Voted "Best OB-GYN" in Towne Lake, Woodstock and Canton

Category: General

September 20, 2017

“When I started the program at Cherokee Women’s Health I had already lost 16 pounds but it had taken me over 5 months and then I plateaued in my weight loss journey.”

This part of Wendy’s story is not uncommon. Many people begin diet and weight loss programs and see early successes but have a difficult time reaching their goal. At Cherokee Women’s Health Specialists our doctors have formulated a plan specifically for women and their unique needs. The program includes personalized meal plans and nutritional education.

“One big thing that I learned from the program is the relation of calories in food to how many calories my body actually burns and that every calorie counts. I used to let food control me but now I control the food.  It really puts calories into perspective and this program has given me the tools I need to not only lose the weight but to keep it off!”

Each patient gets a personalized plan that can include supplements along with the nutritional counseling, and regular check-ins giving women the skills they need for long term success.

 Goal for the Bridesmaid: Pounds and Dress Size… Going Down!

“In the last 4 ½ months I have lost an additional 38 pounds with Cherokee Women’s Health Specialists. When I began the program, I was shopping for and being fitted for a dress for my sister’s wedding and initially I was going to be in a size 18-20 dress. By the time the wedding came around I had a size 14-16 and still had to have the dress taken in some before the wedding.

The program gave me a huge boost in my weight loss journey. I now have more confidence, I’m happier, I feel better, and best of all I have more energy to run around and play with my kids without feeling so tired.”

Our medical weight loss program is designed to be an effective life style change that puts the power in our patients’ hands. With nutrition counseling, exercise plans and accountability, the medical weight loss plan gets results for women.

Call 770-720-7733 to schedule your free consultation today.

September 5, 2017

Sherene Harati after the Teal Trot.If you go to our Canton office, there is a good chance you have met Sherene. Her bright smile and helpful attitude keeps her teammates and patients in high spirits.

What you may not know about Sherene is that she is an Ovarian Cancer Survivor. She was diagnosed in 2014 after getting a second opinion for her PCOS. She felt the doctor she was seeing at the time didn’t take her concerns about her symptoms seriously. When she saw a new doctor she mentioned her symptoms again. This time the doctor recommended an ultrasound.

During the ultrasound they identified a mass. Sherene had just graduated from college and didn’t fit the demographics of the women who usually develop Ovarian cancer, so her doctor wanted to keep an eye on the mass. It would have been easy for her to sweep it under the rug, but her doctor followed up, and Sherene kept all of her appointments.

Sherene lost one of her ovaries, but they caught the cancer early. After completing her treatment, including chemotherapy, Sherene is cancer free. It’s been almost three years and Sherene sticks to her follow-up appointments every few months to make sure she is still healthy.

Sherene’s Take Home Message

Sherene’s biggest message? Listen to your body! If you think something isn’t right, talk to your doctor. It’s okay to get a second opinion, especially if you think you aren’t being heard.

Now Sherene is dedicated to spreading the message about Ovarian cancer. Every year she participates in the Teal Trot 5k in Atlanta. She raises money and awareness and has fun in the park with her friends and family. Sounds like a great day!


Sherene kept a positive attitude during treatment.

Sherene kept a positive attitude during treatment.

Still smiling! Sherene participates in her first Teal Trot.

Still smiling! Sherene participates in her first Teal Trot.

Sherene gets the word out about Ovarian Cancer Awareness with teal hair.

Sherene gets the word out about Ovarian Cancer Awareness with teal hair.

August 9, 2017

It often takes longer for women to lose weight.While losing weight can be a challenging feat for both sexes, women have a few additional physiological hurdles from the start that men simply don’t. For women, it may take more of an initial lifestyle change to accomplish weight loss than it would for men.

Don’t worry though. All hope is not lost.

Staying focused on hitting your first health related goals can be empowering and keep you on the right track to shedding unwanted pounds down the line.

You may not come out of the gate dropping pounds left and right like your male counterparts, but in most cases weight loss will even out over time.

Physiological Reasons Initial Weight Loss is Harder for Women

Initially, it can be discouraging for women who decide to lose weight with male friends, family, or partners. It may seem as if you’re male weight loss partner is losing weight with little or no effort while you’re struggling to drop that first couple pounds.

Well, it turns out there’s a reason.

Let’s take a look at some of the biological reasons women have a tougher time getting rid of excess weight and looking slimmer at first.

