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by Dr. Crystal M. Newby, MD

What you need to know about contraceptive options available to you

What Contraceptive Options are Available to Me?

With a vast array of different contraceptive options available to you, how do you know which is best for you? Does one method offer more benefits over another? How do you decide on what option or options would be best for you and what factors might influence your decision?

To help you decide the best contraceptive method for you, here is information on the various options available to you.


Condoms are inexpensive, easily accessible and when used properly, offer 98% effectiveness at preventing pregnancy. Unfortunately, people make mistakes sometimes so this figure in the real world is closer to 85%. Because of this, condoms are best used in combination with another contraceptive method.

Although not foolproof, condoms are one of the only options available to you to that can also protect you against STDs, such as HPV or chlamydia, so if you have more than one sexual partner or STDs are a risk for other reasons, condoms are often recommended even when using another method of birth control.

Birth Control Pills

Birth Control Pills are an excellent choice for contraceptive as they're convenient, offer few side effects, and have a host of positive benefits besides just being a means of contraception.

Hormonal birth control pills are good for those who want the peace of mind knowing that as long as they take the pill as directed, they are protected from pregnancy. If ever you decide you want to get pregnant, you can stop taking the pill right away and normal fertility will be resume nearly immediately.

As a hormonal method of contraception, these do not protect you against STDs.

What you need to know about your menstrual cycle and health

How to Manage Your Period Problems

Your period can tell you a lot about your body and your health. Having regular, normal periods let you know your body is in working order. Period problems such as painful cramps or irregular periods can be a sign of a health problem. Period problems can lead to other health problems such as anemia, diabetes and heart disease.

How Your Period Affects Your Emotions and Energy

Throughout your cycle, your hormones can have an effect on your emotions, energy and overall mood. In the first part of your cycle (the first two weeks after your period starts in a typical 28-day cycle), you may have some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Your energy levels are higher than normal.
  • Your cognitive memory is sharper than normal.
  • Your pain tolerance is higher during this time, making it easier to perform or cram in an intense gym session.

In the second half of your cycle (ovulation period), you may feel some or all of the following symptoms:

  • You feel sluggish and lazy.
  • You feel forgetful or have a hard time retaining information.

If you suffer from depression or irritable bowel syndrome, the symptoms may get worse before your period.

If you have diabetes, your glucose levels may be harder to control. They may be higher or lower during this time. This is common in women who suffer from premenstrual syndrome (PMS). The levels of the brain chemical serotonin drop during this time. Along with your glucose levels, you could be craving sugary or starchy foods during this time.

Finding a bump or lump on your body can often be a reason for concern, especially when it comes to your vaginal area. It is good practice to regularly check your genital area so that you can quickly identify anything out of the ordinary. This might include unwelcome additions such as lumps, bumps, rashes or anything in between.

It is important to monitor your genital health, because bumps appearing on or around the vagina could be indicative of the early signs of a condition that needs medical attention, such as a sexually transmitted infection. Spotting them as soon as they occur is ideal so you can seek appropriate medical attention when necessary.

This article will discuss five potential explanations for the bumps near or on your labia. Certainly, vaginal lumps and bumps do not always spell doom and could be just regular pimples. However, it is essential that you see your gynecologist if you spot these lumps, so they can evaluate whether they are dangerous or not.

Woman Consulting Gynecologist about Vaginal Bump Symptoms

choosing medical insurance

When faced with open enrollment or finding a new health insurance plan, it’s important to make sure you can continue to see the providers you’ve developed trust with. With that in mind, it’s important to make sure your current doctors and local hospitals accept the plan you’re thinking of choosing. Reading the fine print in your health insurance policy is not exactly light weekend reading, but when you are trying to conceive or have just found out you are expecting a child, it may be more important than you think.

Medical coverage can vary widely depending on your policy so as you are considering your new insurance coverage, consider these key factors.

Know Your Network Provider

It seems counterintuitive that a doctor and a hospital aren’t always on the same insurance network, but it’s sometimes the reality of healthcare in the United States.

Not only do you need to be sure that your physician is covered in your network of providers, but also you need to confirm that the hospital your doctor has privileges at is also in your network.

This is especially crucial for OB patients who would like their provider present at the birth of their child. It’s also relevant for all surgery. No one wants to find out in their third trimester that they can’t give birth with their doctor because the hospital is out-of-network.

When you choose an in-network ob/gyn and hospital, it’s much more likely that all medical professionals who may treat you, including nurses and the anesthesiologist, are in your network.

The difference between in-network and out-of-network care can mean thousands of dollars of out-of-pocket expenses.

Vaginal itching is sometimes painful and can cause extreme discomfort, but it is incredibly common among women. You know that when the delicate areas of the vagina, clitoris and vulva are inflamed and irritated, your entire day can be ruined.

There are many possible reasons that your vagina may be irritated, including bacterial vaginosis, sexually transmitted diseases, a yeast infection or menopause.

The use of chemical irritants such as creams, douches and condoms can also cause itching. Many women are sensitive to contraceptive foams, fabric softeners, laundry detergents and scented toilet paper, too. There is also a condition called lichen sclerosus that can make white patches form on the skin around the vulva and scar the vagina.

How can a woman know if the symptoms are abnormal?

The vagina usually produces a discharge that is clear to milky white. This discharge is created by the glands in the cervix and vaginal walls and has a thick, thin or pasty texture. Normal vaginal discharge may have an unpleasant odor or no odor at all. Once it is exposed to air, it turns white or yellow in color.

If you do not have an infection, the vaginal itching may go away on its own. An allergy to soaps and scented toilet paper can be cured by simply not using these products, particularly near your vagina. However, if you are having vaginal discharge that is foul smelling and has a change in color, you may have an infection. Abnormal discharge can be thick, white and clumpy or green and yellowish in color and produce a foul-smelling odor.

