Cover Your Mouth During Cold/Flu Season

Does anyone else get really annoyed with people not covering their mouths when they cough or sneeze? What are you supposed to do when you are sick or have allergies? Let me know what you think guys! Thanks for watching!

 

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Calorie Counting: Does It Work? And How Do I Do It?

Okay first of all YES! Yes it works! I’ve seen results on many patients, including myself and my family.

Are you good with numbers (addition and subtraction)? Are you good with using apps to help you?

If you said “Yes” to any of these then keep reading. I have fantastic news for you.

Okay, so if you couldn’t tell already I am very passionate about this. I am passionate because I believe everyone has the opportunity to be healthy, and to succeed at being healthy. I want to help you help yourself.

my fitness pal

If you haven’t heard me rant about these two apps yet you are missing out! My Fitness Pal, and Map My Walk. You can get them for Android and for Apple operating systems.

I am not going to go in to detail about how to use them. You can find out more here.

So…you decided it’s time for a change. That’s fantastic and I am so proud of you. Please reach out to me with any questions or if you are looking for that extra support. I would love to help!

map my walk appFirst thing is first: Weigh yourself naked every day on a scale. Do it first thing in the morning before you have that first cup of coffee. I find that even if I take a shower first I weigh more than before (all that water weighing down my hair, it’s a real thing. I promise).

1) Enter your weight in the My Fitness Pal app. 

After you have done that then go ahead and start picking out your breakfast. Guess what! Everything has calories in it. Make sure you are watching how many calories you have for the day in your app. This will better allow you to spread out your calorie intake for the day.

2) Enter your food in to your My Fitness Pal app.

Feeling motivated yet? I am. Now it’s time to start exercising. You can do anything from jogging, to yoga, to tennis, to soccer, etc. ANYTHING! The My Fitness Pal app knows how many calories you are burning by what activity you are doing. Just log it in.

texting phone3) Log your exercise in to the My Fitness Pal app.

If you are a jogger/walker/runner/etc then I strongly recommend using the Map My Walk app. It knows your location and can tell you exactly your path, calories burned, and speed. I especially like it because I jog. I know roughly how long it takes me to do a mile. I like to do three, so I can judge how long I’ll be out of the house.

jogging4) Record your walk/run in your Map My Walk app.

The more you exercise the more calories you have at the end of the day for dessert. If you go over don’t worry. There’s always that cheat day once a week.

 

Any questions yet? Please reach out to me! I would love to hear from you. This is the easiest method I have found (I love numbers and challenges). I am free to eat whatever I want, and I get to call the shots. If I don’t exercise to earn my calories for that bowl of ice cream at the end of the day then that’s on me. Not the diet.

Good luck!

Rehashing-Postpartum Depression: What Should I Know?

Photo Credit Creekside Center for Women, 2018

This article means so much to me as I suffered from postpartum depression with my first pregnancy. This is something serious that I feel I need to share and reach out to other moms who are going through the same thing, or even think they might have postpartum depression. Thank you for reading today.

Let’s take a minute to talk about something real.

What is Postpartum Depression?

depression stats
Photo Credit Winnie Palmer Hospital, ahealthblog.com, 2018

Postpartum depression is “depression suffered by a mother following childbirth, typically arising from the combination of hormonal changes, psychological adjustment to motherhood, and fatigue” (Dictionary.com, 2018). Postpartum depression is a real issue that needs to be addressed, especially among the mom community. There is no shame if you are suffering from it right now, or have in the past. Did you know that 1 in 7 women suffer from postpartum depression (American Psychology Association, 2018)? The CDC says that depression varies by state.

My Experience. My Story.

Unfortunately, I have suffered from postpartum depression. I used to feel shameful about it. With therapy I now know it was not my fault, and there are things you can do to help. I will talk about that later in the article as well. I want to share my story to help other moms who might be suffering.

I remember after I had my daughter (5 years ago) listening to her cry. She was colic from an unknown allergy, which we discovered about a year ago. She cried what seemed non stop. We hardly slept at night. We did not get any kind of spacial time away from her unless she was at my parents’ house (thank you mom and dad). I had to keep her on me at all times otherwise she was more unhappy and cried louder. There were times I had to just let her cry in her crib because she could cry just as easily there as she could in my arms. I needed a break. I needed 10 minutes to myself, then I would go tend to her again. She was in-consolable.

I started having panic attacks from the constant crying. Anyone who’s had a panic attack knows it feels like a heart attack in your chest and you can’t catch your breath. I was having these randomly throughout the day too. It would knock me to my knees and I couldn’t get up. That is when I decided to seek help. It was the best thing I did for myself and for my daughter. My husband, bless his heart, was so supportive through it all (thank you husband). I got a part-time job to get myself out of the house and away for a bit. I started going on walks with our dog by myself to have that moment of clarity. This is what worked for me, but it may not for you. I will discuss some strategies further in my article.

If you have suffered from postpartum depression before please feel free to share your story below. This will help other moms as well.

How Do I Know I don’t Just Have the “Baby Blues?”

baby blues vs postpartum
Photo Credit Kristen, The Healing Group, 2014

That is an excellent point! Baby blues are completely different than postpartum depression. It is so normal to feel weepy, tired, and exhausted after having a baby. The first few months are so hard, especially for first time moms (there is nothing wrong with first time moms either). You should have an increase in appetite and start molding in to that motherly role after a few weeks. You also will have good sleep when you do sleep. It’s normal to have worries throughout your thoughts and throughout your day (Bennett, S., 2016). Don’t worry, worrying about your child if you’re doing well makes you already a better parent than those that don’t.

