Author Archives: Kristina Calligan, FNP

About Kristina Calligan, FNP

Kristina Calligan is a sub-specialty nurse practitioner in Women’s Health. A native to Arizona she obtained her Bachelor of Science in nursing in 2006 at Grand Canyon University in Glendale, Arizona. Never one to stop striving and achieving all that she could, she completed two master degrees in Nursing Science and Business Administration in 2012. Ms. Calligan joined Arizona Gynecology Consultants in 2009. Prior to working at Arizona Gynecology Consultants, she worked as a nurse in labor and delivery at several local hospitals and a research coordinator in women’s health care. Read More About Kristina Calligan, FNP

The Vital Link Between Fertility and Gut Health

The Vital Link Between Fertility and Gut Health

It’s common for women to go years without any inkling of an issue with their reproductive health, only to experience difficulties when trying to conceive. While there are many avenues to exploring and treating infertility, the first question your doctor has may be regarding your diet. In fact, fertility specialists often recommend that you make adjustments to your diet, but this isn’t always related to your weight. Often, dietary changes are intended to help you improve your gut health, which has a unique relationship with fertility.

At Arizona Gynecology Consultants, we frequently work with women who are struggling to conceive. If this describes you, our compassionate team will take a thorough look at your overall health and help you make the changes necessary to increase your chances of pregnancy. Gut health is often overlooked when it comes to fertility, but by improving gut health for infertility, you, too, may be able to conceive. Get started by learning more about the link between fertility and gut health.

The Gut and Your Health

The gut consists of more than just your stomach. The gut is actually a long tube that begins at your mouth and travels through your esophagus, stomach, intestines, and finally, your anus. Supporting organs include the liver, kidneys, and pancreas. Anything you swallow, including food, drink, and medications, travels through your gut, where it is digested. Nutrients are absorbed through the gut lining and into the bloodstream to be processed into energy before the waste is expelled at the end.

The Gut and Your Health

A crucial component of your gut includes microbes like the bacteria that populate your digestive system and particularly the large intestine. Microbes are responsible for aiding in gut movement, digesting foods, synthesizing and extracting vitamins and nutrients, and much more. Gut microbes also secrete an enzyme called glucuronidase, which allows estrogen to function properly throughout your body. A healthy microbiome, the collection of all the bacteria in your gut, can not only help you protect yourself from disease but also help you maintain your other bodily functions, including fertility.

How Can Your Gut Become Unhealthy?

There are several contributing factors that lead to an imbalanced gut:


Stress and anxiety can affect how your gut and brain interact with each other. Failure to conceive can be stressful, and your daily responsibilities and other stressors in your life can only make the problem more difficult to deal with. Worse, stress and impacts on the gut microbiota can cause serious disruptions in the chemical messengers responsible for maintaining important bodily functions, including gamete production, digestion, and more, causing a cycle of stress and physical issues. Stress can trigger symptoms in your gut by releasing stress hormones like cortisol, which directly interfere with gut microbiota. In turn, disruptions in gut microbiota can cause other conditions that increase stress.


Most women know just how essential it is to eat a healthy diet while pregnant, as the nutrients you consume can affect your child’s health long-term. However, diet is also just as important for your gut health, especially if you’re trying to conceive. Eating too much processed food, sugar, and other junk food can kill healthy bacteria in your gut, which are needed to ensure you are absorbing nutrients at the proper rate and producing the chemical messengers essential for all body functions.

Lack of Exercise

Exercise can be beneficial for both your physical and mental health. When you refrain from exercise, your gut becomes weaker, and you may even disrupt the delicate balance of microbes in your gut microbiota, making you more susceptible to various diseases and illnesses. Additionally, poor blood flow can prevent your gut from functioning optimally and inhibit your absorption of essential micronutrients for reproduction.


Drinking while trying to conceive can negatively affect your gut health, increasing your chances of infertility. For example, heavy drinking can lead to irregular periods, which can make it more difficult to conceive. Alcohol can also disrupt the gut microbiota, affecting the reproductive hormones so essential for conception and pregnancy.

How Fertility and Gut Health are Linked

There’s a link between fertility and gut health, and when your gut is unhealthy, you can experience problems with conception. In fact, gut imbalances can directly affect ovulation, ovary health, the fertilization process, the chances of implantation, and more. This occurs because the gut microbiome can be considered an endocrine organ in itself. It frequently interacts with sex hormones such as testosterone, androgen, estrogen, and estradiol, which support your reproductive health. Thus, when your gut health is compromised, the resulting sex hormone imbalances can lead to reproductive disorders or infertility.

An imbalanced gut microbiome can contribute to the following reproductive health conditions:

  • Cancers
  • Irregular Periods
  • Vaginal Infections
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Endometriosis

It’s important to note that poor gut health doesn’t only affect women. In men, poor gut health can affect sperm quality, which can lead to a double dose of fertility difficulties. The microbiome can affect the body’s ability to produce sperm, which could affect his ability to conceive with you.

Gut Health and Pregnancy Complications

It’s important to remember that the importance of gut health doesn’t diminish once you conceive. In fact, poor gut health can cause issues with pregnancy and inhibit embryonic development. Researchers have revealed that the important “good” microbes in the gut are also present in the reproductive tract, including the vagina, uterus, and even the placenta that nourishes the fetus. As a result, disturbances in the gut microbiota can cause disruptions in the microbiota in the reproductive tract.

Gut Health and Pregnancy Complications

Issues with these two interlinked microbiomes can negatively affect the fetus’ developing microbiome and may continue to have an effect after the baby is born. In addition, disruptions can cause infections, affect placental health, inhibit fetal growth and development, and cause premature birth. Babies born to mothers with microbiome imbalances have lower birth weights and decreased survival rates.

How to Improve Gut Health

If you’ve been having trouble getting pregnant, you may be able to make lifestyle changes to improve your odds of pregnancy. One of the simplest changes involves addressing your diet and lifestyle for gut health. Consider consuming probiotic and prebiotic foods, limiting alcohol use, improving your exercise routine, and addressing both sleep and stress.

Eat Probiotic Foods

Probiotic foods contain microorganisms that improve gut health when ingested. They are typically created from fermented food in order to add “good” bacteria into the body. Fortunately, probiotic foods have existed for thousands of years and are readily available in your local supermarket.

Probiotic foods to consider incorporating into your diet include:

  • Milk products such as yogurt, buttermilk, kefir, sour cream, and cheese
  • Sauerkraut
  • Kimchi
  • Kombucha
  • Miso
  • Tempeh

Probiotic foods

The listed foods have been shown to positively influence the gut microbiome and benefit the rest of your health, as well. When improving gut health for infertility, you can also consider supplementing probiotics if you can’t eat foods with probiotics naturally included. However, because there are plenty of probiotic supplements available, it’s important to choose those that specifically address infertility. If you decide to supplement probiotics, talk to your doctor and our team at Arizona Gynecology Consultants to inform your decision.

Suggested Reading: Keto Diet for Beginners

Eat Prebiotic Foods

Prebiotic foods provide a non-digestible fiber that feeds your healthy gut microbes. If you ingest plenty of probiotics but neglect prebiotics, your probiotics won’t provide any meaningful effects.

Prebiotics are mostly found in plant-based foods, including:

  • Oats
  • Rye Bread
  • Watermelon
  • Garlic

  • Asparagus
  • Onions
  • Chickpeas

To keep your gut in optimal health, consider incorporating the above foods into your diet. In doing so, your microbiome will remain healthy and able to process food and nutrients. Subsequently, you can take a prebiotic supplement if necessary. Both prebiotic and probiotic supplements come with one main advantage over other food sources: you can maintain a consistent dose of the supplement and tailor them to your specific needs. Supplements may also help treat reproductive tract infections while addressing your gut health. As previously mentioned, speak with your doctor and our team about supplementation.

Limit or Stop Alcohol Use

Alcohol can negatively affect your gut microbiome and cause complications with fertility. It can create microbe imbalances and even overgrowth, put extra pressure on your liver, and cause inflammation, so it’s recommended to lower your consumption while trying to conceive. To keep your gut as healthy as possible, consider eliminating most alcohol from your diet.

Exercise Regularly

Frequent exercise improves blood flow and oxygen absorption, which in turn helps your gut function better. You don’t need to do heavy lifting or run several miles daily – a 30-minute session of moderate exercise that raises the heart rate is enough to help your body stay healthy. Don’t push yourself too hard, and be sure to find some physical activity that can keep you physically and mentally fit.


Reduce Stress

We know this is easier said than done; infertility struggles can be stressful enough, and other outside stresses can further complicate things. However, increased stress results in higher levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, which can cause issues in the gut microbiota. If you can find ways to reduce your stress, your gut health and fertility may improve.

Fortunately, there are plenty of strategies to consider for reducing stress:

  • Exercise – Aside from its physical benefits for gut health, exercising can help reduce stress. By exercising even a small amount, your body will release endorphins that make you feel better and improve coordination.
  • Meditation and Mindfulness – Meditation and mindfulness practices allow you to focus on your breathing and break away from stressful distractions, helping you remain balanced and improve your mental health. You can practice meditation or mindfulness anywhere, though we recommend a quiet environment.
  • Yoga – Yoga involves stretching your body into different positions to help release tension and keep you focused on the present rather than on stressful contributors.
  • Counseling – If you’re unsure how to proceed with a stressful situation or are hesitant to discuss your infertility with others, speaking with a licensed counselor or therapist may help you navigate your situation and find a way forward.

We know how challenging it can be to reduce your stress, but doing so can help you improve your chances of conception.

Get Plenty of Sleep

An adequate amount of restful sleep every night is crucial in reducing stress and maintaining proper gut health. Some people find that they sleep better after taking steps to reduce stress. Sleeping properly allows your body, including your gut, to recharge and rest. Poor sleep can cause issues with the gut microbiota, while gut issues can lead to poor sleep. Doing what you can to interrupt this cycle can help you improve your chances of conceiving.

More Gut Health Tips

Prioritizing your gut health can be an essential step in addressing your difficulty in conceiving. Still, the exact route necessary to boost your gut health to increase fertility rates is still the subject of much research. Taking simple steps to improve your diet, like eating lean proteins, plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats while avoiding processed, high-fat, or sugary foods, is a great start. Then, add probiotic and prebiotic foods to help your microbiota flourish.

Remember: it’s essential to use caution and take your time when making any lifestyle change. Eating too many probiotic and prebiotic foods can cause an upset stomach and imbalances. Take your time and let your body slowly make adjustments.

Arizona Gynecology Consultants Can Help Address Your Infertility

For several years now, we’ve slowly begun to understand the link between fertility and gut health. Research is ongoing, and we may soon find new strategies for addressing infertility and gut health. Still, there’s a lot of information available already, and your gynecologist can help you determine whether an unhealthy gut may be contributing to your infertility struggles.

The compassionate medical team at Arizona Gynecology Consultants can help you evaluate your overall health and determine potential causes of infertility. Adjustments to your lifestyle and daily routine, including those necessary to address gut health, could help you become pregnant without the need for other interventions. For further help, view our Arizona gynecology services and schedule an appointment.


  1. Mei, Z., & Li, D. (2022). The role of probiotics in vaginal health. Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology, 12.
  2. Viana, J. V., da Cruz, A. G., Zoellner, S. S., Silva, R., & Batista, A. L. D. (2008). Probiotic foods: consumer perception and attitudes. International Journal of Food Science & Technology, 43(9), 1577–1580.
  3. Lundy, S. D., Vij, S. C., Rezk, A. H., Cohen, J. A., Bajic, P., & Ramasamy, R. (2020). The microbiome of the infertile male. Current Opinion in Urology, 30(3), 355–362.
  4. Qi, X., Yun, C., Pang, Y., & Qiao, J. (2021). The impact of the gut microbiota on the reproductive and metabolic endocrine system. Gut Microbes, 13(1), 1894070.
  5. Harvard Health Publishing. (2019, April 19). The gut-brain connection – Harvard Health. Harvard Health; Harvard Health.
  6. Monda, V., Villano, I., Messina, A., Valenzano, A., Esposito, T., Moscatelli, F., Viggiano, A., Cibelli, G., Chieffi, S., Monda, M., & Messina, G. (2017). Exercise Modifies the Gut Microbiota with Positive Health Effects. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, 2017, 1–8.
  7. Mayo Clinic . (2021, March 18). 12 Tips to Tame Stress. Mayo Clinic; Mayo Clinic.
#1 Rating in Women’s Health in Arizona

#1 Rating in Women’s Health in Arizona

This entry was posted in News and tagged on by .

