Voted "Best OB-GYN" in Towne Lake, Woodstock and Canton Voted "Mom-Approved OBs" by Atlanta Parent magazine readers


January 15, 2018

Whether naturally or through in vitro fertilization, the number of women who are getting pregnant after 50 is increasing. Celebrities such as Gwen Stefani, Sophie Hawkins, Kelly Preston, Geena Davis, Janet Jackson, and Halle Berry were well into their 40’s and early 50’s before giving birth.

As more women wait to secure careers and stablize incomes before starting a family, their decision can come with the following drawbacks to both mother and child:

  • Miscarriage
  • Delivery by Cesarean
  • Difficulty in getting pregnant
  • Premature delivery
  • Gestational hypertension leading to preeclampsia
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Death during pregnancy or childbirth
  • Greater possibility of stroke in later years
  • Lung development problems in babies
  • Stillbirth
  • Low birth rate
  • Birth defects such as Autism or Down syndrome
  • Infant predisposition to overweight and diabetes

Because of these possible complications, pregnancies occurring later in life are considered high risk and therefore should be monitored more carefully. If you are considering getting pregnant after 50, you owe it to yourself and to your baby to choose an accredited OB-GYN whose experience, training and credentials encompass the entire spectrum of requirements and problems that could arise- one who will closely follow your progress throughout your entire nine-month gestational period. Prompt recognition and treatment of any complications that may occur from their onset are vital to both your health and that of your baby. 

Unless you conceive naturally, which is rare for women over the age of 50, you would probably have to become pregnant via in vitro fertilization, using either your own stored eggs or those of a donor. Preconception and fertility counseling might be recommended to inform you of both the risks and benefits that may arise with starting a family later in life. Your entire pregnancy should be monitored from beginning to end with regular ultrasounds, checkups, and prenatal testing. If you are overweight, wish to maintain an already healthy weight, or want additional advice regarding the best food and exercise plan during your pregnancy, it may be wise to consult a dietitian. Finally, if you prefer a more holistic approach and opt for a midwife, finding one that is familiar with pregnancies occurring after 50 is as important as any physician you would choose.

Cherokee Women’s Health Services not only offers all these amenities under one roof, but we offer them with a superlative degree of excellence. Our physicians and staff are trained to meet all your needs. Drs. Haley, Litrel, and Gandhi possess double accreditation in the field of Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery (FPMRS). Receiving this credential requires years of additional education, skill, and training, not to mention meeting the strictest guidelines set forth by the American Board of Urology. Their 40 combined years of knowledge and proficiency ensure you will have optimum care during your mid-life pregnancy.

Our entire staff of OB-GYNs, counselors, and board certified midwives possess stellar credentials. They diligently remain abreast of the most advanced scientific breakthroughs in women’s health, thus offering you the finest obstetric care modern medicine has to offer. They work as a team, making sure you receive every advantage to make your prenatal experience as safe as possible.

Practitioners at Cherokee Women’s Health Services are affiliated with Northside Hospital-Cherokee and all babies are now delivered at its new location which opened earlier this year. Their birthing center provides a comfortable and modern environment with access to the latest technology only steps away should any last minute problems arise.

Our Patient Philosophy at Cherokee Women’s Health

Our basic philosophy at Cherokee Women’s Health Specialists is a simple one–to treat every woman who walks through our doors with no less than the same consideration, understanding, and respect we would expect for any woman in our lives. This tenet is one of the many reasons that our full-service facilities were voted both “Best OB-GYN in Towne Lake, Woodstock, and Canton” and “Mom-approved OB’s” by Atlanta Parent Magazine readers. We take pride in these recognitions and make sure to pass the expertise that earned them on to you, the patient.

As we see more and more women get pregnant after the age of 50, we strive to keep ahead of all the improvements in medicine in regard to your special needs so that you and your baby can have a trouble-free pregnancy, safe delivery and can go on to enjoy the wonderful rewarding pleasures motherhood has to offer.

Call today to schedule an appointment with one of our OBs at 770.720.7733.

On May 6, 2017, the new Northside Hospital-Cherokee opened its doors to the public. That occasion was monumental, in that it was the beginning of providing the residents of Cherokee county with the most up-to-date, outstanding patient care and services available today. This modern full-service institution is prepared to provide the community with some of the most advanced technology known to medicine including top maternity, neonatal, and level II NICU facilities.

