Category Archives: Blog

Five women of different nationalities and cultures standing together. Friendship poster, the union of feminists or sisterhood. The concept of gender equality and of the female empowerment movement; blog: Ways to Celebrate International Women's Day

6 Ways to Celebrate International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day (IWD) is just around the corner on March 8th. International Women’s Day is a day that’s celebrated worldwide to highlight the social, cultural, political, and economic achievements of women. It’s also a time when women come together to advocate for women’s equality and gender parity. 

How You Can Celebrate International Women’s Day

We’ve come up with just a handful of ways that you can celebrate IWD this year.

1. Connect With Women In Your Network

Even if you have to do so virtually due to COVID, you can set up a zoom lunch meeting or coffee date to connect with women in your professional or personal network. You just need to take 30 minutes to an hour of time and connect. You can talk about anything that relates to being a woman in today’s world. Leadership, professional obstacles, and opportunities, personal struggles and triumphs, or anything else you want to share with other women.

2. Start a Book Club

Understanding some of the challenges faced by women around the world is an important step in advocating for gender equality. To celebrate International Women’s Day this year, consider starting a book club with your team or folks in your community that focuses on educating on women’s issues, empowerment, and achievements. 

3. Screen a Woman-Centered Movie

Representation in film has a huge impact on how audiences learn about gender norms, the issues we focus on, and the way we perceive the world. There are some great movies out there showcasing strong women and the impact they have on the world. Or look for films that are told from a woman’s point of view by finding some that are written, produced, or directed by women.

If you have a daughter, she can get in on the celebration. Try movies like  Mulan, Madeline, Alice in Wonderland, and Akeelah and the Bee. Not only are they kid-friendly, but it gives you a great opportunity to talk with your daughter about the importance the female character played in the movie and introduce her to this internationally celebrated day

4. Support Women-Owned Businesses

Supporting businesses that are owned, operated, and controlled by a woman or women helps contribute to equal economic empowerment, representative products and services, and a more prosperous economy overall. Celebrate this International Women’s Day by deliberately seeking out and supporting local businesses that are women-owned. Share your challenge with your friends and encourage them to do the same! 

5. Be Inclusive

International Women’s Day is obviously a time to celebrate women. But that doesn’t mean that men and people who are outside of the gender binary shouldn’t be involved in the conversations. It’s essential that people of all gender identities are involved in the conversations and become equal advocates for gender parity. 

When you’re planning your International Women’s Day activities, ensure you invite and encourage your male friends or teammates to participate and champion gender equality together. And make sure your gender-diverse and non-binary friends and teammates are included and welcomed into the conversation about how we can promote equality for people of all gender identities. 

6. Celebrate the Amazing Women You Know

Sometimes, simple words of encouragement and love can go a long way in lifting someone up and inspiring them to keep going. Whether it’s your mother, grandmother, sister, daughter, girlfriend, or friend – send a text, call, or Facetime an important woman in your life to let them know how awesome they are.

Make an Appointment at Raleigh OB/GYN

Another great way to celebrate International Women’s Day this year is to prioritize women’s health by taking care of yourself. The physicians, nurses, and medical staff at Raleigh OB/GYN offer a comprehensive list of gynecological and obstetric services to the women of the Raleigh, NC area. If you have questions or concerns about your health, call our office at (919) 876-8225 to make an appointment.

Cervical Health Awareness Month logo vector illustration; blog: HPV and Cervical Cancer Facts

4 HPV and Cervical Cancer Facts

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 12,000 women in the United States get cervical cancer. The leading cause of cervical cancer is the human papilloma virus (HPV), a common type of sexually transmitted disease. That’s why Cervical Health Awareness Month each January was established. Raising awareness about HPV and cervical cancer is a crucial part of helping women educate themselves on how they can protect themselves. 

1. HPV Causes More than Cervical Cancer

HPV is a very common virus that is transmitted through sexual contact. According to the National Cervical Cancer Coalition (NCCC), there are approximately 14 million new cases of sexually transmitted HPV each year in the US. And experts estimate that at least 79 million people in the country are currently infected. 