Here at Arizona Gynecology Consultants, extensive care is so important to us that we’ve gone above and beyond to improve patient lives from birth through menopause and beyond. We’ve worked very hard, and we’re proud to announce our recognition for providing top care.

Comprehensive healthcare for women is incredibly important, and with modern technology and new advancements every day, providing the best gynecological service is crucial. No matter the age of the woman or her specific needs, offering the best care possible is of more than the utmost concern – it’s our mission.

From the online polling source Ranking Arizona, we received the top place for women’s health providers. We couldn’t be prouder to continue offering the best in women’s healthcare. From minimally invasive procedures to an experienced staff who recognizes how important it is to care for women and their specific needs, you can get the quality care you need from Arizona Gynecology Consultants.

Understanding that each person’s situation is unique to them is a crucial first step to excellent healthcare. To us, no patient is just a number. They’re each unique in their own way, with special concerns and needs. We take an individualized approach to women’s healthcare that allows our patients to feel more comfortable and helps to improve their overall health. Because of this approach, we’ve gotten the vote of the public.

Getting Recognized by Ranking Arizona

Recognized by Ranking Arizona

Ranking Arizona is the largest business poll in Arizona. While we strive to provide quality care, a good reputation means everything when it comes to reaching the most women possible. Without the excellent care that we provide, we wouldn’t be on the radar of a company like Ranking Arizona. They ask the simple question: “With whom would you recommend doing business?” and allow the voices of the public to shine through. This lets the ultimate decision rest on the people who receive our care.

The staff at Ranking Arizona makes the initial decisions on who to include as polling options; however, the ultimate decision is left up to the people of Arizona. These opinions aren’t based on Arizona Gynecology Consultants’ size, number of employees, or revenue. When the people of Arizona voted for us, they meant that they’d recommend us to their friends, families, and coworkers. Being voted #1 means we’d be picked first over all others and that our commitment to providing excellent care to our patients is exceptional.

How Our Outstanding Care Speaks for Our Reputation

To ensure that our patients receive the best care possible, we use cutting-edge yet proven medical techniques. For many years, women’s healthcare has been incredibly outdated and nearly barbaric. Too often, gynecological care has been provided by either providers with little real understanding of women’s bodies or minimal concern and care for their well-being and comfort level during basic tests and exams, surgeries, and procedures.

Instead of allowing this practice to continue, we take healthcare for women seriously. We provide a comfortable and safe environment for our patients to discuss any issues they have and work hard to minimize intrusive methods when it comes to testing and other procedures. Providing accessible care is one of our core tenets, and through accessible care, knowledgeable providers and staff, and the use of modern technology, we’re able to show women the care they deserve throughout their lives.

We also take our patients’ concerns seriously. Sometimes, it can be difficult to explain issues you’re experiencing, or it may be that other providers you’ve seen in the past haven’t listened to your history or concerns. For us to develop a complete picture of your health, we must listen to what you have to say regarding your history, symptoms, and other concerns. We work with you to create a specialized plan to best treat any issues so you can return to your best health.

Women’s Healthcare Services We Offer

From exam consultations to contraception and more, we cover all areas of women’s healthcare. No matter what care you’re seeking, you can know that you’ll receive the very best in top-of-the-line care from our team of skilled specialists.

We strive to take care of all the needs of the individual, no matter how routine they are. All our patients deserve the best care possible. That’s why, even if it’s just a checkup, our team of surgeons and healthcare professionals use their extensive knowledge and experience to treat each unique concern and situation.

Some gynecology services we offer include:

  • Well-Woman Care – During this service, we take the time to get to know our patients, their histories, and their health concerns so we can understand what kind of treatments may be necessary.
  • Pelvic Pain – At some point in a woman’s life, they’ll likely experience some kind of pain in the pelvic region. This can be incredibly uncomfortable, and it may be possible to alleviate it.
  • Vaginal Prolapse – Over time, a woman’s muscles in the vagina may experience stretching or weakening. When this happens, they can prolapse. With the right treatment, this can be helped.
  • Cosmetics – As with any part of the body, it’s possible to make some cosmetic adjustments that may assist with vaginal function in many ways, including sensitivity.
  • Weight Management – We offer a medically assisted weight loss program for women in Arizona, customized and focused on strategies that bring consistent results.

Suggested Reading: Weight Loss Education

Our Innovative Surgical Services

Innovative Surgical Services

With the best in medical methods, we strive to offer innovative services. There are many parts of women’s health and procedures that have always felt archaic. For many years, reducing the impact on a woman’s body wasn’t a focus of women’s healthcare. We’re working hard to change that.

One of the most successful changes has been laparoscopy for hysterectomy procedures. Through this method, a smaller incision can allow for a much less invasive procedure. There are several reasons why this is important. First of all, the recovery time is much shorter with this procedure. Often, recovery time can be reduced by as much as half the traditional recovery time. In addition, because the site of the incision is smaller, there is a reduction in pain, risk of infection, bleeding, and fewer complications.

Our services aren’t just limited to laparoscopic hysterectomies, however. We offer hormone replacement as a treatment for menopause. By giving your body the estrogen it often needs to work normally, many of the negative symptoms can be combated. We also recognize that endometriosis is a real and incredibly difficult illness to have.

Many women encounter issues when trying to seek a diagnosis for endometriosis. Instead, with frequent office visits, a treatment plan can be created, and symptoms can be managed. Finally, we also recognize how important it is to try innovative methods for treatment. Sonata? offers a better treatment option for uterine fibroids. This method requires no surgical intervention, is an extremely versatile alternative, and allows for a much shorter time for recovery.

Why Gynecological Services Are Important

Early detection and treatment are imperative for receiving the best outcomes for many illnesses and conditions. That’s absolutely true for women’s health. Much of the time, conditions may be mistaken for other issues or be ignored altogether. Preventative care and early detection are so important that the CDC says that up to 40% of deaths from the five leading causes could be prevented with early detection, including cancer.

Women’s healthcare isn’t a one size fits all situation. For many people, screenings for cancer, as well as other physical screenings, are recommended at certain ages or in the presence of other risk factors. However, each person’s body is different. While it’s great to have a basic, scheduled outline of when you should be screened or tested for certain things, it’s also important to keep in mind that that schedule may be different if there’s a family history or other health factors at play.

Changes in health can happen quickly, and women don’t have to live in pain. Whether from painful urination or extreme periods, suffering in silence is no longer necessary for many. Women need providers and a care team who trust them and who will get down to the very bottom of a problem when it’s happening. Having progressive care helps women feel more comfortable addressing issues that they have so they no longer feel like they must quietly live in pain.

Our Approach to Women’s Healthcare

Our approach to healthcare for women includes comprehensive and safe care where women can feel comfortable in their own skin. It’s incredibly important to us that our patients receive the care that they often desperately need and that they know we can be trusted with their health.

Throughout women’s lifetimes, we need different kinds of treatment. For women, this doesn’t mean that healthcare ends with having children. We’re here for our patients early on, whether they’re an adolescent experiencing pelvic pain or a woman struggling with menopause and beyond. We understand that even scheduling an appointment can be stressful, as you’re concerned with your reproductive health. However, we also work to educate so that each person can have a better understanding of their body so that they can understand their health.

By utilizing the best tools we have available, we’re able to provide our patients with the best care. Improving outcomes with minimally invasive techniques, doing our very best to take comprehensive histories, and creating a care plan that works for our patients are all a part of what we offer and what prompted the people of Arizona to vote for us.

Leaders in Gynecological Services in Arizona

With new and innovative treatment methods and tried and trusted approaches, we’ve been able to provide a multidisciplinary team to tackle any concern and do so while offering a comfortable and caring environment. We want what’s best for you, and with that in mind, we strive to work with our patients regarding the issues that are unique to them.

Our skilled staff has extensive experience in a wide area of women’s health, with a major focus on minimally invasive procedures. We understand that minimizing the pain and discomfort frequently experienced during procedures for women and using the best tools at hand is paramount for offering care for women. With nearly a full team of women providing care at Arizona Gynecology Consultants, we have first-hand knowledge of the importance of excellent care. Learn more about our team, their specialties, and their excellence and qualifications, and let our team get your health on track.

Our team of surgeons takes a special interest in minimally invasive procedures and are leaders in their own rights. Through education, medical device design, and allyship, the expert staff is a prime example of what makes Arizona Gynecology Consultants so great.

Suggested Reading: Staff at Arizona Gynecology Consultants

Arizona Gynecology Services

Arizona Gynecology Consultants Staff

Ranking Arizona ranks businesses across the state, and they admit how difficult it can be to say who’s best in any industry. Letting one person or a small group of people decide isn’t the best way to determine anything. However, Ranking Arizona left their result up to the people of the great state of Arizona, and the people have spoken.

We are proud of the Arizona gynecology services we can provide, and we’re proud that the Arizonan populace believes in us.

Laparoscopic Abdominal Cerclage

Laparoscopic Abdominal Cerclage: A Better Option

This entry was posted in Procedures and tagged , , on by .

Laparoscopic abdominal cerclage (LAC) is a minimally invasive surgical procedure used to prevent preterm birth in pregnant women at risk of delivering too early. Individuals with a history of cervical insufficiency, second-trimester miscarriages, and preterm labor are the primary candidates for this procedure, and it is preferred for patients with a prior failed vaginal cerclage.

The goal of laparoscopic abdominal cerclage is to provide a supportive structure that can hold the cervix in place to carry the pregnancy to term. The procedure is most successful when performed prior to conception but can be performed during pregnancy between 8-12 weeks. It is considered a safe procedure and an effective way to reduce the risk of preterm labor and delivery.

What Is Cervical Insufficiency?

The cervix is the bottom-most part of the uterus that opens to the vagina and should remain firm and closed throughout most of the pregnancy. Cervical insufficiency is the premature softening and weakening of the cervix, resulting in its inability to maintain pregnancy during the second trimester. It is also characterized by the absence of labor signs, clinical contractions, or both.

Though cervical insufficiency can appear at any time, it is often recognized around 16 to 18 weeks of pregnancy.

What Are the Benefits of a Laparoscopic Abdominal Cerclage?

Benefits of a Laparoscopic Abdominal Cerclage Benefits of a Laparoscopic Abdominal Cerclage

The primary benefit of laparoscopic abdominal cerclage is a full-term pregnancy and successful delivery. This procedure is a beneficial treatment for women who have had multiple pregnancy losses, either due to a diagnosis of cervical insufficiency or a shortened cervix. The purpose of laparoscopic abdominal cerclage is to remedy these circumstances, and it has proven to be a successful treatment option for many women. In fact, this type of cerclage is the preferred treatment for insufficient cervix because it has a higher success rate compared to traditional vaginal cerclage.

Other benefits of laparoscopic abdominal cerclage include the following:

Higher Placement of Sutures

Compared to traditional methods of securing the cervix, the suture is placed in better proximity to the internal os at the top of the cervix, as opposed to the bottom. This placement has better results in closing and supporting the cervix for the full term of pregnancy. It provides greater mechanical support and has a decreased chance of suture migration during pregnancy.

Reduced Risk of Infection

Since the procedure is performed laparoscopically, there is less risk of infection compared with vaginal surgery. A transvaginal procedure requires the presence of a foreign object in the vagina, which creates more potential for bacteria. The transabdominal laparoscopic procedure is a safer option.

Reduced Loss of Blood

There is significantly less bleeding associated with laparoscopic abdominal cerclage than with other methods. Primarily, this is because the suture is much smaller than with traditional cerclage. Consequently, there are fewer risks associated with less blood loss.

Reduced Recovery Time

Laparoscopic abdominal cerclage can be performed as an outpatient procedure because it is minimally invasive gynecology. The procedure involves only a small incision, so recovery time is shortened. Patients can go home the same day the procedure is performed, with the potential to return to normal activities much sooner than alternative methods allow. There is also less pain and discomfort during recovery, as well as less scarring with laparoscopic abdominal cerclage.

How Is a Laparoscopic Abdominal Cerclage Performed?

How a Laparoscopic Abdominal Cerclage Performed

A laparoscopic abdominal cerclage is a type of minimally invasive gynecology in which a doctor uses a laparoscope inserted through a small incision in the abdomen. The laparoscope allows the surgeon to view the uterus and cervix internally and determine the best placement for the suture. Once the proper position is determined, a suture is placed around the cervix to ensure that it remains closed through the rest of the pregnancy. After the procedure is complete, the incision is closed.