Prematurity Awareness Month

What is Prematurity Awareness Month?

Prematurity Awareness Month is part of the March of Dimes’ Prematurity Campaign. This campaign has two purposes:

  • To raise awareness of premature birth and its consequences
  • To reduce premature birth in the United States.

The March of Dimes launched both the Prematurity Campaign and Prematurity Awareness Month in 2003.

What does the Prematurity Awareness Campaign do?

The Prematurity Campaign has developed a number of initiatives to help combat some of the risk factors listed above. For example, the March of Dimes donated $1.4 million to group prenatal care programs in 38 states in 2015. Group prenatal care programs provide care, educate mothers, and provide social support.

The Prematurity Campaign also encourages women to space pregnancies so they are at least 18 months, which lowers a woman’s risk of premature labor. Since tobacco use can increase many pregnancy complications, including premature labor, the March of Dimes funds programs that help people quit smoking.

Regular prenatal care may help identify women who are at risk for premature labor. Additionally, good prenatal care and nutrition are the best ways to lower your risk.

by Dr. Crystal M. Newby, MD

Woman Tracking Her Period on a CalendarWith each menstrual cycle, the uterine lining (endometrium) prepares itself for fetus development. If fertilization fails to happen, the body discharges the endometrium during the cycle, which typically lasts for about three to eight days. While the severity and duration of the menstrual periods are not the same for every woman, it is abnormal when the periods are too light, too heavy, occur too often, last longer, irregular or occur after menopause.

Some causes of irregular bleeding are not consequential. A number of things can cause the abnormality. These may include hormone-based birth control, infection of the uterus lining or cervix, STI, blood clotting disorders, and other health conditions.

About Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

PMS is an unpleasant, but typically normal, symptom that women experience during the menstruation cycle. The symptoms may last for a few hours to several days, and the intensity and variety of the symptoms differ from woman to woman. Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) is the most prevalent form of PMS. It affects approximately 5 percent of women at reproductive age.

Whether you are trying to conceive or just found out you are pregnant, there are a number of steps you'll need to take to prepare for your baby. The first step is finding an obstetrician who you trust to care for you and your baby through pregnancy and birth. Every pregnancy is unique (and so are you!), and your obstetrician should feel that too. Whether this is your first pregnancy or you are just looking for a new provider, these guidelines may prove helpful in finding the right obstetrician for you.

How to Choose an Obstetrician

Looking for the perfect obstetrician doesn’t need to be a daunting task, but you should take the time to find someone who you trust and who makes you feel comfortable. Start by asking for tips from friends and family. When you get referrals from people you trust, you're likely to feel more at ease. Women who have already been through pregnancy can help you decide what to look for in an obstetrician to ensure that you're happy with your experience when it comes to check-ups and procedures during your pregnancy. Your primary care physician may also be a good resource for referrals.

If you have recently moved or you are not ready to share your news with anyone, consider looking online for reviews for the obstetrician practice you are considering. Don’t just randomly choose an obstetrician your insurance covers.

Every woman, at some point in her life, is likely to experience a yeast infection. A yeast infection is an annoying infection of the vagina and vulva that causes itching, discharge and irritation. It is a type of vaginitis caused by an overgrowth of yeast known as Candida albicans and is often easily treated at home, but occasionally it may be severe enough to warrant a visit to your doctor.

Woman with Yeast Infection Seeks Help from Ob/Gyn

On average, three out of four women will suffer a yeast infection at some point in their lives. Some women experience several throughout their lifetimes. While the condition isn’t considered to be a sexually transmitted disease, the fungus can spread through oral contact with female genitals. It’s important to know about the signs and symptoms of a yeast infection and when you should see your ob/gyn.

A gynecologist, a specialist in women’s reproductive health, screens you for disease, assists with family planning and troubleshoots any issues that may arise with your most intimate and private parts of your body. Making sure your gynecologist is someone you feel comfortable with and can trust completely is essential. Your gynecologist will discuss personal information with you involving your health, lifestyle and sexual activity.

How to choose the right gynecologist for you

Before seeking recommendations, take a moment to consider what is personally important to you and your healthcare experience. Consider a gynecologist’s education, experience and expertise. After that, delve into some more personal factors.

Are you more comfortable with a female or male gynecologist, or are you equally comfortable with either? Not all women have a gender preference in their provider and it’s important to understand that gender does not play a role in qualifications. If you go to a male gynecologist and feel at ease and in good hands, that is more important than their gender. But if you still prefer a female provider, it is essential to listen to your needs. Other factors worth considering are location, affiliated hospital if needed (for example, Kansas City ObGyn is affiliated with Overland Park Regional Medical Center), and philosophy on topics such as birth control.

by Dr. Crystal M. Newby, MD

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a metabolic condition occurs when the body produces excess androgens (male hormones), excess insulin or has low-grade inflammation. There are many genetic and environmental factors that come into play with this condition. If a woman is obese, does not get adequate exercise, or has a family history of the disease, she has a greater chance of developing this disorder.

PCOS has links to the endocrine system. It typically affects women between the ages of 18 and 44, and can cause infertility. The condition isn’t just a modern-day issue. Historical documents show that women experienced the symptoms as long ago as 1721 in Italy. Today, anywhere from 2 to 20 percent of women in the reproductive-age will develop polycystic ovaries.

What Are The Signs and Symptoms of PCOS?

One underlying cause of this condition is insulin resistance. The body produces excessive amounts of insulin to control the sugar, which is mostly caused by being overweight. All the excessive insulin causes overactive productions of both testosterone and androgen, both male sex hormones.