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Women’s Health

Living Longer, Parenting Later

When Julia Lingys decided to start a family after age 30, she was following a family tradition: her mother had given birth to her kids at 34 and 36, and her aunt had given birth at 40.

“This was unheard of for their generation,” says Lingys. “When I decided to start a family, I thought I’d just get pregnant, but it didn’t happen.” When two years passed and she still wasn’t pregnant, she and her husband, John Carlisle, decided to try intrauterine insemination. She got pregnant on the third try. After a healthy pregnancy, she gave birth to a 9-pound, 15-ounce son, Alex, at 39. Two years later, she found out she was pregnant again, this time naturally. “The second one just happened,” says Lingys. “Brooke was a happy surprise.”

Parental Age Rising

Lingys is part of a growing trend in the United States. The number of women giving birth after age 40 has tripled since 1990, according to Pew Research. However, while more parents may want to delay having babies until their 30s and 40s, human biology hasn’t kept pace with these modern attitudes. It’s still much easier to get pregnant in our teens and twenties. For many women, the biggest obstacle to having a healthy pregnancy is getting pregnant in the first place, says Deborah Quinn-Chen, M.D., department head, Mills-Peninsula Obstetrics and Gynecology. Read More

Urinary Tract Infections and Incontinence

Two of the most common women’s health issues seen by urologists are urinary tract infections and incontinence, according to Dieter Bruno, M.D. “Besides the discomfort women experience with urinary tract conditions, there are some important reasons you should not ignore symptoms,” he says.

While blood in the urine may be a sign of a urinary tract infection, it can also be a symptom of bladder or kidney cancer. “If you ever have blood in the urine, it’s not normal,” Dr. Bruno says. “Don’t just chalk it up to a urinary tract infection. See your primary care doctor, if you have one, or a urologist.”

Two groups of women tend to get urinary tract infections, according to the doctor. “Younger women who are sexually active and older women who are postmenopausal and have decreased estrogen levels.”

Stress incontinence is also extremely common. “In general, stress incontinence is an involuntary leakage of urine when women cough, sneeze or exercise. If you are overweight – stress incontinence is more likely to affect you,” Dr. Bruno says.

For overall good urinary health, Dr. Bruno suggests two simple measures:

  • Drink more fluids
  • Go to the bathroom regularly to empty your bladder

“This will help you protect against urinary tract infections and maintain kidney health,” he says. If you have any of the following symptoms, he urges you to see your doctor or urologist:

  • Issues with urination
  • Blood in the urine
  • Painful urination
  • Pain in the back or kidneys

To learn more about women’s health don’t miss the 2012 Universal Sisters Conference, Hosted by Mills-Peninsula Health Services and the African American Community Health Advisory Committee on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012, at the San Francisco Airport Marriott. Keynote speakers include Gloria Mayfield-Banks, Director, elite executive national sales, Mary Kay, Inc., and James E.K. Hildreth, M.D., dean, College of Biological Sciences, University of California, Davis. The day includes a continental breakfast, educational workshops and luncheon. Tickets are $50. Register here.

 

What Is a High-risk Pregnancy?

During pregnancy, various medical tests help identify any potential problems that might put mom or baby at risk for complications. “A high-risk pregnancy is one in which there is a higher chance of poorer outcome than in a normal or routine pregnancy,’ says Claire Serrato, M.D., Mills-Peninsula obstetrician and gynecologist who works at the Family Birth Center.

“Twin pregnancy is one example, because with two babies you have more risk of a premature birth or growth imbalances between babies,” she says. Identifying potential problems allows doctors to more carefully monitor pregnancies, and in some cases, treat certain conditions to improve the health outcomes of mother and baby. Dr. Serrato points to some advances in prenatal testing and interesting new ways that certain problems can be treated in the womb in this video segment from Healthpoint TV.

Managing Pain During Labor

What do mothers-to-be want to know about labor and delivery? According to Andrew Jurow, M.D., Mills-Peninsula gynecologist and obstetrician who delivers babies at the Family Birth Center, one of the most common questions his pregnant patients have is, “Will it hurt?”

“Everyone has a different expectation of the birthing process,” he says, “and we want to accommodate that.” Some women want a medication-free delivery, while many benefit from some pain management, which can allow them to relax between contractions, he says.

Dr. Jurow discusses what women can expect in labor and the latest pain management methods in this video segment from Healthpoint TV.

Fitness Tips for Women

Did you know that men and women respond very differently to exercise? That’s because of physiological differences: Men have more muscle mass, while women tend to store fat.

In fact, women over the age of 45 need at least 60 minutes of exercise a day just to maintain and not gain weight!

This video segment from Healthpoint TV features tips for women on how to stay fit from Brooke Benjamin, a Mills-Peninsula exercise physiologist.

 

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How is Ultrasound Used in Women’s Health Exams?

Did you know that ultrasound – that simple, painless test that allows parents to see their baby growing in the womb – can also be used to view almost any area of the body?

In women’s health exams, ultrasound can be an important tool for investigating pelvic symptoms such as abnormal menstrual bleeding, says Diana Baker, M.D., radiologist at the Women’s Center at the Mills Health Center in San Mateo. “Women who have spotting in between periods, or abnormal periods should see their doctor,” she says. “Many times doctors can figure out what is going on without ultrasound, but if they need a way to look at the uterus, or the lining of the uterus, they will send you for a pelvic ultrasound.”

Dr. Baker describes an ultrasound test, how it works and what it can detect in this video segment from Healthpoint TV.