Most HPV cases resolve on their own without complication. That’s because there are different strains, or types, of HPV, and not all cause serious symptoms. Some strains of HPV do create symptoms and are linked to more serious conditions. Certain types of HPV can cause genital warts. Those types are not linked to cancer, though. 


The types of HPV linked to cervical cancer can also cause cancer in other parts of the body. This includes:

  • Oropharyngeal cancers
    • Tonsils
    • Back of the throat
    • Tongue
  • Vulvar cancer
  • Vaginal cancer
  • Penile Cancer

2. The HPV Vaccine Can Protect You From Cancer-Causing Strains

Practicing safer sex and using latex condoms can reduce your risk of HPV transmission through sexual contact. However, the best way to protect against the HPV strains that most often cause cancer is to get the HPV vaccine. The HPV vaccine can be given to both men and women.


According to the CDC, the guidelines for HPV vaccination are:

  • HPV vaccination is recommended for children age 11 to 12. It can be given starting at the age of 9.  
    • At these ages, the vaccine is given in two doses. The second dose needs to be given 6 – 12 months after the first dose.
  • Teens and young adults can also get the HPV vaccine. It is recommended for everyone through the age of 26. 
  • Adults over the age of 26 can get the vaccine, but it is not recommended for everyone. If you’re over 26, ask your OB/GYN whether you are a good candidate for vaccination.

3. Certain Factors Can Increase Your Risk

Some people may have a higher risk of contracting HPV and cervical cancer. However, you should note that having a risk factor doesn’t mean you’ll get HPV. The following factors are linked to an increased risk of HPV infection:

  • Having many sexual partners
  • Sexual activity at a young age (younger than 18 years)
  • Having a partner that has HPV or is considered high-risk
  • Smoking
  • Having a weakened immune system
  • Poor diet
  • Pregnancy before age 20
  • Chlamydia infection


If any of these factors apply to you, make sure you follow your doctor’s recommendations for HPV and cervical cancer screening. They can also advise you on ways to lower your risk.

4. Screenings Can Save Lives

According to the American Cancer Society, cervical cancer was one of the most common causes of cancer death for American women. However, the number of cancer deaths from cervical cancer has gone down significantly in the last decades due to the increased use of the Pap test. This test is used to detect changes in cervical cells that can indicate HPV infection, pre-cancer, or invasive cancer. 


Pap tests and HPV tests have helped reduce the number of life-threatening cases because they detect cell changes before cancer develops or becomes invasive. Early detection means that treatment is more effective. 


The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has details on the official guidelines for cervical cancer screening. But you should consult your physician to make sure you are following the most common guidelines for HPV and cervical cancer screening. 

Contact Raleigh OB/GYN Centre

The physicians, nurses, and medical staff at Raleigh OB/GYN offer a comprehensive list of gynecological and obstetric services to the women of the Raleigh, NC area. If you have questions about cervical health or cervical cancer screenings, call our office at (919) 876-8225 to make an appointment.

Pregnant Woman holding hands on belly close-up. Pregnancy concept; blog: Early Signs of Pregnancy

10 Early Signs of Pregnancy to Look Out For

When you’re trying to conceive, you might look for little signs and symptoms to indicate that you’re pregnant before you can take a pregnancy test. While a reliable test is the only surefire way to know you’re pregnant, these early signs of pregnancy occur within a week or so of conception.

Early Signs of Pregnancy

If you are trying to get pregnant, you can look for some of these early signs of pregnancy. However, it’s important to remember that every woman and every pregnancy is unique, so these signs aren’t a surefire way to confirm a pregnancy. If you think you’re pregnant, contact your doctor to get a reliable pregnancy test.

1. Missed Period

Not having your regular menstrual period is one of the most obvious early signs of pregnancy and the thing some women look out for to confirm they’re pregnant. However, if your periods aren’t regular, it can be hard to determine when you’ve missed a period.

2. Light Bleeding or Spotting

Light bleeding or spotting may occur about 10 to 14 days after conception. This is called implantation bleeding and it occurs when the fertilized egg attaches to the uterine lining. Not all women experience implantation bleeding while some women mistake implantation bleeding for a light menstrual period.