Below is a chart to help guide your thoughts on whether or not you think you might have some issues with postpartum depression vs baby blues. Please keep in mind this is a guide, and not purposed with actual diagnosing your symptoms online. As always talk to your doctor if you think you might have postpartum depression.

postpartum vs baby blues vs psychosis
Photo Credit thesecrettogivingbirth.com, Unknown

Symptoms and Signs of Postpartum Depression

disinterest
Photo Credit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017

Let’s talk about symptoms and signs of postpartum depression. You may be reading this wondering if you have it. If you have just given birth and feel symptoms of hopelessness, sadness, exhaustion with sadness, and having a hard time coping with daily life you might have postpartum depression (National Institute of Mental Health, 2018). You could also be feeling overwhelmed, feeling anxious, crying a lot more than normal, over sleeping, or having disinterest. Make sure you do not confuse these with baby blues. If it is baby blues you should start feeling better in a couple weeks after giving birth.

crying in bed
Photo Credit drawingofpencil.com

For me the disinterest is what gave it away that there was a problem. My daughter would cry, and sometimes I literally did not care. I didn’t have that motherly instinct to help her. I would just lay there in bed crying. I knew at that moment it was time to do something to help myself and our child.

Please seek help right away if you are unable to help your baby because of your depression. This is a serious condition.

Please look over this chart and see if you have a significant majority of these signs:

signs of postpartum
Photo Credit Binkgirl, Steemit, 2017

How Does Someone Get Postpartum Depression?

I’m glad you asked. A lot of people are actually unaware of what it is and how someone “gets it”. It is not a disease, or a virus. It is nothing along those lines. It’s not even “regular” depression. They are both clinically different forms of depression. Yes, they share a lot of common symptoms, but they are different.

Clinical Depression Causes

Well, first and foremost clinical depression is not caused by just having a baby. Did you know that depression is hereditary (Meaney, M., 2015)? Let me also clarify this. You can develop depression from other ways. It doesn’t have to just be hereditary (ie. bullying, anxiety, down in life, etc).

Many people suggest depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain. This is only half true. “To be sure, chemicals are involved in this process, but it is not a simple matter of one chemical being too low and another too high. Rather, many chemicals are involved, working both inside and outside nerve cells. There are millions, even billions, of chemical reactions that make up the dynamic system that is responsible for your mood, perceptions, and how you experience life” (Harvard Health Publishing, 2017). So you see, there are many factors influencing depression.

Postpartum Depression Causes

causes postpartum
Photo Credit Lifestyle, LinkedIn, 2016

“There’s no single cause of postpartum depression, but physical and emotional issues may play a role.

  • Physical changes. After childbirth, a dramatic drop in hormones (estrogen and progesterone) in your body may contribute to postpartum depression. Other hormones produced by your thyroid gland also may drop sharply — which can leave you feeling tired, sluggish and depressed.
  • Emotional issues. When you’re sleep deprived and overwhelmed, you may have trouble handling even minor problems. You may be anxious about your ability to care for a newborn. You may feel less attractive, struggle with your sense of identity or feel that you’ve lost control over your life. Any of these issues can contribute to postpartum depression” (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2018).

Okay I Think I Have Postpartum Depression. What Do I DO Next? How is my Doctor Going to Treat it?

 The first thing you should do if you suspect you have postpartum depression is contact your doctor’s office. Make an appointment. Make sure you let the nurse on the phone know what is going on so you can get in faster to help relieve your symptoms. This will help you and help your child.

Your doctor is going to ask you a series of questions. More than likely you will need to fill out a questionnaire to give the doctor more information. They may even order blood tests to make sure there isn’t another hormonal imbalance contributing to your symptoms.

Some things they will suggest are either taking medications (antidepressants), or talking to a psychologist/psychiatrist. This depends on if you want medications. I was able to talk to a psychologist and that helped tremendously. If you are uncomfortable about taking medications, like I was, I would start with a psychologist and go from there. They may recommend medication though.

Just remember to talk to your doctor if you even suspect you might have postpartum depression. It might be baby blues, or it might be more serious. Do not feel shameful if you experience any of the symptoms. This is a huge issue that needs to be discussed to help others.

As always please share your story below to help other moms and parents.

Resources:

American Psychology Association. (2018). Postpartum Depression: What is Postpartum Depression and Anxiety? Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/pi/women/resources/reports/postpartum-depression.aspx

Dictionary.com. (2018). Postpartum Depression. Retrieved from https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-1-ab&q=Dictionary#dobs=postpartum%20depression

National Institute of Mental Health. (2018). Postpartum Depression Facts. Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/postpartum-depression-facts/index.shtml

Bennett, Shoshana, American Pregnancy.org. (2016). Do I Have the Baby Blues or Postpartum Depression? Retrieved from http://americanpregnancy.org/first-year-of-life/baby-blues-or-postpartum-depression/

Meaney, Michael, Psychology Today. (2015) Is Depression Hereditary? Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/hope-through-research/201509/is-depression-hereditary

Harvard Health Publishing. (2017). What Causes Depression? Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/what-causes-depression

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2018). Postpartum depression. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/postpartum-depression/symptoms-causes/syc-20376617

 

FVL: What is it? And Why is The Medical Mama Writing About it?

Photo Credit factorv.org

I would like to introduce you to my biggest nightmare-Factor Five Leiden, or FVL. “What is it?” you are probably asking. I’ll tell you, then I’ll tell you why this has impacted myself and my family so much.

