Wednesday, June 27, 2018

So you want to get married?

bride, dress, hands

You've planned for this day for months...maybe even years if you count the time spent day dreaming about it.   It's important you spend a little time at your favorite gynecologists prior to the big day.

I know...not what you had in mind right?

Still, here's what you can expect at your first premarital exam. We promise it will be a good experience. 

1.  Meet with one of our providers.  We have a variety of providers with varying strengths and personality types, all who are great to listen and ease your anxiety.  They are willing to work with you, past health issues, current health concerns and how to prepare for the next phase of life.  You can choose to meet with one of our OB/GYN docs, or our Nurse Practitioner who is amazing and a wonderful choice for young women who have not been sexually active.

2.  The premarital exam.  The worst part of a premarital exam is the anxiety and worry leading up to it.  The internal exam is important in order to make sure you are in good physical health and identify any problems that could cause painful intercourse.  The premarital exam is also a good time to go over any other health concerns you may have regarding your general health or gynecological issues.  Your doctor will also make sure you are up to date on immunizations. 

3.  Birth control.  This is a good time to educate yourself on the options in birth control and discuss any worries or concerns you may have. 

4.  Pregnancy.  Not only can you discuss birth control but talk about how to prepare now, for the day when you want to conceive.  Your provider can give you great information on diet and nutrition, high risk issues and how to be your best healthy self,  prior to getting pregnant.

5.  Q and A.  The premarital exam is also the best time to confide and ask questions that may have been going unanswered because of the sensitivity of some topics.  This is a great time to establish a relationship with a provider and build trust with him or her. 

Preparing your body and mind for marriage is just as important as choosing the dress.  The wedding day lasts  for just hours but a marriage lasts a lifetime.  It's important you are prepared and ready to embark on an exciting and new life together.  Madison Women's Clinic is here for you every step of the way. 

Friday, June 22, 2018

The Baby Business

 adorable, baby, baby feet

The business of having a baby is big! 

Most women conceive, incubate and deliver a healthy baby with few, if any, bumps in the road.  For less than 10% of pregnant women, it's not quite as routine.  For many reasons, they can be considered high risk.

What puts a woman in a high risk category for pregnancy?

  • Age-  The younger or older you are, the greater your risk for complications such as early miscarriage or genetic defects, for women over 40.  Having good prenatal care can do a lot to keep the mother safe and often complications can be managed you are followed closely. 
  • Pre- existing health conditions- Being pregnant puts a huge strain on your body.  If you already deal with health issues such as diabetes, autoimmune disease, depression, anxiety, kidney, heart or lung issues, you will want to involve your doctor long before you decide to get pregnant.  Any family history with miscarriage, early delivery or any other complications can put you at risk too. 
  • Medical conditions brought on as a result of pregnancy-  You can be totally healthy and sometimes, it's still not enough.  Gestational diabetes, Pre-eclampsia are two conditions that can develop while you are pregnant.  Again, good prenatal care is vitally important so that if an issue were to arise, it could be managed sooner than later. 
  • Multiple births- Of course, twins, triplets or more creates a special circumstance that requires more vigilance and care.  Today, most women are able to carry multiple babies with very good success but you still need to be educated and careful to ensure they aren't delivered too early. 
  • Fetal problems- Sometimes, the health risk to mother may be affected by the health of the baby.  Through ultrasounds, fetal problems can be detected.  Again, early diagnosis and intervention are what is needed to keep mom and baby as healthy as possible.  
  • Lifestyle-  It goes without saying that things like drinking, smoking, drug use; both recreational and prescription can also put you in a higher risk bracket for complications. 
It's important to remember that many women in high risk categories often go on to deliver happy, healthy babies.  Creating a trusting relationship with your doctor can make it easier to catch these problems earlier, should they crop up.  We live in a time when technology in medicine and especially obstetrics has advanced so far.  There are a series of informative tests and treatments that can be done to ensure the health of both mom and baby.  With all these safety precautions in place, you can allow yourself to relax and enjoy the business of bringing a baby into the world. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Relationship Status

What is your relationship status...

With yourself?

Are you madly, deeply in love?
Are you breaking up?
Is it complicated?

Most of us have a complicated relationship with ourselves.  Odds are, we've fallen out of love.  Life is hard, kids are harder, Summer's here and so is the 20 lbs hiding our bikini body we promised to get 6 weeks ago.  Depends on the day but we can either be falling in love with our strong, confident self or breaking up with girl who keeps falling short.

Self love really is the new relationship goal in life.  All too often, we let ourselves fall short and come in last.  Self love helps us live a more confident, centered life of purpose. So, how can we turn this love train around and start finding a little self-love?