  • Men have a height and weight advantage over women. Performing even simple tasks requires the body to burn more energy the larger the person is.
  • Men typically have a faster metabolism than women due to testosterone levels. Lean muscle tissue can burn more calories than fat even when resting.
  • Women’s fat stores are often spread throughout the body. It’s more difficult to lose weight when fat stores are spread over the entire body rather than held in one place such as the belly like it often is in men.
  • Women have larger fat stores to help during pregnancy. A perfectly fit woman will hold and extra 6-11% more body fat than a perfectly fit man simply due to biology.
  • Post-workout cravings. After a workout women’s ghrelin levels (the hormone that tells us we’re hungry) increase. Meanwhile, our leptin (the hormone that tells us we’re full) drop significantly. This hormonal fluctuation isn’t as prominent in men after exercise.

Don’t despair. Women have some advantages over men too. For example, women tend to burn more body fat when they exercise than men do.

Pushing Through Physiological Obstacles

Whether you want to commit to dropping a significant amount of weight, restore your optimal body weight after a pregnancy, or just live a healthier lifestyle overall, there are several things you can do to expedite the process.

  • Incorporate strength training exercises into your workout and benefit from more muscle mass too.
  • Focus on healthier post-workout snacks to tame cravings.
  • Banish negative thoughts and focus on the positive to nix emotional eating.
  • Have a balanced workout that includes plenty of cardio (at least 20 minutes a day).

Getting your mind in the right place can be helpful during your weight loss journey as well. One thing you can do immediately is to stop thinking of it as a competition. Celebrate and encourage both parties weight loss achievements equally.

Final Thoughts

Don’t be discouraged if you don’t lose weight as quickly as the men around you. Remember, weight loss isn’t a race. It’s a slow and steady process to regaining your optimal well-being and taking control of your life.

Although guys may have an initial head start, your partner’s weight loss will eventually plateau and you should be on the same page over time.

Losing weight doesn’t need to be daunting. Talk to your health care provider for guidance on how to accomplish weight loss and other health-related goals. Feel free to give us a call regarding any questions you may have through your weight loss journey. We’d be happy to schedule an appointment with your doctor for a consultation.

You’ll soon be on the road to feeling great!

Insecurities, Relationship Issues, and Pelvic Health
dr-litrel photo

If you’re considering vaginoplasty, labiaplasty, or other pelvic surgeries, you probably have a lot of questions – and you should! Dr. Litrel has been performing these types of procedures for twenty years and even has a board certification in Female Pelvic Medicine and Reproductive Surgery in addition to his OB-GYN certification. He believes that the best patients are well informed, and does his best to answer all the questions that come his way.

Here are 10 recent questions he answered on an online forum.

1. I am very insecure about my vagina and the color of it. Is it normal? I’m afraid to have sex.

Your appearance is perfectly normal and does not have any issues that require intervention from a cosmetic surgeon. Your insecurity is normal as well to some degree.  Everyone has some fear about social rejection, the feeling that others will not like or love us. This is really a spiritual issue, learning to love ourselves and love others, growing daily in our abilities in this arena. This is what makes life meaningful and fulfills our purpose in life: love.

When it comes to sexuality –  the sharing of our bodies with another in a pleasurable and intimate manner – the insecurity that one feels can prevent us from extending ourselves in this way.  This is painful because sex and intimacy and pleasure are so important to enjoy life.

But as a doctor who specializes solely in the care of woman, the common problem that women experience is not that they can’t find sexual partners, but rather that they choose the wrong sexual partner. Or too many. For men, in many and most cases sex is the end. Sex and orgasm itself is the goal.

Women like sex and orgasm, too. But for women, sex is really the beginning – the beginning of a powerful and important relationship – and the beginning of New Life (pregnancy). This is why so often women are broken hearted by the way they are treated by men. Men get sex – and eventually leave for someone else.

Thus it’s important for women to choose a partner who is committed to not just his own orgasm and his own pleasure – but one who is committed to you and the future of the relationship that God willing may someday include children.

Bottom line is this: if insecurity about the appearance of your genitals is holding you back from “sex” – when you find the partner who is not just attractive physically but spiritually as well – one who will be committed to you and the future, that person will love you so you will not be so afraid.

So it’s okay to wait to have sex and indeed it’s usually better. It builds a better long term relationship. When a woman waits to have sex not only does the guy think that she’s special, he also thinks that he’s special. And thus the relationship becomes special.

2. Is there any way to make my vagina look new again?

Women sacrifice a lot. Pregnancy and delivery is difficult enough as is raising children.  But the changes that women experience to their bodies are just another painful thing that women must confront. There are office procedures and surgeries that can help you with both sexual function and appearance of your genitalia. As far as specifics are concerned that is something that is tailored to each patients desires and anatomy.

