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    Can COVID-19 Affect Your Menstrual Cycle?

    Can COVID-19 Affect Your Menstrual Cycle?

    Have you noticed something off about your period? Wondering if COVID-19 may be to blame? It’s always a good idea to keep an eye out for changes in your menstrual cycle and talk to your women’s health clinic about anything out of the ordinary. Many women are noticing that their menstrual cycle has changed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. There are some explanations for this, but experts are still researching the effects.

    Women’s Health Clinic - COVID & Menstrual Cycles

    The COVID-19 pandemic may be affecting your menstrual cycle in a few ways, but our women’s health clinic is here to help you find answers for period changes.

    While changes to your menstrual cycle may be nothing to panic about, it  can still help to talk to our women’s health care provider about changes. In some cases, this can signal bigger health issues that may need some extra attention. 

    Talk to Your Women’s Health Clinic if You’ve Noticed Changes with Your Period

    Slight changes in your menstrual cycle can happen for many different reasons. These include things like hormone changes, weight changes, and reproductive conditions like PCOS. Pregnancy may also seem like period changes, as many women experience spotting in their first trimester that could be mistaken for a light period. Perimenopause can also cause changes to your period, like irregular cycles or skipped periods.

    However, because period changes can also signal something more serious going on with your health, it’s usually better to be safe than sorry and talk to our doctor about differences you’ve noticed.

    Some signs you should make an appointment at your women’s health clinic to talk about your period include:

    • Frequently having periods fewer than 24 days apart
    • Consistently bleeding for longer than 7 days
    • Regularly going two or more months between periods
    • Frequent spotting between periods
    • Heavy bleeding (needing to change your pad or tampon every hour or more)
    • Clots larger than the size of a quarter
    • Excessive clots

    Period Changes since the Pandemic Started? Visit your Women’s Health Clinic to Rule Out More Serious Conditions

    Many women are reporting period changes since the COVID-19 outbreak. A lot of these differences vary between women, but a lot of people are connecting the dots between the changes they noticed and the timeframe of the pandemic.

    Women around the country are asking women’s health care professionals whether COVID-19 has anything to do with their period changes. Researchers are still studying the virus and its effects after infection, but there’s a chance that it could. 

    Some of the symptoms women have reported include:

    • Spotting
    • Skipped periods
    • Longer or shorter cycles
    • Unusual clotting
    • Worse PMS symptoms
    • Heavier periods

    This is concerning because many of these symptoms are also on the list of period signs that you want to have checked out at your women’s health clinic. Once again, it’s generally better to be safe than sorry and give us a call to see if our provider recommends an exam or testing for other health issues.

    How can COVID-19 Affect My Period?

    While there’s still much we don’t know about COVID-19, there are a lot of theories as to why your period might change. Even if you haven’t been infected with the coronavirus, there’s still a chance that your menstrual cycle may be affected. 

    Many experts believe that these changes can be due to stress, lifestyle changes during quarantine, or COVID-19 infection. As research continues, there are a few explanations why many doctors believe the pandemic may be affecting some people’s cycle.

    Pandemic Stress can Wreak Havoc on Your Cycle

    Most people would agree that the pandemic has been stressful. A lot of us are worrying about our health and our loved ones’ health. Some have gone through the pains of working from home. Also, we are all dealing with uncertainty of when things will return to normal.

    Needless to say, many of us are dealing with way more stress on our plates than normal.

    Stress can quickly take a toll on our bodies, leaving people feeling drained, irritable, and even leading to things like stomach problems and losing hair. This pandemic stress can also affect our menstrual cycle

    Even before COVID-19, stress has been a common cause in period changes. The problem with feeling stressed is that it initiates our fight or flight response. When we’re stressed, we release the hormone cortisol. Cortisol can delay or stop ovulation and reduce our progesterone levels. This can lead to menstrual changes.

    Also, stress can affect your hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian (HPO) axis. This is basically how your brain communicates with your ovaries using hormones as the messenger. Things like mental stress, physical stress, and even sleep disruptions can all bog down your HPO axis, which affects how much estrogen and progesterone your ovaries produce. This, in turn, can meddle with your cycle. 

