Pelvic organ prolapse: How a pessary changed my life

Pessaries and pelvic organ prolapseI’ve heard pelvic organ prolapse described as a silent epidemic.  Why so hush hush for a condition that affects possibly 50% of women over 50?   I had heard of a prolapsed uterus.  But, my very large, uncomfortable, growing, fleshy protrusion in the fall of 2010 was my bladder.  Why me?  I am thin, fit and active.  A gynecologist and urologist performed the corrective surgery in 2011. Since the gynecologist believed that the uterus contributed to pushing the bladder out of place, I opted for a hysterectomy in addition to having mesh sewn into the vaginal wall to keep the bladder in place. Although I had more than 400 stitches, recovery was painless and quick.  All was well for 18 months.

In August 2012, I returned to the urologist due to spot bleeding and feeling the rough edges of the mesh protruding into the vagina and out.  He dismissed my concerns by saying that, as we age, we have weak areas of our body.  What?  I was angry, incredulous and confused.

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The 2014 flu shot: What’s new and why get it now

vaccine imageNow is a great time to roll up your sleeve because the flu vaccine takes two weeks to kick in, says Elizabeth Jones, M.D., a family physician at the University of Michigan Health System’s Livonia Health Center. Everyone 6 months of age and older is encouraged to get their yearly flu vaccine, ideally in the fall.

More must-know flu season information

Needle-free season for kids. New this year, the nasal spray vaccine has become the preferred flu vaccine for healthy children ages 2-8. Studies suggest it may work better than a flu shot in younger children. But don’t delay getting vaccinated to find the nasal spray vaccine, Jones says.

A boost for seniors. Adults age 65 and older, there’s an alternative for you: a high-dose vaccine that new research shows is 24 percent more effective at preventing flu. As we age our immune system Continue reading

Are you getting enough calcium?

Information about women and calciumWhen we’re young, we’re often told to drink our milk. That’s good advice for adults as well. Whether it’s drinking milk or getting calcium from other food sources, it’s important for adult women to get 1,000 mg of calcium daily. That number jumps to 1,300 mg daily for women over the age of 71, possibly due to lower estrogen levels or because poorer utilization makes it harder for their bodies to store and use calcium.

You can get the amount of calcium you need daily by drinking three glasses of milk (8 ounces each), or the equivalent of soymilk fortified with calcium, or eating 3 ounces of cheese or about 1 1/2 cups of tofu. There are other foods that contain calcium, but these are the three most common sources. For example, kale contains calcium, but you’d have to eat about 15 servings to get enough calcium.

Look at your daily diet and if you’re not getting enough calcium through your food choices, add a calcium supplement. You may only need to supplement 60 to 100 mg of calcium daily.
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Heart disease poses threat to new moms

On rare occasions, pregnancy can lead to peripartum cardiomyopathy

161029561On rare occasions pregnancy can lead to peripartum cardiomyopathy, a type of pregnancy-related heart failure once called postpartum cardiomyopathy. Women can develop the condition in the last month of pregnancy or within five months of delivering a baby.

For these women, this type of heart failure can be temporary, or can progress to severe, life-threatening heart failure that requires a heart device to support their weakened heart muscle.

While peripartum cardiomyopathy is rare (occurring in 1 of every 2,500 to 4,000 pregnancies which translates to about 1,000 to 1,300 cases in the U.S. each year), some women are at higher risk than others. It is more common among women who are older, African American, carrying multiples, or who have high blood pressure or preeclampsia.

The cause of peripartum cardiomyopathy is not well understood, but active research is underway to learn more. Early diagnosis improves women’s outlook for recovery. Continue reading

Another path to Motherhood: I thought not giving birth to my own babies would make me less of a mom

After two kidney transplants and multiple miscarriages, IVF with gestational surrogacy brought Sarah the family she dreamed of

Sarah and Brian Scantamburlo with son Gianluca.

Sarah and Brian Scantamburlo with son Gianluca.

The 2-year-old boy who calls me mommy has big, brown eyes, his dad’s curly Italian hair from his own youth and is a lover of all things Nick Jr.

Many people say children are gifts but Gianluca is so much more than that in many ways – he is the blessing we feared would never be possible.

Being his mom means joining him on his little boy adventures, watching his face light up with wonder when he spots a big truck and giggling with him when he feels Play-Doh in his hands. He is the amazing light at the end of the years-long tunnel of infertility.

And on Tuesday, May 27, Gianluca became a big brother to our newborn son Paolo.

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Baby blues & beyond: New ways to help new moms with depression

From talk therapy to yoga, U-M team offers care and a chance to help others through research

Postpartum depression affects many women in the first months after a baby is born.

Postpartum depression affects many women in the first months after a baby is born.

They’re supposed to be the happiest times of your life, right? But being pregnant or a new mom can have a dark side – temporary or lasting depression.

How quickly you get help, and what kind of help you get, for symptoms like moodiness, insomnia and loss of appetite can make a big difference for you and your baby.

Maria Muzik, M.D., M.S., who leads a University of Michigan clinic focused on mental health during pregnancy and the first year of a child’s life, offers more information on this important issue. May is the awareness month for these issues.

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