3. Cramping

Another early sign of pregnancy that may be confused with a menstrual period is cramping. At the beginning of a pregnancy, blood flow is increased throughout the body, including in the uterus. This may result in mild cramping.


Nurturing a developing fetus can suck the energy right out of you. Feeling fatigued is not uncommon even in the very early days of pregnancy. Your body is putting in hard work increasing your blood supply. Lower blood sugar and blood pressure are also common during the first trimester. When you add those factors to hormonal shifts associated with pregnancy, you might find yourself worn out. Luckily, many women find that they bounce back and have more energy by the second trimester.

5. Changes in Your Breasts

Another one of the telltale early signs of pregnancy is changes in how your breasts feel or look. During early pregnancy, your breasts may become sore, tender, and swollen. You might even notice a change in the way they look. Your areolas (the circles around the nipples) may get bumpy, darker, or bigger.  These changes are caused by the increase in estrogen and progesterone in your system. The discomfort is for a worthwhile cause though because these are signs your body is preparing to nurse your baby. 

6. Morning Sickness

Morning sickness is probably one of the most well-known signs of early pregnancy. It’s poorly named because it can occur at any time of day, not just in the morning. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), nausea and vomiting usually start before the 9th week of pregnancy and may occur before your missed period. For most women, morning sickness usually eases up after the 14th week of pregnancy, but others may experience it throughout the entire pregnancy.

7. New Food Preferences

Cravings during pregnancy may seem like a cliche, but many women do experience changes in food preferences even at the beginning of pregnancy. You may find yourself in the mood for foods or food combinations that you don’t typically want. You may also lose your appetite for foods that you used to enjoy.

8. Sensitivity to Smells

Along with changes in food preference, you might also find that you’re more sensitive to smell. Sometimes pregnancy can send your sense of smell into overdrive, so the smell of certain things might be really strong and unpleasant all of a sudden. 

9. Digestive Issues

If morning sickness weren’t enough to deal with, your digestive system may be upset in other ways. Some women experience heartburn or indigestion during the first trimester of pregnancy. Other digestive symptoms in the first trimester include bloating, gas, and constipation. 

10. Frequent Urination

Some people might associate frequent urination with the later stages of pregnancy as the baby starts putting pressure on the bladder. However, according to the National Institutes of Health, this can also be an early sign of pregnancy caused by increased blood flow to the pelvic area.

Contact Raleigh OB/GYN Centre

The physicians, nurses, and medical staff at Raleigh OB/GYN offer a comprehensive list of gynecological and obstetric services to the women of the Raleigh, NC area. If you have questions about confirming a pregnancy, call our office at (919) 876-8225 to make an appointment.

Pregnant woman wearing medical mask at home; blog: Pregnancy, Anxiety and the Pandemic

Pregnancy, Anxiety and the Pandemic

Everyone experiences anxiety on occasion. Nerves and worry can creep in before a big deadline, presentation at work, or any other situation. Pregnancy is no different and can create a high level of anxiety for new parents. This is to be expected—you’re about to bring a new life into the world!

But since the pandemic, rates of pregnancy and postpartum anxiety have more than doubled. A June 2020 survey showed that while 29% of pregnant women reported having anxiety prior to the pandemic, a staggering 72% reported it during the pandemic.

Let’s dig into what’s causing those nerves, what symptoms to look for, and some tips on managing anxiety while pregnant. 

Causes of Anxiety

Pregnancy symptoms vary from woman to woman and even pregnancy to pregnancy. For some, it’s morning sickness and back pain, while for others its swollen feet and acid reflux. The constant physical changes and uncertainty can be overwhelming under normal circumstances, much less during a pandemic which can limit access to one’s support system. 

Pregnancy also results in an abundance of hormonal changes that can alter your mood and ultimately make it more difficult to handle stress. Excessive or unresolved stress can increase your chances of developing chronic anxiety which can have adverse effects on maternal and fetal health. So, it’s important to know the symptoms of anxiety and what you can do if you experience them. 

Symptoms of Anxiety

It’s natural to worry during pregnancy. But if the constant worrying begins to interfere with your everyday life, that is called anxiety.

