Voted "Best OB-GYN" in Towne Lake, Woodstock and Canton Voted "Mom-Approved OBs" by Atlanta Parent magazine readers
May 11, 2017
Dr. James Cross in the New Northside Hospital Cherokee Atrium

Dr. James Cross in the New Northside Hospital Cherokee Atrium.

James Cross, MD, founder of Cherokee Women’s Health Specialists, was the first OB-GYN in Georgia to offer epidurals to women in labor. He was among the original 17 obstetricians who opened Atlanta’s Northside Hospital. And in 1993, he came out of retirement to single-handedly provide OB services for metro Atlanta’s Cherokee County, delivering babies in the facility that is now Northside Hospital Cherokee. His presence was credited for cutting in half the perinatal morbidity and mortality rate for the county’s babies, a rate which before his arrival had been among the highest in the state.

James Cross, MD, still practicing medicine at 86 years old, has made his mark in Obstetrics History in metro Atlanta over the past half century.

As the glamorous new Northside Hospital Cherokee opens its doors, we thought it was a good time to interview the obstetrician whose memories span six decades, and who has delivered over 15,000 babies during his career in medicine.

Introducing Epidurals To Atlanta’s Pregnant Women: From Texas Air Force Base to the South

We meet with Dr. Cross on the campus of the new Northside Hospital Cherokee, three weeks before the facility is to open. A utility truck outside the wing of the Women’s Center lifts a window washer high against the plate glass windows, while Dr. Cross enters the soaring main atrium and marvels at the hanging chandelier. He shakes his head and laughs. “More like a hotel, don’t you think?” He is cheerful and spry, wearing his white doctor’s coat and remarking he is “happy to do anything” to spread the news about the new hospital. “A hospital makes all the difference in a community,” he says, with the air of someone who has said it hundreds of times.

Born in a small Colorado mining town in 1931, James Cross (“Jim” to friends and family) graduated from college when he was 19. With a degree in Chemistry and the encouragement of his professors, he was in medical school four days later.

OB-GYN Residency Class at Grady Hospital Dr. James Cross

Dr. Cross with his OB-GYN Residency class at Grady Hospital. He is at the far right of the front row.

After three years training in Emory University’s OB-GYN residency at Grady Memorial Hospital, the young doctor was stationed at the Amarillo Air Force base. There he delivered 2,600 babies in four years. More significantly, he learned the then-innovative practice of administering epidural analgesia. Previously, laboring women were given ether to dull the pain of childbirth, resulting in not only sleepy mothers, but also oxygen-deprived babies, who emerged in a ‘twilight sleep” with impaired breathing and a telltale blue skin color. Dr. Cross comments that mothers given ether often slept for hours, or even days, waking up “only when the hairdresser got there.”

Spinal anesthesia, which was later used in place of ether, had equally undesirable complications such as headache, compromised blood pressure, spinal damage, infection etc.

Upon Dr. Cross’s return to Georgia and a practice at Georgia Baptist Hospital, he immediately introduced the use of epidurals for laboring mothers, becoming, he believes, the first physician to employ the technique in Georgia. He says with a smile, “I’m happy to report that epidurals have been used now for decades all across the country.” He comments that the benefits were much reduced side effects over former pain treatments, a drop in the Caesarean rate down to about 5-6%. Furthermore, administering epidurals was delegated to anesthesiologists, freeing obstetricians to attend to critical matters that might arise during a delivery. Best of all, he says, babies came into the world a healthy pink, crying, alert and wide awake. “It was nice to see those babies finally come out squalling,” he exclaims.

He went on to help establish an epidural training program for more than 30 residents over the next decade at Georgia Baptist Hospital.

Northside Hospital Atlanta: Helping To Open the Country’s Largest Maternity Hospital

In 1967 Dr. Cross joined the staff and building committee at Northside Hospital in Atlanta. Three years later, he watched proudly as Northside Hospital Labor and Delivery opened its doors. “There were 17 of us OB-GYN’s when we started,” he relates. “I remember we were shortchanged one delivery room, but it all worked out,” he chuckles. With visible pride, he fondly points out that Northside Hospital Atlanta has today evolved into the largest maternity hospital in the country.

In the interim, Dr. Cross helped found the OB-GYN practice Atlanta Women’s Specialists in 1968, a practice that eventually expanded into four offices, including a residency program with 6 doctors. Over the next two decades, he states, he strove to make sure that no physician at any of those clinics was overworked, overwhelmed, or otherwise “prevented from providing quality care.”

“It was a growing process – one step at a time. If you give patients quality care and are hardworking, they respect you.”

Dr. Cross speaks about his philosophy of care, that he considered every patient “family,” treating each one as such. He says, “you can be honest, but tactful,” to strengthen the resolve of pregnant women to change the way they treat their bodies. He encouraged healthy diets, smoke and drug cessation, careful vigilance of medicinal products, and weight loss. He felt that though women may sometimes be resistant to change, once they begin to take care of themselves – thus insuring the additional health of their unborn children – they realize and appreciate the positive benefits. By approaching them the same way he would any female in his own family circle, they became receptive to his advice and genuine concern.

Dr. Cross also developed a unique approach, whereby pregnancy was not a sole female issue, but a family one, involving fathers and children in the whole process. A post natal care appointment was not attended only by the woman. The partner was also involved, especially when the couple decided that their family was complete and they no longer wished to have children. It was then that Dr. Cross would explain to them both that modern cosmetic and reconstructive surgeries could transform the woman’s internal and external reproductive organs back to the state they were ‘when she was eighteen’, a revelation that often made folks’ “ears perk up like a German Shepherd’s,” Dr. Cross says, smiling and matter-of-fact. He regularly did “at least two such surgeries daily.”

Dr. James Cross smiling at Dad-friendly parking.Raising the Survival Rate for an Entire County’s Newborns

Dr. Cross had begun to contemplate retiring from private practice in Atlanta when he learned of a desperate situation developing in Cherokee County. The county’s local hospital, known then as R.T Jones, was about to lose its certification to deliver babies. Although the staff numbered 50 doctors, no obstetricians remained in this small facility on Atlanta’s rural outskirts. Women in the community were forced to travel long distances for prenatal care and deliveries, driving the morbidity and mortality rates among pregnant women to a whopping 9 1/2%.

To Dr. Cross, the community’s situation seemed dire. The correction would be a Herculean task. Dr. Cross believes that at the time, Cherokee’s 9 1/2% morbidity and mortality rate was among the highest in the state.

With “no hesitation,” he responded to the distress call. “When you see that red flag, you come charging.” Thus in 1993, at the age of 62, Dr. Cross ran straight into his next challenge.

