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July 2, 2015

Hannah with her sons and Aunt Cindy

Hannah is a young mother we’re spotlighting this month to help educate teens about the challenges of teen pregnancy. We had a little Q&A session with Hannah in which she shared her experiences as a teen mom.

Can you tell us what it was like becoming pregnant as a teen?
I was in high school when I became pregnant so that in itself was difficult. I basically skipped my childhood so that was hard, especially when my friends were enjoying a regular teenage life. But everything had changed and nothing was more important than my baby so I knew I had to take it seriously and behave responsibly.

How did you handle school?
I stayed in school for the first four months of my pregnancy. After that, I took online classes. When I returned to high school about a year later, I was dual enrolled and took classes at Gainesville State as well, where I graduated with honors.

From there, I went to college at North Georgia and then transferred to Brenau University, where I entered their nursing program. I also graduated with honors from there and now have my bachelor’s degree in nursing.

What motivated you?
My son was my biggest motivation. I wanted to give him a better life. I also wanted to prove to myself that I wasn’t going to be a statistic. Getting pregnant in high school meant facing a lot of judgment and criticism. I was told I wouldn’t amount to anything and that I wouldn’t even graduate high school. For me, regardless of my circumstances, my dreams were more important and I didn’t want to give up on them.

How did you handle child care?
I had an excellent support system. My parents were especially wonderful. They helped watch my son while I was in school or had to study. Without them, I don’t know where I would be. My grandparents and family friends also helped care for my son. Having a strong support system definitely played a huge role in my success.

How has your life changed since then?
There have been so many changes. I got married last May and gave birth to my second child in March of this year.

In regards to my career, I’ll be working as a nurse at the Ronnie Green Heart Center of Northeast Georgia. I worked there as a nurse extern in the cardiac Intensive Care Unit during my last year in college and upon completion, they offered me a position.

What would you like pregnant teens to know?
I want them to know that their life is not over. That there’s still hope for a bright future. And even though they’ll probably be told they can’t make it, it’s simply not true. Even when the judgment seems unbearable at times, they just have to push through. It’s not easy but they can do it. After all, if I can become a success story, anyone can.

 

 

 

June 4, 2015

Father’s Day is June 21st and we’re honoring dads by holding a fun Daddy and Me Photo Contest on our Facebook page! Submit your favorite Daddy and Me photos for a chance to win 1 of 5 Lowe’s gift cards, each valued at $50!

The contest starts June 16th and will run through June 23rd so start gathering those pics now!

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June 2, 2015

Up Close and Personal with Dr. Crigler

A near tragedy in Dr. Crigler’s life helped lead him to become a doctor. “When I was seven, I was involved in a car accident with my father and grandmother. I was injured quite badly and needed almost 100 stitches for my wounds. But the most significant thing was that I had an out of body experience. I actually saw myself from the outside, outside of my body. I think this was one of the factors that made the experience so intense, and made an impression on me how on important it is to care for the body.”

Medicine was also in Dr. Crigler’s blood, with a father physician in family practice, and a mother who was a pediatric intensive care nurse. And it was in medical school that Dr. Crigler met his future wife Lauren. “Lauren and I met in Gross Anatomy. Our cadavers happened to be right next to each other. When people ask how we met, we like to joke that Lauren was attracted to me because I looked better than the dead guy on the table.”

Dr. Crigler states that he enjoys laparoscopic surgery and the precision it demands, but that caring for his obstetrics patients continues to be a unique source of joy. He recalls the first ultrasound he performed on a woman who had spent years trying to get pregnant. “When we saw the baby on Doppler, I will never forget how she looked – it was like a light lit up her face.”

crigler-spotlight-flyerTo schedule an appointment with Dr. Crigler, please visit Cherokee Women’s Health or call 770.720.7733.

June 1, 2015

Dr. Crigler photo

Dr. Britton Crigler writes about the importance of cervical cancer screening:

I ran my fourth half marathon in January of this year in Atlanta in preparation for eventually completing my first full marathon. My wife Lauren and I were running together, racing to the finish line, and we noticed a young man face down on the side of the road with one other person kneeling beside him. At first I thought he had just tripped or was dehydrated. We stopped and eventually were joined by a flight nurse, ER physician, and EMT who were all running the marathon as well. After inspection, we realized this athlete was in his mid-20’s and had a laceration on his head. He was not breathing and did not have a pulse. We started CPR and after about five minutes –which felt like an eternity–his pulse returned and color started returning to his face. My wife and I felt lucky to be a part of helping this man survive. Watching him reminded me how delicate life can be, and I was reminded that there is a limit to the things we can plan, prepare for and control.