If you are a woman in Cherokee County who is planning to have a baby, you  can receive preconception counseling to help you determine if you are not only ready for motherhood, but to thoroughly investigate any possible genetic, hereditary, medical, physical and psychological history that may hinder the mental and physical futures of both you and your child.

If you are already pregnant, you can benefit greatly from Northside Hospital-Cherokee’s top prenatal, perinatal and neonatal services. This means that the health, safety, and well-being of both you and your baby can be monitored from conception to post-delivery, ensuring that any problems that may occur can be detected and treated as early as possible.

(For clarification, prenatal and perinatal care are the similar but with a slight overlap. Prenatal begins from conception to birth, while perinatal care commences at 154 days (22 weeks) of gestation and continues for a week after birth occurs.)

Because each woman is unique, every pregnancy varies in its needs and the level of attention necessary to insure the safest possible outcome. Depending on your medical history, you will be classified as normal, moderate risk, or high risk. Northside Hospital-Cherokee is prepared to expertly handle your pregnancy throughout all three.

Prenatal Care 

Regular prenatal care is one of the most important steps in making sure your baby is given every advantage possible. By going to all your appointments, following directions, taking the vitamins and supplements prescribed, and having all the tests suggested to make sure your child’s size, weight, progress and development is progressing well and on schedule, you are doing everything you can to ensure he or she is getting the best and healthiest start in life.

Northside Hospital-Cherokee will do its part in making all that happen while your baby is still in the womb and until he or she is safely nestled in your arms. From your first appointment, you will be given basic testing, blood work, urinalysis, and ultrasound at the correct time during gestation. They also offer noninvasive cell-free DNA testing, and were in fact pioneers- the first in Atlanta- to introduce most of these prenatal services, along with fetal echo and diagnostic radiology.

As your pregnancy moves forward, you will be carefully and regularly monitored, especially if you have been classified as high risk. Northside Hospital-Cherokee has the latest diagnostic and imaging equipment, operated by highly trained professionals and technicians to vigilantly follow the progress of you and your baby, keeping careful watch over even the smallest irregularity so that protective intervention is swift and immediate.

Once your baby is ready to come into the world, you will have access to individualized care in a private labor-delivery room until the birth, after which he or she will be taken to a full service newborn nursery.

Post-Birth Recovery

While recovering, you will have access to the lactation center if you choose to breastfeed. If this is your first experience with it, trained consultants will take the time to guide you through the process. You will also be offered additional assistance if needed, and be invited to attend a weekly support group.

Cherokee Women’s Health Specialists is proud to be closely affiliated with Northside Hospital-Cherokee and have collaborated with this institution for years. Our unlimited access to their technology, equipment and testing centers, along with our close association with many colleagues on its staff have enabled us to give our patients the quality care and service they deserve. The amenities they offer at their new location are among the best, most current and innovative in the nation. The medical advantages they have always shared with us have bettered untold lives and have enabled us to safely deliver over 10,000 babies over the years to mothers in Cherokee County and its surrounding areas. Their newest, top neo-natal facilities will guarantee that we will continue to deliver many more.

For more information on Northside Hospital-Cherokee’s facility, visit their website.

January 9, 2018

As women approach mid-life and start to experience menopause, many often wonder if hormone therapy is the right choice for them. Hormone Therapy is an important consideration for women, and for many, the choice as to which type to use, can be quite confusing. There are basically two types of hormone therapy: traditional, or the more natural approach, which is called bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT).

Traditional hormone therapy, sometimes referred to as “synthetic,” are FDA approved medications that have been most commonly prescribed for hormone replacement. Bioidentical hormone therapy, or sometimes referred to as “natural”, are compounded at special pharmacies. With natural bioidentical hormones, there is good evidence that women can find relief from symptoms of hormonal imbalance without the risks that come along with synthetic hormones.

What are Bioidentical Hormones? 

Bioidentical hormones are derived from naturally occurring sources, such as soy or yams, and are designed to replicate the same chemical structure as the hormones that are produced naturally by our bodies. Based on your hormone levels, a compounding pharmacy can individually tailor a bioidentical hormone regimen specifically designed for you by your physician. BHRT allows for the greatest ability to create custom therapy best suited for you as an individual. Typical cost should be $40-$45 per month.

Are Bioidentical Hormones Safer, More Effective than Synthetic Hormones?