What Are the Risks and Complications Associated with a Laparoscopic Abdominal Cerclage?

While a laparoscopic abdominal cerclage procedure can be highly effective, like any surgical procedure, there are risks. It is important for individuals considering this treatment to understand the associated risks and unlikely but potential complications. Then, it is possible to make an informed decision.

Infection is the most common risk and can be caused by bacteria entering the abdomen during the procedure. Infections are most likely to occur at the incision site, though they can also occur elsewhere in the body. If an infection occurs, antibiotics are usually prescribed to treat it. Some patients have trouble urinating after the procedure, along with increased pain in the abdominal area. Scarring of the uterus is also a possibility, although this is typically minor and does not cause any long-term issues.

Experienced surgeons using practiced techniques limit the risk of complications. To fully understand the potential risks associated with laparoscopic abdominal cerclage, it is important for a patient to discuss these risks with the doctor performing the surgery before having the procedure.

What Are the Success Rates of a Laparoscopic Abdominal Cerclage?

The success rate of a laparoscopic abdominal cerclage depends on several factors, including the severity of the cervical insufficiency, the timing of the procedure, and the patient’s overall health. Pre-conception laparoscopic abdominal cerclage proves to be more successful in preventing repeat losses and preterm labor. It also has less risk of complications, both surgically and pregnancy-related. However, having the procedure done during pregnancy is still extraordinarily successful.

The success rate of a laparoscopic abdominal cerclage is generally good. While the success rates of doctors and practices that perform the procedure are 90% or above, an average of multiple studies have found that the procedure has a neonatal success rate of up to 96% and a gestational age of about 37 weeks at the time of delivery.

This means that in most cases, laparoscopic abdominal cerclage successfully corrects cervical insufficiency. It is important to note that success rates can vary depending on the individual case. It is also possible for the procedure to fail in some cases, so it is important to understand the risks involved before undergoing surgery.

How Long Does It Take to Recover From Laparoscopic Abdominal Cerclage?

Recovery time from a laparoscopic abdominal cerclage procedure can vary depending on the individual, but it typically takes 3-4 weeks to fully recover. Recovery is typically uncomplicated, but during this time, it is important for patients to follow their doctor’s instructions for post-operative care.

These may include resting, limiting physical activity, avoiding strenuous activities like exercise, and avoiding lifting heavy objects that could strain the abdomen. Some doctors prescribe pain medications, but non-narcotic medications should suffice. Antibiotics are sometimes prescribed to help treat a potential infection. Patients should take any medications as prescribed for optimal success.

To achieve a successful recovery and outcome, it is also important that patients attend all follow-up appointments to monitor recovery and the success of the procedure. Patients should watch for any signs of infection or other complications, such as fever, swelling, redness, or drainage at the site of the incision. If any of these symptoms do occur, the doctor should be notified immediately.

While it is typically normal for patients to return to work within a few days, it may take up to a week or two for some to feel completely normal. Most people can expect a full recovery and can return to their normal activities within four weeks.

Patients may also be given specific instructions for post-operative care, such as how often to change dressings, when to shower, and how to monitor incisions for signs of infection. It is important that patients follow these instructions carefully to ensure recovery goes smoothly. When recovery is closely monitored, the prognosis following laparoscopic abdominal cerclage is generally positive.

What Are the Long-Term Effects of a Laparoscopic Abdominal Cerclage?

Despite the benefits of this procedure, it is not often the chosen initial treatment option for cervical insufficiency because it eliminates the possibility of a vaginal birth and ensures a cesarean delivery will be necessary. This is because a vaginal delivery requires a baby to pass through the cervix to enter the birth canal and exit the vagina. A cerclage closes off the cervix to keep the baby from entering that pathway prematurely and resulting in a miscarriage. Thus, the pathway into the birth canal is closed, and the baby must be delivered via C-section.

C-section deliveries have the potential for more complications, and they may affect the delivery method for future pregnancies, so most attempts to avoid them are made. Unless necessary or unless a previous pregnancy resulted in an emergency C-section, vaginal delivery is preferred. This is a variable for many patients and should be considered carefully by the physician.

Can a Laparoscopic Abdominal Cerclage Be Left-In?

The cerclage band is a very durable material that is highly compatible with the human tissues of the cervix. Therefore, the suture can be left in. It may also be removed following delivery. If removed, subsequent pregnancies might require another cerclage procedure, but if not, vaginal delivery would be a possibility.

In cases in which the cerclage band is left on the cervix, it can remain for future pregnancies and can even be used with contraception until the patient is ready to conceive again, though it would, again, prevent a vaginal delivery. There are rare risks associated with leaving the cerclage in, and these risks should be discussed with a physician before deciding to leave it in after pregnancy.

What Are the Alternative Methods to a Laparoscopic Abdominal Cerclage?

Transvaginal cerclage is another option for this specific procedure, and there are multiple methods used to perform a transvaginal cerclage. Vaginal methods place sutures on the cervix via vaginal laparoscopy, which presents several disadvantages over placement via abdominal laparoscopy. For instance, transvaginal placement of sutures is significantly lower on the cervix and is much less supportive. It also involves more risk of infection due to entry via the vagina, with a greater potential for bacteria to enter the body. Recovery time and success rate are also decreased in laparoscopic vaginal cerclage.

What Should Patients Expect After a Laparoscopic Abdominal Cerclage?

Immediately after the procedure, patients may experience some soreness and discomfort at the site of the incision, as well as mild cramping. Discomfort may continue for a few days. It’s important to know that pain is a common side effect following the procedure, but over-the-counter pain medication can help manage this. Additionally, some women may experience difficulty urinating or have difficulty passing gas. These symptoms usually resolve on their own within a few days. Antibiotics may be prescribed to reduce the risk of infection.

It is important to rest and follow the doctor’s post-operative instructions after the procedure to ensure a smooth recovery. Again, this will include avoiding strenuous activities such as heavy lifting, running, or any other activity that puts strain on the abdominal muscles. It is also important to take medications as prescribed by the doctor to help reduce inflammation and discomfort.

Finally, it’s important to recognize that pregnancies should be considered high-risk following laparoscopic abdominal cerclage.

Is Laparoscopic Abdominal Cerclage Right For You?

Laparoscopic Abdominal Cerclage Doctor

Overall, laparoscopic abdominal cerclage is a safe and effective treatment option for women experiencing certain fertility issues. It can reduce the risk of preterm birth, provide a quicker recovery time, reduce the risk of infection, and improve the chances of a successful pregnancy and delivery.

Arizona Gynecology Consultants for Laparoscopic Abdominal Cerclage

If you have an insufficient cervix or a history of preterm birth or miscarriage, you should know that laparoscopic abdominal cerclage is a successful, safe, and practical way to correct some cervical conditions that contribute to preterm labor and miscarriage.

It is not the ideal procedure for every pregnancy or pre-pregnancy, but when it is recommended by a medical professional, it is very successful in prolonging labor in the 1% of pregnancies that end early due to cervical insufficiency.

Contact us to schedule an appointment to discuss your options and determine if this procedure is right for you.


Below the Belt Film Screening

Arizona Gynecology Consultants Hosting Film Screening of ‘Below the Belt’

This entry was posted in News and tagged on by .

Arizona Gynecology Consultants hosting Film Screening of the Groundbreaking PBS Documentary Below the Belt March 29th in Phoenix Arizona.


Arizona Gynecology Consultants is excited to host a screening educating the community about the life impacting disease of endometriosis. The PBS documentary “Below the Belt” shares four patient stories and the struggles they faced trying to be validated for their symptoms while navigating a broken healthcare system and the complexity of their disease.

From societal taboos and gender bias to inadequate training of many providers and surgeons, profit-driven healthcare, and a general lack of prioritizing women’s health by government, the film explores how so many vulnerable women are effectively dismissed and ignored. This often leads to a life of chronic pain, infertility, and other potentially preventable diseases. The film exposes widespread problems in our healthcare system forcing millions to suffer in silence.

Arizona Gynecology Consultants is committed to a different experience for these women and has always supported early surgical diagnosis and effective, individualized post-surgical treatments.

The event will take place at the end of Endometriosis Awareness Month on March 29th at 6pm at Chateau Luxe Event Venue 1175 E. Lone Cactus Dr. Phoenix, AZ 85024 and will be a wonderful community filled evening.

In addition to screening the film, we will have an open reception with artists, refreshments, vendors supporting the early diagnosis of the disease and effective therapies, and a panel featuring experts and special guests who will discuss the urgent issues presented by the film.

We cannot do it alone and are proud to sponsor the screening of this film. We hope that this event will encourage our community partners to join with us to create awareness.

For tickets, register below.

For more information or if you are interested in being a vendor for this event, please contact Ariana Davis at 602-358-6959 or email [email protected]

Below the Belt

Gynesurgical, llc

To Register for Tickets:

No Events Found

Beginner's Guide to Keto

A Detailed Guide: Keto Diet for Beginners

A lot of questions rise related to a ketogenic diet, especially a keto diet for beginners. If you are looking to find a diet that supports a healthy lifestyle, includes tons of meal options, and allows for long-term consistency with weight loss or maintenance goals, the keto diet can be a great choice. The keto diet (and its variations) is a highly popular way to achieve health goals appealing to athletes and non-athletes alike. However, keto can be a bit intimidating for new adopters. If you are considering adopting the keto diet, we’ll help you learn all you need to know about getting started and tips for how to thrive while changing your diet to meet keto standards. This beginner-friendly guide is great for anyone looking to embark on a keto diet. You’ll learn what the diet entails, what foods are sanctioned, and what foods are not. Furthermore, you’ll discover how to thrive during the first week of keto, so you can make those first few days easier to manage and your adjustment to the diet less stressful.

What Is the Keto Diet?

The ketogenic or keto diet consists of a very high-fat diet that is also very low in carbohydrates. This combination of low carbs and high fats helps many people shed excess body fat while staving off hunger which is a very common occurrence in other weight loss plans. A ketogenic diet is also great for helping individuals with metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes improve their health. When you eat a ketogenic diet, your body is forced to burn through the fats in your diet to create fuel to power your daily activities. This occurs in place of burning the carbs that are usually used for the process. When you adopt a keto diet, you are essentially telling your body to run on fats instead of sugars. When your body begins to burn fats instead of carbs, you enter a state known as ketosis.

What Is Ketosis?

Ketosis is one of the most important concepts of a ketogenic diet. The metabolic state of ketosis occurs when the liver takes the fats from your diet and metabolizes them into tiny molecules of energy, also called ketones. Ketones are used by the brain and other bodily organs to perform the necessary functions of daily life. Your body typically prefers to utilize blood sugar or glucose for energy. However, during ketosis, the body pulls the majority of the energy needs from the ketones because your carbohydrate levels are greatly reduced. To reach a state of ketosis, most people must eat 50 or fewer grams of carbohydrates a day. However, the carb intake needed for ketosis varies for each person; for some, the number may be as little as 20 grams of carbohydrates per day.
To induce ketosis, the keto diet encourages the elimination of carbohydrate-dense foods, including:
  • Legumes
  • Grains (rice, pasta, cereals, white bread)
  • Candy
  • Fruit (small portions of berries are allowed)
  • Potatoes
  • Sugar-sweetened soft drinks and other beverages sweetened with sugar
  • Sugar-sweetened condiments, like barbecue sauce, honey mustard, and ketchup
When followed correctly, the ketogenic diet can be highly beneficial, but it is not an easy lifestyle change for many. To help, we’ve compiled the following information to assist beginners as they make the necessary steps to transform their eating habits from carb-filled to ketogenic.
Keto Diet Foods

Guidelines: Keto Diet for Beginners

Fats, Carbohydrates, and proteins are known as macronutrients, and each one has a unique effect on the process of ketosis. This is because these three macronutrients are digested differently and have separate effects on blood glucose levels.
  • Carbs raise both glucose levels and insulin levels and are considered 100% non-ketogenic. Therefore, carbs must be drastically reduced or eliminated from the daily diet for the body to reach ketosis.
  • Proteins are both ketogenic and non-ketogenic in composition. Over 50% of protein derived from food is turned into glucose in the bloodstream and raises insulin levels.
  • Fats are 90% ketogenic and 10% non-ketogenic. This makes fats the optimal choice for a ketogenic diet because non-ketogenic nutrients can be converted from triglycerides and glucose if the brain needs them.
Once you understand the role of each of these macronutrients, you can begin to understand how ketogenic foods work under the basic guidelines of a ketogenic diet. Below are five basic steps for implementing a keto diet plan that will help you simplify the process as a beginner.