Symptoms of anxiety might include:

  • Feeling nervous, restless or tense
  • Having a sense of impending danger, panic or doom
  • Having an increased heart rate
  • Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation)
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Feeling weak or tired
  • Trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than the present worry
  • Having trouble sleeping
  • Experiencing gastrointestinal (GI) problems
  • Having difficulty controlling worry
  • Having the urge to avoid things that trigger anxiety

There are also some factors that can increase your risk of developing anxiety such as genetics, personality type, or having previously experienced or witnessed a traumatic event. 

Managing Anxiety

Mild cases of anxiety typically don’t require treatment, but you should keep your doctor informed. In severe cases, your doctor may recommend medication after weighing the risks and benefits. You should also consider:

  1. Talking about it—When your anxiety spikes, tell someone. Your partner, a friend, or therapist all can offer support. By verbalizing your concerns with others, you may be able to keep those thoughts from overtaking your life.
  2. Find release—Walking, jogging, doing yoga, working in the garden are all physical activities that help lower stress. Don’t like any of those options? Just do what you love. Being active for as little as five minutes a day can have positive benefits.
  3. Use your mind—Meditate, get a massage, or practice deep breathing exercises. These activities help your body release endorphins without breaking a sweat.
  4. Rest—Making sleep a priority can significantly help with stress and anxiety.
  5. Talk to your doctor—Frequent panic attacks or the inability to manage your anxiety should result in a phone call to a medical professional. There can be treatments available to ease the most severe symptoms.

Managing anxiety while pregnant in the midst of a pandemic isn’t easy, but is doable. What works for others may not work for you. At Raleigh OB/GYN, we are here to help every step of the way. Give us a call at (919) 876-8225 to make an appointment.

Woman holding menstrual cup and sanitary pad in hands. Feminine hygiene alternative product instead of tampon during her period. Menstruation, critical days, zero waste, eco, ecology concept; blog: What is Menstruation Awareness?

What is Menstruation Awareness?

Menstruation, or getting your period, is a normal and healthy part of life for most women. However, it’s still stigmatized in many places, including the US.  Some girls and women feel embarrassed or ashamed when they have to address their periods. It can even cause some people to avoid certain activities and miss out on important experiences. That’s why menstruation awareness and events like National Period Day on October 10th are so important.

Why Menstruation Awareness Matters

Menstruation awareness is something of a recent phenomenon on a national stage. While women have been working to make hygiene products accessible and erase stigmas for a long time, only recently has it been making public waves. Menstruation awareness emphasizes making hygiene products available to those who need them, but it has other facets as well.

Breaking Down Stigmas

A girl’s first period can be exciting because it is a symbol of entering womanhood. But it can also be confusing and a bit intimidating. That’s because a lot of girls are not equipped with all the right information to manage their first menstrual cycle. It’s rare that periods and feminine hygiene is openly talked about in a way that would make a girl feel at ease with this new stage in life. 

Society often treats periods and women’s health in general as if it’s something you don’t talk about in public. Menstruation awareness can help erase the stigmas around periods. That doesn’t just apply to girls who will experience menstruation firsthand. Boys need to be in on the conversation too so they know there’s nothing “gross” about a girl being on her period.

Educating Young People

Another really important issue menstruation awareness helps with is educating young people about their periods and feminine hygiene. Because of the stigmas we talked about earlier, some girls may not want to talk to their parents or guardians about their periods. If they hear the facts from reliable sources, they will not have good information to follow, the mystery surrounding periods will go away. 

Normalizing open conversations about menstruation will help girls learn about the different feminine hygiene products available to them and how to properly use them. According to Unicef, poor menstrual hygiene can pose physical health risks and has been linked to reproductive and urinary tract infections. Creating awareness and openness is one of the most effective ways to help teach girls how to properly manage their menstrual hygiene. 

Addressing Period Poverty

Another reason menstruation awareness has become an important issue is period poverty. Period poverty includes According to reporting by Forbes, 35 states in the US have a tax on menstrual products because they are considered “non-essential goods.” The increased cost of things like pads, tampons, and menstrual cups means many women can’t always afford the products they need every month. This is referred to as period poverty. 