So…What is Factor Five Leiden (FVL)? “Factor V Leiden is a mutation of one of the clotting factors in the blood called factor V. This mutation can increase your chance of developing abnormal blood clots (thrombophilia), usually in your veins” (Mayo Clinic Staff., 2015). It is an inherited gene. I happened to inherit it from my dad and his side of the family.

The Clotting Process

clotting process
Photo Credit World Federation of Hemophilia, http://www.wfh.org. (2014).

When you are injured, or have surgery, you have special proteins that work together to heal the blood vessels in your body. These proteins are your clotting factors. You also have platelets that send signals to other cells to come and clot together to repair this injury. This is called a platelet plug. After that you have coagulation factors (labeled by Roman numerals, like Factor V) that come and help with the clot. Note the image located to the left side of this section.

When you have a coagulation disorder, or blood clot disorder, this is when things get complicated.

How FVL Affects Clotting

When our bodies need to clot we have something called activated protein C (APC). This initially tells the blood clot to not grow too large enough for complications (i.e. deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, etc). This directly tells the fibrin (clotting factors mentioned above) to not grow and get out of control. When someone has FVL it is a gene mutation in which is can not help but grow too large to the point of blood clots in the body that become harmful (World Federation of Hemophilia., 2014).

How Has This Impacted My Life?

I am not perfect (hard to believe I know. Haha). I have Factor Five Leiden. I have this horrible gene mutation that affects my daily life. If I get injured in any way I am at risk for developing blood clots or hematomas. When you are injured the clotting process is still the same (even in organs). Both of my pregnancies I have had to be on blood thinners (self injections twice a day for 12 months). When you become pregnant your body produces more blood for the baby. More blood=more blood flow. Your heart and blood vessels have to work twice as hard to pump this blood throughout the body. This increases your risks of clotting. Clots will undeniably kill your unborn baby. It’s a fact, not a “maybe”. When I have surgeries (like my two c-sections) I increased my risks for clotting. Patients can throw a clot and die from surgeries if they have FVL.

dad and elexys
Photo Credit The Medical Mama, themedicalmama.wordpress.com. (2012).

Not only do I have FVL, but my father and sister have it as well. This puts both my daughters at risk for it as well. My father almost died from it. We were not aware it “ran” in our family. He fell on ice one day and it went untreated by several doctors (Don’t get me started on that.). He had a deep vein thrombosis in his right leg. The clot broke off and traveled to his lungs leaving him with several pulmonary embolisms. The clots from there then traveled to his heart. He had about 5-7 clots in his heart. This left his heart damaged in some areas permanently. This is something that can not be reversed when damage has been done. He almost died sitting in an ER room waiting for doctors to figure out how the heck it got this far to a life or death situation. With the grace of God and God’s love my father is alive today.

There are two types of gene mutations: heterozygote and homozygote. I have the heterozygote gene mutation. I have the heterozygote gene mutation. This means if a parent with one copy and a parent with no copies has a baby that baby will have a 50% chance of carrying the FVL gene. That is 1 in 2 babies. I have 2 children and that fact just hit me hard in the face…like a pile of bricks. That means AT LEAST one of my beautiful daughters is carrying the gene (maybe both).

FVL and Pregnancy

carrying high or low
Photo Credit Emily Sadler, todaysparent.com. (2017)

As I mentioned above pregnancy increases your risks for blood clots. When you become pregnant your body produces more blood for the baby. More blood=more blood flow. Your heart and blood vessels have to work twice as hard to pump this blood throughout the body. This increases your risks of clotting. Again, clots will undeniably kill your unborn baby. It’s a fact, not a “maybe”.

“The factor V Leiden mutation is associated with a slightly increased risk of pregnancy loss (miscarriage). Women with this mutation are two to three times more likely to have multiple (recurrent) miscarriages or a pregnancy loss during the second or third trimester. Some research suggests that the factor V Leiden mutation may also increase the risk of other complications during pregnancy, including pregnancy-induced high blood pressure (preeclampsia), slow fetal growth, and early separation of the placenta from the uterine wall (placental abruption). However, the association between the factor V Leiden mutation and these complications has not been confirmed. Most women with factor V Leiden thrombophilia have normal pregnancies” (Genetics Home Reference., 2010).

FVL and Surgery

When you have an injury your blood vessels will dilate to keep blood inside your body. This will slow down the rate of blood flow through the blood vessels. This increases the risk of blood clots.

“Injury to your veins or surgery can slow blood flow, increasing the risk of blood clots. General anesthetics used during surgery can dilate your veins, which can increase the risk of blood pooling and then clotting” (Mayo Clinic Staff., 2015).

If you think you have a blood clotting disorder please talk to your doctor right away!

 

 

Resources:

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2015). Factor V Leiden. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/factor-v-leiden/symptoms-causes/syc-20372423

World Federation of Hemophilia. (2014). The Clotting Process. Retrieved from https://www.wfh.org/en/page.aspx?pid=635

Dictionary.com. (2018). Retrieved from http://www.dictionary.com/

Genetics Home References. (2010). Factor V Leiden Thromophilia. Retrieved from https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/factor-v-leiden-thrombophilia#resources

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2014). Factor V Leiden. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/factor-v-leiden/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20372428

Birth Control Part 2: Can I Get Pregnant While Being on it? And How Soon After Going Off of it Can I Get Pregnant?

