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If you’ve been wondering how often should you go to the gynecologist, the short answer is once a year. But, like anything else pertaining to medicine, this is a highly personal choice based on both your medical history and your current state of health.

No matter where you fall in the scheme of things, it’s important not to put off an annual exam based on fear. With the right doctor, it can be far less stressful than you might imagine. Let’s take a moment to run through what to expect in an annual exam and how often you should go.

What to Expect in an Annual Gynecological Exam

In an annual gynecological exam, your doctor is likely to perform, at a minimum, a pelvic exam and a pap smear. Depending on your age, he or she will also examine your breasts for any abnormalities or perform a mammogram.  During a pelvic exam, your doctor will check for abnormalities in your cervix, uterus, ovaries, and bladder. Regarding your cervix, a pap smear will also be performed. This is a gentle swabbing of your cervix to test for any abnormal cells.

The Importance of an Annual Exam

Just once a year, it’s important to make sure the breast tissue is normal, as well as the cervix, uterus, and other vital reproductive organs.  All women should receive annual vaginal exams even after hysterectomy Age aside, the moment a woman becomes sexually active, there’s no more room for questioning. She must start a relationship with a gynecologist. It’s important to consider birth control options and conduct, at a minimum, an annual screening for STDs.

Does The One Year Rule Ever Change?

The one year rule should hold steady if you’ve been given a clean bill of health. However, certain variables may come into play. For example, if you have abnormal bleeding or chronic issues like diabetes you may need to come more often.  Your doctor will be upfront and honest with you about the best course of treatment for your current state of health.

How Often Should You Go To The Gynecologist?

If you’re wondering how often should you go to the gynecologist, start by considering an annual exam. Without knowing anything about a woman’s health history, this is a smart place to start.  It’s a short visit for what could turn out to be a life-changing affair.  Here at Innovative Women’s Health, we understand the magic that’s specific only to a woman’s body. We provide a full range of services to meet all your healthcare needs.

Call us today at 423-771-9680 to set yourself on a pathway to health and happiness.

The post How Often Should You Go to the Gynecologist? appeared first on Innovative Women's Health Specialists.

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Have trouble falling asleep? Struggling with back and hip pain? Perhaps you’re also feeling lightheaded? Don’t panic! These symptoms are perfectly normal during the third trimester of pregnancy.
You can add tiredness, heartburn, shortness of breath and spider veins to that list also!

Pregnancy comes with its challenges. For many women, the last three months of this journey are the most difficult. They feel more tired than usual, experience back pain and leg cramps, and have swollen feet. Plus, your uterus reaches the size of a watermelon. Luckily, it will all be over soon and you’ll finally be able to enjoy your baby.

Eager to learn more? Here are five third trimester symptoms to prepare for.

Swelling (Edema)

During pregnancy, maternal plasma water volume increases 45 percent to meet the circulatory needs of your reproductive organs. At the same time, your uterus is putting pressure on the arteries that transport blood to the heart, so the extra fluid builds up in your legs and feet. Try to sit with your legs elevated to reduce swelling. Avoid prolonged sitting and standing. Compression stockings can help too.

Difficulty Breathing

Many moms-to-be experience increased respiratory rate in the third trimester of pregnancy.  That’s because the diaphragm elevates in pregnancy to make room for the term uterus. When this happens the air in the lungs is diminished. This is most notable climbing stairs or when out on a walk. Try to stay active, but don’t go overboard. Practice good posture so your lungs can expand. Place a large pillow under your head and shoulders during sleep so you can breathe more easily.

Hemorrhoids

Approximately 25 to 35 percent of women develop hemorrhoids while pregnant. A staggering 85 percent report this symptom in the second and third trimester. The increased blood volume and fluid retention, as well as the weight of your belly, are all responsible for the onset of hemorrhoids. Constipation plays a role too. Take a warm bath to relieve discomfort. Add more fiber to your diet to prevent constipation. Ask your doctor to prescribe you an OTC hemorrhoid ointment.