Bioidentical hormones are more suitable to most when dealing with menopause because they are derived naturally and our bodies can metabolize them properly. Another advantage of using bioidentical hormones is that they are specifically designed to match your individual hormonal needs – unlike synthetic hormones, which often uses a one-size-fits-all approach to symptom relief.

There is much supportive literature that suggests bioidentical hormone therapy is safer and more effective than synthetic hormone replacement. However, it’s important to remember that no drug or supplement is completely safe – that is where the expertise of a women’s specialist is needed to decide the best approach for you and your specific medical needs. At Cherokee Women’s Health Specialists, our physicians are board certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology and are experts in menopausal management.

What are the Benefits of Bioidentical Hormone Therapy? 

Some of the day-to-day benefits are as follows:

  • Stops hot flashes
  • Diminishes night sweats
  • Increases energy
  • Helps control anxiety and irritability
  • Decreases brain fog
  • Controls loss of hair, brittle nails and dry skin
  • Helps lift mood or depression symptoms
  • Helps manage weight
  • Increases libido
  • Reduces vaginal dryness

Hormone therapy also has long-term benefits that significantly impact life:

  • Protection of your heart (#1 killer for women)
  • Protection for your bones
  • Decreases risk of colon cancer
  • Good evidence suggests it decreases the risk of Alzheimer’s and Dementia

How Do I Know What Hormones and What Amounts are Right for me?

Based on your age, history, symptoms, whether you’ve had a hysterectomy, and other factors, one or more hormones will be suggested. On occasion, a blood test will be performed to check the hormone levels. Again, it is very important that you choose an OB/GYN that is an expert in menopause management and is up-to-date on the latest medical information.

What is the Best Way to take Bioidentical Hormones and How Long?

Usually the best route to take bioidenticals is through the skin, such as a roll-on gel or cream. Occasionally, oral medication or pills will be given. We know that menopause accelerates the aging process and causes challenging daily symptoms. Additionally, there are known health benefits of being on hormone therapy, so for most, it is recommended to be on HRT for the rest of your life.

Why Should You Choose Cherokee Women’s Health to Manage Bioidenticals?

Our method of managing your hormone therapy has your best interest in mind. We limit visits and lab tests to only what’s needed, using symptoms to monitor most of your progress. In an office visit and possibly a basic blood test, you can be given a prescription for bioidentical hormone therapy and be on your way to feeling your best. If your symptoms remain, we can tweak the dosage until your are at your optimal health.

At Cherokee Women’s Health Specialists, our goal is to help women live the best life possible. When you give your body the attention and support it needs, you’ll look better and feel better because of it.

With bioidentical hormones and the help of our highly trained physicians, you can be on your way to feeling your best in no time.

Call our office at (770) 720-7733 for an appointment with one of our menopause management expert physicians.

January 2, 2018

By James Haley, MD, FACOG, FPMRS 

Dr. Haley photo

Dr. Haley

Traditionally, women turned to the youth-restoring practice of Botox treatments beginning in their forties. More recently, however, the trend has shifted toward a younger age. This is done to not only smooth out wrinkles and flaccid skin, but to actually prevent the slackening process from happening at all. 

Technically, there is no magic age to begin treatment – it varies from person to person. A good rule of thumb is to look in the mirror and smile, frown, and then relax the face. If significant lines and wrinkles still remain while your face is relaxed, you may want to consider preventative Botox treatments. You may notice this occurring at any point between the ages of 25 and 35. 

The Benefits of Early Botox Treatments 

When you begin early Botox administration, the collagen and elasticity breakdown that naturally occurs over the years is inhibited. Muscles that would ordinarily enable wrinkles and lines to form are literally held still” in a relaxed state. Botox no longer allows these muscles to over-contract in everyday frowns or squints, leaving your skin smooth and taut. Continued treatment allows you to retain a youthful appearance indefinitely – which in turn is great for your self-image! 

Trust Women’s Health Specialists  

To meet the high demand for Botox, numerous physicians and spas offer Botox injections. Though it is a fairly simple process with little risk, choosing the wrong provider occasionally results in negative effects, such as droopy eye or nerve damage. It is important that you locate an experienced, trained physician. 