    Everyone’s body may react a little differently to the stress of the pandemic and quarantine. Some women may notice shorter, lighter periods and others may notice longer, heavier periods, and others may notice different symptoms or nothing at all. It’s generally a good idea to get a checkup for your symptoms from your women’s health clinic, but if you’ve skipped a period because of stress, it’s generally not a major health concern. However, if you’re sexually active, even if you’re on birth control, a skipped period may warrant a pregnancy test. 

    Lifestyle Changes Make a Big Difference

    Also, many people have had to change a lot of things about their daily life because of COVID-19. These lifestyle changes may also affect your menstrual cycle. For example, your eating, sleeping, and exercise habits may have changed. Weight changes can lead to hormone imbalances which can affect your period. Lack of sleep can also induce a stress response from your body that may affect your periods as well. 

    Another issue many of the providers at our women’s health clinic have noticed during the pandemic is increased alcohol consumption and tobacco use. Smoking and chronic heavy drinking can also take a toll on your menstrual cycle, as well as the rest of your body. 

    The Virus Itself May Change Your Period

    Also, the SARS-CoV-2 virus (the one responsible for COVID-19) may also affect your period if you’ve been infected. Viral infections in general can put your body under stress and take up a lot of your body’s resources. This means that ovulation and menstruation may get put on the back burner as your immune system fights the virus. Many doctors note that period changes during COVID-19 are similar to those of many other illnesses, like the flu or the common cold. Fortunately, many women notice their periods go back to normal as they start to recover and their symptoms improve.

    However, there is also a potential that the virus may also attack the ovaries similar to how it attacks other organs. This could also affect your menstrual cycle.  While this potential has been proposed by some, it hasn’t been studied and is only speculation until we have further research. 

    Visit Our Women’s Health Clinic & Let’s Talk About Your Cycle

    Our providers at HerKare are here to help you address your health. As a women’s health clinic, we’re dedicated to helping you find underlying causes of your symptoms and providing personalized care for your needs. If you’ve noticed changes in your menstrual cycle, or any other symptoms, make an appointment today to talk to our doctors. We help with a wide range of health conditions, from hormone imbalances to diabetes and sleep apnea. Our team is here to help you feel like yourself again. 

    Well Woman Exam vs. Comprehensive Women’s Wellness Exam

    Well Woman Exam vs. Comprehensive Women’s Wellness Exam

    Most of us know that getting a yearly checkup is important, but do you know which preventative women’s healthcare services you need each year? Unfortunately, there’s a lot of confusion around what your annual appointment should include. When you request a women’s annual exam, some physicians only conduct a gynecological exam and a breast exam. However, this may not address your health as a whole.

    Women’s Healthcare - HerKare

    Women’s healthcare means looking at your health as a whole. Make sure your annual exams address every aspect of your wellbeing.

    Instead, make sure you receive a comprehensive women’s wellness exam. These look at many different systems in your body. These appointments can help with preventative care and early detection of serious conditions. This is even more important as we age and our risk for serious health conditions goes up. 

    Preventative Women’s Healthcare Visits: Are you Getting the Services You Need Each Year? 

    Generally speaking, each year you should schedule an appointment to talk about your physical, sexual, reproductive, and mental health. Addressing each of these elements of your wellbeing can help you stay happy and healthy. However, in some clinics this means making multiple appointments and seeing different doctors. Many women each year receive medical exams that only address their sexual and reproductive health.

    This often comes down to a misunderstanding of which women’s healthcare services are included in the type of appointment. For example, do you know the difference between a well woman exam and a women’s wellness exam? They may sound like the same thing, but many doctors provide different services for each.

    Instead of dividing screenings up between different appointments and doctors, our providers offer total women’s healthcare solutions. This means we look at your health as a whole and can help you address many different aspects of your wellbeing to help you feel your best. We can combine all the services you need for a comprehensive checkup into one appointment to help make things easy for you.

    What is a Well Woman Exam?

    As we’ve mentioned, there’s a lot of confusion around what different terms mean for women’s healthcare. However, most people call their annual gynecological exam a well woman exam. These appointments are designed to mainly address your sexual and reproductive health. During a well woman exam, you might receive a pelvic exam, a Pap test, and a breast exam. You might also talk about family planning or your risk for sexually transmitted infections. 

    Pelvic Exam

    A pelvic exam assesses whether your uterus, cervix, ovaries, and bladder are healthy. This includes a visual and a manual checkup to look for anything that might indicate that something might be wrong. Many physicians recommend getting a pelvic exam once per year, but you may need more or less frequent exams depending on your specific circumstances and risk factors. 