He began in solo practice. For two and a half years, he took calls around the clock, bringing prenatal OB care to the county’s women, delivering their newborns safely.

But in 1994, Dr. Cross faced a setback. Treatment for a bowel obstruction led to the discovery of malignant lymphosarcoma. Confronting a debilitating bout with cancer, he completed extensive chemotherapy, then jumped right back into obstetrics. “I had a nurse stand by at the ready with a basin in case I had to get sick,” he relates. Post-treatment side effects continued to plague him, but he doggedly continued to work, refusing to abandon his post in the growing county.

In 1996, Dr. Cross incorporated his practice, Cherokee Women’s Health Specialists, as the clinic grew to serve the OB-GYN needs of the local population. Perinatal morbidity rates had plummeted drastically. But delivering over 90 babies a month had become a staggering effort, and he began to look for help.

Help came. Dr. Michael Litrel had just completed his OB-GYN residency at Emory University, and joined Dr. Cross in 1997 as his first partner in Cherokee County. A few years later, the hospital began negotiations with Northside Atlanta. And in 2007, R.T. Jones Hospital was bought by Northside, officially becoming Northside Hospital Cherokee. Today, that hospital and the numbers it serves, have grown exponentially, bringing about the need for a larger and more technologically advanced facility which will hold its grand opening in May.

Looking Back – and To the Future

At the time of this interview, Dr. Cross’s wife of 65 years, Becky, was in intensive care following a health crisis. Speaking of her condition off and on throughout the interview, Dr. Cross relates their story in bits and pieces.

In 1952, a young Jim Cross was working as a dog catcher in Canton, when he noticed a beautiful young lady who stepped off the bus at the same stop daily. “I thought to myself, ‘Boy, she is one great looking gal.’” He eventually introduced himself, learning that they did not live too far apart from each other and had several friends in common, including her ex-boyfriend who happened to play on the same baseball team as Jim at the time. The friendship between Rebecca and James evolved until one day he decided to propose. Still in medical school, he told her “I’m starting to run out of money. Why don’t you get a job or two and we can get married?” Dr. Cross relates that Rebecca answered ‘yes’ in a heartbeat. They have been married 65 years.

Dr. Cross expresses deep gratitude for his ’Beck’, narrating how the love, support and patience of his ‘soul mate’ carried them through the lean and busy years. When times got better, she gave him 5 children (none of which he delivered). Together, the Cross family managed to find time to travel all over the globe, forging precious memories that continue to keep them close.

Dr. Cross delivered over 15,000 babies throughout his years as an OB-GYN. Asked about regrets, he relates with wistful melancholy only one story – losing a young mother to an aneurysm. “The child survives today, but we had to take the mother off her life support system a week after the birth.”

Questioned about what technology has contributed most to women’s health, Dr. Cross names ‘computers’ without hesitation. He also credits the fetal monitor and belt for accurately pinpointing any problem during labor, allowing doctors to address those immediately, saving lives and avoiding tragedy. He applauds the co-operation between medical schools which now share information with each other to better medicine and save lives. His personal favorites, however, are the many laser and manual surgical instruments that have been introduced over the decades. “I’m like any fellow with a new toy,” he admits. “I just love to try out new ones to see what they can do.”

Time to Retire—Or Is It?

Dr James Cross at Women's Center of new Northside Cherokee Campus

Dr. James Cross at the Women’s Center of the new Northside Hospital Cherokee Campus.

In 2006, at the respectable age of 75, Dr. Cross delivered his last baby and walked away from everything that had been his career for the past 5 decades.

Dr. Cross stayed retired for three years. “I was never so bored in my entire life.”

When an offer came from Northside Hospital Cherokee, inviting him to join their radiology department in dye studies, Dr. Cross relates that he didn’t walk, but “ran” to get his certification. He is presently called in on an emergency basis 6 to 7 days a month.

He also accepted a position in Marietta specializing in pain management and addiction medicine, where he works every Thursday and Friday, ministering to approximately 75 patients. He has been there for the last 9 years and indicates he has no plans to stop any time soon. At 86 years of age, Dr. Cross still exercises for an hour every day and appears just as dedicated to his newest ventures as he was to Obstetrics.

James Cross, MD, was recently given an honorary staff membership position at Northside Hospital Cherokee.

When asked if looking back, he would do anything differently, Dr. Cross smiles and shoots out, “I’ve been so darn busy, I haven’t had time to think about that.”

Such is the reply of a man not so much reflecting on his long life, but continuing to live it, instead.

May 9, 2017

postoperative careThe physicians at Cherokee Women’s Health Specialists are committed to ensuring that your experience after surgery is as comfortable as possible. The following information will help answer frequently asked questions and will help you understand some of the common experiences that may occur after your surgery. Please do not hesitate to call the office with any additional questions about your recovery.

  • Call the office to schedule a post-operative appointment two to four weeks after your surgery.
  • If an ER visit is necessary post-operatively, go to Northside Hospital Cherokee if possible, but if you are an out of town patient or live in another state, then your closest hospital is appropriate.

Call the office at 770-720-7733 right away if you experience:

  • Fever higher than 100.4 degrees
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Heavy vaginal bleeding
  • Severe pain not relieved with your pain medication
  • Persistent nausea or vomiting
  • Increased pain, redness, or swelling at the incision


How Much Activity Can I Do After Surgery?

General – There are no standard limitations with regards to activity after gynecological surgery except for driving and sexual activity (see below). If you stayed in the hospital overnight, you should plan to rest with minimal activity for at least a week. If you were sent home the same day you should plan to rest with minimal activity for three days. If you had a procedure with no incisions (such as a D and C or endometrial ablation) then you probably only need to rest for a day. Use common sense and listen to your body. Every patient is different, and different patients will have differing degrees of recovery. Gradually advance your activity. If the activity you are doing increases your discomfort, then STOP. If you are feeling well during increased activity but have increased pain the next day you need to decrease your activity.

Adequate rest and nutrition is required to heal from surgery. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY.

Stairs – Apprehension about stairs or weakness in mobility may require help when climbing up and down stairs. You are allowed to use the stairs if you feel you are able. It’s a good idea to put both feet on each step to not lessen the strain on your body for a week or longer after surgery.

Exercise – If you had incisions on your body wait until you get clearance from your surgeon. Use common sense when starting an exercise routine after surgery. Start out slowly and gradually increase time, distance and speed. Once you are cleared to exercise a general recommendation is to start out at 25% of what you were doing before surgery for a week or two and increase by 25% at each one or two week interval.