As OB-GYN’s who care for women through all the stages of their lives, at Cherokee Women’s Health Specialists we are sympathetic to the fact that women want their outward physical appearance to mirror their inward physical health. Reconstructive surgery, and rejuvenation and cosmetic care are a natural extension of our services as women’s health care providers. Drs. Litrel, Gandhi and myself are doubly accredited OB/GYN’s and Urogynecologists with board certification in both Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery (FPMRS) and OB/GYN. This unusual qualification allows us to expertly treat the unique health problems of women – including the “finishing touches” of cosmetic procedures for a youthful appearance. Thus, Botox and injectables have been part of my services for my patients since 2007. 

Beginning with an in-depth consultation, we can administer Botox so that you can enjoy its rejuvenating benefits.  Skilled hands can keep your outer appearance looking every bit as youthful as the age you feel in your heart. 

Call our office at (770) 721-6060 to schedule a free consultation. 

This article was originally featured in the January 2018 issue of Townelaker magazine. To view an online version, click here

November 22, 2017

Traditionally, women started turning to the youth-restoring practice of Botox treatments in their mid-thirties or forties. More recently, however, the trend has shifted towards a much younger age-not only to smooth out wrinkles and flaccid skin, but to prematurely prevent the slackening process from happening at all.

Experts agree that starting Botox treatments at a younger age is beneficial to prevent lines and wrinkles from ever occurring. But at what age should Botox treatments begin?

Benefits of Early Botox Treatments

Technically there is no magic age to begin treatment, and it generally varies from person to person. A good rule of thumb is to look in the mirror and smile, frown, and then relax the face. If lines and wrinkles remain while the face is still relaxed, it may be time to consider preventative Botox treatments. Most will notice this occurring between the ages of 25 and 35.

When you begin early Botox administration, the collagen and elasticity breakdown that naturally occurs over the years is inhibited. Muscles that would ordinarily be enabling wrinkles, folds, and lines to form over time are literally frozen into a relaxed state. Botox no longer allows these muscles to contract as they attempt to comply with everyday expressions such as frowns, squints, or grimaces, thus leaving skin smooth and taut. Continued treatment allows you to retain a youthful appearance indefinitely, which in turn raises confidence and boosts self-image.

Trust Your Women’s Health Specialists Are you considering botox treatments?

In order to meet the high demand for Botox at a younger age, there are numerous physicians and “medical spas” that offer Botox injections. Though it is a fairly simple and quick process with little risk, choosing the wrong provider could result in negative effects such as penetration or damage to untargeted muscles, unnecessary bruising, excessive redness, headache, nausea, and drooping or tearing in the sensitive eye area. As well, improper application can cause symmetrical imbalance, or even have no desired effect whatsoever. It is important, therefore, that you opt for an experienced, trained medical specialist.

At Cherokee Women’s Health Specialists, we hold and maintain our outstanding reputation in women’s health, reconstructive surgery, and rejuvenation and cosmetic care by putting you and your individual needs first. Drs. Litrel, Haley, and Gandhi are doubly accredited OB/GYN’s and Urogynecologists holding degrees in both Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery (FPMRS) and OB/GYN. This enviable certification qualifies them to treat all of your personal, unique feminine problems, including any cosmetic requirements such as Botox injections. Dr. James Haley has had experience and certification in Botox and Injectables since 2007.

Voted ‘Best OB-GYN in Towne Lake, Canton and Woodstock’, we strive to continue meeting the highest standards that earned us this recognition.

At Your Botox Consultation

Beginning with an in-depth consultation, we can administer Botox in a safe, long-lasting manner that adheres to all FDA guidelines, including precise serum dilution. Your process will take place in a pristine environment with focused attention to the muscle location necessary for effective and successful results.

There is no finite age when Botox becomes ineffective or must be discontinued. Women well into their eighties are enjoying its aesthetic rejuvenating benefits. You can too, by letting us do our skilled part in keeping your outer appearance looking every bit as youthful as the age you feel in your heart.

Call our office at (770) 721-6060 to schedule a free consultation.

Cervical cerclage is only done in a small percentage of pregnancies.

It is the placement of stitches in the cervix to hold the area closed to prevent preterm labor or pregnancy loss for women who have a weak or incompetent cervix.

Cervical cerclage can be done as early as 12-weeks as a preventative measure for women who have had miscarriages due to a weak cervix. It can also be done as an emergency measure after the cervix has dilated. Typically, this procedure is not done after the 24-week mark.