Bad days happen but that doesn't mean we have to set up camp and remain stuck there.  Maybe we visit for a few hours, maybe a day but then it's time to move on.  Part of the problem we face as women is remaining in the past, holding on to hurts like the string of a kite but that will never lift us to higher ground or move us along.  We just stay stuck and tethered to the past.  Let it go.  Letting go of the past that no longer serves us well, is one healthy step toward loving yourself.

Focus on what your basic needs are in life.  Stay mindful in this task and with each decision you make, be sure it is serving these long term needs and values, not wants that will quickly fade.  Oftentimes, we fill up on quick fixes and empty calorie choices that only weigh us down even more.  Overspending, prescription drug abuse, food...can all make us feel good in a moment but it's just a single moment.  There is no staying power in feeding our wants.  Focus on your needs.

Mend the fences along your boundaries.  All too many times, we forget that 'No' is actually a complete sentence.  You can maintain your boundaries without excuses, lies or being rude and ugly about it.  Simply say, "No."  If you are spread thin with one nerve left, allow yourself the opportunity to rest and refuel.  Taking on another project or commitment isn't going to serve you well, nor is it a loving thing to do.  Be gentle and kind, even with yourself.

Tidy up your friends.  Most people come and go in our lives naturally but others may need to be invited to leave.  Either your friends are for you...or they are against you.  Take a closer look at the people you surround yourself with.  Let go of the ones who make you feel 'less than' or 'other'.  Negativity and criticism are love killers, especially when it comes to loving ourselves.  Fill your life with those people who make you feel loved and valuable.

Finally, give yourself the same freedoms and concessions you allow for others.  We are often our worst critic.  We forgive others, compliment others, cheer others along.  When was the last time you did that for yourself?  Give yourself the time of day.  Do something you love to do.  Engage in a new hobby or an old one you shelved.  Even a few minutes a day goes a long ways.  It helps to unwind from the stresses of life.

When we are able to love ourselves more, we are better able to handle life and all the complexities that come with it.  Our relationships will be stronger and more meaningful.  We will be able to handle and recover from stress quicker.  Self love allows for more hope and less anxiety and depression.  Even just changing one negative behavior or habit for a more loving one will begin to make a difference.

It's time to change your relationship status!

Perfectly, perfect

Dart Pin in the Middle of Dartboard

Why be perfect, when you can be average?


Here's why average is way better than perfect.

Perfectionism according to some is a psychological disorder.  Those who suffer with perfectionism may disagree, because that would mean they are less than perfect, but according to research, it sets a person up for depression, anxiety, relationship problems, eating disorders, and in extreme cases, suicide. Any one of these results is a high price to pay just to appear perfect.  Perfect is actually unattainable, no matter who you are or who you think you are.  You are in fact human; flawed and oh so human.

We live in a day when perfectionism resides as close as your back pocket or purse.  Social media runs the average day, all amok with embellished images of blissful lives, immaculate homes, unblemished bodies, adept and accomplished children, impeccable partners and vacations and weekend getaways  beyond compare.  If you are suffering with perfectionism, these images wreak havoc on your mind and heart.  We compare our mediocre to something completely unreal and unattainable and then fill our head with self talk of shame, guilt, doubt and frustration. 

Being a perfectionist is hard work.  One never feels accomplished.  A perfectionist can never feel pride in a job well done because they never see the job they did, as done well enough.  Perfectionists never really take risks.  Anything that can not be done perfectly, won't even be attempted because failure is not an option or acceptable outcome. In fact, the focus for a perfectionist is never really on success, but rather, failure.  They work in extremes, with black and white kinds of thinking.  One may be successful today, but a failure at best, tomorrow.  Sadly, one who struggles with perfectionism never has a consistent source for self worth. 

When one is always consumed with thoughts of perfection, thinking becomes skewed.  They come to demand similar traits in others.  When others fall short, and they will, a perfectionist will often respond with high levels of criticism that can create barriers to good communication and meaningful relationships. 

So, what a person to do?

First, you must recognize in what ways perfectionism creates problems for you, because everyone is different. Perhaps only certain areas of your life are affected.  Pay attention to those areas of your life when you feel the most insecure and ashamed; those moments when you can see for yourself that even your own standards can feel impossible.

Begin setting realistic goals and understand that excellence is a great swap for perfectionism.   Excellence is achievable; it's doing our best time and again and even seeing an improvement in our efforts.  Consider that everything we do is an opportunity to learn and grow. Give those around you, a chance to make mistakes as well.  When we learn to let others fall and fail it becomes easier for us to allow the same from ourselves.