Incontinence

Bladder and bowel incontinence are common symptoms among pregnant women, especially during the last trimester and after childbirth. More than half of future moms say that stress urinary incontinence affects their quality of life. This symptom is due to the extra pressure on your bladder and bowel as well as to the hormonal fluctuations that occur in your body. Again, it’s important to increase your daily fiber intake. Eat more fruits and vegetables, oat and wheat bran, psyllium husk, and other high-fiber foods. Do your Kegels more often.

Hip and Back Pain

Hip and back pain tends to worsen during the last three months of pregnancy. Your uterus is putting pressure on the sciatic nerve, causing severe pain and aches. Heating pads, mild exercise, and certain pain relievers can help, stretching as in yoga helps as well as swimming to strengthen back muscles. Consult your doctor before taking any meds.

Third Trimester Symptoms Won’t Last Forever

Third-trimester symptoms may also include vaginal pain, insomnia, snoring, restless legs, and fatigue. Some women lose their appetite or can barely eat because of heartburn.  No matter how difficult it may seem to cope with these issues, it will all be worth it. Remember, it’s just an inconvenience.

Don’t let these symptoms take over your life and ruin your experience! Plan a short trip to relax and take a mental break. It might be exactly what you need right now.

The post 5 Third Trimester Symptoms to Prepare For appeared first on Innovative Women's Health Specialists.

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If you’ve been wondering how often should you go to the gynecologist, the short answer is once a year. But, like anything else pertaining to medicine, this is a highly personal choice based on both your medical history and your current state of health.

No matter where you fall in the scheme of things, it’s important not to put off an annual exam based on fear. With the right doctor, it can be far less stressful than you might imagine. Let’s take a moment to run through what to expect in an annual exam and how often you should go.

What to Expect in an Annual Gynecological Exam

In an annual gynecological exam, your doctor is likely to perform, at a minimum, a pelvic exam and a pap smear. Depending on your age, he or she will also examine your breasts for any abnormalities or perform a mammogram.  During a pelvic exam, your doctor will check for abnormalities in your cervix, uterus, ovaries, and bladder. Regarding your cervix, a pap smear will also be performed. This is a gentle swabbing of your cervix to test for any abnormal cells.

The Importance of an Annual Exam

Just once a year, it’s important to make sure the breast tissue is normal, as well as the cervix, uterus, and other vital reproductive organs.  All women should receive annual vaginal exams even after hysterectomy Age aside, the moment a woman becomes sexually active, there’s no more room for questioning. She must start a relationship with a gynecologist. It’s important to consider birth control options and conduct, at a minimum, an annual screening for STDs.

Does The One Year Rule Ever Change?

The one year rule should hold steady if you’ve been given a clean bill of health. However, certain variables may come into play. For example, if you have abnormal bleeding or chronic issues like diabetes you may need to come more often.  Your doctor will be upfront and honest with you about the best course of treatment for your current state of health.

How Often Should You Go To The Gynecologist?

If you’re wondering how often should you go to the gynecologist, start by considering an annual exam. Without knowing anything about a woman’s health history, this is a smart place to start.  It’s a short visit for what could turn out to be a life-changing affair.  Here at Innovative Women’s Health, we understand the magic that’s specific only to a woman’s body. We provide a full range of services to meet all your healthcare needs.

Call us today at 423-771-9680 to set yourself on a pathway to health and happiness.

The post How Often Should You Go to the Gynecologist? appeared first on Innovative Women's Health Specialists.

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Having some spotting between periods is a source of worry for a lot of women. It can occur, but when should you be worried? There are a lot of reasons that this could be happening, some are more a cause for concern than others.

On top of any medical questions that come up, it’s an inconvenience to worry about ruining clothes, wearing light pants, and planning your day around the chance that you might have some spotting.  We’ll go into a little detail about things you should look out for when it comes to spotting between periods.

Should You Be Worried Spotting Between Periods?

To start, let’s define a normal period. Periods generally last around seven days or less. There are typically about three to five weeks between those periods. The average period results in the loss of just under 3 ounces of blood. An abnormal period is one that lasts longer than seven days, occurs after a five-week timeframe or before a three-week one, or more than 3 ounces in blood loss.

Changes are likely to occur as a woman approaches menopause, but any changes should be taken seriously.