When is Cervical Cerclage Recommended?

This procedure is recommended for women to prevent pregnancy loss or premature birth. Stitches are used to close the cervix around the second-trimester and typically removed no later than week 37.

Your doctor may suggest cervical cerclage if you qualify as a high-risk pregnancy.

During pregnancy, your cervix gradually softens, decreases in length, and begins to dilate in preparation for your baby. However, in rare cases, your cervix may open too soon putting you at risk for premature labor.

Your healthcare provider will assess your risk level based on the following circumstances.

  • If you’ve had one or more 2nd-trimester pregnancy losses related to dilation.
  • If you have had cervical cerclage during previous pregnancies.
  • If you have been diagnosed with painless cervical dilation during your second-trimester.

Generally, cervical cerclage is done through the vagina (transvaginal cervical cerclage). But, in some cases, it can be done through the abdomen (transabdominal cervical cerclage). Ask your doctor what is better for you and your baby.

Cervical cerclage and high-risk pregnancyIs Cervical Cerclage Right for You?

Your doctor may discourage cervical cerclage for any number of reasons. You may want to reconsider this procedure if you have vaginal bleeding, preterm labor, an intra-uterine infection, a rupture in the amniotic sac, or are carrying multiple babies.

Risks Associated with Cervical Cerclage

There are many side effects associated with cervical cerclage. Having the procedure doesn’t always prevent premature birth.

Women who experience premature dilation of the cervix during the second-trimester may have one or a number of these problems whether they opt for cervical cerclage or not.

Here are a few side effects that are occasionally associated with a cervical cerclage procedure. Consult your doctor about your risk factor based on previous pregnancies and what you can do to minimize side effects.

  • Infection
  • Vaginal Bleeding
  • Tear in the Cervix
  • Leakage of Amniotic Sac (Prior to week 37)
  • Miscarriage
  • Preterm Labor or Birth

If you experience bleeding or leakage after your cerclage procedure, seek medical attention immediately. In such cases, your OB-GYN may recommend the removal of stitches early.

Closing Thoughts

Cervical cerclage is not for everyone. Talk to your healthcare provider to learn more about the options available to you. Ultimately, it’s up to you to make the right decision about what’s right for you and your baby.

Whether you’d like a second opinion about your cervical cerclage recommendation or have other pregnancy-related questions, don’t hesitate to contact us today. Here at Cherokee Women’s Health, we offer a full range of services to help you along the way.

Many people are afraid to ask important questions when it comes to their sexual health. But it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Separate fact from fiction when it comes to STDs and STIs.

Today, we’ll walk you through how STDs are spread so you can learn the best ways to treat and prevent them. Ask your doctor to clarify facts on any questions you might have regarding STDs and STIs.

Who Can Get STDs?

Anyone who is sexually active can get an STD or an STI. You are considered sexually active if you have vaginal, anal, or oral sex.

More young people have an STD than older adults. Nearly half of everyone under the age of 25 has an STD or STI. This is especially alarming considering this age bracket only makes up for one-quarter of people having sex.

Many STDs and STIs do not have any symptoms. Talk with your partner and get tested together before becoming sexually active.

How to Prevent STD/STIs?

The only way to 100% prevent STDs and STIs is to abstain from sexual activity.

However, you can reduce the risk of contracting a sexual disease by using a condom.

Even if you are on birth control, you should consider STD protection. While birth control can prevent you from becoming pregnant, it will not aid in the prevention of STDs.

How Are STDs and STIs Diagnosed? 

If you think you might have been exposed to an STD, get tested right away. The only way to know for sure is to get tested.

Remember, STD and HIV testing is not always a part of your regular doctor visit. If you’re sexually active, don’t assume you are STD-free without getting tested.

Testing for STDs is confidential, quick, and easy. For example, you can get tested for HIV with a simple oral cotton swab and know your results in as little as 20-minutes. Other STDs can be tested by a urine test, vaginal swab, or a quick blood test.

What if I have an STD?

Having an STD isn’t the end of the world. All STDs including HIV are treatable. Most are even curable.

It’s important to be open with your sexual partner. Having an honest conversation before sex (whether it be vaginal, anal, or oral) can help stop the spread of STDs.

While these conversations may seem hard, it’s better to have a responsible talk sooner than later. This way, you can both be vigilant in protecting against STD transfer to an uninfected partner.