    Pap Test

    Pap tests are a screening tool for cervical cancer and are often done at the same time as the pelvic exam. This test involves swabbing the cervix and then looking the cervical cells for abnormalities. In the past, women were recommended to get a Pap test every year between ages 21 and 65. However, these guidelines have changed, which may lead to some confusion over when you need a Pap test. Current recommendations are to receive a Pap test every three years so long as your past tests have been negative. Depending on your risk factors, our provider may recommend more frequent tests. 

    Breast Exams

    Breast exams are another part of a well woman exam and are an important part of preventative women’s healthcare. These exams can help with early detection of many things, including breast cancer. From ages 20 to 40, the recommendation for women at an average risk for breast cancer is to receive a breast exam from their physician every one to three years. After 40, the recommendation is to receive a mammogram every year. 

    A mammogram is an x-ray for your breasts. Physicians use these x-ray pictures to look for changes to your breast tissue or other signs that could be cancer. Before 40, your breasts tend to be denser, which can make it difficult to detect the signs of cancer on a mammogram. That is why the recommendation switches from routine breast exams to mammograms as we get older.

    What is a Women’s Wellness Exam?

    A well woman exam is an important part of taking care of your health, but it’s not the whole story. A women’s wellness exam helps address your health as a whole and screen for conditions that aren’t necessarily part of your reproductive system. 

    A women’s wellness exam may include a well woman exam, but also looks at your overall health. At many other clinics, these are the appointments where you talk about your lifestyle and discuss your risks for conditions like high blood pressure.

    Our women’s healthcare providers provide comprehensive women’s wellness exams to take a broader look at your health. Yearly checkups with our team include exams and screenings for your physical, mental, sexual, and reproductive health. We may conduct a physical exam, a gynecological exam, a blood test. We’ll also discuss options for staying healthy and any concerns you have about your health. 

    At your annual women’s wellness exam, our team screens for many different health conditions that may affect you, some of which may not cause any symptoms. For example, depending on your age and risk factors, we might screen for:

        • High blood pressure
        • Diabetes
        • Heart disease
        • Sleep apnea
        • Allergies
        • High cholesterol
        • Hormone imbalances
        • Vitamin deficiencies
        • Cervical cancer
        • Breast cancer
        • Sexually transmitted infections

    Our team personalizes these screenings based on health recommendations and your individual risk factors. Also, we’ll talk to you about your lifestyle and help you determine if there are any changes you can make to help reduce your risk for certain preventable health conditions. 

    Women’s Healthcare Services and Screenings Should Change as You Age

    Another important thing to know is that your annual exams and screenings will change as you age. As we get older, our health risks can change. Therefore, your yearly women’s healthcare exams should change, too.

    We’ve already mentioned that you may need to switch to mammograms after a certain age, but that’s not the only change. Your exams may look different at each stage of your life. For example, your risk for osteoporosis goes up after menopause. Therefore, we may recommend including a bone density scan as part of your yearly checkup appointment once you reach menopause. Our women’s healthcare team personalizes your exam to you, which means it should change as your lifestyle and health risks do.

    Find the Right Women’s Healthcare Physicians for You

    In most cases, women should receive both a well woman exam and a women’s wellness exam every year. This can help you with early detection for preventable diseases and conditions. Only receiving a gynecological exam each year will likely not help detect things like high cholesterol or high blood pressure. Our women’s healthcare providers provide comprehensive annual women’s wellness exams to help you stay healthy. We provide both well woman and wellness services to help address your whole health.

    At HerKare, our goal is to help you feel your best. Our team provides comprehensive, compassionate care for women at every stage of life. We are a clinic owned and operated by women for women. We listen and we understand your needs. Book an appointment with our team today. We are here for you. 

    The Baby Blues: Why Don’t I Feel Better Yet?

    The Baby Blues: Why Don’t I Feel Better Yet?

    I will literally never forget the crash of hormones that follows the birth of a child – the Baby Blues, they say.  It was day 4. My child was exactly 4 days old, and I could feel the hormones beginning to fall like a wave about to crest over me and smash me down onto the sand underneath. Only…there was nothing I could do to stop them. I couldn’t move out of the way or side step the hormones. I couldn’t take a special pill or eat a special diet to keep it from happening. That crash was coming, ready or not. And ready I was definitely not.

