Posts Tagged ‘reproductive health’

A quick guide to preconception health

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2018

If you are thinking of getting pregnant, whether it’s soon or sometime in the future, one thing is for sure—your preconception health matters! So what is preconception health exactly?

Preconception health is your health before pregnancy. In addition to helping improve your chances of getting pregnant, being healthy before pregnancy can help prevent complications when you do get pregnant. Good preconception health includes getting a preconception checkup and talking to your health care provider about any health conditions you, your partner and everyone in your families have had.

Once you and your partner feel you are ready to have a baby, it’s important that you start to focus on your health at least 3 months before you start trying to get pregnant. Here are some things you can do:

Take a vitamin supplement with 400 micrograms of folic acid in it each day. This is very important. Folic acid helps prevent birth defects of the brain and spine in your baby called neural tube defects (NTDs).

Stay away from harmful substances. Don’t smoke, drink alcohol or use street drugs. All of these can make it harder for you to get pregnant, and they’re harmful to your baby when you do get pregnant. Tell your provider if you need help to quit.

Make sure medicines you take won’t harm your baby. Some medications are not safe to use when you’re pregnant, so you may need to stop taking them or switch to something safer. Tell your provider about any medicine you take. Don’t stop taking any prescription medicine without your provider’s OK. Stopping certain medicines, can be more harmful to you or your baby than taking the medicine. If you take prescription opioids (medicine used to relieve pain) tell your provider, even if it was prescribed to you by another provider. Using opioids during pregnancy can cause problems for your baby.

Get treatment for health conditions. Conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure can cause serious problems if they are not under control. Your provider can also check for infections, including sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Get vaccinated. Make sure all of your vaccinations are up to date before pregnancy. Infections like chickenpox and rubella (also called German measles) can harm you and your baby during pregnancy. Get a flu shot once a year before flu season (October through May).

Get to a healthy weight. If you are overweight or underweight, you are at higher risk for complications, like premature birth. Talk to your provider about what a healthy weight is for you.

Take care of your mental health: If you think you may be depressed, talk to your provider right away. There are many ways to deal with depression. Getting treatment and counseling early may help.

Take care of your reproductive health

Monday, September 11th, 2017

If you’re planning to get pregnant in the future, it’s important that you take care of your reproductive health now.

Visit your health care provider regularly

Make sure you have an annual checkup with your provider. Your provider will most likely:

  • Give you a physical exam that includes taking your weight and checking your blood pressure
  • Give you a pelvic exam. This is an exam of the pelvic organs, like the vagina, cervix, uterus and ovaries, to make sure they’re healthy.
  • Do a Pap test. This is a medical test in which your provider collects cells from your cervix to check for cancer.

Protect yourself from sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

An STI is an infection that you can get from having unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex with someone who is infected. Many people with STIs don’t know they’re infected because some STIs have no signs or symptoms. Nearly 20 million new STI infections happen each year in the United States. Here’s what you can do to protect yourself from STIs:

  • Don’t have sex. This is the best way to prevent an STI.
  • If you do have sex, have safe sex. Have sex with only one person who doesn’t have other sex partners. If you’re not sure if your partner has an STI, use a barrier method of birth control, like a male or female condom or a dental dam. A dental dam is a square piece of rubber that can help protect you from STIs during oral sex.
  • Get tested and treated. The sooner you’re treated, the less likely you are to have complications from your infection.
  • Ask your partner to get tested and treated. Even if you get treated for an STI, if your partner’s infected he may be able to give you the infection again.

If you’re not ready to get pregnant, use birth control

More than half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned. Planning your pregnancy can help you have a healthy baby. If you’re planning to have a baby, you’re more likely to get healthy before you get pregnant and to get early and regular prenatal care during pregnancy. If you’re not ready for pregnancy, birth control options include:

  • Abstinence. This means you abstain from (don’t have) sex. Abstinence is the only birth control that’s 100 percent effective. This means it prevents pregnancy all the time.
  • Intrauterine devices (IUDs). An IUD is a small, plastic T-shaped device that your provider puts in your uterus. Hormonal IUDs contain progestin and last for 3-5 years. Non-hormonal IUDs contain copper and can work for up to 10 years.
  • Implants. An implant is a tiny rod that contains progestin and is inserted into your arm. The rod is so small that most people can’t see it. Implants can last for about 3 years.
  • Hormonal methods. These methods, like implants, non-copper IUDs, the pill and the patch, contain hormones that prevent you from releasing an egg. Without the egg, you can’t get pregnant.
  • Barrier methods. Condoms and diaphragms are barrier methods because they work by blocking or killing your partner’s sperm so it can’t reach your egg.

Have questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Join our Twitter Chat on smoking and women’s reproductive health

Monday, July 14th, 2014

chatAre you pregnant? Hoping to be pregnant? Do you smoke? Are you worried about the possible effects on your baby?

Join us on Wednesday, July 16th from 2-3pm ET, for a Twitter chat on smoking and women’s reproductive health.

We are joining the CDC, the Office of the Surgeon General and other guests to discuss the newest information on this topic. Learn how you can protect yourself and your  baby from the harmful effects of smoking. We will discuss the findings of the recent Surgeon General’s report on smoking, as well as the services and resources available in your community to help you or loved ones quit smoking.

We’d love for you to share your tips and experiences with us. Jump in the conversation at any time to ask questions or tell us your story.

Just follow #SGR50chat. We hope to see you then!