Non-profits created and lead by young women have been a huge part of the menstruation awareness movement. Organizations like PERIOD have partnered with brands and other non-profits to form a Menstrual Movement Coalition that is working to make freely accessible period products available in places like schools and shelters.

Contact Raleigh OB/GYN Centre

The physicians, nurses, and medical staff at Raleigh OB/GYN offer a comprehensive list of gynecological and obstetric services to the women of the Raleigh, NC area. If you have questions or concerns about menstruation, call our office at (919) 876-8225 to make an appointment.

Concept polycystic ovary syndrome, PCOS. Paper art, awareness of PCOS, image of the female reproductive system; blog: The Top 4 PCOS Symptoms & How They're Treated

The Top 4 PCOS Symptoms & How They’re Treated

September marks the start of PCOS Awareness Month, so we wanted to take some time to discuss the symptoms and treatments of this common syndrome. Polycystic ovarian syndrome is a hormone disorder that is common among women who are at reproductive age. The disorder can be difficult to diagnose, but there are PCOS symptoms that may help your doctor come up with a treatment plan.

While the exact causes for PCOS are unknown, there is a correlation between women with PCOS also having resistance to insulin. This resistance means that the body is unable to effectively use insulin. If the insulin levels start to build up, this may lead to higher levels of the male hormone androgen. Obesity can also contribute to increased insulin levels, ultimately worsening PCOS symptoms.

The Top 4 PCOS Symptoms

PCOS usually develops during puberty, but can also develop in response to substantial weight gain. 

Women with PCOS most commonly experience:

  • Prolonged or infrequent periods
  • Excess levels of the male hormone androgen
  • Ovaries that develop small collections of fluid, and fail to regularly release eggs

While it can be difficult to diagnose, common PCOS symptoms include:

  1. Polycystic ovaries: Women with PCOS commonly experience enlarged ovaries that contain follicles that surround the eggs. Because of this, the ovaries might fail to function properly. 
  2. Irregular periods: When the ovaries are not able to regularly release an egg, this can lead to prolonged or irregular periods. Some menstrual cycles may be longer, shorter, or lighter than others, and some cycles may be missed altogether.
  3. Infertility: The combination of malfunctioning ovaries and irregular periods make it difficult to ovulate, leading to infertility.
  4. Excess body hair, acne, and/or weight gain: Elevated levels of androgen may result in a variety of physical factors, such as excess facial and body hair, weight gain (specifically in the abdomen), and occasionally severe acne and male-pattern baldness.

If you have two or more of these symptoms, your doctor may administer certain tests to form a diagnosis. Ultrasounds can produce images of the ovaries to see if they are enlarged, or if there are any visible cysts. Blood tests check for hormone levels and can determine if there are high levels of androgen.  

Treatment Options for PCOS

PCOS symptoms can be more extreme if the woman is obese, so diet and exercise are two of the best steps to reducing PCOS symptoms. Making healthy changes can also help your body use insulin more efficiently, lower blood glucose levels, and may also aid in ovulation.

Additional treatments may include certain medications to help aid in ovulation. While these medications can help the ovaries to release eggs regularly, it’s important to note that there are certain risks, like ovarian hyperstimulation, where the ovaries release too many hormones. 

If you don’t plan to become pregnant, birth control may also serve as a treatment to PCOS by helping to control periods, lowering levels of androgen, and clearing up acne.

In some cases, medications used primarily for helping with diabetes can also help with PCOS symptoms. For example, if a woman with PCOS also has a resistance to insulin, these medications can help lower this resistance. In turn, this may lead to more regular ovulation and lower levels of androgen.

If you have any concerns with irregular periods or any other potential PCOS symptoms, give Raleigh OB/GYN a call at 919-876-8225 or request an appointment.

Beautiful young brunette woman at doctor's office; blog: 5 Reasons Your Annual Women’s Wellness Exam Is Important

5 Reasons Your Annual Women’s Wellness Exam Is Important

Though it’s probably not your favorite thing to do, your annual women’s wellness exam is one of the most important things you can do for your long-term health. Even though in most cases an annual pap smear is no longer required, that doesn’t mean you should skip out on your annual wellness exam altogether. Here’s why:

1. You Need to Build a Relationship With Your Physician

In order for your gynecologist to be an effective partner in your care, you need to build a relationship. Over time, you and your physician will get to know each other. In doing so, they’ll have a better understanding of your medical history and can help you navigate through various life experiences.

