HPV or human papillomavirus has 100+ strains, a few of which are considered "high risk" meaning they can cause cervical cancer. HPV is sexually transmitted, and because it is a virus, it is not curable. However, like flu virus, there is a vaccine to protect young women (and men now) against the dangerous strains of HPV. Not all HPV infections will turn into cervical cancer. In many cases, your body will take care of the virus and you will not require treatment for abnormal pap tests or cancer. However, your body may not treat all of the strains, and some of them may mutate and cause changes in the cervical cells which may lead to cancer down the road. Most abnormal cervical tests take 5+ years before they would be considered as full blown cancer requiring hysterectomy, etc. However, there are some cases that move faster and therefore, it is important to follow up with regular screenings, colposcopy, or other treatment as recommended by your provider. Further, there are other types of cancer that are not caused by HPV and that is why all women must be screened, not just women with muliple partners.
Gardisil and Cervarix are vaccines that are available to prevent cervical cancer. The vaccines are recommended for women aged 14-27. It must be given in three separate doses and most insurance does cover this vaccine, so if you fall in this age group, check with your insurance and your provider and get vaccinated! Gardisil also prevents certain types of HPV that cause genital warts as well, so if this vaccine is right for you, you may be "killing two birds with one stone!"
So....don't skip out on those yearly exams or vaccines!
Saturday, August 14, 2010
I just realized I've never posted on preeclampsia which is one of the number reasons why it is important to get prenatal care. The cause of preeclampsia is unknown, yet its damaging effects are well known. Preeclampsia is diagnosed by an elevation of blood pressure and protein in urine. Thus the reason for regular urine samples and blood pressure checks during your prenatal visits. There is no cure for preeclampsia besides delivery, and so the goal of treatment is to hopefully get you to term 37+ weeks gestation and then deliver. However, if it becomes severe and begins to involve other organs such as your liver, then delivery prior to term becomes mandatory. Signs and symptoms of preeclampsia are elevated blood pressure, protein in the urine, abnormal labs typically low platelets, and elevated liver tests, spots in vision and/or blurry vision, headaches unrelieved with medication, and swelling of extremities and face. It is important to note however, that swelling by itself is not diagnositic of preeclampsia as many patients believe. You must have the elevation of blood pressure and protein in urine to truly have preeclampsia. If you believe you may be having these symptoms it is important to see your provider as soon as possible or go to labor and delivery for evaluation. The worst case scenario if this is left untreated is seizures in the mother (eclampsia), stroke, or even death. In the fetus, there is risk of growth restriction, morbidity and mortality associated with preterm delivery, and death as well from vasospasm and constriction of blood flow to the placenta and therefore to the baby. So, moral of the story, be sure to keep your regular prenatal appointments, and pay attention to symptoms that could be worrisome. Hopefully, the majority of you out there will not experience this!
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
For those of you who want to see the good times had at lake powell last week-here you go! And yes I know it doesn't have to do with midwifery, but since I don't have a separate personal blog, I figured my friends would like to see that I do dare to go on vacation even if it's only about every 3 years!