How to Protect Your Reproductive Health
How to Protect Your Reproductive Health

When you aren’t ready to be pregnant, you might not think about whether or not it will be an option available to you if the time becomes right down the road. What you do today can impact your reproductive health now and in the future.

Your reproductive system is responsible for supporting pregnancy and birth, and reproductive health is about how well your reproductive system functions. The World Health Organization (WHO) says it well when describing reproductive health as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

Read on to learn more about why it’s so important to keep a close eye on your reproductive health.

How to Protect Your Reproductive Health: Why You Should Monitor It

Reproductive health is not only vital to your fertility but also to your overall health and well-being. Monitor your reproductive health is important to:

1. Prevent disease and complications

The saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” rings true when it comes to your reproductive health.

First, your gynecologist offers valuable education at your routine visits. They will advise you on how often you should be screened for physical sicknesses such as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), cervical cancer, and diabetes.

Another aspect of routine reproductive health visits is that it allows your healthcare provider to talk with you about issues including family planning, urinary incontinence, emotional anxiety, and domestic violence.  

See your gynecologist every year — even if you don’t have symptoms — to prevent diseases and their complications. It will also allow your doctor a chance to catch problems early, so you have a higher chance for a better outcome.

2. Diagnose and treat STDs early

STDs can lead to long-term pain and infertility. One in five people in the United States has an STD, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The problem is that you typically have symptoms like pain or fevers when you have an infection. But this is not so with gonorrhea and chlamydia. In fact, chlamydia is known as the “silent infection.”

It’s not uncommon for women to go many years with undiagnosed and untreated STDs leading to long-term pelvic pain and infertility.  By following CDC screening guidelines, STDs can be caught as soon as possible. Early detection decreases the chance of spreading STDs to others and prevents permanent damage to your reproductive organs.

3. Protect your future reproductive options

Even if you have no plans to become pregnant soon, now is the time to protect your future reproductive options by monitoring your reproductive health. Many conditions can lead to future infertility, so protect yourself now in the following ways:

  • Get routine STD screenings.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Practice “safe” sex. The best way to practice “safe” sex is to have a single partner for life.

Willowbrook Women’s Center Offers You Support

Hopefully, the tips we’ve discussed here have encouraged you to monitor your reproductive health. If you are pregnant, you may qualify for STD testing at Willowbrook Women’s Center at no cost to you. Contact us today for your confidential appointment.

Pregnancy Clinic Near Savannah

The anxiety is fresh. Your thoughts race from asking yourself questions like, “When did this happen?” to trying to figure out what to do next. Take a deep breath and know that you aren’t alone. Willowbrook Women’s Center near Savannah, Missouri, is here to help you take one manageable step at a time. We’ll equip you with the critical information you need to make a confident decision about your unexpected pregnancy.

Any time you make an important decision, you need to have accurate facts to weigh your options. At Willowbrook, we equip you with the information you need to make this difficult decision about your unplanned pregnancy. Our desire is for you to be empowered by our no-cost services so that you can feel sure about your choice.

No-cost Services to Empower You With Critical Information

As impossible and scary as an unexpected pregnancy feels, you will get through this. Your first step is to make a confidential appointment at our pregnancy clinic in Savannah. We offer services to empower you with information, including:

  • Your questions answered by compassionate licensed medical professionals and patient advocates. Your situation is unique to you, and our trained advocates are dedicated to educating you and answering your questions. They will also review abortion, pregnancy, and your options with you.
  • Lab-grade pregnancy testing. Even if you have already taken a home pregnancy test, we will do another lab-grade pregnancy test and give you written pregnancy verification.
  • Limited pregnancy ultrasound. It’s crucial to know if you have a viable pregnancy before considering abortion. Approximately 20% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage in the first three months. A viable pregnancy is one that is in the uterus and has a likelihood of resulting in birth. We offer limited ultrasounds to confirm if your pregnancy is viable.
  • Sexually Transmitted Infection STD Testing: If your pregnancy test is positive, we will also provide you an (STD) test to protect your reproductive health.

If you choose to continue your pregnancy or need treatment for a positive STD test, Willowbrook Women’s Center can provide you with a list of resources from the community. Our center partners with doctors and agencies to provide services, resources, and ongoing support.

About Savannah

Savannah is known for “small town living at it’s best.” If you want to capture a picture of the American Midwest, you will find it in the rural, agricultural town of Savannah. This charming community of 5,100 people is located in the rolling hills of Andrew County, about one hour north of Kansas City via I-29 north.

Not only can you enjoy the benefits of a small town, but you can easily access the perks of larger cities.  Savannah is close to major cities in Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, and Iowa, which you can easily get to by nearby highway interstate access.

