comfortable canceling your trip, and that can enable you to make more informed decisions.

This type of insurance will also help you cover possible medical expenses you encounter while overseas or traveling. So if your water breaks while you’re in Milan, you might be able to avoid a hefty bill when you come home. It may be worth talking to a travel insurance specialist before you plan the entirety of your trip.

Tip #6: Embrace Those Healthy Habits

There are plenty of myths when it comes to pregnant people and healthy habits. When you’re traveling, staying healthy doesn’t mean you have to eat salad for dinner every evening (unless you OBGYN or Midwife have provided specific instructions). Instead, these simple tips are designed to keep you well and help you enjoy your trip:

  • Stay hydrated: This will help with so many health issues—from constipation and UTIs to swelling and jet lag. Drink lots of non-caffeinated beverages (water is the best). If traveling outside the U.S. be sure to know what water sources are safe to drink to avoid exposure of infection.
  • Eat small amounts throughout the day: This will help you stave off nausea if you’re still experiencing any morning sickness. 
  • Eat foods high in fiber and exercise regularly: This will help you avoid constipation.
  • Don’t avoid or put off trips to the bathroom: Over time, this can lead to an increased risk of urinary tract infection (UTI). So, when possible, make sure you’re going when your body tells you it needs to go.

Tip #7: Know When to Seek Emergency Care

Sometimes it’s not always easy to know what’s normal—and what’s not—while you’re traveling. Seek out treatment immediately if any of the following symptoms occur:

  • Severe vomiting or diarrhea.
  • Membrane rupture (also known as your water breaking).
  • You see spots or have changes in your vision, especially if it is accompanied by headaches. These could be symptoms of preeclampsia.
  • Contractions, pelvic pain, or pain of the abdomen.
  • Any symptoms that might be signs of deep vein thrombosis, such as swelling of the extremities or severe pain in the calf.

If any of these symptoms occur, you should seek medical attention immediately. In general, this means pulling out those references you researched prior to leaving on your trip and visiting a hospital or seeking out other emergency services. Any of these symptoms could quickly become serious, and it’s better to be safe than sorry—even on vacation!

Tips for Traveling When Pregnant Can Help You Enjoy Your Journey!

Whether you’re going by air, sea, or road, traveling can be a joyful and enriching experience—even if it’s also exhausting. If you’re thinking about traveling while you’re pregnant, talk to your OBGYN or Midwife about your plans—so you can make sure that you and your baby stay as safe as possible. These tips for traveling when pregnant will help, but there’s no substitute for information directly from your provider.

To talk to your OBGYN or Midwife, contact us at our Wilmette or Glenview locations.

 

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Anywhere between 6-12% of individuals with a uterus who are of childbearing age will develop Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, or PCOS. The symptoms associated with PCOS are caused by a hormonal imbalance–your body starts producing too much of some hormones and not enough of others. While the underlying and root cause of this imbalance is not well understood, PCOS symptoms can be successfully managed and several therapeutic approaches exist.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome can cause complications throughout your body, including infertility and obesity. If you think you might have PCOS, you can work with your OBGYN or Midwife to develop a treatment plan and find strategies that help you successfully manage your condition.

What Are the Symptoms of PCOS?

For most menstruating individuals, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome develops around puberty. This usually occurs around the time when you have your first period.  Diagnosing PCOS can be tricky as it is not uncommon for menstrual periods to be somewhat irregular for the first 2-3 years after you have your first menarche (first period).  For others, symptoms may develop later in life, sometimes in response to weight gain. Most people don’t know they have PCOS until they visit their doctor. This usually occurs during their 20s or 30s when they have trouble becoming pregnant.

The most common symptoms of PCOS include the following:

  • Weight gain: In approximately half of cases, polycystic ovary syndrome can cause obesity.  However, individuals of normal weight can also have PCOS.
  • Acne: Acne may be more widespread and persistent than expected. Often resistant to treatment. 
  • Hair growth: As the hormone androgen rises throughout your body, you may notice that you start growing significantly more facial and body hair on your chin, neck, back, chest, breasts or abdomen. 
  • Polycystic ovaries: Sometimes the ovaries can appear to have many small follicles or cysts noted on transvaginal ultrasound.  However, this can also be a nonspecific finding and without the presence of other symptoms, may not be suggestive of PCOS.
  • Your periods become irregular: As your hormone levels fluctuate, your periods may become sporadic – sometimes months without periods and sometimes periods that happen too often. It’s not unusual for those with PCOS to have only 9 periods per year, for example.
  • Darkening of skin: Some people who develop PCOS may also notice a darkening of their skin called acanthosis nigricans. This may occur broadly or in patches. 
  • Skin tags: Also known as acrochordons, these are small areas of excess skin that may develop and often around the area of darkening skin.

