Forty-nine percent of pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned, therefore it is important for all women to improve their health now, before they maybe become pregnant to ensure a healthier pregnancy and birth outcome.
Show Your Love, the national campaign launched by the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention aims to improve the health of women and babies by promoting preconception health and healthcare. The campaign’s goal is to increase the number of women who plan their pregnancies and encourage them to take steps to a healthier lifestyle before becoming pregnant.
Good preconception health is important for all women. Talk to your patients about steps they can take to improve their physical and mental health, such as exercising, reducing stress and quitting smoking. Encourage your patients to use these checklists (Planning to become pregnant, not planning to become pregnant) provided by the CDC as a tool to record and monitor their goals.
In celebration of National Women’s Health Week, the Magnolia Project hosted an informational discussion about the Affordable Care Act today. The guest speaker was Board member Reverend Tommy Rodgers who gave an overview of the ACA, key points of the Act and the importance of sharing this information with their friends and loved ones.
Seven ways sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) affect men and women differently:
1. Bacteria and viral infections can penetrate the thin lining of the vagina more easily than the penis.
- This puts a woman at a higher risk for STD infections.
2. Women can be infected with common STDs like chlamydia and gonorrhea and have symptoms that disappear.
- Even though symptoms disappear, the infection still remains, putting both partners at risk.
3. Men are more likely to notice unusual symptoms, such as discharge.
- Women often confuse STD symptoms, like an unusual discharge with other problems like a yeast infection.
4. Genital lesions caused by herpes or syphilis can occur inside the vagina and go unnoticed.
- Men are more likely notice lesions or sores.
5. Men infected with STDs rarely experience long-term complications.
- Untreated STDs in women can cause serious health complications and infertility.
6. Pregnant women can pass STDs to their babies.
- This can result in stillbirth, preterm birth, blindness, deafness and even brain damage.
7. Men are often silent carriers of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV).
- HPV is the leading cause of cervical cancer in women and is the most common STD contracted by women.
Because of these differences, it is extremely important to receive STD screening before becoming sexual active with your partner. Using a condom can lower your risk of contracting an STD. Abstinence is the only way to 100 percent protect yourself from an STD.
Information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Folic acid is a B vitamin our bodies use to produce new cells. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends all women intake 400 micrograms of folic acid daily.
Folic acid is especially important for pregnant women, as it can prevent major birth defects such as spina bifida (defect of the spine) and anencephaly (absence of the brain and skull). However, for folic acid to prevent most birth defects it must be taken at least one month prior to becoming pregnant.
Because 49 percent of pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, incorporating folic acid into your preconception health regiment is important whether you or not you are planning to become pregnant. The CDC’s national campaign, Show Your Love encourages women of childbearing age to start taking steps to improve their health before they become pregnant.
How to make sure you get the correct amount (400 mg) of folic acid daily:
- Take a multivitamin everyday. Most multivitamins contain the right amount of folic acid women need daily.
- Start your day with cereal. Some cereals are fortified with folic acid, but may not have the daily value. Check the labels to make sure the cereal contains 100 percent of the daily value.
- Some birth control pills have folic acid in them. If you are already use the pill for contraception, ask your doctor about a birth control pill that contain folates.
The mouth is the gateway to overall health. Receiving and practicing good oral health care is just as important during pregnancy as attending regular checkups.
Hormonal changes to the body during pregnancy can cause oral disease such as gingivitis, which if left untreated can lead to a more serious gum disease. Untreated dental infections can also spread throughout the body, putting you and your baby at risk. Oral health care (X-rays, local anesthesia, etc.) is also safe during pregnancy.
Tips for good oral health:
- Floss every day.
- Don’t share your toothbrush.
- Use an alcohol-free mouthwash that contains fluoride every night.
- To protect your teeth from acid erosion after vomiting, rinse with a mixture of baking soda and water. (1 teaspoon baking soda to one cup water)
- Eat healthier foods with less sugar. Sugar is one of the leading causes of tooth decay.
- Chewing gums that contain xylitol can also help prevent tooth decay.
- Schedule an appointment with an oral health care professional if your last visit was more than 6 months prior to becoming pregnant.
Information received from Oral Health Care During Pregnancy: A National Consensus Statement by the National Maternal and Child Oral Health Resource Center, Georgetown University.