Pregnancy Tests: How They Work & What to Expect
How do pregnancy tests work?
There are two kinds of pregnancy tests: urine tests, which women can use in the privacy of their homes, and blood tests which must be done by an obstetrician’s office. The urine tests done at home are also run at doctors’ offices. Both home and office tests check for the presence of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) hormone in the urine. HCG is produced by cells that eventually form the placenta.
The hormone first enters a woman’s bloodstream when the fertilized egg implants into the lining of her uterus, sometimes as early as six days after the egg has been fertilized. After that, the levels of HCG increase very rapidly – often doubling every 48 hours for a time. Once the levels are detectable in a woman’s urine, her pregnancy test should show positive.
Eggs take about one week to travel from the ovary to the uterus after ovulation. The egg can be fertilized any time during its travels or once it reaches the uterus. HCG only begins production after the fertilized egg implants. It can be hard to predict exactly when fertilization occurred because sperm cells can live for up to five days inside the woman’s body. For this reason, most home pregnancy tests advise women to wait until they are at least two or three days late for their periods – or approximately 15 to 16 days after ovulation – before they take a pregnancy test.
Kansas City STD Statistics & the Importance of Getting Regular STD Tests
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 19 million new sexually transmitted infections (STIs) occur in the United States every year, and nearly half of those infections are in young people ages 15 to 24.
More than half of all people will get an STI at some point in their lifetime, so it is important to take proactive measures against infection and disease transmission. The best way to protect against sexually transmitted infection is to use protection during intercourse and to receive regular STI testing.
What is a Sexually Transmitted Infection?
A sexually transmitted infection is a virus, bacteria or parasite that is transmitted via sexual intercourse, including vaginal, anal and oral sex. STIs are highly contagious but many do not usually present with symptoms and frequently go undiagnosed. When an infection does show signs of disease, the condition is diagnosed as the more familiar term, sexually transmitted disease (STD).
Recognizing & Recovering from a Miscarriage
Miscarriage frequently goes undiscussed in the broader culture, but it is not uncommon. It is estimated that between 10% and 20% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage, but that number is likely higher in reality because miscarriage can take place in the earliest stages of gestation before the pregnancy is detected.
Miscarriages occur for a number of reasons. Understanding what happens medically when a pregnancy is lost may provide a measure of comfort and understanding to women and their families affected by miscarriage.
What is a Miscarriage?
A miscarriage is defined as the spontaneous loss of a pregnancy before the 20th week of gestation. The risk for miscarriage is greatest during the first trimester of pregnancy when the embryo is rapidly developing. After the 12th week of pregnancy, the chances of miscarriage decrease significantly.
Unfortunately, once a miscarriage has begun it cannot be stopped with medical intervention. However, if a woman thinks she may be having a miscarriage, it is crucial that she seek medical care to ensure her own health and safety.
Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and Cervical Cancer
The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted disease (STD) in the world. About 79 million Americans are currently infected with HPV and approximately 14 million new infections occur nationwide every year. In most cases the immune system is able to fight the virus off without lasting side effects or complications, but sometimes HPV can cause serious health problems.
What is HPV?
HPV is not a single virus. There are hundreds of types of Human Papilloma Virus ranging from harmless warts people commonly get on their hands and feet to more dangerous sexually transmitted varieties. Most types of the virus have no outward symptoms with the exception of the HPV type that causes genital warts. Other types of HPV causes no visible symptoms, but cause lesions that can become cancerous.
Transmission and Risk Factors
Sexually transmitted HPV is spread when a person has vaginal, anal or oral sexual intercourse with a partner who is already infected. Both men and women can contract the disease, and symptoms can take years to become apparent. It is also possible to be infected with more than one type of the virus at a given time. Any person who is sexually active can get HPV, but some factors can increase risk.
Oopherectomy (Ovary Removal) Surgery Procedure & Recovery
An oophorectomy is a procedure involving the surgical removal of the ovaries. Oophorectomies treat serious gynecological conditions and diseases and are often done as part of a hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) or a salpingectomy (removal of the fallopian tubes). There are two types of oophorectomy: a bilateral oophorectomy removes both ovaries, and a unilateral oophorectomy removes one ovary.
Why is an Oophorectomy Necessary?
The ovaries have a significant role in hormone production, so an oophorectomy is normally performed only when absolutely necessary to treat specific gynecological disorders or diseases.
Gynecological conditions that may require a oophorectomy include:
- Ovarian cancer
- Noncancerous ovarian tumors, cysts or abscess
- Ovarian torsion (a twisted ovary)
- A history of or genetic predisposition to certain types of ovarian and breast cancer
Getting Pregnant After Age 35 (Advanced Maternal Age)
Advanced Maternal Age. Geriatric pregnancy. Elderly primigravida. None of these phrases are particularly endearing, but they are all terms used to describe a pregnancy in a woman in her mid-30s and beyond. Of course, women in their 30s and 40s are not old, but the female reproductive system evolved so that women are most fertile in the teens and 20s, and it’s a fact of biology that childbearing pregnancy becomes more complicated with age. This is particularly true for women aged 35 and older, and the medical community uses the term “advanced maternal age” to indicate women who are pregnant or want to become pregnant and may need to consider the risks associated with having a child later in life.