I want to let all of my readers know first that there is a list of resources below in case you would like more information about something that was mentioned today. I hope this article helps you with any questions you might have about which type of birth control is right for you.

What is Birth Control?

First, let’s talk about what contraception really is. “the deliberate prevention of conception or impregnation by any of various drugs, techniques, or devices; birth control” (dictionary.com, 2018).

Birth control can be sub-categorized in to two separate categories: hormonal birth control and non hormonal birth control. We can get even more specific and categorize the hormonal birth control in to which hormones they use to prevent pregnancy. We can get even more in depth after that, but we aren’t today. We are going to talk about the overall concept of how each one works, the effectiveness, and how to conceive or avoid conception with each one.

Let’s Jump Right In:

Condoms:

condoms
Photo Credit iStock, daily.jstor.org. (2018)

How It Works: Condoms go on the male “part” and prevent any sperm from passing through to the vagina. The end of the condom has a little sack/pouch (called a nipple) to catch all the semen that is released during sex. This prevents pregnancy.

Effectiveness: When using a condom with foam (spermicide) properly it is 97% effective at preventing pregnancy (MedicineNet, 2018).

Can I Get Pregnant While Using Them: Whenever you are ready to conceive all you have to do is not use them anymore. It’s as simple as that. The only wait time you will face is when mommy-to-be is waiting to ovulate.

If you are not trying to conceive be aware that condoms like to break…a lot. That is why they recommend using lubrication while using them.

 

Diaphragm:

diaphragm
Photo Credit Maria Shevtsova, motherhow.com. (2017)

How It Works: The diaphragm works by blocking sperm from getting in to the uterus. It is placed in the vagina and meant to cover the opening to your cervix. It is meant to be used with a spermicide as well. The spermicide kills the sperm before it can enter the uterus. “You can put it in up to 6 hours before you have sex, and you need to leave it in for at least 6 hours after” (WebMD, 2018).

Effectiveness: When used correctly it is is 94% effective at preventing pregnancy. However, a lot of people misuse it and don’t place the diaphragm correctly in to place, so the rate is more like 88% effective (Planned Parenthood, 2018).

Can I Get Pregnant While Using It: Yes, you can conceive while using the diaphragm as a form of contraception. There’s always that chance. As soon as you are ready to conceive all you have to do is not use it anymore. Again, the only wait time is waiting for mommy-to-be to ovulate.

If you are not trying to conceive be aware they are only 94% effective at preventing pregnancy. There’s always that chance of getting pregnant.

 

 Copper IUD (ParaGard):

paragard
Photo Credit viewpoints, viewpoints.com. (2018)

How It Works: This copper IUD works by releasing copper in the uterus and killing sperm before it enters the cervix. It is an IUD so it is placed in the uterus. It is good for up to 10 years. It is completely reversible and can be removed by a healthcare provider. It does need to be inserted by a healthcare provider too though.

Effectiveness: When used correctly it is over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy (Paragard.com, 2018).

Can I Get Pregnant While Using Them: With any IUD you have a higher risk of having an ectopic pregnancy. If you are trying to conceive you can have it removed by a healthcare professional and try to conceive immediately. That’s the beauty of a hormone free birth control. It is hormone free, so you should have your normal cycle while using it as well.

If you are not trying to conceive be aware that sometimes it can dislodge, or embed itself in the uterus wall. Both these scenarios make it less likely for the IUD to work properly.

Rhythm Method:

rhytm method
Photo Credit Cedarmed International Medical Services, cedarmed.com. (2018)

How It Works: The rhythm method is, basically, you track your cycle using a calendar. You track your ovulation window and your periods. You should mark when you start your cycle, and when you end. You should also anticipate 3 days before ovulation day and 3 days after as a window of getting pregnant. If you are going to use this method I highly recommend getting an app on your phone and using a condom for a few months until your app can properly start calculating your ovulation schedule.

Effectiveness: When this process is used correctly it is about 75% effective at preventing pregnancy.

Can I Get Pregnant While Using This: The answer is YES! This method is not always reliable as it is easy to miscalculate your cycle. It also has a 75% rate of prevention. That’s 25% chance of getting pregnant.

If you are trying to conceive this is perfect because you have to track your ovulation schedule.

If you are not trying to conceive this is an issue for birth control. It is more likely you will conceive accidentally with using this method.

 

Surgical Sterilization:

I’m sure we all know what this means. Surgical sterilization is where you go to your doctor and ask to be sterilized so you can not have any more children. This method can not be reversed in most cases. Please consider all options before choosing this method.

-Tubal Ligation-

How It Works: This is the female form of surgical sterilization. It is also known as “getting your tubes tied”. A tubal ligation “is a type of permanent birth control. During tubal ligation, the fallopian tubes are cut, tied or blocked to permanently prevent pregnancy” (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2017).

Effectiveness: “Tubal ligation is a safe and effective form of permanent birth control. But it doesn’t work for everyone. Fewer than 1 out of 100 women will get pregnant in the first year after the procedure. The younger you are at the time it’s done, the more likely it is to fail” (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2018).

Can I Get Pregnant Accidentally: Yes you can. The younger you are the more likely for it to fail. You also have a higher risk of it being an ectopic pregnancy. It is pretty effective though for the most part with the right patients.

-Vasectomy-

How It Works: A vasectomy is the male form of surgical sterilization. In a vasectomy “the surgeon makes a small cut in the upper part of the scrotum, under the penis, and then cuts, ties, or blocks the vas deferens. You’ll get your surgical cuts stitched up and go home right away” (WebMD, 2018).