We all need to practice being more authentic and real.  Life is meant to be experienced; the good with the bad, the successes and the failures. When we can begin to put these little changes into practice, the cords of perfectionism that bind us will begin to loosen.  We will find that life can be less stressful and anxious and more pleasant and relaxing.  Try to look at each situation from a new perspective.  By doing this, we can change some of our rigid thinking. 

Average is healthy.  Average leaves room for excellence and growth.  Average is very exciting and creative.  Average isn't afraid to take risks because even failure is an amazing place to learn new things.  Average is patient, loving, kind and connected.  Even if at first, you can't quite let go of the entire lifestyle of perfection, try compromising for one day and let yourself be human.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Being a Patient

black-and-white, blood pressure, blood pressure monitor

We sometimes have this unrealistic expectation of doctors and...they just don't measure up.

Sometimes, we have a realistic expectation of doctors and... they just don't measure up.

This may come as a surprise to some, but the truth is, Doctor's are human.  I know.  Too bad they  have to be human.  At one time or another, we just want them to pull a miracle out of their inside out scrubs pocket.  We want them to have mastered the art of healing. We expect their bedside manner to be all that...and then some.  We hate to doubt that their knowledge has limits. In all ways, we expect nothing less of perfection. 

But then, life happens.  It happens to us and it happens to them and in the messy parts of any given day, they stumble from the pedestal, on which we allow them to teeter.  You know what happens then...that's right we socialize about their fall from perfection and that's that. I've done it, you've done and they've probably done it to each other. Life is a journey of experiences, for good or for bad and it begs to be witnessed and validated.  Don't get me wrong, some doctors get what comes, but for the most part, they do the best they can, given the fact they are human and all.

The majority of complaints against doctors have nothing to do with their medical skills and everything to do with communication skills on both sides...the doctor and the patient.  Not only that, the majority of doctors didn't even realize there was a problem. 

It's hard to on the best of days to communicate with doctors, but when we are sick and scared and afraid that our health is unraveling, it's even harder to effectively balance this very important and personal relationship with the person we trust with our very life.

Here are some tips for making each appointment with your healthcare provider be the best it can be.

  • When reporting your symptoms, be thorough, organized and concise.  When they ask what brings you in, give them a brief overview and even a list of concerns you would like to address during the visit.  Be conscientious and respectful of time, it may require a second visit to cover your concerns. 
  • Bring a list of your medications, including supplements and over the counter meds.  
  • Be honest with your doctor about your health history and present issues.
  • Invest more trust in your doctor than in Google. 
  • Speaking of Google, educate yourself of your condition, understand the basic terminology, so that you can ask the best questions, and be proactive in your own health.  This is different than using the internet to self diagnose. 
  • Write down your questions and concerns
  • Ask about the best method of communication, if some questions come up after you leave the appointment.
  • Be assertive. If you don't understand any part of the visit, including diagnosis, treatment plans or medication, let them know where you are confused.  
  • Bring one trusted friend or family member if you need support.  Do not bring your tribe along.  It slows down the process and creates too many distractions. 
  • If you feel you are not being heard, respectfully tell them how you are feeling.  It's most likely they aren't making you feel this way intentionally.  If after attempts to communicate your difficulties and angst, the situation can't be resolved, then perhaps it isn't a good fit and time to move on.
  • Be careful what you read on social media platforms.  We are quicker to complain about a poor experience than to report the awesome interactions we have with our doctors.  Take each complaint with a grain of salt.  If you do have complaints, try to resolve them with your provider before jumping to conclusions. 
Of course, this is just the short list for patients on how to improve a patient/ doctor relationship.  Healthcare providers of all varieties, have a responsibility to deliver, quality, compassionate care.  They are healers and they are held to higher standards because of the role they play in caring for human life.  It's okay to expect this but make sure you are doing your part as well.  The more we can address our health with a team approach, the better the overall experience will be. 

Friday, April 27, 2018


Person Using Black Blood Pressure Monitor

Being a caregiver isn't something we talk about much and more importantly, we may not even truly understand what the very words mean.  Typically, we think of caregivers as those who have loved ones with diseases such as, Parkinson's, Dementia, Cancer...the ailments we all dread with advanced age.

 You could be an aunt, a niece, a mother, a sister, a child, and care for an aunt, a niece, a mother, a sister, or a child. Care giving can be triggered by a major life event but it can also be so subtle we hardly recognize it.  We start by taking our mom to her doctor appointments, pick up medications for her...and while it doesn't consume our day, it takes an emotional toll we hardly recognize.  You could be caring for the elderly, the ill or even the daily tasks associated with motherhood.