2. Annual Appointments Establish Health Trends

Part of your annual women’s wellness exam will include ensuring systems in your body are functioning correctly. Checking your baseline vitals like heart rate and blood pressure will establish trends that can help your physician spot and address irregularities in a timely manner.

3. Screenings May Lead To Early Detection

Even if you aren’t due for a pap smear, other screenings including a pelvic exam, breast exam, or sexually transmitted disease screening are equally important. These exams can help your physician identify problems before they start. Early detection can mean the difference between catching a serious problem while it can still be managed or having to undergo treatment when it’s already advanced.

4. Annual Women’s Wellness Exams Are Preventative Care

New studies, equipment, medication and healthcare guidelines come out often. Making sure you get your annual women’s wellness exam will ensure you stay up-to-date on all preventative treatments available to you like the best birth control method for your individual needs or the HPV vaccine.

5. You’ll Get Necessary Supplemental Care

You may think that because you already had your annual physical with your primary care physician that you don’t need to see your gynecologist every year. However, the two actually work together to give you a more comprehensive picture of your overall health. While there may be some overlap like a blood pressure check, your gynecologist will screen for things your primary care physician won’t and vice versa.

Raleigh OB/GYN Centre COVID-19 Update 

At Raleigh OB/GYN Centre, the health and safety of our patients, as well as our staff, remain our top priorities during the COVID-19 outbreak. We are no longer restricting types of appointments, so we are currently scheduling annual women’s wellness exams again. However, we are seeing a limited number of patients in the office per day in an effort to maintain social distancing.

We are taking other steps to protect our patients and staff as well. Only patients and staff are permitted in the office to limit interaction and potential virus exposure. Therefore, you should attend your appointment alone. We are minimizing the amount of time that patients spend waiting in public spaces. Of course, we are also following CDC guidelines on cleaning, disinfecting, handwashing, and facial coverings.

If you are due for an annual exam, you can contact your provider at Raleigh OB/GYN Centre about delaying your appointment if you need to. Patients can also schedule telehealth appointments for certain issues if they do not feel comfortable coming into the office. However, annual exams do require a physical exam, so you will need to come in at some point for that part of the wellness exam. 

To schedule an appointment or talk to a member of our staff about your healthcare options, contact Raleigh OB/GYN Centre at 919-876-8225.

coronavirus covid-19 update

An Update from Raleigh OB/GYN Regarding COVID-19

After careful consideration and guidance from the rest of the medical community, we have enacted a few new policies, effective Monday, March 16th.

1. No one other than patients and staff will be permitted to enter the office. If you rely on another person for transportation, they may wait in their personal vehicle during the appointment. We ask that you minimize waiting in public spaces.

2. If you have a fever or respiratory symptoms, we ask that you call to reschedule your appointment. We can help guide you to a place for viral testing if deemed necessary. At this time, we are not testing in our office.

3. We will be rescheduling routine appointments, like annual exams. Someone will be contacting you to reschedule. If possible, please try to wait for a call. We expect our incoming phone lines to be overwhelmed. Don’t worry about prescription refills, we can take care of that until we get you rescheduled

4. We will likely be moving many visits to phone or video visits for the next few weeks. This is a work in progress. We’ll be contacting you if this is our plan for your visit.

5. We will likely adopt a protocol for less frequent prenatal visits suggested by the World Health Organization. We will call you if we plan on rescheduling your appointment. Please rest assured that we will not reschedule your visit if we feel like this is, in any way, unsafe for your or your baby.

6. We will remain open to see our pregnant patients and our patients with urgent gynecological needs. We consider birth control to be an urgent need.

Please understand that all of these restrictions are to limit exposures for both our patients and our staff. We do not take any of these decisions lightly and do it with the utmost concern for your health.