Concerns About Sexual Health

When it comes to sexual health, it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you think you may have been exposed to an STD or STI, see your doctor right away.

Untreated, STDs can lead to serious health problems down the road. Don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor about symptoms you may be having.

Still have questions? Don’t hesitate to contact us with concerns regarding your symptoms. A member of our trained staff can answer questions about your sexual health or schedule a confidential appointment.

‘Tis the season to maximize your annual insurance benefits. Get the most out of your medical benefits before the year comes to a close. In many instances, preventative care treatments are available to you with no co-pay or co-insurance.

Plus, if you’ve already satisfied your health insurance deductible, it’s the perfect time to get last minute screenings. Your deductible will automatically restart at the beginning of the year, meaning you’ll likely be paying out-of-pocket for those same procedures.

Here are a few tips and tricks that you can do to maximize your annual check-up.

#1 Come Prepared Make the most of your annual exam

From the moment you schedule your appointment (or even before), keep a list of questions and concerns you’d like to speak to your physician about. Going through your checklist at the start of your visit will ensure you get the most out of your exam and that all of your concerns are addressed.

#2 Review Your Medical History – And, Your Family’s

Filling out medical forms 5 minutes before your visit can potentially leave vital information missing. Doing your homework beforehand can give your doctor the information they need to properly treat you. Include: family members who have had cancer, heart disease, diabetes, or other conditions that run in your family.

#3 Remember: Your Doctor’s Office is a Judgement-Free Zone

Don’t be afraid to bring up uncomfortable topics such as weight, fertility, or sexual health – even if it’s something small. You may not realize it but your doctor could recognize your problem as a sign or symptom of something bigger. Small problems, like being slightly overweight can also increase your risk for illnesses such as heart disease and certain cancers. Being open and honest with your doctor could help you set a plan for a better overall well-being.

#4 Talk About Vaccines

Just because you’re not in grade-school anymore doesn’t mean you get to escape the dreaded needle. When you get your flu shot, ask your doctor what other vaccines you’re due for. Adults still require a tetanus shot every 10-years for example. Your doctor may also suggest a pertussis vaccine for whooping cough – especially if you come in close contact with infants or small children.

#5 Bring Up Age-Related Issues

Even if you don’t have a family history of breast cancer, you should get a mammogram annually starting at the age of 40. Starting between 35-40 you should also have annual blood tests done to check cholesterol and blood-sugar levels. After menopause, women should have thyroid tests done every 5 years as well.

#6 It’s Not Just Physical

Your emotional health is just as important as your physical well-being. Let your physician know if you’re not sleeping properly, you’re extra stressed, or are feeling down in the dumps. Your doctor might be able to suggest simple lifestyle changes that can benefit your emotional well-being.

Final Thoughts

Now is the time to start seriously thinking about last-minute preventative care. Use this opportunity to maximize your annual health insurance benefits. You’ll have your health care provider’s undivided attention–make the most of it.

Call our offices to schedule your annual exam today. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your well-being, don’t hesitate to call. A trained member of our staff will be happy to help.

Self-breast exams are important for adult women. Approximately 1-in-8 US women will develop invasive breast cancer during her lifetime. Regular breast exams can help familiarize yourself with your body and provide early detection for breast cancer in many women.

How Often to Do a Self-Breast Exam

Feel free to do a self-breast exam as often as you like. The more familiar you are with your breasts, the easier it is to recognize noticeable changes. Typically, adult women should complete a self-exam at least once a month.

Breast cancer cannot be prevented but it can be detected early and caught before it spreads. If you discover changes in your breasts, seek medical attention as soon as possible for a professional evaluation.

What to Look for During a Self-Exam Breast exams are an important part of a woman's health and wellness.

Breast cancer can look different for many women. However, some of the things you should be looking for when doing a self-exam are the following;

  • A lump or hardened knot
  • Thickening or discoloration of the skin
  • Redness, soreness, or swelling
  • Changes in the contour of the breast
  • Changes in nipple color or inverted nipple
  • Unusual discharge from nipple

Keep in mind, not all symptoms of breast cancer are the same. If you suspect anything out of the norm when completing a breast exam, schedule a consult and mammogram with your physician immediately.

Self-Breast Exam Techniques

Some women prefer to do a circular motion using the pads of their fingers. Start at the center of your breast using a medium-firm pressure. Be sure to cover the entire area of the breast from armpit to cleavage.