Effectiveness: This is almost 100% effective. In rare cases it can reverse itself. The man does need to get regular check ups to check sperm counts.

Can I Get Pregnant Accidentally: Yes, you can get pregnant accidentally. Only if the vasectomy reverses itself though.

 

Pills, or Oral Contraceptives:

bc pillsHow It Works: Oral contraceptives come in a wheel or in a package like the picture to the left of this section. How do oral contraceptives work? I am so glad you asked. When used correctly they release a hormone that prevents your body from ovulating. Therefore, your body is temporarily infertile.

Some work by releasing estrogen. Others work by releasing progesterone. They also offer oral contraceptives that release both hormones. You do need to take it every day at the EXACT SAME TIME EVERY DAY. This can be a pain in itself and a huge inconvenience. This can also be impractical for very busy women.

Effectiveness: When the pill is taken correctly it is 99.9% effective (WebMD, 2018).

Can I Get Pregnant While Using Them: Generally speaking, if you are trying to conceive you can have a period in about 2-4 weeks. It is recommended you wait and have at least 2-3 “normal” periods after stopping the pill to try and conceive. This lowers the risk of there being any birth defects in the womb later on.

If you are not trying to conceive you should continue taking the pill. If you go off of the pill or miss a dose you should use back up birth control methods (condoms, diaphragm).

Depo-Provera Shot:

depo shot
Photo Credit Melissa Gardner, pajamamommy.com. (2017)

How It Works: The Depo shot, or Depo-Provera shot, is an injection you get every 3 months. The shot works by releasing progesterone preventing ovulation. It also thickens the mucous in your cervix so the sperm can’t get through.

Effectiveness: When used correctly it is over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy.

Can I Get Pregnant While Using This: Yes, you always have a chance of getting pregnant. Realistically, especially if you’ve used it for several months already, you are not going to get pregnant. If you miss a shot you should use back up birth control methods. I also don’t recommend using this passed your 2-3 year mark.

If you are trying to conceive this makes it a little harder for your body to go back to the “norm” or having a menstrual cycle. It can take months for your body to start having periods again. When that does happen you should wait to have 2-3 “normal” periods before trying to conceive.

If you are not trying to conceive this is actually a better option than some of the other choices out there. This is because it is over 99.9% effective at preventing pregnancy. It also has the ability to take away periods all together while on it. No period means no ovulation.

Hormone IUD:

mirena
Photo Credit Mirena, Mirena-us.com. (2017)

How It Works: I think the most common hormone IUD we think of that’s on the market today is the Mirena IUD. It is a small T-shaped piece that gets implanted in to your uterus. It works by releasing levonorgestrel in to the uterus. It also thickens your mucous in your cervix and thins your uterus lining to prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the wall of the uterus. It is good for up to 5 years. You have to have a doctor insert it and take it out.

Effectiveness: When used correctly it is also over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy.

Can I Get Pregnant While Using It: Yes, but you can get it put in at the clinic office and forget about it for the next 5 years. You also have the option of taking it out whenever you decide you want to get pregnant. Your cycle should return right away without any issues with conceiving. “Within a year of having Mirena removed, about 8 out of 10 women succeed at becoming pregnant” (Mirena, 2018).

If you are not trying to conceive this is a highly effective method. There’s always a chance of pregnancy with any type of birth control on the market today. IUDs can get dislodged or embed themselves in the uterus wall. This makes it less effective.

This should only be used on full grown women. It is not recommended for teen girls. I also do not recommend it for women who have not had children yet. Your uterus would not be used to it and stretched out and the IUD could expel itself.

Hormone Implant:

nexplanon
Photo Credit MacArthur, macarthurmc.com. (2018)

How It Works: The hormonal implant on the market today is the Nexplanon. This is a little stick looking piece that is filled with hormones. It’s funny because the website doesn’t actually say which hormone (which I find kinda shady). It gets surgically implanted in to the skin of your upper arm. Your arm will be locally numbed, then the stick will be implanted under the skin in your arm. “Immediately after the insertion, you and your health care provider will feel for NEXPLANON to ensure that it has been placed correctly. If you can’t feel it, contact your health care provider immediately and use a non-hormonal birth control method (such as condoms) until your health care provider confirms that the implant is in place. The implant may not be placed in your arm at all due to a failed insertion. If this happens, you may become pregnant. Following the insertion, you’ll have to wear a pressure bandage for 24 hours and a small bandage for 3 to 5 days.” (Nexplanon, 2018).

Effectiveness: When used correctly it is over 99% effective.

Can I Get Pregnant While Using It: The advantages include it is effective for up to 3 years. You can take it out at any time if you plan to become pregnant. You get it inserted at the clinic by your doctor and you don’t have to worry about it for the next 3 years.

If you are not trying to get pregnant please be aware that although there is a low likelihood of pregnancy, there still exists one. These can get punctured easily or broken inside the skin easily. They also can embed themselves which make them less likely to be effective.

Vaginal Ring:

nuvaring
Photo Credit Lydie Stock/Fotolia. (2017)

How It Works: The vaginal ring is not for those who are, what I like to call, “vagina shy”. This is something you replace monthly and you have to personally insert it in to your vagina yourself. On the market there is the NuvaRing. This is a lot different than the other forms of hormonal birth control methods. This is a flexible ring that gets inserted in to your vagina.