We will continue to make updates as we have them.

woman have bladder pain sitting on bed in bedroom after wake up; blog: urinary tract infections

What You Need to Know About Urinary Tract Infections

Your urinary tract is made up of your kidneys, bladder, ureters (tubes that connect your kidney to your bladder) and your urethra. The primary function of your urinary tract is to flush waste, including bacteria, out of your body through your urine. Sometimes things can go wrong and potentially harmful bacteria will begin to reproduce in your urinary tract and cause infections. 

Most infections are commonly found in the lower urinary tract in the bladder and urethra. If left untreated, it can spread to your upper urinary tract (i.e. bladder and kidneys) and can lead to serious health problems that can be potentially life-threatening. Unfortunately, if you’re a woman, your chances of developing a urinary tract infection are far greater because of your anatomy. 

The most common UTIs in women affect the bladder (cystitis) and urethra (urethritis) and 90% of the time they are caused by the gastrointestinal bacteria, E. coli. Since a woman’s urethra has a shorter distance to the bladder and is in closer proximity to the rectum, the chances of transmitting bacteria from the GI tract increases. 

However, people of any age or sex can develop a urinary tract infection, but women are at a higher risk. About 40 to 60% of women will experience a urinary tract infection in their lifetime. Certain medical conditions and lifestyle factors can increase your chances of developing a UTI if you:

  • Are sexually active
  • Are post-menopausal
  • Are pregnant.
  • Use diaphragms or spermicide
  • Have a spinal cord injury or nerve damage around the urinary tract
  • Have urinary tract blockage, such as kidney stones
  • Have diabetes or immune deficiencies 
  • Recently used a urinary catheter
  • Experienced a UTI in the past

How do you know you have it?

Symptoms common to any type of urinary tract infection include: 

  • Strong, frequent urge to urinate
  • Painful, burning sensation while urinating
  • Bad-smelling urine
  • Cloudy urine or urine with blood in it
  • Passing small amounts of urine, frequently
  • Abdominal discomfort

Other Types of Infections

UTIs can be confused with symptoms caused by other types of infections. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as herpes, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and mycoplasma can also cause urethritis. Yeast infections are a fungus that causes a thick, white vaginal discharge that doesn’t have an odor but shares some symptoms with UTI including burning sensations while urinating. 

Life-threatening Complications

If your UTI is left untreated, it can spread from your bladder into your kidneys. Kidney infections can be serious and lead to a potentially life-threatening condition called sepsis. In addition to UTI symptoms, kidney infections can include fever, chills, pain in your lower back or side and nausea or vomiting. 

Although most kidney infections are from a UTI they can happen following kidney surgery or from an infection that spreads from another part of your body. With March being National Kidney Month, now is a good time to learn how you can improve your kidney functions with a few simple lifestyle steps. 

You can lower your risk of developing a urinary tract infection by:

  • Drinking plenty of water to dilute your urine and flush out bacteria. 
  • Drink cranberry juice.
  • Wipe from front to back.
  • Empty your bladder after intercourse.
  • Avoid irritating products like douches and powders.
  • Change your birth control method. Diaphragms, or unlubricated or spermicide-treated condoms, can all contribute to bacterial growth. 


UTIs, including kidney infections, can be treated with a course of antibiotics. You may begin to feel better after a few days on your antibiotics, however, you should continue taking the medication as prescribed. If you don’t take it as prescribed, stronger bacteria may not be killed causing another flare-up. People with severe kidney infections may need to be hospitalized. While being treated:

  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Take over-the-counter pain medication.
  • Use a heating pad to ease the pain.
  • Avoid coffee and alcohol, which can make you feel like you need to urinate more often. 

If you are concerned by the symptoms you are experiencing, call our Raleigh OB/GYN Center at (919) 876-8225 to schedule an appointment. Our team of healthcare providers has provided personalized and comprehensive care for women in all stages of life for more than 40 years. 

Young woman suffering from strong abdominal pain while sitting on sofa at home; blog: Painful Periods: When to See Your Gynecologist

Painful Periods: When to See Your Gynecologist

Most women are familiar with the pain and cramping associated with menstrual periods. However, the severity of period pain can vary greatly on an individual basis. Some women experience mild discomfort that is easily managed, while others have pain severe enough to interfere with everyday activities during the menstrual cycle each month. Painful periods may be caused by several factors. Depending on how bad the symptoms are and what is causing them, your gynecologist can help you manage the pain.