3. Suffering from some mild incontinence and loss of muscle tone in my vagina. Does the Apex M pelvic floor exerciser work?

There are three good things about the apex devices. One is that they can help improve the muscle tone on your pelvic floor and can help with incontinence. Two is that they are done in the privacy of your own home. Three they are safe and won’t hurt you. It’s reasonable to try this before surgery. It’s reasonable to use this afterwards as well.

4. Can any board certified surgeon do a labiaplasty?

I would strongly advise you to wait until you find a specialist surgeon who focuses on labiaplasty. This can be a cosmetic gynecologist or a plastic surgeon. But don’t see someone who does not do a lot of these surgeries. Board certification is about education and passing examinations. But the key is experience and skill rather than diplomas on the walls and initials after your name.

5. Vaginoplasty: Can this surgery be personalized based on size of husband? Do all “holes” end up the same after this surgery regardless of requests?

Your surgery should be tailored to the size of your husband. Sexual issues are usually top-of-mind for women considering vaginoplasty. Thus your experience with your sexual partner is an essential part of the interview, the examination and the performance of the surgery.

6. I recently had vaginal tightening surgery. Is it normal to have a lot of pain afterward?

Everyone responds to the pain of surgery in a different way. Our bodies are different. It’s important to get an examination by your surgeon to make sure that there are not issues. But assuming a normal exam, be assured that everyone will have a different response. Typically by seven to fourteen days patients feel alright. If the pain continues, pelvic floor physical therapy can help. Muscle relaxers can also help if the examination demonstrates tenderness on your pelvic muscles.

7. Would a perineoplasty help with some feelings during sex?

The quick answer is that it will help – some.  Your question shows a sophisticated knowledge of your body and the problems you are having.  Pelvic reconstruction is likely required along with vaginoplasty to give you the tightness you desire. and to correct the anatomic deformities and changes your eloquently describe. There are non-surgical modalities such as ThermiVa that can help. But that may be a waste – it will depend upon your anatomy and the findings on physical examination. Good luck!

8. Can I enjoy sex after my clitoris is removed?

This should not be done for any reason other than the rare presence of cancer.  In some parts of the world there is “female circumcision” where young girls suffer genital mutilation. This is cultural and often the clitoris is not injured in the process. If you are considering a procedure make sure you understand what is being done and why.

9. Is a partial labiaplasty possible?

This is a good question. The truth is that every labiaplasty has to be tailored to a patient’s anatomy and also her desire. So really, you should just receive what it is that you desire rather than a “one size fits all.” Likely you have excess skin adjacent to your clitoral hood or the hood itself is more pronounced than you desire. This is a common problem that can be handled during an office procedure.

10. What are the adverse effects from an overly aggressive labiaplasty?

The Labia Minora come in all sizes and shapes. Our bodies differ. Consider how noses and ears are different sizes and shapes. The main thing that troubles patients with a “botched labiaplasty” is emotional upset with appearance. This can cause issues with sex because if we are not comfortable with how we look then it is more difficult to be intimate with another. There are less common instances when an over-aggressive labiaplasty can cause pain with sex but I would not worry about this. The most important things for sexuality to go well is to be in a loving relationship. This is a loving relationship with another – and also with yourself.

Were you questions among the ones Dr. Litrel answered here? If not, let us know! Ask during your next appointment, or call the office. And you can always check Dr. Litrel’s RealSelf profile where he answers questions about several types of vaginal reconstructive surgery and female pelvic health.

July 28, 2017

by James Haley, MD, FACOG, FPMRS

Dr. Haley photo

Dr. Haley

Below are the 7 FAQ’s about Hormone Replacement Therapy I’ve encountered in twenty-five years being an OB-GYN specializing in women’s health. The truth is, the real facts about Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) are hard to find! They are submerged in an ocean of misinformation surrounding women’s hormones, available hormone types, and ideas about what is “healthy” and “unhealthy” for women as they experience the sometimes confusing, uncomfortable and even painful symptoms of menopause.

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) can help! Here’s what you need to know, summed up in 7 FAQs:

7 FAQ’s About Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)

What types of HRT are there?                                    

HRT is most often spoken of, and divided into, two categories:


Sometimes referred to as “synthetic,” these FDA approved medications have in the past been the ones most commonly used for hormone replacement. A few of these could be classified as more “natural” rather than synthetic, as discussed below. Names brands can be very expensive, generics can be very inexpensive.