There are abundant opportunities to explore the captivating essence of nature in Savannah. The Missouri Department of Conservation maintains fourteen different conservation areas for visitors to experience the following activities:

  • Access to the Missouri, Platte, and One Hundred Two Rivers
  • Canoeing
  • Boating
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Bird-watching
  • Wildlife-watching
  • Fishing
  • Hunting

The city of Savannah was founded in 1841. It was named after Savannah Woods, a settler’s daughter, who was named after her parents’ hometown of Savannah, Georgia. The community of Savannah remembers and honors its heritage. You can take a trip through its history at the Andrew County Museum, which boasts an award-winning interactive exhibit, “A Rural Way of Life.”

Can I Be Pregnant at 40?

The last thing you anticipated was an unplanned pregnancy at 40. You might have started out wondering if your symptoms were signs of perimenopause, but now you think you could be pregnant. Are there differences between perimenopause and pregnancy symptoms? Can you actually be unexpectedly pregnant at 40? And can you have a healthy pregnancy? The answer to all these questions is yes, and we’ll explore the answers to these questions here.

Pregnant or Perimenopause?

Anyone who unexpectedly experiences symptoms of pregnancy after age 40 wonders if what they’re feeling is due to perimenopause rather than pregnancy. Pregnancy and perimenopause indeed share similar symptoms as follows:

  • Menstrual changes
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Mood changes
  • Headaches
  • Bloating and cramping
  • Hot flashes

Yet the following symptoms are usually unique to pregnancy:  

  • Tender/swollen breasts
  • Food aversion
  • Constipation
  • Nausea/vomiting

If you are feeling these unique pregnancy symptoms, you undoubtedly have many more questions like, “Can I really be pregnant?” and, “Am I high-risk if so?”

Can I Be Pregnant at 40?

Yes, not only can you be pregnant at 40, but you can also have a healthy pregnancy. Becoming pregnant in the first place is the hard part. According to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a woman only has about a five percent chance of becoming pregnant each month once she turns 40.

There was a time when women were told that pregnancy after age 35 was a bad idea, but that has changed. Advances in prenatal care and medicine have made this the safest time in history to be pregnant at 40, and it continues to improve.

It’s also a popular time to be 40 and pregnant as trends reveal the number of women giving birth in their 40s (and 50s) is at record highs; the average age of women when they give birth for the first time has consistently risen since 1970. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that in 1970, 1 out of 100 women giving birth was over age 35, and now that number is approximately 1 in 7. Since 1990, the rates of first pregnancies between the ages of 40-44 have more than doubled.

Now that you know you’re not the only one experiencing your situation and that you can have a healthy pregnancy when you’re 40, you might still be wondering about risks.

What About High-Risk Pregnancy?

When you’re 40 years old or beyond, you may be wondering about increased risks if you choose to continue your pregnancy. All pregnancies after age 40 are labeled as high risk, which sounds scary. Yet, a high-risk pregnancy doesn’t mean you won’t have a healthy pregnancy. What it does mean is that you will receive extra care (like seeing a high-risk obstetrician) to have a good pregnancy outcome.

Your doctor will monitor you closely for pregnancy complications, including:

  • Miscarriage (rate near 50% after 40)
  • Gestational diabetes
  • High blood pressure (sometimes leading to preeclampsia)
  • Preterm labor
  • Low birth weight

More Questions?

At Willowbrook Women’s Center, we understand the shock and difficulty of discovering you’re unexpectedly pregnant at 40, and we’re here to help you explore your options and resources. Our team is compassionate to your situation. You can rest assured that you can discuss all of your concerns with our skilled advocates and licensed medical professionals in a judgment-free setting. Make an appointment today!

How Can a Virus Affect My Pregnancy?

Few things are as stressful as discovering you’re unexpectedly pregnant. It’s understandable to be overwhelmed with many decisions about your pregnancy because it impacts your education, career, relationships, and life. The entire process of finding the trustworthy support you need to make an informed choice can take its toll.

Just when you feel like you’re on solid footing, doubt sets in as you wonder how getting a virus will affect your pregnancy. No one enjoys getting sick. But when the thought of a viral illness is added to an unexpected pregnancy, it can really spark uncertainty and anxiety. The information we provide here may help set your mind at ease.

What is a Viral Illness?

Viruses are microscopic germs that sometimes cause you to get sick. Unlike bacterial infections, viral illnesses can’t be cured by antibiotics. There are medications to help with the symptoms of viral infections, but your body’s immune system needs to fight it off.

Viruses can cause illnesses including the common cold, influenza (the “flu”), cytomegalovirus (CMV), chickenpox, fifth disease, rubella (German measles), and others.