Causes of Painful Periods

Period pain, medically referred to as dysmenorrhea, is separated into two categories: primary and secondary.

Primary Dysmenorrhea 

Primary dysmenorrhea is pain that is caused exclusively by the menstrual period. Dysmenorrhea is described as throbbing or cramping pain in the lower abdomen or pelvic area. Cramps are caused by the uterus contracting to help expel its lining, which is the purpose of menstruation. These contractions are triggered by prostaglandins, a hormone-like substance. Higher levels of prostaglandins are linked to inflammation and more severe dysmenorrhea.

Secondary Dysmenorrhea

Secondary dysmenorrhea is caused by another condition in the reproductive system. Some conditions that cause secondary period pain include:

  • Endometriosis: Endometriosis is a condition in which tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside of the uterus. It is a common health issue, and according to the US Office on Women’s Health, endometriosis may affect more than 11% of American women between the ages of 15 and 44. The primary symptom of endometriosis is pain, including severe menstrual cramps that may worsen as the disease progresses. Endometriosis also causes pain in the lower back, pelvis, and intestines. It is also one of the most common causes of infertility in women of reproductive age in the US.
  • Adenomyosis: Although it is much rarer than endometriosis, adenomyosis is also a disorder involving the uterine lining. In adenomyosis, the uterine lining grows into the muscle of the uterine wall. Symptoms of the condition include prolonged periods with heavy bleeding and pain.
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): Polycystic ovary syndrome is a hormonal disorder found in many women of reproductive age. According to the CDC, PCOS affects between 6% and 12% of US women of reproductive age.  Some women with PCOS have irregular periods, which may be infrequent and/or prolonged. When women with PCOS have a menstrual period, they often experience heavy bleeding, clots, and severe period pain. As with endometriosis, as PCOS progresses, symptoms like period pain will get worse as well. Other symptoms of PCOS include weight gain, fatigue, painful intercourse, excess facial and body hair growth, acne, male-pattern baldness, ovarian cysts, and infertility.
  • Uterine Fibroids: Fibroids are noncancerous growths in the uterus. Often, uterine fibroids don’t cause noticeable symptoms. However, the size, location, and the number of fibroids may cause symptoms like heavy, painful periods that last more than a week. Other symptoms include pelvic pressure or pain, frequent urination, backaches, and leg pain.
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID): Pelvic inflammatory disease is an infection in the uterus, fallopian tubes, or ovaries. PID is usually caused by sexually transmitted bacteria that travel from the vagina into other parts of the reproductive system. The infection causes inflammation. If the infection is present during the menstrual period, cramping and discomfort may be more severe than normal.
  • Cervical Stenosis: Cervical stenosis is a rare condition in which the cervix is much smaller or narrower than usual. It can cause menstrual flow to slow, resulting in increased pressure and pain in the uterus.

How Your Gynecologist Can Help

If you are experiencing period pain that interferes with your daily life every month, then you should talk to your gynecologist. They can determine whether your period pain is primary or secondary dysmenorrhea. From there, the gynecologist can prescribe treatment that will help you manage your symptoms.

If your pain is caused by primary dysmenorrhea, or menstrual cramps on their own, the doctor may prescribe medication to relieve pain. Period pain can also be managed with hormonal birth control, which prevents ovulation and reduces the severity of cramps. Birth control can be given orally, by injection, through an implant in the arm, vaginal ring, dermal patches, or intrauterine device (IUD).

If period pain is caused by an underlying condition, your doctor can recommend treatment options based on the specific condition. Conditions like endometriosis and PCOS are also treated with hormonal birth control and pain relievers but further treatment such as other medications or surgery.

Raleigh OB/GYN Centre provides state-of-the-art care for gynecologic conditions, including painful periods, endometriosis, bleeding problems, and pelvic pain. If you have concerns about severe period pain or another condition, call (919) 876-8225 to schedule an appointment at one of our convenient locations.