Bioidentical (sometimes referred to by people as “natural”)

These are compounded at special compounding pharmacies. There are some who claim that, because they are more “natural”, they mimic more of what ovaries produce on their own, and the body responds better, with less potential side effects, then with synthetic HRT. Is that true? See note below. Average cost of bioidentical HRT (BHRT) is approximately $30-$45, although it can cost a whole lot more at certain pharmacies. (Your doctor should help you stay away from those.) BHRT is often cheaper, however, then name brand traditional HRT.

Are Bioidentical hormones (BHRT) better?

I believe there are enough good studies that have now been done to be able to say, “Yes, it would appear BHRT is probably better than traditional HRT.”

This has been hard to prove with absolute certainty, and early on some of those involved with BHRT tried to make these claims without any supporting literature. Now there is much supportive literature out there to suggest it probably is the better way to go for hormone replacement. BHRT definitely allows for the greatest ability to create custom therapy best suited for you as an individual. It is very easy, and obviously better, to be able to add/subtract hormones or tweak doses according to individual needs, rather than having just a few doses of certain hormones to choose from in the traditional hormone route.

How do I know what hormones, and in what amounts, are right for me?

That is where the expertise of your Gynecologist comes in. Based on age, history, symptoms, whether you’ve had a hysterectomy, and other factors, one or more hormones will be suggested. On occasion, hormone levels (blood levels typically being the most accurate) will need to be checked, especially early on or after dose changes are made, but the MOST important factor is – how do you feel? Patient feedback is often a very reliable indication of how we are doing with the hormones chosen and the amounts of each.

If I have the following history, does that mean I can’t take hormone therapy?

  • Family history of Breast Cancer
  • Personal history of fibrocystic changes of the breasts
  • Prior breast cysts drained or benign lump removed
  • Smoker

NO, your history does NOT rule out hormone therapy. These are not contraindications.

Will hormone therapy help me with any of the above problems or symptoms?

HRT can certainly help with any of these, but be aware there are other health factors that can be, and often are, creating problems as well. These include underlying thyroid issues, adrenal gland stress or fatigue, food sensitivity/intolerance, gut immunity or imbalance issues, inflammatory issues, or autoimmune disorders.

What is the best way to receive HRT?

Usually through the skin (such as a roll-on gel), or else under the skin. For most women, oral hormone therapy tends to get broken down in the stomach so that less hormone absorbed, and in a less predictable amount. (On an individual basis, someone may find the oral route works better for them, and that is fine.)

How long should I stay on HRT?

Indefinitely! We know menopause starts an accelerated aging process, with all the potential day-to-day problems, as well as long term problems, that were described earlier. Knowing that, would it make sense to use HRT for just a short period of time? No, not at all.  All the benefits a woman gets from HRT will be lost over time once she quits. So, when you make the decision to start HRT, make it for life (unless your doctor gives you a specific reason you need to stop).

One final note, since a woman’s time in menopause and hormone therapy use are very important matters, it is critical that your gynecologist is current on HRT and it is of interest to them. At Cherokee Women’s Health Specialists, all of our physicians are all up-to-date on the most recent information on menopause, as well as all health matters.

Your quality of life is critical, and I urge you to take care of yourself to enjoy your menopausal years and make them the best you possibly can.

Have you read Part One of this series? Here it is: Menopause Part One: 6 Things Every Woman Should Know

by James Haley, MD, FACOG, FPMRS

Dr. Haley photo

Dr. Haley

Menopause facts can be hard to come by, considering that a third – or more – of a woman’s life will be spent in menopause. That is a long time!

They say that with age, comes wisdom, so it is my goal to empower you to make wise decisions about the quality of your life during that phase of your life. Hormone therapy is an important option to consider, a therapy that is becoming more critical for women as their average lifespan continues to increase. I have been helping care for menopausal women for more than 25 years. Over this time, I have seen misinformation or even completely wrong information affect women and keep them from achieving optimal health through hormone use.

To help make sense of this potentially confusing subject, I’ve compiled a list of 6 key menopause facts every woman should know to help you make the best decision possible for you.