Driving – Driving should only begin only after you have stopped taking narcotics, and if you feel strong enough to be able to stop the vehicle in an emergency. At this point you should be able to walk up and down stairs comfortably and sit down and stand up without experiencing discomfort. Have someone drive you if you are still experiencing discomfort.

What Should I Eat After Surgery?

After surgery, your body needs enough calories and nutrients to fully recover from the procedure. Eating the right foods after surgery can decrease risk of infection, speed healing of the incision and increase strength and energy. The best post-surgery foods to eat are packed full of vitamins and minerals.

Here are some foods and nutrients you should focus on in your post-surgery diet:

Fiber – A common complaint after surgery is constipation. To avoid this uncomfortable post-surgery complication, eat plenty of fiber. Some high-fiber foods include fresh fruit and vegetables. Whole grain breads and oatmeal are other great sources of fiber. To prevent constipation, avoid foods like dried or dehydrated foods, processed foods, cheese and dairy products, red meats and sweets.

Protein – The amino acids in protein help with wound healing and tissue regeneration. Protein can also help with strength and energy following surgery. Lean meats such as chicken, turkey, pork and seafood are excellent sources of protein. You can also get protein from eggs, nuts, beans and tofu. Dairy also contains protein, but if you’re struggling with constipation, go for the other sources of protein instead of dairy options. If you have trouble getting enough protein in your diet after surgery, try adding protein powder to drinks or smoothies. Several Physicians at Cherokee Women’s recommend a Vegan diet which is absence of animal products including meat, dairy and eggs. Eat to Live by Joel Furman MD gives excellent recipes and recommendations for those inclined.

Carbohydrates – Fatigue is common following any surgical procedure, but eating the right kinds of carbs can help restore your energy levels. Get carbs from high-fiber foods like whole grains, fruits and veggies, and beans and legumes. These foods will boost energy levels without causing constipation.

Fat – Healthy fats from olive oil, avocados, coconut oil, nuts and seeds will improve immune response and aid the body’s absorption of vitamins. Fat will also help increase energy levels after surgery.

Vitamins and Minerals – Perhaps the most important nutrients in your post-surgery diet are vitamins and minerals. Vitamin A (found in orange and dark green veggies like carrots, sweet potatoes, kale and spinach) and vitamin C (found in citrus fruits, berries, potatoes, tomatoes, melons, and sweet bell peppers) help with wound healing. Vitamin D (found in milk, fish, eggs, and fortified cereals) promotes bone health. Vitamin E (found in vegetable oils, nuts, beef liver, milk and eggs) protects the body from free radicals. Vitamin K (found in green leafy veggies, fish, liver and vegetable oils) is necessary for blood clotting.

Zinc – (found in meat, seafood, dairy and beans) and Iron (found in meat and poultry, beans, apricots, eggs, whole grains and iron-fortified cereals) are also helpful for wound healing and energy following surgery.

Water – In addition to eating foods that are rich in fiber, protein, healthy fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, you must stay hydrated after surgery. Proper hydration isn’t only necessary for healing, but may also be necessary to help your body absorb medications following surgery. Be sure to drink at least eight glasses of water every day after surgery to stay hydrated.

The foods you should and shouldn’t eat can vary depending on the type of surgery and any medications you may be on so speak with your surgeon about your specific post-surgery dietary questions.

When Can I Take a Shower?

You may take a shower the day after surgery. Baths are typically fine the day after surgery if you desire. Make sure you have someone around to help you should you need assistance. If you are experiencing discomfort a sponge bath is a fine substitute.

How Should I Care For My Incisions?

Keep your abdominal incisions clean and dry. No special creams or ointments are needed. Your incisions are closed with a suture underneath your skin, which will dissolve on its own. It is then covered with a surgical-grade liquid band-aid. This protects the incision and will stay in place for up to two weeks or longer. The glue can be removed after two weeks by applying some Vaseline to the glue for several minutes and then using soap and water and gentle scrubbing with a washcloth after two weeks. A small amount of bleeding at the incision sites is not uncommon. If it persists, call your doctor. Once the glue is removed it is OK to apply Neosporin to the incisions if they are red or inflamed. If you notice sutures poking through the skin you can trim them with nail clippers and/or see your surgeon.

How Long Will I Have Bleeding After Surgery?

Vaginal spotting may last for several weeks after gynecological surgery. Call the office if you have heavy bleeding, increasing bleeding, a foul odor, or if you have urinary or rectal bleeding. Removal of ovarian cysts or other gynecological procedures may cause your period to come within a few days after surgery.

I Have Large Bruise Near My Incision, Is That Normal?

Some patients will develop bruises at the incision sites. The incision sites are made by “trocars”, a plastic sleeve that is used for access during the surgery for the camera and for instruments. Sometimes these trocars cut tiny vessels just beneath the skin that cause limited bleeding. Even under the best of circumstances, it is sometimes impossible to see these small vessels. A bruise will develop that will resolve. Those patients with very large masses or fibroids may also develop bleeding at the incisions that can be more extensive due to longer manipulation of the trocar sites. Rarely, this bleeding can be very extensive, leading to a large bruise that tracts to the groin area. Please note that this type of bleeding almost always resolves. Pain or warmth may develop from the blood under the skin. Use Motrin 600 mg every six hours or 800 mg every eight hours to relieve the pain.

How Much Pain Will I Have After Surgery?

Incision – Pain around the incision sites is not uncommon, and will resolve over several days. Most patients describe pain as minimal or moderate, and will improve daily.

Pelvic and Rectal – Some patients describe pressure and pain with urination or with bowel movements. These symptoms resolve and are due to irritation to the rectum and bladder from the surgical procedure, and will resolve with time.

Chest and Shoulder – If you had laparoscopic surgery, the carbon dioxide gas used to insufflate the abdomen during the procedure (so the surgeon can see) will irritate the phrenic nerve in some patients, leading to mild to severe pain. This nerve tracks pain impulses from the lining of the chest cavity. The pain can occur during deep breaths. This resolves within two to three days, and is not worrisome. If the pain is extreme or does not resolve, a visit to the local ER is important to rule out other causes of chest pain, such as heart or lung issues.

Sore Throat – Some patients will have a sore throat from the tube that is placed during anesthesia. Throat lozenges or warm tea will help soothe the discomfort, and this will resolve within a few days.

General – Pain should resolve over time, and will get better every day. If pain persists or becomes worse, a visit to the ER at the hospital where the procedure was performed is recommended.

How Should I Manage My Pain After Surgery?