1. Determine the Fitness Goals You Want to Reach

This step is vital no matter what type of diet you are beginning, but it is especially important for a keto diet because the nutrient requirements are fairly strict. The first step you want to take is to identify the personal reasons you believe keto is for you. Defining your why will help you focus on the lifestyle changes involved in moving towards keto. Your why will also help you decide how you will measure your progress to see if your dietary changes are paying off.

2. Calculate Daily Calorie Goals

Once you have determined your primary health goals, your next step is finding out how many calories you need each day to reach your goal of losing, gaining, or maintaining weight. There are several ways to easily calculate your daily caloric needs, including online calculators and fitness and wellness apps. You can also speak to your doctor or a nutritionist to set healthy caloric goals.

3. Calculate Your Macronutrients (Macros)

In addition to setting a target number of daily calories, you must also find your ideal macronutrient consumption amounts, also known as calculating your macros. This will tell you how many grams of protein, fat, and carbohydrates you need to consume to maintain ketosis each day. How many carbs you can have a day on keto will be determined by the type of keto diet you choose and what your body’s unique needs require from your diet. It is crucial to maintain your carbohydrate intake each day to reach ketosis.
Being strict with your macros helps you maintain ketosis and reach your goals. For most people adopting a ketogenic diet, the breakdown of macros is as follows:
  • 70% of daily calories from fat
  • 25% of daily calories from protein sources, and
  • 5% of daily calories from carbohydrates
Your current level of fitness, metabolic health, and other individual factors will determine the exact percentage of macronutrients you should consume.
Ketogenic diet breakdown

4. Plan Your Menu

Once you know your goals, calculate your daily calories, and determine your daily macronutrients, the next step is planning your menu with low-carb recipes. Before you start piling on heavy foods like cheese and bacon, take into consideration the quality of the high-fat foods you will consume on keto. You must think about your overall health and incorporate nutritious foods that will also help you meet your daily intake needs. A keto diet should be much more than a weight-loss plan—it should also contribute to your overall well-being. If you fail to eat nutrient-rich foods, your goals will be much harder to reach. Eating a nutrient-rich low-carb diet will also ensure you have energy, stabilize your mood, and lower hunger and food cravings—all things that will help you stick to a ketogenic diet.

5. Be Consistent With Your Goals

It is important to understand that planning your keto menu is the start, but sticking to eating according to your ideal calorie and macro levels is how you reach the finish line. You also must stick to your keto diet for more than a couple of weeks to see results. Consistency is key. Willpower will help you with your goals, but you must dedicate yourself to developing healthy habits over time. Your success will rely heavily on you making healthy food and fitness decisions for your long-term wellness. You don’t have to stress yourself to maintain perfection, but you do want to focus on being consistent if you want to see progress. Sticking to your dietary goals consistently will pay off if you keep going. One thing to note—don’t allow a day of not hitting goals to deter you from your long-term progress. Each day is a new opportunity to make healthier decisions!

Why Beginners Adopt a Keto Diet?

Weight Loss

This is the most common reason for someone to start a ketogenic diet. If your goal is to lose weight, maintaining a calorie deficit is key to your success. When you stick to your weight loss goals using keto, you will see weight changes. These may come as a lower number on your scale and/or a change in how your body is shaped (body composition).

Improved Performance

For athletes and others looking to naturally boost their energy levels, keto can be used to help increase efficiency and performance. If you want to see a positive change in your energy levels with keto, you must focus on timing your nutrient intake and getting enough nutrients. You can measure improved performance by assessing your fitness performance and/or testing for metabolic efficiency.

Improved Health

While improved health may seem like a given, it is a very valid and common reason for choosing a ketogenic diet. Due to the ketogenic diet’s restrictive nature, getting adequate amounts of nutrients can prove challenging. To see improved health on a ketogenic diet, you should focus on consuming nutrient-dense foods. Measuring progress for your improved health can be done through a health assessment (biometric testing).
Keto Foods

Are There Different Types of Keto Diet?

When you follow a keto diet, your body goes into the metabolic state of ketosis. This is where your energy gets pulled from the stored body fat to run effectively, usually within four days of beginning the diet. Before you begin making dietary changes, you must understand that there are several different versions of the diet that are differentiated by the proportion of protein, fat, and carbs allowed for daily intake. The following are the four common types of keto diets you can follow:
  • The Standard Keto Diet (SKD) – The standard ketogenic diet requires low carb intake, moderate protein intake, and high fat intake. The typical macronutrient for a standard keto diet is 20% protein, 10% carbohydrates, and 70% fat.
  • Cyclical Keto Diet (CKD) – The cyclical ketogenic diet requires cycling days of high carbohydrate nutrient intake (known as “refeeds”) with typical ketogenic days.
  • Targeted Keto Diet (TKD) – The targeted ketogenic diet makes allowances for carbohydrates before or after intense exercise.
  • High-protein Keto Diet (HPKD) – The high-protein ketogenic diet is similar to the standard keto diet, but the protein intake is higher, usually a ratio of 5% carbs, 35% protein, and 60% fat.
The standard keto diet and the high-protein keto diets have received the most scientific attention, likely because they are the most commonly used methods. The targeted and cyclical diets are newer variations of keto, mostly used by bodybuilders and athletes. intense exercise

What Should I Do During the First Week of Keto?

The first week of your keto diet can be challenging, especially if you are transitioning from a much less structured way of eating. The nature of the keto diet requires many people to make lifestyle changes that can feel a bit overwhelming early on. It is vital to remember that keto, like many other diets, requires an adjustment period. This is where your body will make a huge shift from using dietary sugars for energy to using fats for energy, leaving you feeling a bit under the weather. The “Keto Flu” is a real possibility, but with the proper preparation, you can overcome it and thrive in your first week. If you do feel a bit under the weather, the flu-like symptoms may last several days. With your keto-approved menu and consistency, you can make your first week a positive experience. In addition to eating your menu of keto-friendly foods, you should also use these keto diet tips for your first week.
  • Hydrate. Switching to a ketogenic diet will cause your body to lose the excess water stored from your former diet of high carbs and sugar. Drinking plenty of water or taking sugar-free electrolyte supplements can help your body adjust to changing water levels.
  • Focus on hitting your calorie and macronutrient requirements. Get enough protein and fat to reach ketosis, and you will feel better and less hungry.
  • Get adequate fiber. You want to maintain your gut health to avoid gastrointestinal issues, so consume your greens. Having a salad each day can help you feel full and keep you from becoming bloated or constipated.
  • Limit pre-packaged and processed foods to stay on target for your carbohydrate intake. Hidden carbs can throw off your macros and prevent you from reaching ketosis, so it is important to limit the amount of sugar you consume if you want to be successful in your first week.
Drink Water

You Can Kick Off Your Keto Diet and Find Success

The switch to a ketogenic diet should ultimately be seen as a lifestyle change that will lead to long-term health and wellness. Set your goals and make a plan to be consistent but give yourself grace as you transition into a new way of using food for fuel. The tips from this guide can help you go from a beginner with keto to a successful keto lifestyle in less time and with less difficulty. You, too, can reap the benefits of ketosis and healthy weight management.


Myths and Facts About Sun Exposure

Myths and Facts About Sun Exposure

This entry was posted in Healthy Aging and tagged , on by .
It’s official: summer is here. And knowing Arizona weather, it’s only going to get warmer and sunnier for longer periods of time, so it’s important to protect yourself from the effects of sun exposure. It’s particularly important since we live in Arizona, where the sun is out for a greater percentage of the year, and since we receive much more sun here than in most other states. Summer is not the only time you need to protect yourself and your skin, but it’s still a good time of year to get updated information about skin protection, as ultraviolet radiation is stronger during this time of year. Knowing the myths and facts about sun exposure is necessary to stay safe each summer, and to stay updated on how best to protect yourself from the dangerous effects of sun damage to your skin.

Sun Exposure: More Dangerous Than It Seems

Sun exposure seems like a good idea, as we often think of the sun as the thing that gives us life, warmth, light, and happiness. After all, without the sun, this planet would never have become inhabitable for us. While all of this is true, the sun can still cause serious damage to your skin after even short amounts of exposure. To prevent damage, you need to be aware of the dangers related to sun exposure. Examine sun damaged skin Sun damage comes in the form of solar and ultraviolet radiation and its molecular damage to your skin, causing short-term issues like photosensitivity or sunburn that can irritate and injure your skin; or long-term issues like photoaging, where the damage affects your skin at a much deeper level, and could lead to skin cancer as well as other permanent skin deterioration and health effects. [1]Gonzaga, E.R. Role of UV Light in Photodamage, Skin Aging, and Skin Cancer. AM J Clin Dermatol 10, 19–24 (2009).

Myths Related to Sun Exposure

It’s important to know the commonly circulated myths related to sun exposure, so you know the risks for the summer and what you can do to stay safe

Myth: Sun Exposure Is Only a Problem in Summer, Not When It’s Cold or on Cloudy Days

It’s a common assumption: it’s colder in the winter, and you don’t feel the effects of the sun on your skin, so you won’t experience sun damage, right? While people don’t tend to get sunburned as much in the winter because of the angle of the sun, most equate fewer burns with the colder temperatures. As a result, many people think that cooler days in the summer also offer a respite from sun exposure. However, it isn’t true — the damage caused by the sun is a result of the ultraviolet rays, not the amount of heat in the air. While UV levels vary based on the time of year and the angle of the sun, colder temperatures do not affect the levels of UV.  [2]Farman, G. (n.d.). Ultraviolet (UV) / Ozone Frequently Asked Questions. Bureau of Meteorology. Retrieved May 25, 2022, from Because of this, days in the summer where the weather is cloudy, windy, or a little colder than average will still cause skin damage unless you take steps to protect your skin

Myth: People With Dark Skin Don’t Need Sunscreen to Protect Their Skin From the Sun

UV radiation causes skin damage on all types of skin Many people with dark skin believe their skin has sufficient protection from sun exposure, or that they don’t suffer the same consequences of sun damage to their skin. However, UV radiation causes skin damage on all types of skin, regardless of color. [3]Taylor, S. C., & Alexis, A. F. (2022). Misconceptions of photoprotection in skin of color. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 86 (3) S9-17. Wearing proper protection against radiation exposure can make your skin healthier, and lessen the physical effects of skin damage like hyperpigmentation or dark spots. Applying sunscreen can go a long way for the beauty of your skin and, more importantly, its long-term health and protection against UV exposure effects.

Myth: Fake Tans Are Sufficient Protection From Sun Damage and Can Replace Sunscreen

While many people who use spray tans and tanning lotions believe that these products are a safer alternative to sunbathing, they in fact are more likely to receive sunburns than people who don’t use spray tans and tanning lotions. This is because the products provide a very small amount of UV protection that people believe to be enough, but they don’t provide enough protection for the skin. They must be used with high-SPF sunblock to prevent damage from sun exposure. [4]Brooks, K., & Brooks, D. (2006). Use of artificial tanning products among young adults. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 54 (6), 1060-1066. It’s much safer for your skin and long-term health to use sunscreen in addition to tanning lotions, reapplying the sunscreen every two hours to best protect your skin from harmful rays.

Myth: The More Exposure to Sunlight, the Less Vitamin D Deficiency You Suffer

While Vitamin D is important for the health of your body and mind, that doesn’t mean you or your family needs long stretches in the sun unprotected. In fact, you should never spend time in the sun unprotected. Many people are confused about how much protection from the sun they should employ when there are health benefits to sun exposure. [5]Littlewood, Z., Greenfield, S. (2018). Parents’ knowledge, attitudes and beliefs regarding sun protection in children: a qualitative study. BMC public health, 18 (1), … Continue reading So, is sun exposure healthy? The truth is that you will still boost your levels of Vitamin D with minimal exposure while using sun protection. The higher amounts of UV in the middle of the day mean you don’t need as much sun exposure to get your healthy dose of Vitamin D, so moderation is important—limit your exposure as much as possible, and always use sunblock. [6]Tsiaras, W. G., & Weinstock, M. A. (2011). Factors influencing vitamin D status. Acta dermato-venereologica, 91 (2), 115–124. There are also other, safer ways to get your Vitamin D without exposure to UV and solar rays that harm your skin’s health.