  • Women begin to have a decrease in hormone levels starting in their 30’s – 40’s.
  • With decreases in estrogen and testosterone (and in small part progesterone), women start to prematurely age, and a multitude of symptoms and problems will often occur.
  • Most women are candidates for Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) and should be on it once they reach menopause.
  • Although there are many over the counter products, herbs, and supplements that claim they can help with the problems a menopausal women experiences, nothing takes the place of estrogen and what it does for a woman. There is nothing that even comes close. Nothing! HRT is it.
  • Many women think that menopause is just the stage during which they experience hot flashes, night sweats, etc. and when those symptoms disappear, they are “no longer in menopause”. Not true! A woman becomes menopausal when her ovaries quit working (or are surgically removed) and is then menopausal (or postmenopausal – same thing) until the day she dies.
  • Estrogen has NOT been shown to increase the risk of Breast Cancer for women. (The combination of estrogen and progesterone, for some women, has been shown to increase a woman’s breast cancer risk slightly. Knowing that, we strongly recommended women on HRT be very diligent about breast exams and mammograms)

What problems can menopausal women experience?

The problems women experience with menopause can be separated into two basic categories. Know that both types can be helped with HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy).

Day-to-day Symptoms (affect quality of life)

  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats
  • Fatigue/decrease energy
  • Brain fog
  • Memory loss
  • Loss of focus/concentration
  • Dryness of skin, nails, brittle hair or loss of hair
  • Irritability, anxiety
  • Mood changes, depressive symptoms
  • Bone or joint pain
  • Loss of libido
  • Weight gain
  • Vaginal dryness which can result in pain with intercourse

Long Term Health Issues (can significantly impact lifespan)

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

All of these issues can potentially be helped by Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)! Learn all about it in Part Two!

July 27, 2017

Monitoring fetal kick counts can save your baby's life.It’s important for expectant mothers to keep track of their baby’s movements. Not only will it give you reassurance that your baby is healthy, but a lack of movement can be the first sign that something is seriously wrong. In fact, monitoring your baby’s fetal kick count has the potential to save your baby’s life.

Counting fetal movements is easy to do, and can be a relaxing time spent bonding with your little one.

When Should You Start Counting Fetal Movements

Some women can feel their baby’s first kicks anywhere from 16-25 weeks. However, the average for first-time mothers is between the 20-22 week range.

Your doctor will likely suggest beginning to track your baby’s fetal kick counts starting during the third trimester (week 26-27) onward.

Monitoring fetal kick counts are especially important for expectant mothers who have health conditions. If you have diabetes or high blood pressure, for example, your doctor will recommend closely keeping track of your baby’s movements.

How to Track and Count Fetal Kicks

Tracking your baby’s movements is somewhat easy. Following a few simple steps is an easy way to reassure yourself that your baby is okay.

Most babies move at least 10 times within any given 1 hour period.

When checking your baby’s fetal kick count, you’ll need the following tools:

  • A comfortable place to sit or lay
  • A journal
  • A timing device

Start by sitting or laying on your side. Begin your timer and count each movement that your baby makes. These movements could include anything from:

  • Rolls
  • Kicks
  • Jabs
  • Flutters

Once you’ve gotten to 5 of these movements, stop counting and record the length of time it took from the first to the last.

Here are a few additional tips you may want to follow to help you when you are tracking the fetal movement of your little one.

  • Try to count movements at the same time every day.
  • Try evening or after dinnertime. Some babies are more likely to be more active during this time.
  • Write down times in a daily journal for easy tracking. Your doctor may request to see your times during checkups as well.
  • If you choose to lie down while counting, try to lay on your left side. Circulation will be better for the baby.
  • Stop timing after 5 moves.

When To Call Your Doctor

Babies that do not move at least 5 times within thirty minutes should be checked by your doctor. Movement is an important barometer of your baby’s health.

Sudden increase or decrease in baby’s fetal kick count in the third trimester should also be reported to your doctor, especially if you have health concerns that put you at a high-risk pregnancy.

If your baby doesn’t move within the half hour, don’t panic. Your baby could simply be sleeping. Instead, get up and move around for a few minutes. Grab a bite to eat or drink. After half hour, if your baby still doesn’t seem to be moving, call your doctor immediately. Letting your doctor know that your baby is not moving enough can save their life.

 Other Indicators That Require a Call to Your Doctor 

  • Rupture of membranes (Water breaking)
  • Contractions every 2-5 minutes (more than 5 per hour)
  • Cramps in the lower abdomen with or without diarrhea
  • Temperature over 100 degrees
  • Vaginal spotting or bleeding

Final Thoughts

Monitoring your little one’s fetal kicks can potentially save your baby’s life. If you’ve got questions or concerns regarding your baby’s movements or would like to schedule an appointment to discuss these techniques with your doctor, feel free to give us a call. One of our helpful staff members would be happy to assist you with your needs.