You will be given a prescription for Motrin and a narcotic (Percocet, Norco or Dilaudid) at the hospital prior to your discharge. To be effective, Motrin should be used in doses of 600 mg every six hours, or 800 mg every eight hours. Narcotics should be used sparingly since they will cause constipation. The first several days following surgery, most patients use mainly Motrin during the day, with use of a narcotic sometimes at night to help with sleep. Using a heating pad on the lower abdomen is safe. Coughing can be uncomfortable initially because of abdominal discomfort. Placing a pillow on the abdomen to support your abdomen while coughing can be helpful.

Is It Normal to Have Swelling?

Abdominal – Some degree of abdominal distension (swelling) is to be expected after surgery. This is due to distension of the intestines, and resolves over time. It is usually mild to moderate only.

Extremities – Swelling of the legs and sometimes arms is not uncommon after surgery. This is due to increased fluid given during the procedure. This will resolve over several days. If you notice persistent or increasing swelling, tenderness to the calf or calf pain, please call the office immediately. If one leg is more swollen and red than the other you should be evaluated by your surgeon or in the emergency room because of the risk of a blood clot in your leg (DVT) that can be life threatening.

I Have Constipation, What Should I Do?

Constipation is common after surgery and usually resolves with time and/or treatment. Constipation means that you do not have a bowel movement regularly or that stools are hard or difficult to pass. Constipation can be made worse by narcotic pain medications or decreased activity or decreased fluid intake.

If you are having vomiting in addition to constipation, or if your surgery involved the stomach or intestines, call your surgeon before using medications to treat constipation.

A common approach to constipation after surgery is to take a laxative (eg, magnesium hydroxide [milk of magnesia]) or fiber supplement (eg, psyllium [Metamucil, Hydrocil] or methylcellulose [Citrucel]); this can be taken with a stool softener (eg, docusate [Colace]).

If the initial treatment does not produce a bowel movement within 24 to 48 hours, the next step is to take a stimulant laxative that contains senna (e.g,, Black Draught, Ex-lax, Fletcher’s Castoria, Senokot) or bisacodyl (e.g,, Correctol, Doxidan, Dulcolax). Read the directions and precautions on the package before using these treatments.

If these treatments do not produce a bowel movement within 24 hours, you should call your healthcare provider for further advice.

Once the bowels begin to move, you may want to continue using a stool softener (e.g., docusate (Colace) or a non-stimulant laxative (e.g., MiraLAX/GlycoLax) on a daily basis to keep the stools soft. This treatment may be taken for as long as needed.

I Have Diarrhea, What Should I Do?

Diarrhea sometimes is caused by antibiotics and will resolve once the antibiotics are stopped. A probiotic such as lactobacillus can help with this process. Rarely, severe diarrhea can develop. Call your doctor if you have severe diarrhea, bloody diarrhea, or if your diarrhea is accompanied by fever or worsening pain.

I’m Nauseated, What Can I Do?

Anesthesia is the main cause for nausea immediately after surgery. After the first 24 hours, nausea is more likely caused by either your narcotic pain medication or your antibiotics. You will be sent home with nausea medication such as Phenergan or Zofran. If you are experiencing severe nausea, please call your doctor.

Will I Have Problems With My Bladder?

Is it normal if it hurts when I urinate? — If you have had vaginal surgery, you may feel a pulling sensation during urination or you may feel sore if the urine falls on vaginal stitches. It can be normal to urinate frequently after surgery. Call your surgeon if you have any of the following:

  • Burning with urination
  • Needing to urinate frequently or urgently and then urinating only a few drops
  • Temperature greater than 101ºF or 38ºC (measure with a thermometer)
  • Pain on one side of your upper back that continues for more than one hour or keeps coming back
  • Blood in your urine (you can check to see if this is just vaginal blood falling into the toilet by holding toilet tissue over your vagina)

What Should I Do if it is Difficult to Urinate?

Most women urinate at least every four to six hours, and sometimes more frequently. If you have not urinated for six or more hours (while you are awake) or if you feel the need to urinate and it will not come out, you should call your healthcare provider. Urinary retention is the inability to pass urine through the bladder.

A very small number of patients will develop this problem due to the anesthetic used for the surgery or if they had incontinence surgery. If you are sent home and are not able to pass urine, please go to a local emergency room. A catheter may be placed to allow the bladder to “rest” after the surgery, and will be removed several days later in the office. It is important to have this catheter placed to avoid injury to the bladder. If you have a self cath kit and instructions how to use it, you may do this instead of seeking medical care. (You can look at a video by Bard on Youtube called “Female Self-Cath Instructional video (animated) Magic3” or watch other available videos on cherokeewomenshealth.com or on YouTube.)

When Can I Resume Sex?

Intercourse should be avoided until cleared by your surgeon. If your surgery did not involve the vagina or cervix, intercourse can typically resume in two to three weeks. If you had a hysterectomy or surgery in the vagina, you should avoid intercourse for a minimum of eight weeks to allow the top of the vagina to fully heal. Make sure you are examined by your surgeon and cleared. Avoid deep penetration initially until you are completely comfortable. Clitoral orgasm (stimulating the clitoris without vaginal penetration) is typically fine after gynecological surgery if you desire unless you had surgery on your labia minora or majora (in which case you need to get clearance from your surgeon.)

April 24, 2017

Natural Childbirth is a labor and delivery that does not include the use of routine medical interventions, particularly anesthesia, the most common forms being epidurals and spinal blocks. It also attempts to minimize surgical interventions such as episiotomies, forceps, and caesarean sections.

Many women prefer natural childbirth.A natural childbirth may occur in a hospital while under the supervision of a physician or midwife, or at home assisted by a midwife. Statistics show that in 2008 approximately 39 percent of documented vaginal births in the United States were natural.

Natural Child Birth Options

Pregnant women who are approaching their due date may often become anxious about the process of delivering a healthy baby and what it may entail. In order to relieve any unnecessary anxiety or concern, it is helpful to become informed about childbirth, which options are available and have a birth plan ready for when it is time for delivery.

It is important to speak with your health care provider to explore both natural and medical options for you and your baby. This way you can be prepared and empowered to make a decision. Each birth is different, and the health of mother and baby is ultimately paramount.

The following are different options that are available as an alternative to medical interventions.


Massage stimulates your body to release endorphins that can help ease the pain, reduce anxiety and make contractions feel less intense. Massage can be performed on the shoulders, back, feet/hands and the perineal area.

Breathing and Relaxation Exercises

This can include a variety of methods such as mindfulness and meditation, specific breathing techniques, vocalization, visualization, and progressive muscle relaxation.


A form of Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupressure can be used to apply pressure on specific points to provide pain relief, calm anxiety and encourage an efficient labor. This can be learned and practiced on yourself or by your partner.