A Passion for Preventative Medicine

My passion for preventative women’s health was one of the reasons I chose to be an OB/GYN.  During medical school, we are trained to look, listen and examine to diagnose a problem. This is the most challenging part of medicine. (Google can only get you so far.) Once a diagnosis is made, a medication, lifestyle change, or surgery will usually fix the problem.  If the diagnosis is cancer, especially when diagnosed in the later stages, treatment plans are not so simple. There is no quick easy fix, no simple cure, and no easy way out. Some cancers like ovarian cancer are typically diagnosed in the later stages because there are few early symptoms.  Treatment with chemotherapy and surgery can prolong life but rarely result in a complete cure.

Breakthroughs in Medicine Provide Prevention for Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer is completely different from other cancers, as it’s preventable. First, the cervix can be seen directly by your OB/GYN or primary care physician without invasive testing using a Pap smear. Pap smears are very effective at evaluating abnormal cells that may develop into cancer. This is why it’s so important to schedule a regular exam with your OB/GYN. (Over 60% of patients with cervical cancer have never had a Pap smear.) Known risk factors for cervical cancer include persistent infection by HPV. In fact, HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the United States.

In the past several years, a breakthrough in medicine has provided a way to fight back and prevent cervical cancer. High-risk HPV strains including 16 and 18 have been associated with the majority of cervical cancers. Other HPV strains including 6 and 11 are associated with genital warts or growths on the vulva, cervix or penis. The Guardisil vaccine provides patients a way to actively protect themselves from these four strains of viruses. Additionally, the Cervarix vaccine will protect against the two strains that cause cervical cancer. It is recommended for male and female individuals between the ages of 9 and 26. These vaccinations protect young men and women before there are exposed during sexual activity. Most insurance companies, including Medicaid, will pay for the vaccine. (If you don’t have medical insurance, there are still ways to pay for the vaccine. Talk to your healthcare provider about your options.)

The HPV vaccine offers promise and protection from a known direct cause of cervical cancer. With it, we can fight and prevent a cancer that has taken the lives of too many women. Please don’t hesitate to contact your OB/GYN, pediatrician, primary care physician, or local health department with questions or concerns about these vaccines. There are also plenty of online resources available for parents and caregivers. We have included some helpful resources below:

National Cervical Cancer Coalition
World Health Organization – HPV and Cervical Cancer Facts
The HPV Connection – The Oral Cancer Foundation

May 12, 2015

I received this wonderful handwritten card from my patient Steffanie. She also gives thanks to our great staff. It is humbling when our patients take time out of their busy days to let us know that we made a difference.

dr-litrel-testimonial

 

May 6, 2015

Mother’s Day is this weekend and no one deserves more praise than mom. From the moment we’re born, they’re there to nurture, love and guide us through life. It’s a job that often goes unnoticed so on this day (and every day), we want to honor these special women who give so much of themselves to make this world a better place. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts, moms!

Our providers also wanted to pay tribute to their beautiful moms by sharing these photos with you. Enjoy! 🙂

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March 10, 2015

March 5, 2015

Endometriosis affects about 5 million American women. It’s an often painful disorder in which tissue that normally lines the inside your uterus — the endometrium — grows outside your uterus (endometrial implant). Endometriosis most commonly involves your ovaries, bowel or the tissue lining your pelvis. Rarely, endometrial tissue may spread beyond your pelvic region.

In endometriosis, displaced endometrial tissue continues to act as it normally would — it thickens, breaks down and bleeds with each menstrual cycle. Because this displaced tissue has no way to exit your body, it becomes trapped. When endometriosis involves the ovaries, cysts called endometriomas may form. Surrounding tissue can become irritated, eventually developing scar tissue and adhesions — abnormal tissue that binds organs together.

Endometriosis can cause pain — sometimes severe — especially during your period. Fertility problems also may develop. Fortunately, effective treatments are available.