    A hormonal imbalance and crash after the birth of a child is completely normal. Your hormones have been soaring for a solid 9 months, and even though there were some ups and downs, they mostly stayed fairly high. After the baby arrives, your body takes a few days, and then a signal is sent that tells your body to shut it down. No baby means no more high levels of hormones. The only problem is that your body doesn’t do this gradually. The hormones fall drastically, giving many women the sensation known as the baby blues.

    The baby blues is the slight depression that follows the birth of a child. It’s not full on, hard core depression, but rather a negative or down feeling. Most women suffer through for a week or 2, and then the hormones begin to level out. The baby blues start to subside, and women begin to feel normal again. The important thing to remember with the baby blues is that it is normal, and for most women, it passes fairly quickly.

    But, what happens when it doesn’t pass? What happens when the baby blues turn into the long term blues? When this happens, you can almost be certain that hormonal imbalances are at play. When the hormones are not in balance, it can cause a wide array of symptoms, one of which is a feeling of the blues or even full on depression. If your baby blues seem to be turning into long term depression, then your hormones are likely still imbalanced. They are not returning to normal levels as quickly as they should, and it is causing your body and mind to experience the blues.

    If you find this happening to you, get help right away. The right treatment can turn hormonal depression around and stop it in its tracks. At HerKare, a treatment professional may be able to test your hormones, determine whether an imbalance is present, and get you an appropriate treatment plan. When your baby blues turn into depression, or you suspect a hormonal imbalance for any other reason, get to HerKare to let a physician help you today.

    3 Reasons You Just Can’t Lose That Stubborn Post Baby Weight

    3 Reasons You Just Can’t Lose That Stubborn Post Baby Weight

    First time moms are often guilty of thinking that their post baby weight is going to fall off instantly. They take their pre baby skinny jeans to the hospital fully expecting to wear them home. They quickly find out that it doesn’t exactly work like that. While post baby weight doesn’t fall off the instant baby is born, it can come off in a timely manner with some consistent effort and regular medical exams.

    Through proper nutrition and exercise, it is possible to drop those stubborn pounds. But, what happens when those stubborn pounds are a bit too stubborn? If your post baby weight is being more difficult than you think it should be, check out these 3 reasons that your post baby weight may stick around longer.

    Lack of Sleep

    A lack of sleep can cause a lot more problems than just being tired. It can also throw your body into a bit of a panic. It begins to produce the wrong chemicals causing hormone imbalance. in order to try and compensate for the lack of sleep. Its natural rhythm is thrown off, and because of that, your body may fight back in a number of ways. One such way is by hanging onto a few extra pounds. If you’re doing everything right, but still can’t drop the pounds, try asking for some help in getting a little sleep. Call on grandma or a friend, and get some rest. Before you know it, you will be rested up and you may find those stubborn pounds fall off.

    You Are Nursing

    I know that the conventional wisdom about nursing is that it helps you lose weight, but for a few women, it means hanging onto a few pounds. Nursing burns massive calories, but some women’s bodies refuse to burn about 10 pounds or so. It keeps that extra reserve to make sure that you don’t get too skinny and are unable to nourish your baby. If you are nursing and can’t lose weight, see what happens when you wean. If you still can’t lose, it might be time to look at other options.

    Hormonal Imbalance

    A lot of extra weight after baby happens because of a hormonal imbalance. It takes a while to get the hormones back on track after baby. For some women, it takes a lot longer than others. If your hormones are still out of whack after baby, it may manifest itself through an inability to lose weight. If you are doing everything right, and those pounds refuse to drop, a hormonal imbalance might be to blame.

    If you suspect a hormonal imbalance, get to HerKare to let a treatment professional get you back on track. Losing that post baby weight is important to your health and your long term self esteem. Get your hormones checked and your weight back under control with the help of a physician at HerKare.

    Understanding Two Most Famous Hormones & What They Do

    Understanding Two Most Famous Hormones & What They Do

    In case you didn’t know, there are actually a lot of hormones at work in a woman’s body. Like…a lot. Actually, there are a lot of hormones at work in everyone’s body. Even though hormones are responsible for a huge number of functions in the body, only a few hormones are well known enough to get any recognition. Hormone replacement therapy is a popular topic and you need to understand why.

    For men, it’s the T word: Testosterone. For women, it’s two hormones that get a lot of recognition: progesterone and estrogen. You’ve probably heard of both of these. But, do you even know what they do? Do you know their jobs and functions? Do you know what happens when they get out of balance?