Positioning and Movement

Certain birth positions have been favored in natural childbirth including squatting, and being on hands and knees versus the traditional lithotomy – laying on the back with hips and knees flexed – position. Walking, gentle stretching and the use of a birthing ball can also be helpful in the labor process.

Hot and Cold Therapy

Intermittent heat and cold in the form of warm and cold packs may be used on the lower back, lower abdomen and perineum during labor to help with pain and discomfort.


This is an integrative mind-body technique which can aid women to replace fear and expectations of pain with expectations of a safe, gentle and comfortable birth. It can be self-performed or performed by a partner using deep breathing, vocabulary cues or visualization.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to childbirth today, women have a variety of options to explore and choose from. It is important that you feel as comfortable, prepared and relaxed as possible when preparing for your labor and delivery.

Being educated about both natural and traditional medical birth options will allow you and your doctor to make an informed plan that best suits you and your baby’s needs.

Please don’t hesitate to call with any further questions or concerns you may have regarding Natural Childbirth.

Prenatal vitamins help with a healthy pregnancy.Healthy nutrition is important throughout life, and especially during pregnancy. Even with a wide variety of whole foods, a mother and baby may require nutrients above and beyond what is contained in food. Think of prenatal vitamins as insurance to make sure you are getting all of the essential nutrients during pregnancy.

Whether currently pregnant or planning to become pregnant, women can benefit from taking prenatal vitamin and mineral supplements as early as possible. It is particularly important if you meet any of the following criteria:

  • Follow a vegetarian or vegan diet
  • Are lactose intolerant or have other food intolerance
  • Smoke or abuse other substances
  • Have a blood disorder
  • Have an eating disorder
  • Experience chronic disease
  • Have had gastric bypass surgery
  • Are having twins or higher multiples

Even if you do not fall into these categories, ensuring you get all of your nutrient requirements daily will help give you optimal strength and energy levels. It will also give your baby the best head start possible during all of the important stages of development in the womb.

Important Vitamins and Minerals Before and During Pregnancy

You may be wondering which nutrients are especially important when pregnant, and how to choose the best supplement. Consult with your health provider to discuss your individual needs and which prenatal vitamins you should take before, during and after pregnancy.

  • Many pregnant women do not get enough of this mineral from their diet to meet the body’s increased need. This can lead to a deficiency called anemia, in which the blood has a low number of healthy red blood cells. Iron supports the baby’s growth and development and can cut your risk for preterm delivery, low birth weight and even infant mortality.
  • Folic Acid. This B vitamin is important to take even if you are in the planning stages of conceiving. The body absorbs the synthetic version of folic acid better than the natural one typically found in food, so even with a balanced diet, a folic acid supplement is recommended. It can reduce your baby’s risk of neural tube, heart, and other defects.
  • Iodine is important for healthy thyroid function during pregnancy. It can also lower the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth and stunted fetal growth and development.
  • Calcium helps your baby grow a healthy heart, strong bones, and teeth, nerves, and muscles as well as develop a normal heart rhythm. It can also reduce your risk of hypertension and preeclampsia. This mineral is important even after you give birth and if you are breastfeeding.
  • Vitamin D. This vitamin is necessary for the absorption and metabolism of Calcium and Phosphorus. It is beneficial for immune function, healthy cell division and bone health in both mother and baby.

You may be wondering if you should be concerned about other nutrients. Not all prenatal vitamins include omega-3 fatty acids which may help promote your baby’s brain development. Your health care provider may recommend this or other supplements, particularly if you do not eat fish or other omega-3 rich foods.

Which Prenatal Vitamin Should I Take?

There are many prenatal vitamins available in pharmacies to purchase over-the-counter. Consult with your health care provider if you are unsure which specific brand best meets your needs. He or she may recommend a prenatal vitamin that has the proper doses of nutrients for your particular circumstance.

Final Thoughts

If you still have questions or concerns about prenatal vitamins, don’t hesitate to contact us. Our physicians at Northside Hospital Cherokee provide nutritional counseling and can quickly get you on the right path to the proper allotment of vitamins and supplements for you and your little one on the way.

April 3, 2017

It is critical that women receive various health checks at different age ranges as recommended by your doctor. When you break down health screening by age, it can help you to stay on track and take preventative measures.

There are many key reasons to receive regular health check-ups, and by screening for medical issues or assessing your risk for future medical problems, you can maintain a healthy lifestyle at every age.

Women Ages 18-21

  • Physical Examination: At this stage of your life, you should have full physical examinations. A physical exam includes blood pressure testing and an assessment of height, weight, and BMI to help determine your need for early diabetes screenings.

    The purpose of these screenings is to evaluate risk for future health issues. You will be able to discuss lifestyle habits with your OB/GYN and keep vaccinations up-to-date.

Women Ages 21-35

  • Pelvic Examination and Pap Smear: Women should receive a pelvic examination every year and Pap smear every 3 years. A Pap test combined with a screening for HPV will help you and your doctor determine your risk of cervical cancer.

    If you are sexually active, you should ask to be screened for chlamydia and gonorrhea to help prevent the spreading to partners. You will also discuss how to take preventive measures against sexually transmitted infections and plan regular testing depending on your lifestyle.

  • Cholesterol Screening: Depending on your weight and lifestyle, starting between the ages of 20 to 40, women should receive cholesterol screenings. If you have normal levels, you only need to be tested every 5 years. By treating high/low cholesterol, you can significantly reduce your risk for heart disease.
  • Clinical Breast Examination (CBE): A breast cancer screening done by your healthcare provider trained in CBE, will strongly aid in early detection. A CBE should be done every 3 years for the average woman, and more frequently for women over the age of 40.

Women Ages 35-50

  • Mammogram: Starting at the age of 40, women should plan to receive mammograms every year to two years. This is an x-ray of the breast, and the results will help your doctor determine if further testing is needed to screen for cancer.
  • Diabetes Screening: Within this age range, women should begin getting screened for diabetes. These screenings help to prevent or treat diabetes which is a disorder of the metabolism.

    Women are evaluated with a blood glucose test to measure the amount of sugar in the blood. If you are overweight or at a greater risk for diabetes, your screenings may be more often, but typically they are done every 3 years.

Women Ages 50 and older

  • Thyroid Testing: If you are at early risk for thyroid issues, you may have already discussed screenings with your doctor. However, if not, you should receive screenings at this age since women over the age of 60 are more likely to have hypothyroidism.

    Hypothyroidism is a condition in which your thyroid does not produce the right quantity of certain critical hormones. Early and regular screenings for an under or  overactive thyroid can help to prevent serious conditions that may be caused if left undetected.