One way to prevent catching a virus is to keep your immune system healthy.

Your Immune System During Pregnancy

Some think that your immune system wouldn’t be available to fight off viruses throughout your pregnancy. However, current research reveals it might be stronger during the beginning and end of pregnancy.

Researcher, Dr. Brice Gaudilliere, discovered that your body adjusts your immune system’s strength and weakness, so it’s perfectly timed to reach the best pregnancy outcome.

Your immune system kicks in strongly during the first twelve weeks of pregnancy to help it survive the critical early weeks of development. For the next fifteen weeks, your immune system slows down to give your fetus a chance to grow without your immune system attacking it. Then your immune system ramps up again in preparation for a successful delivery.

These essential actions can help keep your immune system healthy:

  • Get good quality and quantity of sleep (minimum 8 hours).
  • Take adequate rest breaks during the day.
  • Minimize stress.
  • Eat more whole plant foods (fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes).
  • Eat healthy fats to reduce inflammation.
  • Take your prenatal vitamins.
  • Stay up-to-date on vaccines your doctor recommends.
  • Keep your gut bacteria balanced (with probiotics or fermented foods like yogurt).
  • Get adequate exercise (approved by your doctor).
  • Get fresh air, and don’t smoke.
  • Maintain good hygiene (handwashing, etc.).

How Can A Virus Affect My Pregnancy?

Most fetuses’ aren’t harmed when a pregnant mother gets a viral illness; however, a high fever from the flu in early pregnancy can cause complications. Before you feel panicked, call your doctor about taking a medication to lower your temperature if you have one.

According to March of Dimes, if you get the flu while you’re pregnant, you could be at a higher risk of preterm labor (labor before 37 weeks of pregnancy) and premature birth (birth before 37 weeks of pregnancy).

Benjamin Franklin’s words make sense when it comes to preventing a viral illness during your pregnancy, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Your best defense is prevention!

How to Prevent Getting a Virus While You’re Pregnant

Cold and flu are spread through microscopic droplets from the respiratory system of another person. If they cough or sneeze and you come in contact with their virus, you can also become infected. Sexually transmitted viruses are from an infected partner.

You might be more susceptible to viruses while you’re pregnant, so take extra precautions to care for yourself. Pregnancy isn’t the time to “tough it out.”

In addition to the suggestions on keeping your immune system more robust throughout your pregnancy, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers the following tips to prevent you from becoming infected with a virus while you’re pregnant:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water frequently and always after you use the bathroom and before you eat. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers if soap and water aren’t available.
  • Don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Avoid people who you know have an infection.
  • Wash your dishes with hot, soapy water (or a dishwasher).
  • Don’t share your dishes, glasses, utensils, or toothbrush.
  • Stay away from wild or pet rodents and their droppings.
  • Protect yourself from sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as HIV and hepatitis B.

What About COVID-19 (Coronavirus)?

Pregnancy, in the best of circumstances, raises many questions for a pregnant woman. It’s normal to be particularly concerned when you’re pregnant amid a pandemic.

There is much we still don’t know about COVID-19 because it’s a brand new virus, but trends are being reported as more women give birth. If you’re under the care of a physician, make a list of questions to discuss regarding your specific situation. If not, we hope these answers to the most commonly asked questions are helpful.

  1. It appears that you are not more susceptible to COVID-19 when you’re pregnant than not pregnant.
  • If you catch a cold or flu virus while you’re pregnant, you are at higher risk for respiratory complications. You would have a similar higher risk if you contracted COVID-19 while you’re pregnant.
  • The coronavirus hasn’t been found in amniotic fluid or breastmilk, so it can’t be passed on directly through them.  
  • You can still breastfeed if you desire. If you are infected with COVID-19, hospitals are still encouraging breastfeeding with greater infection precautions (handwashing and masks).
  • In the beginning, a few hospitals didn’t allow a support person to be present during birth, but now hospitals are advised to let one support person be present with you when you give birth so that you won’t be alone.
  • Pregnancy and birth classes are still available online so that you will feel prepared.
  • There are cases of newborns testing positive to mothers who are positive for COVID-19, but they have been symptomless or mild.
  • You can reduce your risks from COVID-19: follow shelter-in-place orders, practice social distancing, wear a mask if you must be out, and heed the tips we’ve discussed to boost your immune system and prevent the spread of viruses.

Improving your immune system and taking preventive steps can reduce your risk of viruses while you’re pregnant. Willowbrook Women’s Center has licensed medical professionals available to confidentially answer your questions and help guide you through an unepected pregnancy. Contact us today. You can also call or text our 24-hour hotline at  816-244-7824.