    As women, it is important to be informed about our own bodies. Take a look at the 2 most famous hormones and their roles in the lives of women.

    Progesterone

    This hormone has quite a few roles in the body. For starters, progesterone helps a woman nourish a pregnancy. The lining of the uterus needs preparation in order to hold, keep, and nourish a pregnancy. This is where progesterone steps in. It preps the lining, getting it ready to grab onto a fertilized egg should it be present. Without proper amounts of progesterone, the lining won’t be ready and the pregnancy won’t be viable. If pregnancy does occur, it is progesterone that helps your body hold onto it, keeping the fetus firmly attached. Progesterone is also responsible for preparing the milk glands during pregnancy, so that they produce adequate nourishment for your child. When it comes to progesterone, preparation seems to be one of its main jobs and there are progesterone replacement therapy options available post-hormone testing.

    Estrogen

    When it comes to estrogen, think of growth and development. When puberty in women occurs, it is usually the result of a rise in estrogen. It causes the reproductive organs to grow, develop, and mature. It is also responsible for thickening the uterus lining during the first half of the menstrual cycle. Without estrogen, period would not occur or would be irregular at best. Estrogen also causes an egg to mature each month, and as estrogen drops, the egg is released. If your body is growing or developing, estrogen is probably a significant hormone behind it.

    When Levels are Off

    Most women don’t really think about the specific roles of their hormones. As long as they are functioning normally, there really isn’t a whole lot of need to know the gory details. It’s only when the levels become unbalanced that women may feel the need to learn more. So, what does happen when the body experiences hormone imbalance? It could cause a number of symptoms, and unfortunately, they can be confusing. A woman may lose her hair, or she may start to grow hair in weird places. You may have trouble either losing or gaining weight. You may have mood swings, hot flashes, night sweats, extreme fatigue, insomnia, and the list goes on and on.

    What To Do

    If you have any of the above symptoms or suspect and imbalance for any reason, there is help available. A physician at HerKare may be able to test your hormones and determine if an imbalance is present. If it is, they may be able to help find a treatment plan that works for your. For your own health and wellbeing, get to know your hormones and their roles in our body. Then, if a problem comes about, you can get the help and attention you need to get back on track and healthy again.

    Is Progesterone Really THAT Important?

    Is Progesterone Really THAT Important?

    Starting from about 13, I knew that women were full of hormones. I had heard the stories about mood swings and hot flashes and all sorts of terrible problems, and I had probably even experienced a few crazy symptoms of my own by that point. The main culprit, as far as I was concerned, was that pesky hormone, estrogen. She was the problem. For a long time, estrogen was the only hormone that I knew belonged to women. It wasn’t until I was in my late twenties and pregnant with my first child that I realized that estrogen wasn’t necessarily the most dominant female hormone, and in fact, its sister hormone progesterone was just as important. Until then, I didn’t really think progesterone was really that big of a deal. So, how big of a deal is progesterone, really?

    What Does It Do?

    First, it is important to know the main roles of progesterone. Every hormone and chemical in the body has a (or multiple) specific function. Progesterone is no different. Since I first encountered a problem with progesterone when I was pregnant, I quickly learned that one main function of this hormone is to maintain a pregnancy. It also helps to regulate the menstrual cycle. When progesterone is off, your cycle is also likely to be off as well. Lastly, progesterone helps you out in the bedroom. When it comes to libido, the perfect mix of hormones makes the best recipe for sex drive.

    What Happens When It Is Wrong?

    If progesterone levels are wrong, it can wreak a bit of havoc on the body. For me, it was causing me to lose the pregnancy. Once my doctor got my progesterone levels right, the pregnancy was sustained. Some women experience extreme fatigue…more than I didn’t get enough sleep fatigue…like, the real thing! Other women experience weak hair and nails, weight gain, or migraines. And of course, like any hormonal problem, menstrual irregularities can also signal a problem.

    What Can I Do?

    If you suspect a progesterone imbalance or other problems, the best course of action is to seek help. If you already have a doctor, they should be able to point you in the right direction. Otherwise, try a facility like HerKare. A physician at HerKare may be able to determine whether your progesterone levels are right, and if not, they may be able to help get a treatment plan just for you. With the right care, you may be able to get your hormones back on track and feel better than ever.