  • Colon Cancer Screening: At age 50, doctors highly recommended that women begin to receive a colonoscopy every 10 years or more often if at risk due to family history or other factors. Colonoscopies with other tests frequently done, will help you identify early signs of colon cancer so you can remove precancerous polyps.

Final Thoughts

By using these guidelines listed above for health screenings by age in combination with what your doctor recommends can help resolve and even prevent serious health issues.

If you have not received certain tests as outlined for your age group, call for an appointment to consult with your OB-GYN about setting up additional health screenings.

March 23, 2017

When used correctly and consistently, condoms can be an effective method of birth control and provide protection from STIs.

If you or your partner has a latex allergy or sensitivity to latex, rest assured that there are easily available alternatives to latex condoms. Many are equally useful in the prevention of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.

What is a Latex Allergy?

Latex is a natural rubber that comes from trees.Latex is natural rubber, a product made primarily from the rubber tree. Some people have a reaction to the rubber in latex, which can cause moderate, severe, or even life-threatening reactions.

Allergy to latex is an increasing health problem. In some cases, repeated contact with products containing latex can increase your sensitivity and, with continued use, develop into an allergy.

Symptoms of Latex Allergy

The following are the most common identifiers that you may be sensitive to latex. You’ll find that latex can affect both your skin as well as cause internal respiratory problems.

Below is a list of the most common skin reactions when it comes to latex allergies. These reactions most commonly occur on or near areas that come into direct contact with latex.

  • Hives
  • Burning, itchy rash
  • Contact dermatitis (inflamed or irritated skin)

You may have a latex allergy if you are experiencing any of the following respiratory issues during or after using a latex based condom.

  • Mild to moderate: sneezing, coughing, runny nose, watery eyes.
  • Severe: shortness of breath, swelling of the throat, severe wheezing, loss of blood pressure, tightening of airways.
  • Life-threatening: anaphylaxis.

If you notice one or more of these symptoms after coming in close contact with latex, contact your doctor to get tested for a latex allergy. Furthermore, if you experience severe or life-threatening symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.

Alternatives to Latex Condoms

Condoms are one of the most common types of birth control and STI protection on the market.

A condom is a thin sheath that fits over the erect penis. There are currently three types of male condoms available other than the latex variety.

Let’s take a closer look at some of your options to help you determine which will work best for you. Each has advantages and drawbacks. Ultimately, it’s up to you and your partner to make the right choice for your lifestyle.

Polyurethane Condoms

Polyurethane is a plastic based product that contains no latex.

  • Statistically effective method of birth control when used correctly.
  • Effective in preventing STIs, including HIV, when used correctly.
  • Thinner and sometimes stronger that latex condoms.

Polyisoprene Condoms

Polyisoprene is a newer product made of a non-latex material.

  • Statistically effective method of birth control when used correctly.
  • Statistically effective in preventing STIs, including HIV.
  • Combine the strength of latex with the sensitivity of a thinner condom.

Natural Condoms

Made from the oldest material on the market—the intestinal membrane of a lamb, sometimes known as a lambskin condom.

  • Statistically effective method of birth control when used correctly.
  • NOT effective protection against STIs or HIV, due to tiny pores in the membrane. The pores are small enough to block passage of sperm but will not block transference of STIs or HIV.
  • May not be the right choice for those with animal rights convictions. Not vegan-friendly.
  • May have an odor that some find offensive.

Female condoms are not as popular of choice as traditional condoms. However, you may find that they suit your needs better.

A female condom is a thin plastic pouch that lines the vagina. It is held in place by a closed inner ring, or rim, at the cervix and an outer ring at the opening of the vagina.

  • Statistically effective method of birth control.
  • Some studies suggest that a female condom will work as well as a male condom in preventing STIs, including HIV.
  • May provide some protection of the genital area around the opening of the vagina during intercourse. May reduce the risk of getting and transmitting diseases such as genital herpes or genital warts.
  • Can be inserted up to 8 hours before intercourse.
  • Can be a good option for both partners.

Final Thoughts

There are numerous alternatives to latex condoms. All of the varieties we’ve mentioned require no prescription and can be purchased in pharmacies, stores or vending machines.

Many family planning clinics, school nurses, or university health centers will provide condoms, including non-latex condoms, free of charge.

For the best protection against unplanned pregnancy and STIs, use a condom even when using another method of birth control, such as pills or an IUD. Always use a condom when participating in vaginal, oral, or anal intercourse.

If you have a latex allergy or sensitivity to latex, make an appointment to discuss your options with your OB/GYN.

March 3, 2017

Menopause is a turning point in a woman’s life that can have a significant impact on her health and overall well-being.

Natural menopause is a gradual process that can bring about physical upheaval from hot flashes, night sweats, sleep issues and other symptoms.

Let’s take a look at the different phases of menopause and the signs and symptoms to help determine if you are entering menopause. It will be much less stressful if you are informed and know what to expect.

Perimenopause: An Overview

The transition to menopause is known as perimenopause. It can range 4-7 years prior to actual menopause. The average woman experiences perimenopause at approximately 46 years of age.

During this phase, a woman’s ovaries are beginning to produce less estrogen. Estrogen is the hormone that helps control the menstrual cycle. You will notice a difference in your periods which will vary from woman to woman.

Although periods may become unpredictable, ovulation can still occur, so it is still possible to get pregnant.

In fact, many of the signs and symptoms of perimenopause are similar to pregnancy or PMS including the following.

  • Hot flashes or night sweats
  • Decreased libido
  • Weight gain
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Mood swings

Perimenopausal women will notice these symptoms appear at any time throughout their cycle instead of only 1-2 weeks before menstruation.

Determining whether you’re experiencing perimenopause or may be pregnant can be confusing so consult with your OB-GYN right away if you think you might be pregnant.

Menopause: An Overview

Menopause is the permanent end of menstruation. It is the natural end of a woman’s potential childbearing years. At this point, the ovaries no longer function, menstrual periods have stopped, and it is not possible to become pregnant.

According to the National Institute on Aging, on average, women are 51 years of age at natural menopause. However, a woman is considered to have reached menopause after she has missed her menstrual cycle for 12 consecutive months.

There is no reliable way to predict menopause age. Women have been known to start menopause as young as 40 and as late as 60 years old. Women who smoke tend to begin menopause a few years sooner than non-smokers.

Menopause can be induced, at any age, by certain surgeries and medical treatments. Chemotherapy, pelvic radiation therapy and surgical removal of the ovaries can lead to the sudden onset of menopause.