Myth: Glass Provides Protection From the Sun

Glass that can completely block all UV radiation Glass seems like a barrier against the effects of sun exposure, but this is almost never the case. While some types of glass can limit the amount of UV radiation, there are still types of UV rays that can enter. Glass that can completely block all UV radiation is not commonly installed in most cars or buildings. [7]Almutawa, F., Vandal, R., Wang, S. Q. Lim, H. W. (2013). Current status of photoprotection by window glass, automobile glass, window films, and sunglasses. Photodermatology, photoimmunology … Continue reading Because of this, your skin can still be harmed with long periods of sun exposure ,even behind glass. In fact, the left side of the face and left arm are more affected by sun damage as a result of the driver’s side window exposure. Even if you’re behind glass, be sure to adequately cover your skin with clothing or sunscreen to keep it protected.

Protect Your Skin

The more informed you are about these myths, the more you understand about what amount of sun exposure is good for you and what’s dangerous to your health. Even more importantly, you’ll need to learn how to stay safe from UV and solar radiation. While there are health benefits to a small amount of sun exposure, it’s all about moderation. You need to keep your skin safe from any sun radiation exposure lasting longer than a few minutes. Keep your skin covered to protect it from UV rays during both summer and winter months.  Apply sunscreen and sunblock regularly There are many things you can do to protect yourself from the effects of sun damage.
  • Wear protective clothing—protective clothing and coverings like long-sleeved shirts, pants, and hats will completely block UV rays from reaching your skin.
  • Avoid the points of the day that have the strongest UV radiation, which is often the six hours surrounding the highest point of the sun, or noonday.
  • Applying sunscreen and sunblock regularly to exposed skin is imperative, but applying it once a day is not enough; finding the adequate sunscreen for your skin, applying it thoroughly and evenly to yourself, and reapplying every two hours is the best way to protect your skin from sun exposure damage.
  • Pay attention to your skin—if it’s irritated or sunburned, you need to be using more protection from solar radiation.

Rid Yourself of Myths Related to Sun Exposure

Stay safe and protected this summer when you’re out in the sun, and spread the word about the facts of sun exposure. The more people who expose the myths surrounding sun exposure, the safer everyone will be from the negative effects of solar and UV radiation, and then everyone can enjoy the summer sun properly, while keeping their future health and the health of others safe. Protecting your skin, along with visiting an experienced gynecologist, should be a part of every woman’s routine.


1 Gonzaga, E.R. Role of UV Light in Photodamage, Skin Aging, and Skin Cancer. AM J Clin Dermatol 10, 19–24 (2009).
2 Farman, G. (n.d.). Ultraviolet (UV) / Ozone Frequently Asked Questions. Bureau of Meteorology. Retrieved May 25, 2022, from
3 Taylor, S. C., & Alexis, A. F. (2022). Misconceptions of photoprotection in skin of color. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 86 (3) S9-17.
4 Brooks, K., & Brooks, D. (2006). Use of artificial tanning products among young adults. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 54 (6), 1060-1066.
5 Littlewood, Z., Greenfield, S. (2018). Parents’ knowledge, attitudes and beliefs regarding sun protection in children: a qualitative study. BMC public health, 18 (1), 207.
6 Tsiaras, W. G., & Weinstock, M. A. (2011). Factors influencing vitamin D status. Acta dermato-venereologica, 91 (2), 115–124.
7 Almutawa, F., Vandal, R., Wang, S. Q. Lim, H. W. (2013). Current status of photoprotection by window glass, automobile glass, window films, and sunglasses. Photodermatology, photoimmunology photomedicine, 29 (2), 65–72.
The Moon Valley Tattler

You Don’t Have to Live With Pelvic Pain

This entry was posted in Health FAQs and tagged on by .
Last month our very own Dr. Davitt was published in the Moon Valley Tattler, a local Phoenix East Valley news publication. The article, entitled “Don’t Let This Pain Make You Withdraw from Daily Life,” features a wealth of information about the one pain Dr. Davitt believes you don’t have to live with. This pain is common in women, but that doesn’t mean you need to continue suffering. In fact, the longer women live with the pain, the more the pain can develop and become “worn in.” Worse, it becomes more difficult to treat. [1]Davitt, J. (2022, March 1). Moon Valley Tattler March 2022. Issue. Retrieved April 21, 2022, from Fortunately, there are easily accessible, minimally invasive surgeries and other techniques that can reduce this pain.

You Don’t Have to Live with Pelvic Pain

While pelvic pain is certainly common, it is not something you should have to go on living with. It’s vital that you share your symptoms with your doctor, so they can help you make an educated decision regarding what could be causing your pelvic pain and how to treat it effectively.
Tattler Cover
In the Moon Valley Tattler article, Dr. Davitt provided some key steps for finding pelvic pain relief:
  • Schedule a consultation with an experienced doctor.
  • Consider all treatment options, including minimally invasive surgery.
  • Don’t suffer in silence – reach out to friends, family, and your doctor for support.
  • Seek a second opinion if you’re not getting the results you want from your current treatment plan.
At Arizona Gynecology Consultants, we diagnose pelvic pain by listening to our patients and addressing their symptoms. These symptoms are important because there are multiple causes of pelvic pain, and to treat them, doctors must find the specific cause of your pain. Our doctors take the utmost care in making an in-depth diagnosis of your pain and treating it from the source Pelvic Pain FAQs

Pelvic Pain FAQ

Of course, pelvic pain can be debilitating to live with, even when you know there are many treatments available to help. To take the first step towards recovery from your pain, it’s important to learn more about what causes it. In addition, treatments vary depending on the symptoms you are experiencing. Sometimes, women find their pelvic pain stems from a simple issue and the pain resolves completely with a relatively easy fix. In other situations, pelvic pain is chronic and requires long-term treatment to manage. Here are some frequently asked questions about pelvic pain to help you better understand this condition.

What Does Pelvic Pain Feel Like?

Pelvic pain can feel like an aching pressure radiating through the pelvic region, but it can also include sharper pains that contribute to extreme discomfort. This pain can happen anywhere below the navel in the lower torso region. Depending on the cause, pelvic pain can be constant, or it can come and go. It’s essential to watch for symptoms like lower back pain, unusual discharge, and bleeding. Pelvic pain can occur during or outside of a woman’s menstrual cycle, and you may experience discomfort during sexual intercourse. [2]U.S. National Library of Medicine (2021). Pelvic pain: Lower abdominal pain. MedlinePlus Resources. Retrieved April 21, 2022, from … Continue reading

How Do You Know If Pelvic Pain Is Serious?

There are a few key things to keep in mind that will help you determine if your pelvic pain is something you should worry about. If the pain is severe, constant, or getting worse over time, this may be a sign that you should relay your concerns to a doctor. As a rule of thumb, if your day-to-day life is impacted, you should see your doctor about your pelvic pain. You should also keep an eye out for other symptoms like fever, chills, nausea, and vomiting, as these could be signs of a larger problem.

What Are Some of the Causes of Pelvic Pain?

Pelvic pain can have a variety of causes, ranging from benign to serious. Uterus Some common causes of pelvic pain include:
  • Endometriosis. Endometriosis occurs when the lining of the uterus, called the endometrium, grows outside of the uterus.
  • Ovulation. This occurs when an egg is ready for fertilization and released from the ovaries. It can cause cramping and even spotting outside of regular menstruation.
  • Period cramps. A woman can experience spasming of the uterus during her monthly menstrual cycle.
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease. This is an infection of the female reproductive system. It can damage organs and essential parts of the reproductive system as well as cause inflamed tissues in the area.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome. When the bowels are irritated, they can cause abdominal pain and cramping.
  • Kidney stones. When small pieces of calcium or other substances build up in the kidney, it leads to the formation of kidney stones, which can cause severe pain.
  • Sexually transmitted infections. Sexually transmitted infections can be passed between sexual partners and can result in pelvic pain and other symptoms.
  • Interstitial cystitis. This is a chronic bladder condition that can cause pelvic pain.
If you are experiencing pelvic pain, it is important to see a doctor so that the cause can be properly diagnosed and treated. Pelvic pain is not something you should have to live with, and there are many treatment options available.

What Organs Are in My Pelvic Area?

A woman’s pelvic area is made up of the uterus, endometrium, fallopian tubes, cervix, vagina, and vulva. The uterus is the organ located in the lower torso of a woman, held between the bladder and the rectum. The uterus is responsible for receiving a fertilized egg and protecting a child if the woman becomes pregnant. The endometrium is the lining of the uterus, which thickens in preparation for pregnancy. If the woman does not become pregnant, this lining is shed each month during menstruation. Women have two ovaries in their pelvis, which hold reproductive eggs. The fallopian tubes serve as a route for released eggs to travel from the ovaries to the uterus. The cervix is located at the lowest point of the uterus and serves as an access point to the outside of a woman’s body. The vagina is the canal that connects the external features of the reproductive system to the cervix, for the release and intake of fluids, birthing, and sexual intercourse. The vulva or vulvar region is the external part of a woman’s genitalia. [3]University of Rochester Medical Center (2022). Anatomy of the Female Pelvic Area. Health Encyclopedia – University of Rochester Medical Center (n.d.) Retrieved April 21, 2022, from … Continue reading

Why Does Pelvic Pain Get Worse at Night?

Pelvic pain often occurs as a chronic pain for many women. Chronic pain, in general, has been found to cause worse sleep at night and can keep patients awake. [4]Shaver, J. L., Iacovides, S. (2018). Sleep in women with chronic pain and autoimmune conditions: a narrative review. Sleep Medicine Clinics, 13(3), 375-394 … Continue reading While pelvic pain isn’t always worse at night, it may seem like it is, since you may notice this pain more as you are trying to fall asleep. People with chronic pelvic pain may suffer from insomnia due to this pain.

Does Lower Back Pain Cause Pelvic Pain?

Oftentimes, there is a neurological, orthopedic, or urological reason for back and pelvic pain. However, lower back pain doesn’t necessarily cause pelvic pain, but it can be a symptom of pelvic pain. Lower back pain that is caused by pelvic pain can stem from adhesions in the uterus due to endometriosis. [5]King E. B. (1994). Back pain from the gynecological standpoint. California medicine, 68(2), 74–76. Retrieved April 21, 2022, from It’s important to remember that pelvic pain can be a symptom of many different conditions. See a doctor to rule out any possible causes for your pelvic pain that may be leading to lower back pain. Your doctor must assess your pelvic region and any of the symptoms you have been having to determine if your back pain and pelvic pain are linked.

Can Bowel Problems Cause Pelvic Pain?

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a gut disorder that is diagnosed in many people. It mainly causes symptoms of bloating, diarrhea, and constipation, but it also commonly causes pelvic pain for women. IBS is often concurrent with chronic pelvic pain. IBS is even known to get worse during a woman’s menstrual cycle. IBS tends to flare up and then remain dormant for periods of time. Although there isn’t a known way to fully cure IBS, there are ways to treat the condition. Treating your IBS could help address any pelvic pain you may be experiencing. It’s essential to work with your gynecologist to manage relevant symptoms and your gastroenterologist to assess your GI treatments.

How Can I Quickly Relieve Pelvic Pain?

There are a few things you can do to help relieve pelvic pain. First, try placing a heating pad on your lower abdomen or back. Heat often helps relax muscles and ease the pain. You can also try over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen or naproxen to help with pain and inflammation. If you find that you’re still in pain, consider scheduling an appointment with your gynecologist. They will be able to help you find the source of the pain and provide additional relief options. pelvic pain

What Are the 4 Pelvis Types?

As long ago as the 1930s, scientists identified four general pelvis types found in women. [6]Caldwell, W. E., & Moloy, H. C. (1938). Anatomical Variations in the Female Pelvis: Their Classification and Obstetrical Significance: (Section of Obstetrics and Gynecology). Proceedings of the … Continue reading These pelvis types are based on the shape and size of the upper area of the pelvis, or pelvic inlet. The pelvic inlet is where the birthing canal begins, before a baby must pass through the pelvic cavity in a woman’s body. These are the four types of pelvises:
  • Gynecoid

    A gynecoid is the pelvic type most often found in females. The shape is very round, and it is a more open, shallow pelvis type.
  • Android

    The android pelvis type is narrower and has more of a heart shape. It resembles a male pelvis because of its narrowness.
  • Anthropoid

    The anthropoid pelvis has an oval or egg shape. It is known for being a narrower pelvis type with a bit more depth to it than other pelvis types.
  • Platypelloid

    The platypelloid pelvis type is not very common and is often referred to as a flat pelvis. This pelvis type is very wide but doesn’t have a lot of depth to it.
While there are four basic types of pelvises, all women will have slightly different shapes and sizes, especially when it comes to the pelvic inlet. However, it is helpful to know the type of pelvis you have because it can help determine how easy or difficult it may be to give birth vaginally.