Effectiveness: This works using estrogen and progesterone both. It is 98% effective at preventing pregnancy. It is to be removed after 3 weeks. The 4th week you have your menstrual cycle. Then the next month you insert a new one. You will need a prescription for this.

Can I Get Pregnant While Using It: Yes, you can. If it is not inserted properly you can become pregnant. If you do not use it properly you may become pregnant. It can also dislodge.

However, if you are trying to conceive you can remove it at any time and become pregnant.

Hormone Patch:

ortho evra patch
Photo Credit Center for Young Women’s Health, youngwomenshealth.org. (2017)

How It Works: The hormonal patch, also known as the transdermal patch or Ortho Evra Patch, is a patch you wear for 3 weeks. The 4th week you have your period. The next week you will need to re-apply another patch. It uses both estrogen and progesterone. It releases hormones in to the skin. These hormones work like the depo shot. Your body stop ovulation temporarily.

Effectiveness: The patch is only about 91% effective at preventing pregnancy.

Can I Get Pregnant While Using It: Yes, it is only about 91% effective, so your odds at getting pregnant just went up. This is an issue if you are not trying to conceive. If you forget to use the patch make sure you use a back up method of birth control.

If you would like to become pregnant you can remove the patch at any time and should be able to conceive soon after.

Do you have a preference? Have you had a good/bad experience with one of the forms of birth control addressed in this article? I would love to hear from you and hear your experience. This is a great way to help other women who have questions as well.

 

Resources:

Dictionary.com. (2018). Unknown. Retrieved from http://www.dictionary.com/

Medicine Net. (2018). Your Guide to Birth Control: Condoms. Retrieved from https://www.medicinenet.com/condoms/article.htm#introduction

WebMD. (2018). Birth Control: Is the Diaphragm Right for You? Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/sex/birth-control/diaphragm-birth-control#1

Planned Parenthood. (2018). How Effective are Diaphragms? Retrieved from https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control/diaphragm/how-effective-are-diaphragms

Paragard. (2018). Frequently Asked Questions. Retrieved from https://www.paragard.com/Faqs.aspx

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2017). Tubal Ligation. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/tubal-ligation/about/pac-20388360

WebMD. (2018). Vasectomy: What You Should Know. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/sex/birth-control/vasectomy-overview#1

WebMD. (2018). Birth Control Pills. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/sex/birth-control/birth-control-pills#1

Mirena. (2018). Mirena. Retrieved from https://www.mirena-us.com/index.php/?pse=google&matchtype=e&Keyword=mirena&campaignid=601337644&adgroupid=29788072950&device=c&adposition=1t1&loc=9016368&gclid=Cj0KCQiAiKrUBRD6ARIsADS2OLmQ54_aMbftwWxjnd0qdC9Edpas08ock9ejoEkKudJ3snnmQs8VufwaAtsuEALw_wcB&dclid=CPPS7ey0stkCFUqDaQodKCAJGQ

Nexplanon. (2018). Nexplanon. Retrieved from https://www.nexplanon.com/

NuvaRing. (2018). NuvaRing. Retrieved from https://www.nuvaring.com/

 

Birth Control Part 1: Which One Should I Use?

Photo Credit Melissa Conrad Stoppler, Medicinenet.com. (2018)

Birth Control is such a personal choice, but one that many people flock to social media, forums, and other sources (other than their OB/GYN) to discuss. I want to talk about the different forms of birth control out there and how to choose the right one for you and your personal lifestyle.

I want to let all my readers know who are reading this that we are about to get very up close and personal about birth control and intercourse.

What is Birth Control?

First, let’s talk about what contraception really is. “the deliberate prevention of conception or impregnation by any of various drugs, techniques, or devices; birth control” (dictionary.com, 2018).

Birth control can be sub-categorized in to two separate categories: hormonal birth control and non hormonal birth control. We can get even more specific and categorize the hormonal birth control in to which hormones they use to prevent pregnancy. We can get even more in depth after that, but we aren’t today. We are going to talk about the most popular forms on the market and prescription today.

Non-Hormonal Birth Control:

Condoms:

condoms
Photo Credit iStock, daily.jstor.org. (2018)Condoms:

I think in the non-hormonal category the most common practiced form of non-hormonal birth control is condoms. How do condoms work? Condoms go on the male “part” and prevent any sperm from passing through to the vagina. The end of the condom has a little sack/pouch (called a nipple) to catch all the semen that is released during sex. This prevents pregnancy and STDs). When using a condom with foam (spermicide) properly it is 97% effective (MedicineNet, 2018).

If you are allergic to latex you might want to reconsider this option. Side effects of condoms are very minimal. The biggest being pregnancy or STDs. The other one being an allergic reaction to latex (American Pregnancy Association, 2018). Condoms like to break. That’s why they recommend using a lubrication with it. You do not need a prescription and they are extremely cheap to buy at your local super store.

The downsides include you have to stop “in the moment” and put one on. They can break easily, and they’re not 100% effective. The upsides include it being hormone free. You don’t have to remember to “take it every day” like you would a pill.

Diaphragm:

diaphragm
Photo Credit Maria Shevtsova, motherhow.com. (2017)

The diaphragm works by blocking sperm from getting in to the uterus. It is placed in the vagina and meant to cover the opening to your cervix. It is meant to be used with a spermicide as well. The spermicide kills the sperm before it can enter the uterus. “You can put it in up to 6 hours before you have sex, and you need to leave it in for at least 6 hours after” (WebMD, 2018).