What To Expect As Your Body Changes

Beginning in your 30s and 40s, the amount of estrogen produced by the ovaries starts to fluctuate. It’s likely you will notice a change in your menstrual cycles. You may begin to skip periods. Flow may be heavier or lighter. Cycles may be shorter or longer in duration. You may have periods less often or more frequently.

Menopause affects each woman differently. Some women reach natural menopause with little or no trouble. Others have severe symptoms that drastically affect their health and lifestyle. The length of time from perimenopause until menopause will also vary from woman to woman.

When menopause begins suddenly as a result of radiation, chemotherapy or surgical removal of the ovaries, the symptoms and adjustments can be more extreme than with naturally occurring menopause.

Signs and Symptoms of Menopause

Numerous signs and symptoms will help you, and your doctor determine if you are entering menopause. Remember, every woman is different. You may experience none, some, or all of these symptoms during perimenopause and menopause.

Hot Flashes and Night Sweats

A hot flash is a sudden feeling of heat that rushes to the face and upper body. Some women have hot flashes several times a day while others only several times a week. A hot flash can last a few seconds or several minutes or longer.

Hot flashes occurring at night are known as night sweats. They may wake you up or make sleep difficult causing you to feel tired and ill-rested the next day. A hot flash can cause temporary red blotches on the chest, back and arms. Both sweating and chills are possible.

Sleep Issues

Menopause can affect your body’s chemistry in other ways as well. Besides having problems associated with night sweats your normal sleep patterns may be disrupted.

Because of the many changes your body is experiencing, you may have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. You may wake up long before your usual time.

Vaginal and Urinary Tract Changes

The lining of the vagina may become thinner, dry, and less elastic as estrogen levels decrease. Vaginal dryness can make intercourse uncomfortable or painful. Vaginal infections may occur more frequently.

The urethra can become dry, inflamed, or irritated causing more frequent urination and an increased risk of urinary tract infections.

Changes In Libido Function

During perimenopause and menopause, the libido may also change, for better or worse. But remember that many factors besides menopause can affect sex drive.

Stress, medications, depression, poor sleep, and relationship problems can all have an immediate impact on your libido.

Menopause Health Risks

Along with menopause comes a greater chance of heart disease (the No. 1 cause of death for U.S. women) and osteoporosis (thinning of the bones). These are areas to be aware of even after other symptoms of menopause have subsided.

Heart health and strong bones are important throughout life, but menopause is the time to get serious about it. Consult your doctor about any lifestyle changes that should be made during menopausal years to maintain a healthy heart.

How Your Doctor Can Help

Your doctor will help you monitor your transition through perimenopause into menopause and beyond. Some women experience only minor changes or discomfort. Others find the menopause years to be quite challenging both physically and mentally.

It is possible that your symptoms will require appropriate treatment to help you navigate your way through menopause more comfortably. Your doctor will work closely with you to find a treatment that will see you through this normal phase of life.

What To Tell Your Doctor About

You know your body better than anyone. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms or have any concerns about your health, contact your doctor right away.

  • Much heavier than normal bleeding during or between menstrual cycles.
  • Periods that occur very close together.
  • Painful urination or frequent urination.
  • Vaginal pain, irritation, itching, or unusual discharge.
  • Uncomfortable or painful sexual intercourse.
  • Sleep problems that interfere with your ability to function and lead a healthy lifestyle.
  • If you think you may be pregnant.

Final Thoughts

If you are entering menopause, it is important to see your doctor on a regularly scheduled basis, according to their recommendations. Between regular appointments, if you have questions, concerns or experience severe symptoms, contact your doctor as soon as possible.

Menopause is a new beginning. Use this time to redefine yourself with positive thoughts. Dedicate yourself to a healthier lifestyle and enjoy life. You’ve earned it.

Being sexually active is a decision that comes with responsibility. As a woman who is sexually active, it is important to be informed about the risks involved as well as how to protect yourself from sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as gonorrhea.

Since these infections can be treated effectively, it is also important to be able to recognize the signs and symptoms in order to get treated as early as possible for the best outcome.

What Is Gonorrhea?

Gonorrhea is a type of STI that is caused by a specific type of bacteria, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, which can infect the mucous membranes of the reproductive tract.

In women this includes:

  • Urethra
  • Cervix
  • Uterus
  • Fallopian tubes

For men the bacteria can infect:

  • Mouth
  • Throat
  • Eyes
  • Urethra
  • Rectum

Gonorrhea is transmitted through direct sexual contact with the penis, vagina, mouth, or anus of a person who is infected.  It can also be transmitted from a mother to baby during childbirth. In infants, gonorrhea most commonly affects the eyes.

You can be re-infected after treatment if you later come into contact with someone who is carrying the bacteria. If you’ve had gonorrhea in the past and suspect you have it again, you should schedule an appointment with your OB/GYN as soon as possible.

Who is at Risk for Gonorrhea?

Statistics show that approximately 820,000 new cases of gonococcal infections occur each year in the United States, well over half of these cases being in young people ages 15-24.

Populations most at risk for contracting gonorrhea are sexually active teenagers, young adults, and African Americans.

Signs and Symptoms of Gonorrhea

While men may or may not experience symptoms such as urethral discharge, women are almost always asymptomatic.

Initial symptoms for women can be mild but may include one or more of the following:

  • You may experience pain or discomfort upon urination. Dysuria is often described as a burning sensation.
  • Increased vaginal discharge. You may experience vaginal discharge beyond what is typical for you throughout your menstrual cycle.
  • Vaginal bleeding. You may experience bleeding outside of regular menstrual bleeding, or after vaginal intercourse.
  • Painful intercourse. Sexual intercourse may feel painful and uncomfortable.
  • Abdominal or pelvic pain. You may experience discomfort or pain in the abdomen or around the pelvic area.
  • Unusual sores or rash. You may notice unusual sores or rash around your vaginal area.
  • Rectal infection. You may experience discharge, itching, soreness and bleeding around the anus. Painful bowel movements may also be a symptom.
  • Pharyngeal infection. Although symptoms are less common, you may experience a sore throat.

Long-Term Problems

Often these symptoms can be mistaken for other ailments such as bladder and vaginal infections. Many women are unaware they have gonorrhea until they visit their doctor for other reasons.

If left untreated, gonorrhea can put you at a high-risk for developing permanent health complications such as Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), and Disseminated Gonococcal Infection (DGI). These are of particular concerns that require immediate treatment in women as they can lead to infertility, pregnancy complications, and scarring of the fallopian tubes.

Gonorrhea can also increase your risk of acquiring or transmitting the HIV virus. If you are experiencing any symptoms, it is important to have them examined by your doctor or another health care provider.