Abnormal Bleeding and Spotting

Spotting is a form of abnormal bleeding. There are a number of ways that spotting can happen. Random bleeding between periods is the primary one that women experience. Minimal bleeding is referred to as spotting. In other words, the blood might lightly stain your pad or prompt you to use a tampon.

A lifestyle change, a vacation abroad, or stress could disrupt your cycle a little bit.

If you’ve been experiencing spotting for over a month or you feel like your situation is abnormal in some way, consult with your gynecologist.  Extended bleeding could be a sign of numerous things. STDs cause irritation and spotting. Other things that can cause abnormal bleeding include medications or some kind of condition that is affecting your hormones.

Thyroid disorders and polycystic ovary syndrome just two of such health issues that could lead to spotting. There’s no harm in checking up with your gynecologist.

Have Other Questions?

Spotting between periods is one of many women’s health questions that naturally come up. As with most things in the body, we don’t really understand what they mean until we read up on them.

If you have concerns about other women’s health issues, visit our site to get the information you need.

The post Spotting Between Periods: Should I Be Worried? appeared first on Innovative Women's Health Specialists.

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When it comes to preventing pregnancy, most people think of birth control pills and condoms as their only options. While you certainly can rely on these measures, there are plenty of other birth control alternatives you can use instead.

Listed below are seven popular contraceptive options that are perfect for women who want to avoid getting pregnant without relying on traditional methods.

IUD

An IUD, or intrauterine device, is placed inside the woman’s uterus. IUD’s can remain effective for 5 to 10 years depending on the brand. IUDs make it harder for sperm to fertilize an egg, and they’re very effective. IUD’s are effective in preventing pregnancy from 99.9% to 98.9%. An IUD is a long-lasting and low-maintenance option that can also make menstrual periods lighter and shorter.

Birth Control Implant

A birth control implant is a small rod that is placed under the skin of the upper arm. It releases the same hormones found in a birth control shot and has a failure rate of less than one percent. The implant also protects against pregnancy for three years before it needs to be removed. It can be expensive up front, but many women find the convenience is worth the price.

Vaginal Ring

This is a soft, silicone ring that is worn inside the vagina. It releases the same hormones that are used in birth control pills, and it’s highly effective at preventing pregnancy. Most women notice lighter and more regular periods when they use the vaginal ring. But, it can cause vaginal irritation and other side effects similar to those brought on by birth control pills.

Birth Control Patch

If you have a hard time remembering to take a daily pill, you can try wearing a birth control patch instead. It’s worn on the skin and changed once a week for three weeks. You then go a week without it. The patch releases the same hormones found in birth control pills. Many women experience lighter and more regular periods, along with fewer symptoms like cramping. The patch can cause some skin irritation, though.

Birth Control Shot

This is a hormonal shot that prevents pregnancy for three months at a time. It’s highly effective and, in a year, only about three percent of users get pregnant. The shot can be expensive, and it may cause spotting and some other mild side effects.

Fertility Awareness Method

Finally, if you want a simple and free method of preventing pregnancy, you can use the Fertility Awareness Method. This involves tracking the menstrual cycle to figure out when a woman is ovulating. By tracking her cycle this way, women can abstain from sex or use additional protection during the time of the month when she’s most fertile.

Want to Learn about These Birth Control Alternatives?

Are you interested in learning more about these birth control alternatives? Do you want to talk to a doctor and figure out which one is best for you? If so, contact us at Innovative Women’s Health Specialists today. We offer a variety of women’s health services to help you feel your best at every stage of life.

The post 7 Popular Birth Control Alternatives for Modern Women appeared first on Innovative Women's Health Specialists.

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Many people fear growing older, wondering about changes in bodily functions and gray hair. However, the aging process brings positive changes and can be enjoyable if you understand the changes going on in your body and maintain total body wellness. To provide additional reassurances of a happier journey through aging, we have provided some tips to help you maintain your health no matter what your age.

Think it Through.

Engaging in stress-relieving or stress-management practices can boost your optimism and strengthen your satisfaction with the life you are living. You might find using yoga or meditation will give your brain a boost in happiness and strengthen your mind.

Act on  Activity.