When used correctly it is is 94% effective. However, a lot of people misuse and don’t place the diaphragm correctly in to place, so the rate is more like 88% effective (Planned Parenthood, 2018). You do need a prescription for a diaphragm though. Talk to your doctor and they should also be able to teach you how to properly “install” it before intercourse.

Risks and side effects include risk of STDs. They do not protect against STDs just to be clear. The more serious side effect is toxic shock syndrome. This is caused from a bacteria from the vagina being plugged up for several hours and turns in to an infection. It is also believed that women are more likely to get a urinary tract infection from using them from the bacteria being in the area.

Some downsides to this method include having to put it in 6 hours prior to having intercourse. You don’t have the option of “spur of the moment”. The upsides though are you can put it in and forget about it for 6 hours. You don’t have to remember to take a pill every day. It is hormone free. You can use it several times, but spermicide needs to be reapplied before each use and in between intercourse.

Copper IUD (ParaGard):

paragard
Photo Credit viewpoints, viewpoints.com. (2018)

This copper IUD works by releasing copper in the uterus and killing sperm before it enters the cervix. It is an IUD so it is placed in the uterus. It is good for up to 10 years. It is completely reversible and can be removed by a healthcare provider. It does need to be inserted by a healthcare provider too though.

When used correctly it is over 99% effective (Paragard.com, 2018). Risks and side effects include STDs, heavier and longer periods with bleeding in between cycles, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), perforation of the uterine wall, and hard surgical removal. This is not a complete list of all side effects for the Paragard, but these are the more common ones. Make sure you talk to your doctor before making a decision.

This is a good option for people who can’t take certain hormones due to diseases or disorders or medication interactions.

Rhythm Method:

rhytm method
Photo Credit Cedarmed International Medical Services, cedarmed.com. (2018)

The rhythm method is, basically, you track your cycle using a calendar. You track your ovulation window and your periods. You should mark when you start your cycle, and when you end. You should also anticipate 3 days before ovulation day and 3 days after as a window of getting pregnant. If you are going to use this method I highly recommend getting an app on your phone and using a condom for a few months until your app can properly start calculating your ovulation schedule.

This method has so many risks. This does not protect against STDs, high risk for pregnancy (100%), and miscalculations when tracking your cycle.

Surgical Sterilization:

I’m sure we all know what this means. Surgical sterilization is where you go to your doctor and ask to be sterilized so you can not have any more children. This method can not be reversed in most cases. Please consider all options before choosing this method.

-Tubal Ligation-

This is the female form of surgical sterilization. It is also known as “getting your tubes tied”. A tubal ligation “is a type of permanent birth control. During tubal ligation, the fallopian tubes are cut, tied or blocked to permanently prevent pregnancy” (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2018).

-Vasectomy-

A vasectomy is the male form of surgical sterilization. In a vasectomy “the surgeon makes a small cut in the upper part of the scrotum, under the penis, and then cuts, ties, or blocks the vas deferens. You’ll get your surgical cuts stitched up and go home right away” (WebMD, 2018).

 

Hormonal Birth Control:

There are so many choices to choose from with hormonal birth control methods. Make sure you talk to your doctor about the best option for you. These contraceptives work by using hormones released in to your body. Some patients are not allowed to have certain types of hormones due to diseases and disorders. There’s also your medical history and medication list to take in to consideration.

In most cases you can use hormonal birth control methods while breastfeeding. They are not meant to be used while pregnant or planning to get pregnant.

Pills, or Oral Contraceptives:

 

bc pillsOral contraceptives come in a wheel or in a package like the picture to the left of this section. How do oral contraceptives work? I am so glad you asked. When used correctly they release a hormone that prevents your body from ovulating. Therefore, your body is temporarily infertile.

Some work by releasing estrogen. Others work by releasing progesterone. They also offer oral contraceptives that release both hormones. You do need to take it every day at the EXACT SAME TIME EVERY DAY. This can be a pain in itself and a huge inconvenience. This can also be impractical for very busy women.

Depo-Provera Shot:

depo shot
Photo Credit Melissa Gardner, pajamamommy.com. (2017)

The Depo shot, or Depo-Provera shot, is an injection you get every 3 months. This method has so many advantages and disadvantages. It is a private form of birth control. No one, except you and your doctor, knows you’re using it. There is no stall of “being in the moment” with intercourse. You get injected every 3 months, then you can forget about it until you need to go to your next appointment.

The disadvantages include weight gain. You should maintain a proper diet and exercise regularly. The pain of getting a shot every 3 months is also something you should consider. If shots make you nervous you should reconsider this method. The other downside includes no prevention from STDs.

The shot works by releasing progesterone preventing ovulation. It also thickens the mucous in your cervix so the sperm can’t get through. When used correctly it is over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy.

Side effects include sporadic spotting for a few weeks, absence of periods, weight gain, dizziness, changes in appetite, and hair loss. These are just to name a few.

Hormone IUD:

mirena
Photo Credit Mirena, Mirena-us.com. (2017)

I think the most common hormone IUD we think of that’s on the market today is the Mirena IUD. It is a small T-shaped piece that gets implanted in to your uterus. It works by releasing levonorgestrel in to the uterus. It also thickens your mucous in your cervix and thins your uterus lining to prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the wall of the uterus. It is good for up to 5 years. You have to have a doctor insert it and take it out.

There are a lot of advantages and disadvantages with this one as well. The advantages are you can get it put in at the clinic office and forget about it for the next 5 years. You don’t ruin a “in the moment” moment. You also have the option of taking it out whenever you decide you want to get pregnant. When used correctly it is also over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy.