Should You be Tested?

If you experience any of the above symptoms, or if you are having sexual contact with anyone who has been recently diagnosed with an STI you should discuss testing with your health care provider.

The CDC recommends that all sexually active women under the age of 25 and women with risk factors (a new sexual partner, multiple sexual partners or a partner who has an STI) be tested on a yearly basis.

How is Gonorrhea Tested?

Your health care provider will collect and analyze a sample of cells. Samples are typically collected in one of two ways:

  • Urine test. A urine test will determine if there are any bacteria present in the urethra.
  • A swab of affected area. A swab of the throat, urethra, vagina or rectum may be taken to determine if the bacteria is present.

What is the Treatment for Gonorrhea?

The good news is that gonorrhea can be cured with the right treatment.

Treatment frequently involves dual therapy or the use of two antibiotic medications. The CDC recommends that one be taken orally, and one may be administered as a one-time intramuscular injection.

It is important to complete the full course of the medication to ensure the bacteria is eradicated adequately.

These medications can kill the infection. However, they cannot repair any permanent damage done by the disease. It is important to identify and treat symptoms as early as possible.

Remember, your partner should also be treated for gonorrhea if you have been diagnosed to prevent re-infection.

How Can You Prevent Gonorrhea?

If you are sexually active, the first line of defense against gonorrhea is practicing safe sex. Whether having oral, vaginal, or anal sex, the proper use of condoms can reduce the risk of transmission.

The only way to be sure there is no transmission risk of gonorrhea is to temporarily abstain from any type of sexual activity or be in a long-term monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and is not infected.

Final Thoughts

If you are a woman who is currently sexually active with one or more partners, it is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of gonorrhea infection and be examined by your health care provider if you have any concerns.

Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection that can have serious consequences if left untreated. However, when identified early and treated effectively with proper medication, it can be completely cured.

Don’t hesitate to call confidentially with any questions or concerns you may have regarding Gonorrhea or other STIs.

February 28, 2017

At Cherokee Women’s Health Specialists we strive to create a supportive environment that nurtures our patients and also brings lots of smile and laughter.

Here are some more reasons to check us out:

      1. Cumulatively our physicians have 75 years of medical experience under their belts. There’s nothing they can’t handle!
      2. Our staff is always ready with a smile and willing to help our patients.
      3. We’re the only OB-GYN practice in north Georgia with state-of-the-art advanced PAP smear screening technology
      4. Dr. Crigler does push-ups with babies on his back. Yes, really!
      5. Real help with your diet from our vegan and nutrition expert doctors, Dr. Hale and Dr. Crigler. Dr. Haley provides ALCAT testing for patients concerned about food sensitivities
      6. Our mid-wife, Susan, has delivered more than 900 babies!
      7. We offer both ThermiVa and ThermiSmooth treatments
      8. Have you seen our baby boards?
      9. Two great offices in Cherokee County: Woodstock and Canton
      10. We’ve delivered more babies at Northside Hospital Cherokee than all other OB practices combined.

BONUS REASON! (And one of the most important)
11. Our relationships with YOU – our patients – are lifelong!

Dr. Litrel delivered both McAbee sisters and still treats their mom.


February 2, 2017

Birth control is offered in many varieties with different instructions, so it can be confusing for women to know that what they are doing is correct. By using birth control correctly, you can increase its effectiveness.

Different forms of birth control including birth control pills, injections and condoms. Talk to your doctor about which is best for you.Here are the different methods of birth control and the common errors or actions you should avoid to keep yourself protected.

Hormonal Contraception

Hormonal methods of birth control have a low chance of error if used correctly. The pill is a common choice, but the first mistake is selecting the wrong pill for your body and lifestyle. Call your doctor for an appointment today to explore options and make the right decision.

Birth Control Pills

Missing a pill or forgetting to take the pill for a couple of days can negatively affect the way it works. This common error can be helped with certain steps. If you forget your pill, take one as soon as you remember, even if that means you take 2 in one day.

If you forget 2 days of pills, take 2 the day you remember and 2 the following day to get back on track. Use a backup method until your next period.

A big “no, no” when using the pill is to avoid taking rifampin, a drug used to treat tuberculosis, as it interferes with the effectiveness of the pill.

General antibiotics are fine; however, be sure to use another form of birth control if you need to take anti-seizure drugs, anti-HIV drugs, and some anti-fungal medications.

The Patch

The patch is less effective when you apply it at the wrong time of your cycle. To have high effectiveness, you must implement it on the first day of your menstrual cycle or the first Sunday following your period.

Also, be cautious of the day you change your patch, and do not apply it to skin that is moisturized, has make-up, or is ultra-dry.

Vaginal Rings

The vaginal ring releases hormones into the body the same way the pill does. A typical mistake is not inserting it within 5 days of the beginning of your period.

You will also be at risk of getting pregnant while using the ring if you forget to remove it after 3 weeks and don’t replace it within 7 days.

Condoms and Barrier Methods

When using a female condom, common mistakes include not applying enough lubrication and not entering the penis directly into the condom. Make sure to remove the female condom carefully after sex to avoid leakage.

With male condoms, effectiveness is decreased if you do not leave enough space at the tip or do not remove the air before intercourse. Never reuse condoms, and make sure to hold the base when withdrawing. Be sure to check the expiration date before use along with the size and fit.

If a diaphragm is not the right size for you, then it will not be as effective. Be sure to consult your doctor with questions at any point when using contraception. A common mistake to avoid is leaving your diaphragm in for more than 30 hours. Plan to remove the diaphragm or sponge 6 hours after sex and no sooner.

Intrauterine Devices (IUDs)

With IUDs being almost mistake-proof, they are one of the most effective forms of birth control. However, as with the pill, the ring and the diaphragm, the IUD only protects users from pregnancy, not sexually transmitted infections.

Error or lack of effectiveness can arise from not checking the placement of your IUD after insertion. Be sure to check for the string inside your vagina as directed by your physician.

Do not use a copper IUD if you are allergic to copper. If you are not in a committed relationship and have multiple partners, the IUD may not be the right choice for you. Similarly, with other forms of birth control, do not use an IUD if you are pregnant. When taking contraception post-pregnancy, check with your OB for the best course of action.

Final Thoughts

If you are considering birth control or are currently unhappy with your contraception, call your doctor with questions or for an appointment to explore options.

Birth control is primarily designed to protect you from an unwanted pregnancy. It does not provide STD protection, so always use condoms if you are not in a committed relationship or may be at risk for STD exposure. To increase the effectiveness of your birth control, make sure to educate yourself about the risks and follow the appropriate instructions.

« 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 »

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