Only your doctor can diagnose polycystic ovary syndrome. But if you’re experiencing multiple symptoms as noted above, it’s worth bringing your concerns to the attention of your OBGYN or Midwife.

Can PCOS Cause Complications?

Over the long term, PCOS can cause complications in a variety of ways. Some of the most common are the following:

  • Metabolic syndrome or prediabetes
  • Type 2 diabetes, often linked with PCOS-caused weight gain
  • Depression
  • Liver inflammation
  • Infertility
  • Abnormal uterine bleeding
  • Miscarriage
  • Premature birth
  • Gestational diabetes

In general, those with PCOS may experience trouble becoming pregnant. That’s because the hormone imbalance may sometimes interfere with ovulation–and if there’s no egg to become fertilized, one cannot conceive. 

Additionally, you may experience metabolic complications due to your PCOS. This could increase your overall risk of cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure.

None of these complications are inevitable. There is a great deal of variability in terms of who experiences complications and who does not. The best way to avoid complications is to work closely with your OBGYN or Midwife to manage symptoms

What are the Treatments for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?

In general, the approach to treating PCOS is to help you manage your symptoms as well as possible. As new symptoms may (or may not) pop up, your OBGYN or Midwife will work with you to manage those as well.

As a result, PCOS may be treated in the following ways:

  • Infertility and trouble conceiving: These symptoms may sometimes be addressed with fertility treatments. This will increase the rate of your ovulation–or bypass the process altogether. If you have PCOS and want to get pregnant, your provider may refer you to a fertility specialist. Your OBGYN or Midwife may also prescribe medication designed to help you ovulate.
  • Menstrual irregularity: To help your monthly bleeding stay on track–and be more predictable–your OBGYN or Midwife may prescribe birth control options that are designed to regulate your menstrual cycle. This could include birth control pills, vaginal rings, and IUDs.
  • Weight gain: If your weight gain begins to interfere with your health or impact you in negative ways, your OBGYN or Midwife may take a tiered approach to your treatment. First, they may recommend increasing your daily activity or decreasing your daily caloric intake (or both). In other cases, medication might be used to help regulate the way your body stores fat.
  • Acne: To help improve your acne, your provider may refer you to see a dermatologist who may prescribe prescription strength face wash and other topical medications designed to help you keep your skin clear. Sometimes birth control or other prescription medications can be given to help with acne as well. 
  • Excess hair: Removal of excess facial or body hair often involves cosmetic methods which may include bleaching, waxing, shaving, laser or electrolysis. 
  • Diabetes and insulin related complications: Many individuals with PCOS are insulin resistant, making it challenging to address and manage diabetes that may occur. To help you control your blood pressure and avoid insulin-related complications, your OBGYN or Midwife may prescribe metformin, a diabetes drug that will lower your insulin resistance. This drug can also help regulate your ovulation and improve your weight loss prospects.

Your OBGYN or Midwife will help you manage the symptoms of your PCOS. There’s no cure for the overall condition, but with the right approach, you can still live a very full and healthy life.

Common PCOS Questions

Many people will have questions about their polycystic ovary syndrome. Among the most common are the following:

Will PCOS go away after menopause?

In some ways, your polycystic ovary syndrome will no longer impact you after menopause–in particular the aspects related to infertility and conception. However, your hormonal imbalance will still remain in place. And the life-long complications will still be with you. So, you’ll still have to work with your provider to manage any symptoms that remain.

If I become pregnant, will PCOS Impact my pregnancy?

It could. Polycystic ovary syndrome can increase your chances of gestational diabetes, hypertensive disorders in pregnancy, pregnancy loss, and preterm birth. If you know you have PCOS and you become pregnant, you will want to work closely with your OBGYN or Midwife to monitor your pregnancy.

How will my doctor diagnose my PCOS?

A diagnosis requires a multitude of factors. In general, your OBGYN or Midwife will perform a physical exam and order blood tests. A pelvic exam and pelvic sonogram (ultrasound) may also be performed. Based on the results of all of these tests, your provider may be able to determine whether you have polycystic ovary syndrome and in some cases may refer you to meet with an endocrinologist who specializes in diagnosing, treating and managing metabolic disorders including PCOS.

Talk to Your OBGYN About PCOS

Polycystic ovary syndrome impacts almost one in ten people of childbearing age. This occurs in varying degrees of severity. So, it’s important to understand that, even though there is no cure for PCOS, many people are able to successfully treat this condition on a daily basis.

If you have questions about PCOS, or think this condition may be impacting your fertility, talk to your OBGYN or Midwife today! Contact us at our Wilmette or Glenview locations to schedule an appointment.

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