Although you might feel like your body is wearing down, there is still so much potential left inside! It doesn’t have to be as drastic as running a marathon, but doing aerobics, walking, or other blood-pumping activities several times a week can improve your circulation, maintain heart health, and strengthen and tone muscles. The YMCA is known for offering swimming and water aerobics, which can provide cardiovascular activity without putting stress on your joints.

Activity doesn’t just need to happen outdoors or in the gym. Sexual activity offers both physical and emotional support during the aging process. Many older couples find greater satisfaction in their sex lives than they did when they were younger, as they have more time, fewer distractions, and increased privacy.

Fuel up with Food.

As your body ages, your body’s balance in nutritional needs might shift. Aging is accompanied by a loss in muscle mass, but potassium-rich foods can put the brakes on the process. Eating potatoes, leafy greens and fruits such as bananas and papayas can fortify your muscle mass and reduce loss. Consciously remember five to nine servings a day is optimal, and try to include two types of potassium-rich foods at each meal.

Build up your Bones

As you age, subtle changes in your bone density may occur. When bones become brittle and thin, a fragile bone condition called osteoporosis occurs. Thinning bones can increase the risk of falls and other injuries. Calcium is a mineral that helps the bones stay strong, and eating a diet rich in dark leafy green vegetables as well as foods containing Vitamin D will help your body maintain good bone health.

Prioritize the Probiotics.

Throughout the aging process, the digestive system is prone to being a little sluggish. Keep your gut health working strong by consuming probiotics daily. Probiotic pills or foods (such as yogurt, sauerkraut, kombucha or kimchi) contain helpful bacteria that have potential to strengthen your body’s immunity as well as the digestive tract.

Notice what’s not right.

While bodily changes are natural, take notice of things that aren’t quite right. For instance, increased issues with constipation, stomach pain and nausea could indicate digestive track struggles. The digestive tract does not contract as often during the aging process, turning it firm and rigid. Experiencing the above symptoms might indicate the need for a diet change.

Teeth and gums also experience change during aging, but it can provide discomfort. Other changes could include increased risk for gum disease or cavities. Maintaining proper dental hygiene is a key way to address these changes.

Over time, changes in heart function can also occur. With increased age, the wall of the heart may thicken and lower heart rates. If you ever experience pain, shortness of breath, or abnormal rhythms, check with your doctor as these could indicate a more serious condition.

Value the Vitamins.

Vitamins are an easy way to keep you feeling youthful and give your life vitality. For brain health, try B12 which is often found in seafood, just like omega-3s, which are necessary for heart health. Vitamin D- found in fish, eggs, fortified milk- may help protect against cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, certain cancers, and some autoimmune disorders. While you can get a healthy dose of vitamins from an intentional selection of fruits and vegetables, talk to your doctor about a multi-vitamin or supplements that are specific to your body’s needs.

Find a friend.

Although aging is normal, you might find yourself feeling a bit lonely. Find support and encouragement as you understand your body changes by staying connected with friends and family or join a recreation or social club that shares your interest. Having someone to talk to or spend time with can help reduce stress, high blood pressure, and even depression.

Practice Prevention.

Although it sounds like a no-brainer, be sure to keep all your regular doctor appointments and follow medicinal schedules. Be proactive in taking care of your health.

Be sure to get the sleep your body needs to remain healthy and active, and maintain a healthy diet. Avoid smoking and alcohol, and limit consumption of junk food. Healthy aging is a process and taking proactive steps now fuel a long-term journey.

The silver lining of aging doesn’t have to be found in the gray hairs becoming more apparent in your hairline. You can enjoy a smooth transition to aging when you decide to meet it head-on with a healthy diet, consistent activity, and a positive mentality. For the things that you can’t fix, check with your doctor for more ideas and advice on how to enjoy the golden years that lie ahead.d.

The post Tips for Healthy Aging appeared first on Innovative Women's Health Specialists.

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Sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) affect over 20 million Americans, with all ages and genders being susceptible. These infections are spread through oral, vaginal, or anal sex, and awareness is key to reducing the likelihood of spreading a disease to your partner or becoming infected yourself. Getting the facts about STI’s and talking to your healthcare provider is important to maintaining sexual health. Here we will outline some of the more common STI’s and how to treat or eliminate them.

