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Women’s Health & Wellness

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This time of year, the beach or the pool is likely calling your name. Make sure you’re protecting your skin from the sun any time you’re outdoors.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, one in five Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetime. There are two types: nonmelanoma, such as basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer but is treatable when caught early.

Skin cancer can develop anywhere on the body and is one of the few cancers you can see on the skin. A skin care self-examination can help you find any worrisome spots early. Here are some tips:

1. Examine your front and back in the mirror, then the right and left sides, with arms raised

2. Examine the back of your neck and scalp with a hand mirror. Part hair for a closer look at your scalp.

3. Bend elbows, look carefully at forearms, back of upper arms and palms.

4. Check your back and buttocks with a hand mirror.

5. Finally, look backs of legs and feet, spaces between toes and soles.

During your self-examination, you’re looking for specific identifying signs in a spot. This includes asymmetry; an irregular, scalloped or poorly defined border; varied colors from one area to another that could include tan, brown, black and sometimes white, red or blue; a diameter of greater than 6 mm (think: a pencil eraser) although they could be smaller; and changes in size, shape or color.

For more information about skin cancer, visit www.SpotSkinCancer.org

Source: American Academy of Dermatology

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What to Know When Traveling While Pregnant

By Christine C. Greves, MD, Orlando Health Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies

The average pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks—that’s approximately 10 months. It’s not unusual that you might need to travel within that time. One of the best strategies is to make your plans in advance so you and your baby stay comfortable and safe.

Can I Travel During Pregnancy?

If you have a low-risk pregnancy, being away from your doctor or being subjected to the stress of traveling may not cause concern. However, your doctor may advise you to stay home if you have preterm labor, bleeding, complications or an illness that makes you high-risk, in case you need medical attention or need to deliver early.

When Can I Travel?

Most women with low-risk pregnancies can travel until early in the third trimester. Since morning sickness usually eases by the second trimester, these mid-pregnancy months may be the most comfortable. During the third trimester, complications and preterm labor are more likely, increasing your risk while you’re away. If you’re flying after your 24th week, make sure your travel destination is one you wouldn’t mind staying in if you need medical attention, bed rest or if your baby comes early.

Travel Tips

  • Move your legs frequently to avoid blood clots. If it’s safe to get up and move about, take short walks to keep blood flowing.
  • Pack drinks and healthy snacks. Take an empty refillable bottle to stay hydrated. Pack portable foods made of proteins or complex carbohydrates.
  • Keep medications nearby. Pack them in your carry-on bag instead of in your checked luggage.
  • Avoid travel to areas with health dangers that may put you and your baby at risk.
  • When traveling internationally, ensure food and water are safe. Eat cooked meals and drink bottled water.
  • Remember to rest. Although it may be tempting to pack your schedule, it’s important to listen to your body so you don’t become overly tired.

For more information, visit WinniePalmerHospital.com.

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Pain That Points To Endometriosis

By John Tramont, MD, UCF Health

Many women experience pain in and around the uterus, especially during menstruation.

However, pain that isn’t relieved with over-the-counter pain medication, pain that increases over time, or pain with intercourse or when using the bathroom can indicate endometriosis, a condition in which tissue that is similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside of the uterus.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, up to 75% of women with abdominal pain may have the disorder. Additionally, 10% of women have endometriosis and many go undiagnosed and untreated for years.

Endometriosis shouldn’t be ignored. The pain can be debilitating and often interrupts daily activities. There are also other health impacts, such as higher infertility risks or bowel dysfunction.

Knowing and understanding the symptoms and risk factors is important to your overall health. Here are some things to look out for:

Abnormal Menstruation

This is a common sign of endometriosis and can include periods that are notably heavy, irregular or painful. Spotting between periods can also be an indication of the disorder.  

In some cases, pain during menstruation will worsen over time, often leading to diagnosis in a woman’s 30s and 40s. If you notice more painful periods than you have had in the past, let your doctor know.

Pain During or After Intercourse

Another symptom associated with endometriosis is pain in the uterus or abdomen during or after sex. The pain is sometimes so severe that patients avoid sexual contact. Don’t assume the pain is normal. Tell your doctor.

GI Issues

Pain in the abdomen and lower back as well as pain during urination and bowel movements, especially when on your period, are also common symptoms. Diarrhea, constipation, bloating, painful cramping and nausea during menses can be associated with endometriosis. A possible but less common GI issue associated with the disorder is rectal bleeding while menstruating.

Risk Factors

Any woman can develop the disorder, but several risk factors can increase your chances. Awareness of the risk factors and symptoms can help you distinguish between normal menstrual pain and endometriosis.

Risk factors to keep in mind include having a family history of endometriosis, starting your period at a young age or menopause at an older age, and infertility. While the cause of endometriosis isn’t fully understood, addressing risk factors may help limit the disease’s impact.

If you believe you may be at risk for endometriosis, talk to your doctor about taking preventative measures and monitoring any symptoms you may develop.

You don’t have to live with the pain and discomfort. Although endometriosis can’t be cured, it can be managed. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, visit your gynecologist, who can diagnose the condition and help you get back to your daily life. Learn more at ucfhealth.com.

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Written by Lyndsay Fogarty

Lyndsay Fogarty has had many roles at Central Florida Lifestyle, working her way from intern to contributing writer to managing editor. She is a graduate of the University of Central Florida’s Nicholson School of Communication where she earned her degree in journalism. Along the way, she has learned that teamwork and dedication to your craft will get you far, and a positive outlook on the present will get you even farther.

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