The disadvantages include no protection against STDs. It can get implanted in to the uterus wall and need surgical removal. You can experience pain from placement, excessive bleeding and spotting in between cycles, ovarian cysts, and pregnancy.

This should only be used on full grown women. It is not recommended for teen girls. I also do not recommend it for women who have not had children yet. Your uterus would not be used to it and stretched out and the IUD could expel itself.

Hormone Implant:

nexplanon
Photo Credit MacArthur, macarthurmc.com. (2018)

The hormonal implant on the market today is the Nexplanon. This is a little stick looking piece that is filled with hormones. It’s funny because the website doesn’t actually say which hormone (which I find kinda shady). It gets surgically implanted in to the skin of your upper arm. Your arm will be locally numbed, then the stick will be implanted under the skin in your arm. “Immediately after the insertion, you and your health care provider will feel for NEXPLANON to ensure that it has been placed correctly. If you can’t feel it, contact your health care provider immediately and use a non-hormonal birth control method (such as condoms) until your health care provider confirms that the implant is in place. The implant may not be placed in your arm at all due to a failed insertion. If this happens, you may become pregnant. Following the insertion, you’ll have to wear a pressure bandage for 24 hours and a small bandage for 3 to 5 days.” (Nexplanon, 2018).

When used correctly it is over 99% effective. With this form of birth control there are so many advantages and disadvantages. There will more than likely be a scar where the hormonal stick is implanted. When removed they will need to cut you open to remove it. Also, you may experience longer or shorter periods, spotting in between periods, weight gain, acne, depression, mood swings, pain, pain at insertion site, and problems with removal. The problems with removal include pain, irritation, scarring, swelling, bruising, injury to nerve or blood vessels at site, it may also break. These are just to name a few.

The advantages include it is effective for up to 3 years. You can take it out at any time if you plan to become pregnant. You get it inserted at the clinic by your doctor and you don’t have to worry about it for the next 3 years.

Vaginal Ring:

nuvaring
Photo Credit Lydie Stock/Fotolia. (2017)

The vaginal ring is not for those who are, what I like to call, “vagina shy”. This is something you replace monthly and you have to personally insert it in to your vagina yourself. On the market there is the NuvaRing. This is a lot different than the other forms of hormonal birth control methods. This is a flexible ring that gets inserted in to your vagina.

This works using estrogen and progesterone both. It is 98% effective at preventing pregnancy. It is to be removed after 3 weeks. The 4th week you have your menstrual cycle. Then the next month you insert a new one. You will need a prescription for this.

Risks and side effects include blood clots in your legs, lungs, heart, eyes or brain. You also could develop liver problems, high blood pressure, diarrhea, and gallbladder problems. Again, these are to just name a few of the risks and side effects.

Hormone Patch:

ortho evra patch
Photo Credit Center for Young Women’s Health, youngwomenshealth.org. (2017)

The hormonal patch, also known as the transdermal patch or Ortho Evra Patch, is a patch you wear for 3 weeks. The 4th week you have your period. The next week you will need to re-apply another patch. It uses both estrogen and progesterone. The patch is only about 91% effective at preventing pregnancy. It releases hormones in to the skin. These hormones work like the depo shot. Your body stop ovulation temporarily.

Risks and side effects include skin irritation, STDs, bleeding, vomiting, weight gain, and bloating. These are to name a few. You also have a higher risk of developing yeast infections and can develop depression issues.

Do you have a preference? Have you had a good/bad experience with one of the forms of birth control addressed in this article? I would love to hear from you and hear your experience. This is a great way to help other women who have questions as well.

Resources:

Dictionary.com. (2018). Unknown. Retrieved from http://www.dictionary.com/

MedicineNet. (2018). Your Guide to Birth Control: Condoms. Retrieved from https://www.medicinenet.com/condoms/article.htm#femalestds

American Pregnancy Association. (2018). Male Condom. Retrieved from http://americanpregnancy.org/preventing-pregnancy/male-condom/

WebMD. (2018). Birth Control: Is the Diaphragm Right for you? Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/sex/birth-control/diaphragm-birth-control#1

Paragard. (2018). Frequently Asked Questions. Retrieved from https://www.paragard.com/Faqs.aspx

Planned Parenthood. (2018). How Effective are Diaphragms? Retrieved from https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control/diaphragm/how-effective-are-diaphragms

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2018). Tubal Ligation. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/tubal-ligation/about/pac-20388360

WebMD. (2018). Vasectomy: What You Should Know. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/sex/birth-control/vasectomy-overview#1

Mirena. (2017). What is Mirena? Retrieved from https://www.mirena-us.com/index.php/?pse=google&matchtype=e&Keyword=mirena&campaignid=601337644&adgroupid=29788072950&device=c&adposition=1t1&loc=9016368&gclid=Cj0KCQiAiKrUBRD6ARIsADS2OLmQ54_aMbftwWxjnd0qdC9Edpas08ock9ejoEkKudJ3snnmQs8VufwaAtsuEALw_wcB&dclid=CPPS7ey0stkCFUqDaQodKCAJGQ

MedlinePlus. (2018). Levonorgestrel Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a610021.html

Nexplanon. (2018). Unknown. Retrieved from https://www.nexplanon.com/

NuvaRing. (2018). Unknown. Retrieved from https://www.nuvaring.com/

American Pregnancy Association. (2018). Birth Control Patch. Retrieved from http://americanpregnancy.org/preventing-pregnancy/birth-control-patch/