Another way to evaluate your breasts is using a top to bottom method. Again, use a medium-firm pressure to run your fingers up and down your entire breast region. Start at your collarbone and glide your fingers down to your abdomen.

Where to Complete a Self-Breast Exam

An accurate self-breast exam will require three simple steps in 2-3 positions. When done correctly a self-exam shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes of your time.

In of the Mirror

Standing in front of a mirror allows you to visually inspect your breasts. Start with your arms at your sides and look at your breasts from the left, right, and frontal positions. After you’ve completed this portion of your exam, repeat the process with your arms high above your head.

Lying Down

For the second portion of your breast exam, you’ll need to be in a lying position. Lying down is advantageous because your breast tissue is flat against your chest cavity making it easier to spot something unusual.

Once you’re lying on your back, place a pillow under your right shoulder (or whichever side you’d like to examine first). Then, fold the same arm behind your head. Take the opposite hand and begin to use your preferred examination technique.

After you’ve covered the entire breast area, repeat the process with your other side.

In the Shower

During the final step of your exam, you’ll need to be standing upright. Many women find it easier to complete this stage of the self-examination in the shower where the skin is wet and slippery. Once again, use a medium-firm pressure to feel for anything out of the norm on both breasts.

At this time, lightly squeeze your nipple feeling for lumps and looking for any time of discharge.

Final Thoughts

Don’t hesitate to give us a call for further guidance regarding your self-breast exam. If you’ve discovered something unusual that you want a professional to evaluate, call to schedule a consultation immediately.

November 21, 2017

Your diet impacts every aspect of your body. And, yes, that includes your vagina as well. Making healthier choices can boost your sexual health, reproductive health and even help women navigate menopause with less severe symptoms.

A healthy vagina has naturally healthy acidic pH levels. A vagina that’s in good health has a host of healthy bacteria known as probiotics. These good bacteria ward off infections and keep your reproductive system working smoothly.

Today, we’ll take a look at several simple dietary adjustments you can make to maintain optimal vaginal and sexual health.

Alleviate Painful Cramps

Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids can help ease your period pain. Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties that reduce period symptoms such as cramps. Some omega-3 rich foods to add to your diet include:

  • Tuna
  • Salmon
  • Avocado
  • walnuts

If you’re craving something on the sweet side, try fresh fruit like strawberries or raspberries.

If you’re experiencing cramps related to your period, you may want to avoid these foods; fatty foods, alcohol, caffeine, and salt.

Ward Off Yeast Infections

Probiotic-rich foods have been shown to promote a good pH balance within the vagina. The good bacteria Lactobacillus improves overall vaginal health and can help prevent yeast infections.

The best probiotic-rich foods to try for the prevention of yeast infections are:

  • Greek yogurt
  • Kimchi
  • Sauerkraut
  • Kefir

While you’ve probably heard about the benefits of cranberry juice in the treatment of yeast infections, it’s also packed with unhealthy amounts of sugar.

Put an End to UTIs

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) can cause annoyingly frequent bathroom breaks and a painful burning sensation. About half the women in the US have (or will have) a UTI at some point in their life.

Keeping your body hydrated by drinking lots of water is a great way to flush bad bacteria from your kidneys, bladder, and uterus. Another great way to keep UTIs at bay is to consume plenty of antimicrobial-rich foods such as green tea and ginger.

Avoid acidic foods such as tomatoes, oranges, limes, and lemons.

Counteract Menopause Symptoms

There are even foods that can help you navigate menopause with less severe symptoms. Vaginal dryness, for example, is caused by reduced estrogen levels. Phytoestrogens (a natural plant-based estrogen replacement) can help reduce irritating vaginal dryness.

Some good phytoestrogen-rich foods include soy products such as:

  • Edamame
  • Tofu
  • Miso
  • Tempeh

These soy-based products are also hydrophilic, or natural lubricants, that attract moisture to your tissue.

Final Thoughts

Healthy foods equal a happy, healthy vagina. But keep in mind, the foods you eat only affect your body for 2-3 days after consuming them. It’s important to maintain a healthy diet for optimal sexual and vaginal health.

To learn more about your sexual health, give us a call. We’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have or schedule a nutritional consultation.

Request a Consultation

Recent Posts



“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