How Does Age Affect Pregnancy?
A woman is born with all the eggs she will ever produce and those cells age along with the rest of her body. By the time a woman enters her 30s her eggs have become more difficult to fertilize and some, over time, are damaged. This resistance to fertilization can delay or impede conception and the possible damage to the egg cells increases the rate of possible birth defects. Furthermore, pregnancy stresses the body, and women who conceive at a later age are more susceptible to having a high-risk pregnancy.
Women who are considered being of “advanced maternal age” may not struggle with pregnancy and it is still absolutely possible for women in this age bracket to have healthy pregnancies. Nevertheless, when considering having children after the age of 35, it is wise to understand the realities of pregnancy later in life and to know what to expect throughout the whole process, from pre-conception to delivery.
Preventing & Treating Osteoporosis in Women
Bones are a living material. The body is constantly producing new tissue to replace bone that naturally breaks down. Osteoporosis is a disease that affects the body’s ability to make new bone and maintain adequate bone density, and can cause significant bone loss over time. As a result of osteoporosis, bones become weak and brittle and are prone to breakages.
Osteoporosis Risk Factors
An estimated 10 million Americans have osteoporosis and another 44 million have low bone density, which elevates their risk of developing the disease in the future. Anyone can develop osteoporosis, but women are four times more likely to suffer from the condition than men. Women are at a greater risk for osteoporosis because female bones tend to be smaller and thinner, and because estrogen plays an important role in regulating bone mass. Genetic and environmental factors can also raise a person’s chances of developing osteoporosis. Caucasian and Asian women are statistically more likely to develop osteoporosis, as are people who have a family history of the disease. Menopausal women also have a greater chance of developing osteoporosis since lower hormone production naturally decreases bone production.
Additional factors that are not related to genetics, gender or age can also increase a person’s risk of developing osteoporosis. An inactive or sedentary lifestyle, high levels of alcohol consumption, and smoking tobacco products raises the likelihood of osteoporosis.
Tubal Ligation (“Getting Tubes Tied”) Surgery Procedure & Recovery
Tubal Ligation is a surgical procedure that permanently prevents pregnancy. It is also casually known as “getting your tubes tied,” and involves the cutting or blocking off of the fallopian tubes. This stops the egg from traveling from the ovary to the uterus so fertilization and implantation cannot occur.
The Tubal Ligation Procedure
Tubal ligation is a relatively simple surgery. It can be done at any time, including immediately after giving birth, and many women prefer to have it done as part of a Cesarean section procedure.
During a standard tubal ligation, either general anesthesia or a spinal block is administered. If the operation is not part of a C-section, the surgeon makes two small abdominal incisions and inserts a small camera mounted on the end of a tube called a laparoscope. The abdomen is then inflated with gas, allowing greater visibility and access. The surgeon will then cut or cauterize each of the fallopian tubes and clamp or tie them off.
The Importance of Prolactin to Women Nursing Babies
Prolactin is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland in the brain. It plays a significant role in regulating many body functions, including ovulation, metabolism and immunity, but its primary purpose is to stimulate the mammary glands to begin milk production. Increased levels of the hormone is crucial to maintaining an adequate milk supply for nursing mothers. When not nursing, however, an imbalance of prolactin can be evidence of a serious health condition requiring medical assessment and treatment.
During pregnancy, a woman’s body starts to produce higher than normal levels of prolactin. This hormonal increase causes the mammary glands to begin preparation for milk production, but elevated levels of the hormone progesterone prevent the breasts from lactating before birth. Progesterone production decreases shortly after giving birth as prolactin continues to increase, stimulated in part by the baby’s first attempts to suckle at the breast, and this allows the breasts to begin lactating.
Pap Smear Expectations & Guidelines
One of the best things women can do to ensure their health is to get frequent Pap smear tests. A Pap smear is a brief medical procedure that checks for overall cervical health.
Every year, approximately 12,000 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer and 4,000 women die from it. These tragic statistics are even more regrettable because cervical cancer is an essentially preventable disease. Pap smears are the only way to detect precancerous and cancerous cells in the cervix, but early detection has very high cure rates. A Pap smear is the main tool for reducing women’s risk of developing cervical cancer.
Not Your Mother’s Pap Smear: New Guidelines
Previous medical guidelines advised women get a Pap smear test every year. This was before the link between cervical cancer and the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) was established. Doctors now know that certain strains of HPV are detected in almost all types of cervical cancers and co-testing for HPV combined with a Pap smear has allowed the guidelines to be modified.
5 Cervix Health Tips for Cervical Health Awareness Month
The United States Congress, in conjunction with the American Social Health Association (ASHA) and the National Cervical Cancer Coalition, designated January as Cervical Health Awareness Month to increase public knowledge of cervical health and encourage women to get screened for cervical cancer and vaccinated against the diseases that cause it.
Cervical Health Facts
The cervix is a long, cylinder-shaped passage between the vagina and the uterus. It has two main parts, the cervix itself and the opening of the cervical canal known as the “endocervix.” The cervix is covered in squamous cells and the endocervix is covered in columnar cells. These different types of cells meet at a point between the vagina and the uterus known as the “transformational zone.” The transformational zone is the part of the cervix that is most susceptible to developing cancer.