Scared to see the doctor? Terrified to be tested? The Doctors helps you face your medical fears and handle your most dreaded diagnoses
The Importance of Pelvic Exams
Sharon, 41, avoided her annual visit to the OB/GYN for six years. Though she’d been experiencing severe pain in her pelvic area, Sharon says she was too afraid of what test results could reveal. In September, OB/GYN Dr. Lisa Masteron and health and wellness expert Jillian Michaels helped Sharon face her fears and Dr. Lisa performed her long-overdue pap smear. Sharon returns to The Doctors to hear her results.
Morning Sickness or Something Worse?
Morning sickness affects 80 to 90 percent of pregnant woman. Traditional symptoms include nausea and vomiting that subsides at 12 weeks or sooner. It generally does not cause severe dehydration and the mother-to-be is able to fully digest some food. It can be managed with acupressure bands and ginger products such as tea.
But in some cases, morning sickness symptoms can signal hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), a condition that causes unrelenting nausea and vomiting leading to an inadequate intake of foods and fluids, which can be fatal to both mother and baby. Symptoms generally appear between four and six weeks into pregnancy, and may peak between nine and 13 weeks. Most women receive some relief between weeks 14 and 20, though up to 20 percent of affected women may experience HG throughout their pregnancies. In the most severe cases of HG, dehydration and malnutrition may occur, warranting hospitalization, drugs and feeding tubes. While there is no known prevention for HG, there are steps you can take to manage it.
Treaments include hydration, nutrition and medication:
• Total parenteral nutrition (TPN): A special intravenous (IV) fluid containing sugar, protein, vitamins and minerals that may be given to ensure nutrition. It is usually given through a special IV line that is placed below the collarbone.
• PICC line: Extreme cases may require a peripherally inserted central catheter to initiate ongoing access to fluids, medications and nutrition if needed.
• PEG tubes: Feeding tubes may be surgically placed through the abdomen to reach the stomach for patients unable to eat due to excessive vomiting.
”If IVs don’t work we’ll actually prescribe steroids to try and alleviate the symptoms. There are a lot of different avenues we try before resorting to tube feeding,” Dr. Lisa says.
Vanessa has been pregnant 11 times, with eight of those pregnancies failing as a result of HG.
During her last pregnancy Vanessa documented her battle with HG to help other women suffering with the condition.
“Pregnancy is supposed to be exciting. There’s nothing exciting about feeling like you’re going to die,” she says. Doctor of psychology Wendy Walsh, Ph.D. asks what motivated Vanessa to continue to try to conceive after multiple failed pregnancies.
“My children,” she says. “Growing up, I really wanted to have a lot of babies. I grew up wanting to be a teacher and wanting to be a mom, and I’d give anything to have that.
“One of the most dangerous things a woman can do is to be pregnant” Dr. Lisa says. “It seems simple because it’s natural but it can come with a lot of risks. The best thing to do is to communicate with your doctors throughout your pregnancy.”
The prime window for a woman to conceive a child is between the ages of 20 and 34, and Mary, 41, wonders if there’s any hope for women whose biological clocks are running out.
“I just turned 41, and it’s always been my dream to have children,” Mary says. “In my 20s, I figured I’d get married at 32 and have my first child at 35. But life isn’t always how you plan it.”
Vitrification, a breakthrough in egg freezing, may help Mary -- and millions of women in her position -- by increasing conception rates from 3 to 4 percent to 50 percent.
Vitrification involves dehydrating the egg during the freezing process, thereby minimizing the formation of ice crystals and protecting the integrity of the cell. During the thawing process, the egg is rehydrated, revealing a virtually undamaged embryo.
Reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist Dr. Millie Behera explains the difference between vitrification and egg-freezing processes of the past.
“A woman’s eggs are the largest cell in her body, and have a lot of water content, making them fragile,” Dr. Behera explains. “Since they are delicate structures, [the traditional method of] freezing and thawing them can cause damage.”
Dr. Behera recommends pursuing this process before the age of 37, as eggs are still in their younger stages.
Skin Cancer Breakthrough
Every year, millions of people are diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma, the most common form of skin cancer. While surgery can take up to an entire day to perform, a new low-dose radiation treatment takes less than two minutes per session. But, plastic surgeon Dr. Drew Ordon stresses that prevention is essential to protecting your health.
Dermatologist Dr. Seth Forman demonstrates the latest breakthrough in skin cancer treatment.
Skin Cancer Prevention Tips
• Wear a hat when in the sun
• Wear sunglasses when in the sun
• Wear protective clothing when possible
• Always wear sunscreen, regardless of the season
• Be sure to wear at least SPF 15 sunscreen on the body and SPF 30 on the face
• Perform a monthly skin self-exam
• Visit the dermatologist once a year for a clinical exam
Health Scare for Men: Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of death in American males, only behind lung cancer, and about one in six men will be diagnosed with it in his lifetime. E.R physician Dr. Travis Stork says that all men should receive annual prostate exams starting at age 40 to help prevent the disease.
To raise awareness of prostate cancer, men are growing mustaches during the month of November as a part of the “Movember” Campaign. Learn more about “Movember."