July 26, 2017

Stock up on healthy must have products for summer.Choosing safer sunscreens, bug repellents and hydration products can be a daunting task with aisle after isle of options.  Of course, you want your friends and family to enjoy the great outdoors this summer, but worrying about sun exposure, bug bites, and possible mosquito and tick spread diseases can put a damper on the day faster than a black cloud.

Many products on the shelves these days are chemical ridden and loaded with synthetic ingredients that can be harmful to your body.

Let’s take a look at a few key ingredients to avoid when shopping for summer necessities such as sunscreen, bug repellent, and hydration products. Opt for a few of the safer environmentally-friendly alternatives on our list for a worry-free day of fun in the sun.


Sunscreens are designed to protect your family from harmful radiation from the sun’s UV rays. However, not all sunscreens are created equal, so we’ve created this list of what to avoid and what to seek out when keeping your family protected this summer.

Ingredients to Avoid in Sunscreen

Most sunscreens use the help of synthetic ingredients that are designed to absorb into your skin and block UV rays. However, occasionally these chemicals can lead to adverse reactions ranging from minor skin irritation to tumors.

When shopping for sunscreens, try to avoid anything that has the following chemicals.

  • Vitamin A (Retinyl palmitate/ retinol). Vitamin A can be helpful when ingested, however, when applied to the skin, it has been known to produce tumors and lesions sooner than products without.
  • Oxybenzone. You’ll find this ingredient in many sunscreens on the market. This chemical helps other active ingredients penetrate the skin and can disrupt the hormone system.
  • Octinoxate. This chemical can produce free radicals that can damage the skin.

Sunscreens with bug repellents should also be avoided. Instead, use separate products and apply bug repellent beforehand.

Sprays should be avoided whenever possible. They may seem like a good idea for easy application but they can release harmful-to-breathe chemicals in the air.

Family Friendly Ingredients in Sunscreen

When sourcing sunscreen for your entire family, there are several things you should take into consideration before you buy.

Typically, SPF 15 is recommended for families that plan to spend a good amount of time in the sun. If you or your loved one has especially fair skin, you might want to think about SPF 30 or higher.

UVA protection is also important when it comes to sunscreen. Unfortunately, sunscreens don’t label their bottles based on UVA protection. Instead, you’ll have to take a look at the active ingredients list. Look for one or more of the following active ingredients to determine if your sunscreen will give you adequate UVA protection.

  • Zinc oxide
  • 3% Avobenzone
  • Mexoryl SX
  • Ecamsule

Keep in mind, choosing the correct sunscreen is only half the battle. Using it correctly is also vital for protecting your skin. Re-apply sunscreen often, especially if you’ve been in the water longer than 20-30 minutes.

Bug Repellent

Bug repellent has become a summer necessity, especially with all the mosquito and tick diseases floating around. Choosing to protect your family from itchy bug bites may seem like an easy decision, but before you go out and spray down, you should learn about what you’re putting on your skin.

Ingredients to Avoid in Bug Repellent

Always remember that bug repellents are harmful chemicals and should be used with caution. Spray repellents on clothing rather than directly on the skin when possible.

Keep bug sprays and chemicals out of reach of young children.

Avoid using outdoor ‘foggers,’ candles, or aerosol sprays that can release chemicals into the air. These chemicals often get the job done, however, they can be harmful to you and your family to breathe in, as well as for the environment.

While DEET is an effective bug repellent, anything over 30% is considered excess unless in extreme circumstances.

Safe and Effective Ingredients in Bug Repellents

Instead of looking for a name brand bug repellent, there are certain active ingredients you should be aware of. Take a look at some of the safe and effective ingredients below and experiment to find your favorite.

  • Picaridin
  • IR3535
  • DEET (30% or below preferred)
  • Oil of Eucalyptus (Or Synthetic version PMD)

Each of the above ingredients has been shown to be effective at keeping bugs at bay while remaining safe for your family.

Hydration Products

Everyone knows the importance of staying hydrated throughout the hot summer months. Many people don’t realize just how much sun they’re getting or how much water they lose through sweat which can make the risk of dehydration all the more dangerous. However, there are right and wrong ways to beat the heat.

Ingredients to Avoid in Hydration Products

The first thing many people go to when quenching their thirst on a hot summer day is a sports drink. The common misconception is how healthy sports drinks are. The truth is, they are often loaded with sugars, high fructose corn syrup, and artificial dyes.

While electrolytes are great for replenishing water after a long day of sweating and expending energy, the majority of people don’t workout hard enough to need electrolytes replenished. Instead, you wind up consuming an overabundance of sodium.

