April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

A call for action and awareness
Dr. Lydia Lormand, obstetrician/gynecologist

The statistics are shocking. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC), one in five women will be raped at some point in their lives. In eight out of 10 cases, the victim knows her assaulter (for college students, it’s nine out of 10). Perhaps this is why rape is the most underreported crime; 63 percent of sexual assaults are not reported to the police.

There may be many reasons why women don’t report being sexually assaulted. They can feel ashamed and embarrassed. They may blame themselves. They may think no one will believe them, especially if their attacker is someone they know.

That’s why at Women’s Health Associates, we believe that developing trusting relationships with our patients is essential – we want our patients to feel comfortable discussing any health-related issues with us, including sexual assault.

Beyond the legal ramifications of sexual assault, there is a tremendous toll taken on a woman’s health, both physically and emotionally. All of our doctors and nurse-midwives are trained to recognize the signs of sexual assault, and to talk sensitively with women about any concerns they have. An open, honest, and trusting relationship with our patients is imperative so that we can provide the best care possible.

In addition to the physical injuries or effects of sexual assault, which may include permanent damage, pregnancy, or sexually transmitted infections, victims of sexual assault are also at higher risk for:

  • Depression and anxiety, and difficulty concentrating
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), including nightmares and flashbacks
  • Eating disorders
  • Substance use/abuse

What you can do

Everyone can play a role in helping to preventing sexual violence. The NSVRC offers these suggestions:

  • Be a role model for respectful relationships
  • Believe survivors and help them find resources
  • Speak up when you hear harmful comments or witness acts of disrespect and violence
  • Create policies at work and school
  • Ask your legislators to support prevention programs

If you are a victim of sexual assault, tell someone so that you can get the help you need. The assault was NOT YOUR FAULT, no matter the circumstances. Each survivor reacts differently, but it is a burden you should not bear alone. Even if it’s been days, months, or even years since the assault, talk to someone you trust, and be sure to let your health care provider know.

If you need a woman’s health care provider, the doctors and nurse-midwives at Women’s Health Associates are welcoming new patients in our Springfield and Westfield locations. Book online or call us at (413) 562-8306 for our Westfield office, or (413) 736-9978 for Springfield.

March is Endometriosis Awareness Month

There is no cure for endometriosis, but help is available.
There is no cure for endometriosis, but help is available.

Help is available for this challenging condition

Dr. Robert Wool, obstetrician/gynecologist

Endometriosis is a condition in which the lining of a woman’s uterus is found outside the uterus, most commonly in the abdomen on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, the outside of the uterus, or other organs or ligaments.

This tissue develops in the same way as the tissue inside the uterus each month: it builds up, breaks down and sheds. But unlike the tissue within the uterus, which is shed through the vagina during menstruation, there is no place for the tissue outside of the uterus to go. The result is internal bleeding, inflammation, pain, the formation of scar tissue and adhesions, infertility and bowel problems.

Women with endometriosis may experience a wide range of symptoms, including:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Frequent yeast infections
  • Infertility or repeated miscarriages
  • Pain before and during periods that is frequently debilitating
  • Painful sex
  • Pain when urinating and having a bowel movement during your period
  • Stomach problems, including diarrhea, constipation and nausea

There is no cure for this chronic, painful disease, but help is available.

First step: diagnosis

If the symptoms above are something you regularly experience, talk to your women’s health provider. We typically perform a pelvic exam and ultrasound, and if endometriosis is suspected, we can provide a definitive diagnosis after performing an outpatient surgical procedure called a laparoscopy.

Diagnosis is important because it not only allows us to treat the pain and other symptoms associated with endometriosis, but also to be vigilant for other often-related conditions, including certain types of cancer, autoimmune disorders and allergies.

Treatment options

If you are diagnosed with endometriosis, the team of doctors and nurse-midwives at Women’s Health Associates will work with you to develop a plan to reduce the impact of the symptoms on your life. Options include:

  • Pain medication: Options include over-the-counter and prescription medications.
  • Hormonal therapy: This includes oral contraceptives and other hormone treatments aimed at stopping ovulation, and thus preventing regular menstruation.
  • Surgery: Our doctors perform minimally invasive surgery to remove the growths and relieve pain, which can sometimes allow pregnancy to occur. In severe cases of endometriosis, we may recommend a full hysterectomy, including removal of the uterus, all growths and the ovaries.
  • Lifestyle changes: We can also work with you to try a variety of lifestyle changes that may help to minimize symptoms.

We will work with you to find the treatment option or options that will work best for you.

If you need a woman’s health care provider, the doctors and nurse-midwives at Women’s Health Associates are welcoming new patients. Schedule an appointment online or call us at (413) 562-8306 for our Westfield office, or (413) 736-9978 for Springfield.