What Does a Pelvic X-Ray Show?

A pelvic X-ray can give a view of the bones in the pelvic and hip area for a doctor. Pelvic X-rays can help doctors identify tumors in the body, along with fractures, and any bone conditions a patient may have. If you have suffered an injury to the pelvic region, a pelvic X-ray can help show if there are any broken bones. A pelvic X-ray is also often used to diagnose the cause of pain in the lower abdomen or pelvis. This X-ray can help doctors see the bony structures in the pelvis and determine if they are the source of pain for a patient.

What’s the Difference Between the Hips and Pelvis?

The pelvis is made up of several bones that connect to form the pelvic girdle. The pelvis includes the hip bones, sacrum, and coccyx (tailbone). The hip bones are connected to the sacrum in the back and join in the front at the pubic symphysis. In your hip joint, the head of the femur (thigh bone) sits in the acetabulum of the pelvis. The hip joint is what allows you to move your legs forward and backward, and from side to side. You can consider your hip bones as a component of your pelvis.

Can You Fracture Your Pelvis and Not Know It?

Typically, if your pelvis is fractured, you will know that it is fractured. It can cause severe pain when walking, and pain radiating through the pelvic and hip regions of the body. Pelvic fractures can also cause tingling and numbness in the area around your groin or in your legs. If you’re having a difficult time standing or urinating as well, you may want to have your pelvic area checked by an experienced doctor.

What Are Some Common Treatments for Pelvic Pain?

There are many different treatment options available for pelvic pain, and the best method will depend on the cause of the pain. Until you know the cause, try to avoid pushing yourself too hard through the pain. If your pelvic pain worsens while you are engaging in an activity, you should stop Regardless of cause, some patients find enough relief with over-the-counter pain medications like aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen. Or, you can discuss with your doctor whether a prescription pain reliever is a good option for you. However, if your pain is chronic, pain-management medication alone likely will not solve the problem. If the pain is due to a muscle strain or spasm, rest and ice may be enough to help relieve the pain. Your doctor may prescribe hormonal birth control or other medication to help ease pain caused by menstrual issues and other conditions. For example, if you have endometriosis, your pain may be addressed sufficiently with hormonal birth control. If you have pelvic inflammatory disease or other infection, your doctor will likely prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection before monitoring for residual pain. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove scar tissue or vaginal cysts that are causing pain. For example, laparoscopic surgery can be used to remove adhesions or endometrial tissue via a tiny incision. If needed, a hysterectomy can even be performed laparoscopically or via the cervix. Your doctor will discuss the risks and benefits before recommending surgery.

Committed to Helping Those With Pelvic Pain?

Pelvic pain is very common, affecting more than one in every five women. However, it is not something that you have to live with. If you share your symptoms with your doctor they can work closely with you to identify the possible causes of your pain and provide effective treatment.


1 Davitt, J. (2022, March 1). Moon Valley Tattler March 2022. Issue. Retrieved April 21, 2022, from
2 U.S. National Library of Medicine (2021). Pelvic pain: Lower abdominal pain. MedlinePlus Resources. Retrieved April 21, 2022, from,way%20of%20your%20daily%20activities
3 University of Rochester Medical Center (2022). Anatomy of the Female Pelvic Area. Health Encyclopedia – University of Rochester Medical Center (n.d.) Retrieved April 21, 2022, from
4 Shaver, J. L., Iacovides, S. (2018). Sleep in women with chronic pain and autoimmune conditions: a narrative review. Sleep Medicine Clinics, 13(3), 375-394
5 King E. B. (1994). Back pain from the gynecological standpoint. California medicine, 68(2), 74–76. Retrieved April 21, 2022, from
6 Caldwell, W. E., & Moloy, H. C. (1938). Anatomical Variations in the Female Pelvis: Their Classification and Obstetrical Significance: (Section of Obstetrics and Gynecology). Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine, 32(1), 1–30. Retrieved April 21, 2022, from
Understanding “Sugar Free” Sweeteners

Understanding “Sugar Free” Sweeteners

This entry was posted in Fitness and Nutrition and tagged on by .
Artificial sweeteners can seem like a miracle product for those with a “sweet tooth” who encounter a need to switch to a reduced-sugar diet. As our bodies grow and age, many of us find an occasion to reduce our sugar consumption or overall calorie intake. This change can be founded on personal health goals or mandated by a medical necessity, such as in the preventative treatment of pre-diabetes symptoms.

Is Sugar Free Healthy?

A reduced-sugar diet might be a temporary response to a health concern or a lifelong change to help manage a chronic issue. The longer your sugar-free diet lasts, the more likely it is that you’ll want to seek out viable replacements for some of your old, sugary favorites.

Sugar Is Everywhere

People who attempt to switch to a sugar-free diet are often dismayed to notice that sugar pops up in more places than they had anticipated. For instance, we all know that soft drinks, candies, and donuts are packed with sugar. A single 12-ounce can of name brand cola contains between 150 and 200 calories on average, with basically all of them coming from the sugar content. Cutting out sugary candy and drinks can be one of the easiest and most obvious ways to set yourself on a sugar-free path, but it’s not quite as simple as that. Depending on the alternative chosen, you may find yourself asking: is sugar free really sugar free? Sugar, and its not-so-sneaky aliases, such as high-fructose corn syrup, are found in many other foods, and they don’t all taste so sweet:
  • Ketchup, Salad Dressings, Barbecue Sauces

    A single tablespoon of plain ketchup contains nearly 4 grams of sugar, which is more than a quarter of the total sugar in an Oreo cookie.
  • Bread, Pizza Crust, and Other Baked Goods

    Some of the most common American breads and buns would be considered cake in other countries. For those with the time and energy, learning to bake your own reduced sugar bread can be a rewarding part of undertaking a low sugar lifestyle.
  • Fresh Fruits

    While consuming fresh fruits is typically a healthy choice, natural sugar is still sugar, which means fruit can contribute to sugar-related health issues just the same as high fructose corn syrup. Fruit juices, even naturally derived ones, are worse yet because they concentrate all of a whole fruit’s sugar and calories while discarding the healthy fiber.
  • Beer, Wine, and Liquor

    Alcohol’s fermentation process is dependent on sugars being present, so even though your favorite adult beverage may be rather unsweet by the time it reaches your glass, the caloric content remains. In fact, even if you were to drink straight liquor with no actual sugar content, the converted sugars and starches that make up alcohol still have a caloric content of 7 calories per gram,[1]NHS. (2020, January 13). Calories in alcohol. NHS choices. Retrieved April 3, 2022, from which is comparable to that of pure fat. Many favorite liqueurs and mixers are also extremely high in sugar.
  • Honey, Syrup, Molasses

    While using honey, maple syrup, or pure cane syrup as a sugar alternative seems like a healthier choice, these are not actually sugar substitutes at all. Products made with “real” cane sugar offer few tangible benefits over those sweetened with the addition of corn syrup. Meanwhile honey and refined tree sap are still just other forms of sugar at the end of the day, and their impact on your caloric intake and blood glucose levels aren’t much changed just because the sugar in this case has been naturally processed by way of trees or bees.
With the exception of fresh fruits, the above items can be readily found in low-sugar or reduced-calorie varieties. These alternatives often use high carbohydrate or fat content in an effort to reformulate the texture or flavor of the product to make up for the missing sugar, which can sometimes make them just as unhealthy as their sugared counterparts. Many other sugar-free products rely on sweetening agents that must be produced in a lab and added to products artificially, which is an automatic turn off to some health-conscious consumers. This all begs the question: is sugar free actually healthy? As with many other health and nutrition questions that seem simple on the surface, the answer is far more complex than a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ Whether a sugar-free diet works or not will depend on your unique body, your individual health goals, and what sorts of foods you’re eating in place of the sugary things you’ve eliminated.

Is Sugar Free Better Than Sugar?

AZGYN_Sugar-Free_Better Than Sugar? In the scientific and medical communities, artificial sugar substitutes are sometimes referred to as “nonnutritive sweeteners.” This term refers to the fact they add sweetness to a food’s flavor profile but have no nutritional value, which is to say they contain no calories and no essential nutrients. There are many zero calorie and low-calorie artificial sweeteners on the market today, and not all of them are created equal. So, is sugar free actually healthy? Is sugar free better than sugar in any measurable way; is sugar free worse than sugar? And, once you get past the zero-calorie hype, is sugar free good for weight loss at all? The answers to each of these questions will depend on which specific non-nutritive sweetener is being used to replace sugar. In general, swapping out sugar for any artificial zero calorie sweetener will indeed offer results in terms of reducing your overall caloric intake and managing high blood sugar. This can be an effective part of overall weight management, reducing your risk of diabetes, heart disease, and other issues. However, each one of these different nonnutritive sweetening agents will have its own effects on your body, just like any other food or chemical you choose to consume. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved five different artificial sweetening agents. These products are as follows:

1. Saccharin

One of the most well-established artificial sweeteners, saccharin has been in use for over a hundred years and has been the subject of a great deal of research over that century. You may know it as the brand name product Sweet N’ Low. Saccharin is promising as a sweetening agent because it has zero calories, doesn’t affect blood sugar, and is several hundred times sweeter than sugar, meaning a small amount goes a long way. The research behind saccharin has not always been positive, however. A 1977 study correlated saccharin ingestion with the development of bladder tumors in male rats.[2]Price, J. M., Biava, C. G., Oser, B. L., Vogin, E. E., Steinfeld, J., & Ley, H. L. (1970). Bladder tumors in rats fed cyclohexylamine or high doses of a mixture of cyclamate and saccharin. … Continue reading Thankfully, over 30 ensuing studies have determined that this issue does not affect humans.[3]Ellwein, L. B., & Cohen, S. M. (1990). The health risks of saccharin revisited. Critical reviews in toxicology, 20(5), 311-326.

2. Acesulfame Potassium

Much like saccharin, “Ace K” is hundreds of times sweeter than natural sugar and has dozens of studies backing its FDA approval. Other studies, however, have demonstrated acesulfame’s potential to disrupt gut health and actually increase weight gain in mice.[4]Bian, X., Chi, L., Gao, B., Tu, P., Ru, H., & Lu, K. (2017). The artificial sweetener acesulfame potassium affects the gut microbiome and body weight gain in CD-1 mice. PloS one, 12(6), e0178426. … Continue reading This issue has not been replicated in human studies but remains a potential concern.

3. Aspartame

One of the most widely-used artificial sweeteners is also one of the most controversial. Aspartame has been used for a long time, particularly in diet soft drinks, but is marred by a lot of anecdotal tales and online posts linking it to cancer and mental health disorders. It has been approved for use as a sweetener in over 100 countries, however, and even multinational watchdog agencies have determined that aspartame is generally safe for consumption. One notable exception: people suffering phenylketonuria, a medical condition that can be seriously exacerbated by aspartame.

4. Neotame

Neotame is an N-alkyl derivative similar to aspartame in structure.[5]Witt, J. (1999). Discovery and development of neotame. World Rev Nutr Diet, 85, 52-57. … Continue reading While chemically similar, neotame is 30 to 60 times sweeter than aspartame – and around 10,000 times the sweetness of standard table sugar. This makes neotame great for applications where sweetness needs to be achieved with an extremely small amount of additive.

5. Sucralose

Sucralose is relatively new among nonnutritive sweeteners, having only been approved for widespread use as a sweetener in the late 90s. Sucralose is unique in the fact that it is derived from sugar itself. This has been played up as a marketing gimmick to make sucralose sound more “natural” than other sugar alternatives, but it is deceptive at best. While sugar may be involved in the creation of sucralose, it is actually believed to have been discovered while researchers were attempting to develop new insecticides. You have probably seen or consumed sucralose under the brand name Splenda. It is considered fairly safe for consumption, however it does contain small amounts of toxic chlorine, which may be concerning to some.