Most tasks of a caregiver are thrust upon us and we are forced to feel our way along duties we have little experience in.  Some of the tasks may include...

  • Grocery shopping
  • House cleaning
  • Laundry
  • Transportation
  • Assisting with hygiene
  • Managing medications
  • Communicating with health care providers
  • Handling finances
  • Handling crisis
  • Taking care of healthcare treatments like giving injections, physical therapy, transferring from bed to chair, to shower etc.

Typically, you do it all, in addition to the other responsibilities you have, and you do it without compensation or experience.

If you find yourself in the caregiving role, here are some things to consider.  Often, a caregiver can let her own mental and physical health slide or strain. 

  • Caregiving is emotional business.  Don't be afraid to have emotions that run the gamete from joy to depression.   Own your feelings without the addition of guilt or shame.
  • Be realistic about what you can do for your loved one
  • Don't be afraid to ask for help, before the point of overwhelm
  • Don't be afraid to accept help...this makes you human, not weak. 
  • Develop stronger coping skills- Eat, Exercise and Sleep. 
  • Learn the necessary skills for caring and make sure you have the right equipment 
  • Build a support system for yourself; friends you can count on to lean upon
  • Don't worry about the haters.  There will always be someone who thinks they could do it better.  Unless they are willing to jump in and help, don't give their opinions much weight. 
  • Come to know your limits and tap out before it's too much.  
There is so much more we could cover.  Caregiving is one of the hardest, most isolating jobs on the planet.  We sacrifice so much and few truly come to understand the emotional toll until you experience it yourself.  If you are a caregiver, kudos to you.  If you know someone, consider ways you could help lighten their load.  

Monday, March 26, 2018

The Image of Self

adorable, black-and-white, blur

There's nothing quite like the security of a 5 year old.

 Remember your 5 year old self?


That girl who danced and didn't care who was watching?
The girl who sang at the top of her lungs with a crackling force and giggles tumbling out behind?
The girl who thought her mismatched outfit was 'on point'?

Do you remember that girl? Who lived without reserve or shame?

What happens between those early years to the tween years and beyond?  What happens to make us so awkward in our own skin at times?  So, anxious about the way we look?

There is no easy answer to these perplexing questions.  Some will argue that magazines and impossibly thin, airbrushed models are to blame.  Others may jump on the bandwagon of perfection.  Perhaps, it's just the need to fit in while trying desperately to stand out; the impossible standards we set for ourselves.  Often, we can have 10 people validating us, but we only hear the one critical voice, and count that as the most important and maybe, that one voice is our own.  Many more times, the critical voice is handed down through the generations and without even knowing, our own critic within, is all our daughters ever hear.

How can we foster a more positive image of our bodies?

  1. Embrace all the variations of beauty.  There is no right definition of beauty.  As you look at others, withhold your judgement and see the beauty within, do the same for yourself. 
  2. Realize what an amazing machine your body is.  There is no technology on earth that can keep a human life running, quite the way God does.  We have within us a great power, the power of life.  You aren't a size or a number, you are a miracle. 
  3. Focus on your strengths; those things that have nothing to do with physical beauty.  Keep a list of those close by, so you can refer to them when you get down on yourself. 
  4. Get beyond yourself.  Focus on others.  Make a difference in someone else's life and live a life of purpose.  When we have purpose, we have a greater sense of belonging and self love. 
  5. View social media with a critical eye.  There are very few things we can count on as truth when it comes to the internet and social media.  Remember, that nearly all images are retouched, airbrushed and changed dramatically.  Social Media should never be the yardstick we use to measure beauty- our own or someone else's. 
  6. Strengthen your personal value system.  Personal worth comes from loyalty, wisdom, integrity, confidence, assertiveness, respect, good humor, patience...and so much more. 
  7. Develop better communication skills.  When we become better at using our words to express what we are feeling, food becomes balanced and less emotional. 
  8. Try to foster a life of balance and moderation. 
  9. Learn to set healthy boundaries when it comes to your interactions with those around you.  Don't accept judgement from others that feeds shame or guilt.  
  10. Pass on to those around you, a positive way to think about yourself.  When we are able to model a healthy self image, those we associate will rise to the same level.
All too often, we have come to believe that as women, a poor self image is just part of the role we play but it doesn't have to be that way.  It takes work to fight against the social culture of perfection we are continually presented with.  It takes courage to become that girl we once were...ya know, back when we were 5.