Human papillomavirus (HPV)

This is the most common sexually transmitted infection; 79 million Americans have contracted the infection. HPV is a virus that can be spread from person to person through skin-to-skin contact; sexual intercourse is not required for infection to occur, although is most commonly spread through vaginal, anal or oral sex. Anyone sexually active can become infected, and symptoms are often rarely noticed or even experienced until years after the first exposure.

HPV can cause the following diseases:

  • Genital warts—About a dozen types of HPV cause genital warts. These types are called “low-risk types.” Most cases of genital warts are caused by just two low-risk types of HPV: 1) type 6 and 2) type 11. Genital warts are growths that can appear on the outside or inside the vagina or on the penis and can spread to the nearby skin. Genital warts also can grow around the anus, on the vulva, or on the cervix. Genital warts are not cancer and do not turn into cancer. Warts can be removed with medication or surgery.
  • Cancer—At least 13 types of HPV are linked to cancer of the cervix, anus, vagina, penis, mouth, and throat. Types of HPV that cause cancer are known as “high-risk types.” Most cases of HPV-related cancer are caused by just two high-risk types of HPV: 1) type 16 and 2) type 18.

Girls and boys should get the HPV vaccine as a series of shots. Vaccination works best when it is done before a person is sexually active and exposed to HPV, but it still can reduce the risk of getting HPV if given after a person has become sexually active. The ideal age for HPV vaccination is age 11 years or 12 years, but it can be given starting at age 9 years and through age 26 years.

For those aged 9–14 years, two shots of vaccine are recommended. The second shot should be given 6–12 months after the first one. For those aged 15 years through 26 years, three shots of vaccine are recommended.

Chlamydia

Chlamydia is another commonly reported STI in the US. It is most often spread through vaginal or anal sex, and only about 25% of women and 50% of men experience significant symptoms. A noticeable discharge from the vagina or penis, or painful, burning when urinating are symptoms associated with chlamydia.

Being a bacterial infection, this is often treated with antibiotics and follow-up testing. Without treatment, chlamydia has the potential to cause fatal ectopic pregnancy. The infection can also be passed to a baby during delivery, causing eye damage. If an infection is discovered, both partners will be treated and seven days should pass before resuming intercourse.

Gonorrhea

This is another bacterial STI and often diagnosed with a chlamydia infection. Most times the symptoms appear within 2-7 days of infection. The symptoms are similar: painful burning during urination and discharge from the vagina or penis. Most all men experience these symptoms, in addition to an itchy feeling inside the penis or pain and swelling in the testicles. About 20% of infected females experience the common symptoms of change in periods or more painful periods, pain during sex, and vaginal bleeding after sex or between periods.

As it is a bacterial infection, gonorrhea is also treated with antibiotics. If left untreated, it can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which can affect the ability to get pregnant or be passed onto a child’s eyes during birth causing blindness. Both partners will be treated and intercourse of any kind should be restricted for seven days after starting treatment in order to avoid re-infection.

Herpes

Herpes can be contracted from an infected partner, whether even if they are not displaying any symptoms.  Genital herpes is common and many do not realize they have it. This infection is caused by two types of viruses, and there is no complete cure. Oral herpes results in sores or fever blister on or around the mouth, while genital herpes symptoms start as small blisters which eventually break open into raw, painful sores. Eventually, they scab over and heal within a few weeks.

Herpes can lie dormant in the human body for years, and as there is no cure for the virus, medicine is prescribed to prevent or shorten outbreaks. Although the initial outbreak is severe, repeat outbreaks are often shorter and less severe over time. Using condoms will lower the risk of passing the infection or being infected, but it does not lower the risk completely. Often, herpes sores become a path for HIV cells to enter the body, increasing the risks of additional sexually transmitted infection.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)

HIV is transmitted through contact with the blood, semen, or genital fluids of an infected person. The common way to spread HIV is through unprotected sex and sharing syringes or needles with an infected individual. Some individuals experience flu-like symptoms within 2 weeks of being infected, yet some individuals experience no symptoms at all. Overall, the infection weakens a person’s immune system, leaving them unable to fight infection or disease.

AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is the most advanced stage of an HIV infection.  Common symptoms of AIDS include chills, fever, sweats, swollen lymph glands, weakness, and weight loss There is no cure for HIV/AIDS, yet antiretroviral therapy is used to help control the symptoms and boost the bodies ability to fight disease and infection, as well as lower their chances of infecting another person. A blood test is the most reliable way to test for infection.

STI’s are important concerns for any sexually-active individual, but awareness and precaution can help maintain your sexual health. Contracting an STI can be alarming, scary, and dangerous if left untreated, as you run the risk of infecting others and potentially damaging an infant during childbirth. Your healthcare provider is always ready to listen to your concerns, answer your questions, and offer treatment and advice should you suspect you have become infected with an STI.

The post Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) including HPV : Facts that you should know appeared first on Innovative Women's Health Specialists.

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There are a number of ways women reference their menstrual cycle this day in age and each woman has their own individual feelings about it too. Even with the wealth of information out there about this particular time in your life a lot of women actually don’t know much about their reproductive cycle or what is happening in their body. The fact of the matter is, and as corny as it sounds, it really is a miraculous time in a young girl’s life. This is going touch on some of the basic info about your menstrual cycle but also cover some more in-depth issues and information you may not know.

Puberty Age

Most girls will start their periods between the ages of 10 and 16. This is the stage of puberty when your body starts preparing itself to become pregnant (and yes, you can get pregnant before your first menstrual cycle). Even though this is the common age of young girls to start having their period it is not the “rule”. It is different for every girl and can fall far outside of the norm. Some young woman, especially those who are athletic or aren’t getting adequate nutrition, can go for a long time before having their first period, while others may have it at a much younger age. If you start having a period outside of the average don’t be concerned. Each woman’s body is different.

Menstrual Cycle Stages

Many women are unsure of what all goes on in their body during their menstrual cycle. It’s actually quite an interesting bit of information to have so you know what your body is going through. Each cycle is made up of the rising and falling of different hormones and each phase is doing something different in your body.

The first part of your cycle is the menstrual phase when your uterus sheds its lining, or you have your period. Even though it can appear to be more, few people know, a woman only loses about 6 to 8 teaspoons of blood during a period. You may experience cramping due to the lining breaking down and the uterus contracting to “clean” itself. As your period comes to an end hormones change you begin the follicular phase. This is when your ovaries start preparing to release an egg.

Around midways through your cycle, or around day 14, your body releases the egg it has been prepping. This is called ovulation. The body then switches gears and starts producing a hormone, called progesterone, to prepare the uterus to be a nice cushy place for the egg to land. If the egg hasn’t been fertilized it will pass through and hormone levels will drop. This is when the shedding of the cushion your uterus has made, in preparation for a fertilized egg to implant, starts and your cycle starts over again. And just so you know, this is the “textbook” version of how it works. Not all cycles are the same and each phase isn’t always the same.

Cycle Length

“It’s that time of the month.” Well, a lunar month is more like it or February. The average menstrual cycle is 28 days. A lot of women are confused by the cycle. Let’s actually look at it as a lunar cycle. The first day, or day 1, of your menstrual cycle, is the first full day of your period with a full flow (the Full Moon). You may have a day or so of spotting before but day 1 isn’t until the “Full Moon”. Just like the moon, which eventually gets smaller, so will your period until it is gone. Usual periods last 5 to 7 days but, like with most things, can be shorter or longer and don’t always stay the same. From the first day of your period to the first day of your next period is your cycle length. It is around 28 days for most women but can be more or less. If your cycle is shorter than 21 days or longer than 35 days on a regular basis let your healthcare provider know, especially if it is bothersome.

When to be Concerned

There are times when a period isn’t just a period, especially if you experience severe pain, have abnormally long or short cycles, or just have an uneasy feeling that something just isn’t right. After all, who knows your body better than you? Menstrual cycle irregularities can be a sign of a more serious issue.

Hopefully, this has helped you understand a little bit more about what is secretly going on in your body each month and how the menstrual cycle works. Keep in mind that most of these numbers are averages and each body is different and may not fall exactly within these specs. And that’s OK. However, if you have a concern or something just doesn’t seem quite right be sure to discuss it with your healthcare provider.

The post Menstrual Cycle: What Every Young Woman Needs to Know appeared first on Innovative Women's Health Specialists.

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