6. Stevia

In addition to these five artificial, nonnutritive sweetening agents, the FDA has also approved the use of a sweetening agent called stevia. Stevia is different from nonnutritive sweeteners, and arguably closer to sugar because it is also a naturally occurring substance. Stevia is derived from a plant of the same name and is about 200 times sweeter than standard sugar. While it is not entirely devoid of calories, it can be used effectively in very small amounts, effectively allowing it to compete with zero-calorie sweeteners.

Is Sugar Free OK for Diabetics?

The management of diabetes and related conditions is an extremely common use for sugar-free foods and artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners can allow someone with a serious blood sugar condition to continue enjoying some of the flavors they love. Some people, however, still cling to anecdotal evidence and conspiracy-like rumors about artificial sweeteners actually being bad for diabetics. A 2018 review of available studies was not able to conclude any scientifically demonstrable link between artificial sweeteners and the worsening of diabetes or its symptoms.[6]Sanyaolu, A., Marinkovic, A., Gosse, J., Likaj, L., Ayodele, O., Okorie, C., & Verner, O. (2019). Artificial sweeteners and their association with Diabetes: A review. J Pub Health Catalog, 1(4), … Continue reading While other research exists which shows people who drink a large number of diet soft drinks may be at higher risk for obesity, heart disease, and Type 2 Diabetes, it now seems likely that these links have more to do with people who consume greater amounts food and beverage in general, rather than showing a specific connection between diabetes and artificial sweeteners. It is possible that a psychological effect is at play: people who consume lots of sweet but low- or zero-calorie drinks may stop associating sweetness with caloric intake and therefore start consuming other sugary foods less thoughtfully.

Adopting a Sugar-Free Diet

Adopting a Sugar-Free Diet If you do need to cut sugar from your diet, it is important to keep in mind that these artificial sweeteners are relatively new additions to the human diet. None of these products has been consumed by humans for very long, so their full influence on human health is not yet known. We can only hope that further research will continue to shed light on what measures, if any, should be taken to regulate artificial sweeteners and bring the public healthier sugar-free options.


1 NHS. (2020, January 13). Calories in alcohol. NHS choices. Retrieved April 3, 2022, from
2 Price, J. M., Biava, C. G., Oser, B. L., Vogin, E. E., Steinfeld, J., & Ley, H. L. (1970). Bladder tumors in rats fed cyclohexylamine or high doses of a mixture of cyclamate and saccharin. Science, 167(3921), 1131-1132.
3 Ellwein, L. B., & Cohen, S. M. (1990). The health risks of saccharin revisited. Critical reviews in toxicology, 20(5), 311-326.
4 Bian, X., Chi, L., Gao, B., Tu, P., Ru, H., & Lu, K. (2017). The artificial sweetener acesulfame potassium affects the gut microbiome and body weight gain in CD-1 mice. PloS one, 12(6), e0178426.
5 Witt, J. (1999). Discovery and development of neotame. World Rev Nutr Diet, 85, 52-57.
6 Sanyaolu, A., Marinkovic, A., Gosse, J., Likaj, L., Ayodele, O., Okorie, C., & Verner, O. (2019). Artificial sweeteners and their association with Diabetes: A review. J Pub Health Catalog, 1(4), 1-3.
Healthy Alternatives to Popular Holiday Dishes

Healthy and Low Carb Alternatives to Popular Holiday Dishes

Holidays and poor food choices always seem to go hand-in-hand. Holidays mean huge family gatherings, baking cookies, and indulging in the things we promise to swear off of at the start of the New Year. Holidays should be enjoyed, but that doesn’t mean we have to set ourselves up for weight gain. On average, many individuals will gain about two pounds between Thanksgiving and the New Year. This by itself isn’t a huge problem. The problem starts when the majority of people who do gain a pound or two won’t lose it before the next year. Year after year of added weight can take a toll on your body. Several holiday food alternatives will allow you to still enjoy the season while being mindful of your health.

Healthy Holiday Alternatives

Finding healthy holiday foods doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming. By being mindful and considering a few basic swaps, you’ll be able to cut your caloric and carb intake down with ease. Swapping is the best way to still enjoy what you normally would, by making slight changes to lower the calorie and carb count. One of the best aspects of swapping is that most swaps are unnoticeable and don’t require extra work. When it comes to holiday food alternatives, there are several great options for appetizers, sides, main dishes, desserts, and even holiday drinks!


The holidays are full of get-togethers that involve food. Most gatherings will offer appetizers to graze on while waiting for the main meal. Appetizers are an area where being mindful of your choices is key. Portion control can be challenging because it can be difficult to keep track of. You tell yourself you’ll just have one cocktail weenie and before you know it you’ve had eight. Appetizers can often be fried or made with fatty, carb loaded foods. Luckily, there are plenty of amazing appetizers that still hit the spot without risking weight gain.


Dips are a staple when it comes to the appetizer table. When trying to create healthy holiday alternatives, replacing those full-fat dips with lower-fat options is a game-changer. Instead of eating a dip created through cheese, cream cheese, or sour cream, choose a healthier option such as yogurt or fat-free sour cream. Yogurt is a fantastic swap for full-fat dip options. You can either use low-fat yogurt or nonfat plain Greek yogurt. The best part about this swap is that no one will be able to tell. Hummus is another fantastic dipping alternative. It is already a crowd favorite and it is available in a wide variety of flavors. Instead of chips, offer easy-to-dip veggies or chip substitutes made with vegetables or beans.

Shrimp Cocktail

Shrimp is a great protein-packed option for an appetizer. It is a quick option that requires little prep. Pair it with a spicy cocktail sauce and you have a fantastic healthy option. If you wanted to elevate this option further, shrimp and vegetable skewers are a great way to elevate a simple appetizer while still keeping it healthy.

Meat and Cheese

Everyone loves a good charcuterie board, but calories from meat and cheese can add up quickly. Consider cutting back on the meat and cheese, and if you do have it, consider turkey pepperoni or other lower-calorie meat options. Instead of full-fat cheeses, consider offering lower-calorie cheese options as well. And, what charcuterie board would be complete without some pickled vegetables and fresh fruits? By filling up on some fruits and veggies along with your meats and cheeses, you’ll reduce your calories quite a bit.

Healthy Holiday Side Dish Hacks

Healthy Holiday Side Dish Hacks Protein may be the star of many holiday meals, but it is often the side dishes that people can’t stop talking about. Healthy holiday alternatives are plentiful when it comes to your sides. Being mindful of your portion sizes is one way to ensure that you are sticking to the healthier side of things. When possible, load up on vegetables first, keeping the starches at bay. Outside of portion control, several helpful swaps allow you to still enjoy your favorite holiday side dishes.

Green Bean Casserole

For many, it would be impossible to picture Thanksgiving dinner without green bean casserole. There are several options when looking to be healthier. One easy step would be to increase the number of green beans used while decreasing the use of the filler ingredients. You can swap to low-sodium soup and use skim milk instead of evaporated milk. Another option would be to make a green bean almondine instead of a traditional green bean casserole. This option lowers your intake of saturated fat while adding more heart-healthy fats through the almonds.

Mac and Cheese

Mac and cheese is an American staple and continues to find its way onto more and more holiday tables. There are plenty of great options to make this indulgence healthy while still delicious. You can replace regular pasta with vegetable or bean-based noodles for a healthier, lower carb take. These noodles have grown in popularity over the years, and you can usually find a wide variety of options in your local store’s pasta aisle. You can also use low-fat cheese or skip the cheese and use turmeric and nutritional yeast. These swaps are great because they decrease fat intake while increasing fiber intake.

Mashed Potatoes

Potatoes are a staple side dish for many families. To create a healthy holiday alternative, you can replace your potato with mashed cauliflower. If you’re unsure about fully committing to cauliflower, you can also mix 2-3 heads of cauliflower with your potatoes. Either way, you are providing a healthier alternative that won’t sacrifice in taste or consistency, especially with gravy. Cauliflower has a lower caloric and carbohydrate content than potato, and it has more vitamins and minerals. For this reason, cauliflower has become a very popular food for both dieters hoping to cut calories, as well as those on low-carb specific diets, such as Paleo. Here’s a side-by-side comparison of cooked cauliflower versus potatoes: Potato vs Cauliflower


Some basic swaps can make traditional gravy options healthier. This includes using fat-free turkey broth with flour and seasoning. If you like to use the drippings to make your gravy, remove the fat first. This can be done by using a separator cup or placing the drippings in the freezer for 10-15 minutes. This allows the drippings to cool enough that the fat separates and can be skimmed off of the top. Another option that isn’t often considered but is amazingly delicious is swapping out gravy entirely for an herb pesto. It will have fewer calories, less fat, less carbs and an addition of potassium and calcium.

Sweet Potatoes

On their own, sweet potatoes are an excellent healthy addition to Thanksgiving dinner for anyone who isn’t watching their carb intake. The problem comes from many holiday recipes that also include sweet potato casserole topped with marshmallows, brown sugar, white sugar, and loads of butter. One great alternative is just choosing one of these tasty toppings instead of all of them. Another option is keeping the skin on the sweet potato as you cook it, topping it off with a cinnamon dusting. Keep in mind, however, one five-inch sweet potato has about 26 grams of carbohydrates. In a low-carb diet, that’s about half of the calories from carbohydrates that you may be allowed for the whole day. So, unless you really love  sweet potatoes, they’re probably worth skipping if you are on a low-carb diet.


When it comes to your holiday proteins, you’ll want to consider your healthier alternatives. When it comes to turkey, opt for the roasted and not the deep-fried. Choose lighter meat instead of dark to reduce your consumption of fat. In general, your serving of protein shouldn’t be larger than the palm of your hand. Portion control can be beneficial when it comes to the wide variety of meat options you may face over the holidays.

Making Holiday Desserts Healthier

Desserts play a large role in the holidays. Pies, cookies, and other confections are an anticipated conclusion to a great holiday meal. When it comes to keeping it healthy, it is possible. It will help to be mindful of portion sizes as well as what options you choose. Small swaps like pumpkin pie instead of pecan pie can make a huge difference. Trying to go low carb? You could also skip the crust and just bake the fruit. You can experiment with the baked fruit, adding cinnamon and nutmeg to recreate the perfect pie without the crust. Frozen grapes are an amazing sweet treat that is also a natural source of antioxidants. You can even toss the grapes in a bag with some lime juice and flavored sugar substitute for an elevated treat everyone will love. If you have a weak spot for chocolate, dark chocolate is a healthier alternative compared to milk or white chocolate. When it comes to baking, coconut oil is the perfect alternative to butter.

Healthy Holiday Drink Alternatives

Healthy Holiday Drink Alternatives Unhealthy drink options can have the same impact on your weight as unhealthy food options. Holiday drinks are often filled with heavy creams, sugars, and syrups. Over the holidays, wine and other alcohol consumption can quickly increase your caloric intake. Even soda and other sugar drinks are consumed in excess through different punches and mocktails. Some of these drinks can pack more of a caloric punch than some desserts. There are several healthy holiday alternatives for your holiday drinks. For example, traditional hot chocolate can be loaded with fat and excess sugar. Instead, why not try making your own version with an alternative to cow milk, such as almond, rice or coconut. Use raw cacao powder instead of chocolate and stevia instead of sugar for one of the easiest healthy versions of a popular holiday drink.


Regular eggnog can easily total over 250 calories and be made up of half the daily dose of saturated fat we need. Just one cup can contain 20 grams of carbs. There are a few options when it comes to swapping. You could use egg substitute for the regular eggs, fat-free milk instead of whole, and use a sugar substitute in place of sugar. You can still flavor with vanilla and spices. If you use all of these alternatives when making your own eggnog, you can take your carb intake all the way from 20 to 2 per cup! Skipping the alcohol can quickly drop the calorie and carb intake number down as well. Some companies create eggnog using almond milk and other dairy alternatives. These can be another great option for those who still want to enjoy their eggnog in the cold winter months and can be found in the dairy section of most grocery stores. Hot apple cider is also a great alternative. It is a warm seasonal beverage that brings comfort without heavy caloric intake. Cinnamon tea can also be enjoyed instead, for a fraction of the calories.

Alcoholic Beverages

Alcohol directly adds to sugar intake. To be on the healthiest side of the issue, you could completely substitute with mocktails and sparkling drinks. You can also still enjoy alcohol while being mindful of how much you’re actually consuming. Your mixer choice can play a role in the overall calorie count of your drink. Instead of soda or sugary juices, use soda water, diet tonic, or low-sugar juice. Drinking champagne or a hard seltzer can cause you to consume your drink more slowly due to the bubbles. Red wine is filled with healthy antioxidants that are good for your heart. While it should still be enjoyed in moderation, it is a great option for those who would still prefer to enjoy an alcoholic beverage. Another great tip is having a glass of water between every alcoholic drink. This helps you to keep your calorie intake low as well as keeps you well hydrated.