Causes of Endometriosis
The exact cause of endometriosis is not known. However, possible causes include the following:

  • Your immune system may not be getting rid of endometrial cells outside of the uterus like it should.
  • Heavy bleeding or an abnormal structure of the uterus, cervix, or vagina causes too many endometrial cells to go up through the fallopian tubes and then into the belly. (This is called retrograde menstruation).
  • Blood or lymph fluid may carry endometrial cells to other parts of the body. Or the cells may be moved during a surgery, such as an episiotomy or a cesarean delivery.
  • Cells in the belly and pelvis may change into endometrial cells.
  • Endometrial cells may have formed outside the uterus when you were a fetus.
  • It may be passed down through families.

When to Call Your Doctor
If you develop sudden, severe pelvic pain, call your doctor immediately. Call a doctor to schedule an appointment if:

  • Your periods have changed from relatively pain-free to painful.
  • Pain interferes with your daily activities.
  • You begin to have pain during intercourse.
  • You have painful urination, blood in your urine, or an inability to control the flow of urine.
  • You have blood in your stool, you develop pain, or you have a significant, unexplained change in your bowel movements.
  • You are not able to become pregnant after trying for 12 months.

Treatment Options
There is no cure for endometriosis, but treatment can help with pain and infertility. Treatment depends on how severe your symptoms are and whether you want to get pregnant. If you have pain only, hormone therapy to lower your body’s estrogen levels will shrink the implants and may reduce pain. If you want to become pregnant, having surgery, infertility treatment, or both may help.

Not all women with endometriosis have pain. And endometriosis doesn’t always get worse over time. During pregnancy, it usually improves, as it does after menopause. If you have mild pain, have no plans for a future pregnancy, or are near menopause (around age 50), you may not feel a need for treatment. The decision is up to you.

Medicines
If you have pain or bleeding but aren’t planning to get pregnant soon, birth control hormones (patch, pills, or ring) or anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) may be all that you need to control pain. Birth control hormones are likely to keep endometriosis from getting worse. If you have severe symptoms or if birth control hormones and NSAIDs don’t work, you might try a stronger hormone therapy. Besides medicine, you can try other things at home to help with the pain. For example, you can apply heat to your belly, or you can exercise regularly.

Surgery
If hormone therapy doesn’t work or if growths are affecting other organs, surgery is the next step. It removes endometrial growths and scar tissue. This can usually be done through one or more small incisions, using laparoscopy. Laparoscopy can improve pain and your chance for pregnancy.

In severe cases, removing the uterus and ovaries (hysterectomy and oophorectomy) is an option. This surgery causes early menopause. It is only used when you have no pregnancy plans and have had little relief from other treatments.

As OB/GYNs, we specialize in protecting your fertility and providing treatment to relieve physical suffering. Please contact us today to schedule your appointment by calling 770.720.7733.

January 20, 2015

 

FLYER_printed

Bring your girlfriends for a night of fun, laughter and learning with Dr. Kathryn Hale and Sara Bolden of Women’s First Rehabilitation for this WOMEN-ONLY EVENT.

This is the place to ask those “embarrassing” questions and find out what’s normal, what’s not and how you can improve your sexual health.

Limited seating. Pre-registration required. Reserve your seats today by calling  770.720.7733 to pre-register!

Our Facebook Winter Baby Contest is ON! Enter your baby photos (ages 0-24 months) for a chance to win some great prizes and perhaps more importantly, bragging rights!

To enter from your computer, simply go to our Facebook page.
To enter from a mobile device such as your phone or tablet, click here!

Contest runs from January 15th through January 29th!

Prizes include:

  • Grand Prize (TWO WINNERS): 16″x20″ Print on Canvas (to display those beautiful photos!) 
  • 2nd place: $25 Johnny’s Pizza gift certificate
  • 3rd place: $25 Johnny’s Pizza gift certificate
  • 4th place: Bojangle’s Picnic Pack
  • 5th place: Chick-Fil-A basket with gift cards

Can’t wait to see your most adorable winter baby photos! 🙂

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“Dr. Litrel was a fantastic doctor. I had my first exam with him, although at first I was skeptical about a male doctor for my GYN. But after I met him I’m glad I kept an open mind, and I couldn’t have dreamed up a better doctor. He cares about you as a person and not just a patient. The front desk ladies and nurses were very friendly and it’s a great office, very clean and not intimidating. I highly recommend Cherokee Women’s Health.”
– Vicki