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Physician Outlook: Women's Health

11-08-2017

Physician Outlook: Women’s Health

Women's health has always been an exciting and evolving field of medicine, but it has really been transformed in recent years by advances in medical and surgical technology. From advances in reproductive health to minimally-invasive surgery, the focus on the health and well-being of women across their life has really taken center stage both for researchers and physicians.

Reproductive Health

Women are taking control of their reproductive health, both as it relates to proactively building their family or delaying motherhood so they can focus on their career or personal lives. This is one of the contributing factors to the tremendous advances in reversible birth control options in recent years. There are now more options than ever before for reliable and convenient birth control, and many are now choosing some form of long acting reversible contraception (LARC) mainly because of the reliability and convenience. This form of birth control, most often associated with the IUD, has seen huge transformation over the last 15 years, moving from a solution for only a small segment of women, is much more mainstream and accessible to most women of child-bearing age.

Intrauterine Devices (IUD)

The Mirena IUD was the first progesterone containing IUD to become available in the United Sates in 2001. There are now three other progesterone IUDs available – Kyleena Skyla and Liletta. The Paragard IUD is a fifth option that is non hormonal, for women who are sensitive to hormones or prefer a chemical-free option.

These IUDs are easily placed into the uterus during a simple office visit that usually takes about 10 minutes to complete. One of the benefits from an IUD is that a woman does not have to remember to take a pill or other medications daily and there are no regular follow up visits needed. IUDs are also highly effective, with their average failure rate at least than 1%, and they protect against pregnancy for 3-5 years depending on the product chosen. Along with this, most women do not have their menstrual cycle with an IUD. Any woman can choose an IUD even if she has never been pregnant, and at the end of their useful life, the IUD is simply removed at a follow-up visit that takes only a few minutes.

Birth Control Pills

Birth control pills have also seen many changes in recent years, from low-dose or single-hormone options are now available for women who may have struggled finding a birth control option that works for them. There are even pills being produced that are taken daily for several months, ultimately eliminating the monthly menstrual cycle! You and your OB/GYN now have many more options to find a solution that minimizes or eliminates side effects.

Hormonal Implants

Nexplanon is another popular form of LARC. Nexplanon is a 2cm rod that is placed beneath the skin of the upper arm designed to release progesterone into the surrounding muscle and prevent pregnancy for 3 years. The device is easily placed in the arm during a brief 10-minute office visit and can be removed just as easy at any time.

All of these choices allow women more freedom and convenience when managing their reproductive health. If you are considering your birth control options, an OB/GYN can partner to find the best option for you and your lifestyle.

Pregnancy & Childbirth

For those who are ready to start or expand their family, pregnancy care has also seen many changes over the last 30 years. With advances in technology and strict care protocols for hospitals, doctors and nurses, having a baby is now safer than ever before.

Technology now contributes significantly to the way labor is managed in the hospital. Wireless fetal monitoring of a baby’s heartbeat can allow mom to be free of cords and machines and ultimately more comfortable during labor. Ultrasound machines can provide the most amazing detail of a baby’s anatomy before birth and allows Obstetricians to identify problems long before delivery, which can help you and your doctor prepare for and address any complications in advance of your baby’s arrival.

We are also seeing most hospitals fully embracing family-centered care that aims to involve family in the birth experience and keep newborns with their mothers – a care model that The Birthplace at CaroMont Regional Medical Center has had in place for more than 10 years. Newborn nurseries are a thing of the past, and all our mothers get private birthing suites. We know that allowing mother and baby to room together encourages effective bonding and allows for more opportunities to breastfeed. Breast milk is the best “medicine” for a newborn baby because it is an endless supply of the perfect mixture of food and nutrients along with important antibodies that help protect a baby against illness and infection after birth.

Minimally-Invasive Surgery

Many would agree that the most amazing advances in Women’s Health can be seen with the development of minimally-invasive surgical techniques for women. Minimally invasive surgery can be used to treat problems such as heavy vaginal bleeding, painful menstrual periods, fibroid tumors, female incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse. Meant to minimize incisions, bleeding and scarring, minimally-invasive surgery often leads to quicker recoveries so women can return to work, social activities and family responsibilities faster than ever before. Minimally invasive surgery is also much safer than conventional open surgical procedures with less risk for complications. In fact, many of these minimally invasive techniques are done using office-based procedures that do not require any hospitalization. Endometrial ablation is the most well-known office procedure used to treat abnormal vaginal bleeding and painful periods. It is a 10-minute procedure that treats the inside lining of the uterus in order to prevent a woman from having her menstrual cycle. Recovery time is about 24 hours and there is very little pain.

Hysterectomy remains one of the most common surgeries in the United States, but women can now expect to have their hysterectomy done minimally-invasive using Laparoscopy or Robotics. Gone are the days when a hysterectomy meant a large scar across the lower abdomen and weeks of pain as the abdominal muscles healed, now many surgeons are now doing Laparoscopy with one single incision placed inside the belly button, referred to as “scarless surgery.”

Finally, leaking urine and pelvic prolapse are common problems women face as they age. However, they are not a normal part of the aging process and women should realize that there are minimally invasive procedures available to treat these conditions as well that are safe and effective.

CaroMont Health is proud to offer all of these advanced medical and surgical treatment options. Ashley Women’s Center and Gaston Women’s Healthcare are prepared to meet all the needs of women from adolescence to menopause in a very caring and compassionate environment. Please visit caromonthealth.org for information or to schedule an appointment today!

Dr. Adcock is an OB/GYN practicing at Gaston Women’s Healthcare in Gastonia and Mount Holly; he also serves as Physician Administrative Lead for the Women’s Service Line at CaroMont Health.

Categories: Physician's Blog