If you’re going to use a sports drink to re-hydrate, be aware of what you and your family are consuming. Read the labels and choose accordingly.

Alternatives to Hydration Products

The best alternative to sports drinks and sugary sodas is plain water. However, if water doesn’t get you excited, you can supplement yourself in other ways.

Fruits and vegetables are an excellent source for hydration for adults and children alike. Try some of the following fruits and veggies that have high water content for a happy, healthy summer.

  • Coconut Water
  • Oranges
  • Mango
  • Celery
  • Cucumber
  • Carrots

Final Thoughts

Many summer products you’ll find can contain harmful ingredients to either your family or the environment. We hope with the help of this guide you’ll be able to make healthier decisions about the products you choose for your family this summer.

With a little research, sourcing sunscreen, bug repellent, and hydration products that will suit your family’s needs should be relatively easy. If you’d like to learn more about healthier options for your loved ones, feel free to give us a call.

Our friendly staff is always happy to answer any questions you may have or schedule an appointment to discuss your summer health goals.

July 12, 2017

Menstrual cramps have many treatments and potential remedies.Women have been debating for centuries on the best ways to treat their period cramps. Fortunately, you no longer have to rely on ‘old-wives-tales’ for dealing with pain associated with cramps. Instead, you can make informed decisions based on medical evidence.

While every woman’s body responds differently to each of the methods below, you’re certain to find at least one that works for you. Once you do, stick with it and take control over your life again.

Dull throbbing pain, sharp pains that take your breath away or even nausea and radiating lower back pain can be resolved by simple changes to your routine.

Lifestyle Changes to Treat Period Cramps

Making proper lifestyle changes can help lessen the pain associated with menstrual cramps. Adding diet and exercise to your daily routine is one of the best ways to alleviate pain and stress that comes with your monthly cycle.

Let’s take a look at some of the best ways to incorporate lifestyle changes into your routine so that you’ll be able to get through your period with reduced cramping.

Foods for Cramps

Some of the best foods to help treat cramps due to PMS are loaded with healthy fats and lots of water. Before and during your period, your uterus begins to contract and prepare to dispel its lining. During this time you’ll experience cramping but there are certain dietary changes you can determine the level of pain you feel.

When shopping for foods that will lessen the severity of your menstrual cramps, try some that contain higher levels of the following:

  • Vitamin E
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids
  • Vitamin B-1 (thiamine)
  • Vitamin B-6
  • Magnesium

Let’s go over a few specific foods that are ideal for eating during PMS and throughout your menstruation that keeps you feeling as good as possible. Foods that are low-fat and high-fiber are going to be your best bet.

  • Whole grains
  • Lentils and beans
  • Fruits
  • Nuts
  • Dark leafy vegetables
  • And of course, don’t forget to load up on lots of water!

Remember, avoiding alcohol and tobacco during your period is another great way to reduce hurting from cramps. Comfort foods that contain high levels of salt or fat can also have adverse effects on cramps.

Exercises for Cramps

Some studies have shown that physical activity can combat hormone-like substances that can cause cramps. Many exercises can also help alleviate muscle tension and reduce inflammation which can lessen the severity of your period cramps.

Any exercises that deal specifically with your ‘core’ are ideal for stretching and relieving painful cramps. For example, there are many yoga poses that don’t have to be strenuous to be effective.

Physical activity also releases endorphins that make you feel good overall. So, why not? Take a spin class or walk to work during your period.

Other Home Remedies for Menstrual Cramps

There are several things you can do at home before seeing a doctor to get your menstrual cramps under control and take your life back. Today we’ll go over a few traditional methods, along with a couple alternative ways to reduce pain associated with cramps.

  • Over the counter medicine. Taking anti-inflammatory pills or medication designed to reduce pain such as Ibuprofen (Advil/Motrin), Aspirin (Tylenol), or Naproxen (Aleve) can combat your PMS symptoms.
  • Apply heat. Heat works in several ways to reduce your pain. It relieves muscle tension and relaxes your entire body. Take a long, hot bath, or apply a heating pad/patch to your lower abdomen for optimal results. Many experts agree that heat may be just as effective for treatment of cramps as over the counter medication.
  • Elevate legs. Lay on your back or side with a pillow supporting and elevating your legs from the knee up.
  • Try pads instead of tampons. During the most painful times of your menstrual period, you may want to consider using a pad as opposed to a tampon to prevent additional pressure.
  • Acupuncture or acupressure. Many women swear by these treatments for their period cramps. Always, consult an expert when attempting alternative treatments for cramps such as these.