More Healthy Holiday Low-Carb Ideas

Try a number of low-carb alternatives throughout the holidays. Your eyes can stay filled with the sights of food, but the following dishes won’t leave you feeling bloated or guilty.
  • Go green this holiday season, mixing green apples with celery. Top it with olive oil, mustard, and bleu cheese.
  • What’s a holiday without stuffing? Combine sausage, mushrooms, celery, and onions. Mix with cornbread, sage, and chicken broth.
  • Roast green beans along with pecans for some texture. If you’re looking for a bit of added spice, throw some bacon into the mix.
  • Some people can’t get through the holidays without some seafood. Stuff mushrooms with crab meat, garlic, and oregano.
  • A lot of soups are off limits for those who don’t want to consume the cream that goes along with many soup recipes. But, you can lighten the soup by swapping-out the cream for coconut milk.
  • Less carbs usually means more meat. Make the meat lovers in your family more than happy by draping pieces of bacon across your traditional oven-baked turkey.
  • Speaking of meat, there’s a lot you can do with pork chops. Throw them in a pan with fresh sage, mushrooms, and coconut oil for a low fat meat alternative.
  • What about those who have a sweet tooth? Try creating the batter with sugar-free maple syrup. Use almond flour and coconut oil.

Enjoying Healthy Holiday Foods

Enjoying Healthy Holiday Foods Enjoy the holidays. They are a great chance to get together with friends and family and remind yourself of what matters. Food as part of the holiday celebration isn’t going anywhere. What can change is the food options we choose to go with. For any aspect of your holiday meal, there is a healthy alternative that can still be a crowd pleaser and easy to create. By swapping basic ingredients you can create the same dish in taste and appearance with significantly fewer calories and net carbs. And, remember, exchanging ingredients for healthier options works well for your holiday drink options too! This holiday season, consider starting your New Year’s resolutions early by making healthier choices a part of your daily commitment to yourself, even during this celebratory time of year. Your future self will thank you!
Do I Have a Thyroid Problem?

Do I Have a Thyroid Problem? How To Tell and What To Do

This entry was posted in Ask An Expert and tagged on by .
The human body is entirely connected. It is important to understand the function of major organs and body parts in order to live a healthy life. One major body part that is often ignored is the thyroid. Though it is involved in many functions of the body, few people understand what it does. Unfortunately, this means that lots of individuals with thyroid problems go untreated; it is difficult to know that something is wrong without understanding how an organ functions correctly.

What Does The Thyroid Do?

The thyroid is a gland in the endocrine system that is located in the neck. It sits in front of the windpipe, and is shaped similarly to a butterfly. This gland primarily controls metabolism. Hormones play a central role in how the rest of the body can function; metabolism has far reaching consequences for the entire body. Thyroid Issues

What Are The Symptoms Of A Malfunctioning Thyroid?

There are two common issues that can affect the thyroid: Hyperthyroidism and Hypothyroidism. The first means that the thyroid is producing an excess of hormones, whereas the second means that it is producing too little. Both of these conditions have unique symptoms that are described below. It is worth noting that there are other diseases and conditions that can affect the thyroid, such as thyroid cancer and thyroid eye disease. However, these conditions are rare, and most of the time Hypothyroidism or Hyperthyroidism is to blame for any symptoms that the thyroid causes.

Hypothyroidism Symptoms

Hypothyroidism is when the thyroid is under-producing hormones. This is to say that the body’s thyroid is not properly managing the metabolism. Some common symptoms of Hypothyroidism include:
  • Weight gain
  • Feeling cold and/or tired
  • Muscle weakness
  • Depression
  • Dry skin
  • Thinning hair
  • Forgetfulness
  • Constipation
If a doctor suspects that a patient has Hypothyroidism, a hormone test can be used to confirm or deny the suspicion. The common thyroid treatment for Hypothyroidism is a thyroid hormone replacement to give the body the influx it needs to properly function, taken in pill form. It may take time and trial and error to discover the correct type of hormone and dosage to use. There are other ways to help mitigate Hypothyroidism symptoms, which will be discussed down below.

What Emotional Problems Does Hypothyroidism Cause?

It is important to reiterate that there are significant emotional side effects of thyroid disease. Because the thyroid affects hormone levels, individuals can experience significant mood changes as a result. Depression is a common symptom in individuals who have Hypothyroidism. Specifically, individuals can become forgetful, experience fatigue, lack focus, and move slowly. If the disease is left untreated, some individuals begin to experience hallucinations and other more acute alterations of the senses. Unfortunately, many of these emotional symptoms are common in other diseases as well. Depression is a full disease on its own, and does not always trigger medical professionals to investigate the thyroid as a culprit. This can lead to undiagnosed disease and more severe symptoms for patients.

Hyperthyroidism Symptoms

On the other end of the spectrum, Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid produces too many hormones. This can lead to symptoms such as:
  • Increased appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Heart palpitations
  • Sweating
  • Changes in menstruation
  • Increased bowel movements
  • Anxiety
  • Trouble sleeping
Unfortunately, Hyperthyroidism tends to be a bit more difficult to treat. However, it is still treatable with proper medical attention. A doctor will likely put the patient on antithyroid medications or beta blockers to help mitigate the amount of hormones being released. Radioactive iodine and surgery are also potential options in some cases, depending on the patient and severity of the condition.

What Are The Symptoms Of Thyroid Problems In Females?

What Are The Symptoms Of Thyroid Problems In Females? No matter the gender of the patient, many of the symptoms of thyroid problems are the same. It is worth noting that those who were assigned female at birth are more susceptible to thyroid disease in general. This often works to their advantage, as doctors are more likely to check thyroid health. For people who menstruate, changes in periods can be a strong symptom or indicator that something is wrong with their thyroid. Of course, other conditions can affect menstruation, but because the thyroid deals with hormones it is an easy culprit.

What Causes Thyroid Problems?

There is no straightforward or single cause of thyroid problems. They can be caused by an array of different conditions and situations, and every patient is different. Some causes are hereditary, while others are not. It depends on the individual. Some individuals who may be at higher risk include:
  • Individuals with a family history of thyroid disease
  • Individuals who are taking medications that contain excessive Iodine
  • Females
  • Individuals over 60
  • Individuals with certain medical conditions
None of these are a guarantee that thyroid disease will appear. However, they can be good indicators that a person is at a higher risk. Individuals who fit into one or more of the above categories should talk to their doctor, and watch for warning signs of Hyperthyroidism and Hypothyroidism.

Causes of Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is more common than Hyperthyroidism, and can be caused by a variety of different diseases, conditions, deficiencies, and other medical situations.

Thyroiditis, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, Or Postpartum Thyroiditis

Thyroiditis is a condition categorized by swelling or inflammation in the thyroid gland. This often causes Hypothyroidism, as it causes the thyroid to underproduce. In Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis situations, the patient is suffering from an autoimmune condition. The patient’s immune system is attacking the thyroid without need. This causes damage, and often leads to thyroid malfunction. Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is more often hereditary than Thyroiditis. Postpartum Thyroiditis, the patient experiences Thyroiditis in the time following childbirth. In many situations, this is temporary, similar to gestational diabetes. Less than 10% of women experience Postpartum Thyroiditis.

Non-Functioning Thyroid

Sometimes, the thyroid fails to do its job as soon as the child is born. This is simply the way that the child is, and is not necessarily due to any sort of underlying disease or genetics. However, it is imperative that non-functioning thyroids are treated from the very start. Serious physical and mental conditions can occur if a child isn’t properly treated. All newborns who are born in hospitals have their thyroids tested when they are born, to avoid any long term effects and begin treatment immediately.

Low Iodine Levels

This condition, also called Iodine Deficiency, is fairly common. In fact, millions of individuals around the world have iodine deficiencies. Despite its common nature, it does need to be treated as soon as possible.

Causes of Hyperthyroidism

Just because Hyperthyroidism is not as common as Hypothyroidism doesn’t mean that it does not occur. There are millions of individuals worldwide living with Hyperthyroidism. Causes of the disease are as follows.

Excessive Iodine

Quite the opposite of the above example, some individuals have too much of the mineral, iodine, in their systems. This causes the thyroid to overproduce hormones, which results in Hyperthyroidism. Some medications, such as cough syrups and heart medications, contain high levels of iodine.


Overactive nodules on the thyroid can cause Hyperthyroidism. Nodules are simply an overgrowth of skin tissue, and they can occur anywhere on the body. They usually occur underneath the skin, but can appear on internal organs such as the thyroid as well. Some cases only have one nodule, making them cases of Toxic Autonomously Functioning Thyroid Nodules, whereas several nodules on a thyroid gland are called Toxic Multinodular Goiters.

Graves’ Disease

Graves’ Disease is the most common culprit behind Hyperthyroidism cases. This disease is categorized by an excess production of thyroid hormones, which can lead to the condition of Hyperthyroidism.

Coping With Thyroid Problems

Coping With Thyroid Problems It can be difficult to discover that an essential part of one’s body is not working correctly. Many patients feel discouraged or disheartened following a diagnosis. However, it does not have to be this way. A diagnosis of either or Hyperthyroidism is simply more information that can help the patient feel better. If you’re wondering how to cope with Hypothyroidism symptoms, just know that there are medication options that can help to curb some of the symptoms of these conditions. Beyond medication, there are even some lifestyle changes that can be beneficial to those living with a thyroid disease. Before trying any of these, however, patients should always consult their doctor.

Implement A Healthy Diet

It is important to recall that thyroid problems directly involve the level of metabolic hormones in the body. Because digestion is affected, eating a healthy diet can help the body to absorb the proper nutrients and support the thyroid in producing hormones. Generally speaking, however, a healthy diet is important for everyone. There are significant diseases and side effects that can result from poor eating habits.

Quit Smoking

Smoking cessation is one of the best things that individuals can do for their health. For patients suffering from thyroid disease, however, this is especially important. Cigarettes and tobacco products put additional stress on the thyroid specifically. Smoking can:
  • Prevents Iodine absorption in the thyroid
  • Impedes the production of hormones in the thyroid
  • Increases kidney Iodine production, which in turn can inflame the gallbladder, and cause other side effects
This is the first step for thyroid patients who smoke; there is no better way to help one’s condition than discontinuing cigarette and tobacco use.

Mitigate Stressors

It’s no secret that stress is bad in almost all situations. A single stressful event can derail a patient’s health for days, weeks, or even years. When it comes to thyroid conditions, managing stress is especially important. Again, the thyroid is central to hormone production and transfer. When stress occurs, the hormone cortisol spikes in the body. Cortisol can cause damage to the thyroid. It may even be a central factor in the development of autoimmune diseases.

Prioritize Sleep

Sleep can truly work wonders for the body. During this restful state, the body is able to recharge, recalibrate, and fix issues that may be occurring. Individuals suffering from thyroid problems should be sure to:
  • Create and follow a sleep schedule
  • Turn off electronics at least an hour before bedtime
  • Use relaxing techniques such as listening to music, engaging in aromatherapy, or taking a warm bath
  • Eliminate distractions from the bedroom such as TVs, smartphones, tablets, pets, and sometimes other people
The bottom line is that thyroid disease requires that the individual do whatever they need to in order to get regular, restful sleep.

See A Therapist

For many people, talk therapy can help to check several of the above boxes. Therapy can help to manage stress and create healthy coping mechanisms for emotional situations. A decrease in stress often leads to better sleep, creating a positive domino effect. In reality, many individuals who are diagnosed with diseases feel lost, afraid, alone, or all of the above. Going to a therapist helps many people to talk through these difficult feelings, and feel more empowered in their situation. It is helpful to remember that thyroid problems are treatable, and the situation does not need to be catastrophic.

Need More Information? Talk To A Doctor

Getting Thyroid Checked By Doctor One of the best things that any individual can do for their health is talk to a licensed medical professional about their symptoms and concerns. No internet articles will be able to make a diagnosis, but a doctor certainly can. Seeking medical help means that patients receive advice that is tailored to their specific needs. They can create a plan of action, which often makes the situation feel less intimidating. If you need a doctor to talk with, here at AZGYN our expert providers are here to answer any questions you have about your thyroid and health overall. Reach out if you’d like to speak to one of our female healthcare providers.