It’s important to remember, there’s no one way to treat cramps for every woman. Find the treatment that works for you and stick to it!

When to See a Doctor for Your Cramps

While most women won’t need to see a doctor for their cramps, there are several instances that require attention. For example, if your period cramps are so unbearable that they are affecting your daily life, it may be time to speak with your doctor.

Generally, lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise or over the counter medicine provide enough relief that you will never need to see your OB/GYN. However, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible if you’re experiencing any of the following issues.

  • Cramps that last longer than your period.
  • Menstrual cramps that take over your life.
  • Cramps that become progressively worse.
  • Home remedies are having no effect on the severity of cramps.
  • Women over the age of 25 who recently started to have severe cramps due to period.

Your doctor may find that the cramps you have are related to an underlying disorder. In most cases, they will offer you a prescription drug for pain, or a hormonal birth control to reduce symptoms. However, for severe problems, surgery may even be required to correct the issue.

Final Thoughts

Experiencing monthly cramps that take over your life isn’t something that you should have to deal with. Use some of the above home remedies to alleviate stress and pain due to cramps and take back your life.

If you’re concerned about the severity of your cramps before or during your period, don’t hesitate to give us a call. Our staff is more than happy to answer any questions you may have and schedule an appointment with your OB-GYN.

July 11, 2017

It is usually safe for a couple to have sex during pregnancy.It’s completely normal to be worried about protecting the health and safety of your developing baby. Many couples, especially first-time parents, worry about how pursuing intimacy in their relationship will affect the little one growing inside mama.

Which brings us to the age-old question. Is sex safe during pregnancy?

The simple answer is yes, for normal pregnancies sex while your pregnant is fine. However, there are a few things you should be aware of before jumping into the sack.

Change in Your Libido

While some women crave sex during pregnancy, it’s the last thing on other women’s minds. Pregnancy can affect your body in ways you’d never expect. So, based on your hormonal functions, you may not be in the mood.

Some things that can have an effect on your libido early on during pregnancy include:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Breast tendency

Later in your pregnancy, things such as weight gain, and back pain can dampen your enthusiasm for sexual intercourse.

Keep in mind, your partner can be affected by your pregnancy as well. Their desires may be toned down to fatigue, or simply anxious about hurting the baby during intercourse.

When is Sex Safe During Pregnancy?

For the most part, sex during pregnancy is completely safe for everyone involved. Your developing baby is protected by both the amniotic fluid in your uterus and the strong muscles of the uterus itself.

Sexual activity won’t affect the baby in the least.

You may be wondering about alternative forms of sex as well. While some alternative sexual activities are completely safe for both you and baby, others might be more detrimental to your health.

  • Oral Sex. When receiving oral, make sure your partner doesn’t blow air into your vagina. In some rare instances, doing so can block a blood vessel (air embolism) which can be harmful to both mother and baby.
  • Anal Sex. Vaginal sex should be avoided directly after anal sex to prevent infection-causing bacteria from spreading from the rectum to the vagina. Occasionally, pregnant women may find anal sex uncomfortable due to pregnancy-related hemorrhoids.

If you are pregnant and plan to have sex with someone you are not in a monogamous relationship with, using condoms is recommended to protect against possible transmission of STDs.

Any sexual position that you feel comfortable is completely safe. However, towards the second trimester, you’ll likely feel more comfortable in positions that are not directly putting pressure on your back.

When is Abstinence Recommended?

During your final weeks of pregnancy, your doctor may suggest abstaining from sex. Both female orgasms and semen can stimulate contractions. This is due to the release of a chemical called prostaglandins which is said to trigger contractions when you’re close to your due date late in the third trimester.

If you have a history of pre-term labor or have any of the following conditions your doctor will likely recommend practicing abstinence during the remainder of your pregnancy.

  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Leaking amniotic fluid
  • Carrying multiples
  • Placenta is covering (partially or completely) the cervical opening

Sex with a partner that has been diagnosed with an STD or STI should be avoided due to possible risk of your or your baby contracting the STD. At the very least, it’s important to use protection as always when any sexual activity with a person that has been diagnosed with any STD.

Final Thoughts

While usually, sex is safe during pregnancy. However, there are certain conditions that may require abstinence. Experiment with a mixture of positions throughout your pregnancy that offer the most support and comfort during sexual activities.

Don’t hesitate to give us a call to schedule an appointment with your doctor. Our caring staff is always available to answer any questions or concerns via phone regarding sexual intercourse during your pregnancy as well.

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