Although mothers should be celebrated every day, it’s nice to have a special day on the calendar completely devoted to showering them with gifts, hugs and cards signed with, “I love you.” This year, if you’re stumped over what to get your mother for her special day, consider a gift that will keep on giving: health.
“Heart disease, cancer and chronic lower respiratory infections are the biggest threats to women’s health,” says Lori Devine, M.D., Mayo Clinic Health System women’s health physician. “By giving your mom a gift that promotes a healthy lifestyle, you’re doing her a big favor.”
Dr. Devine provides some suggestions for you to consider when brainstorming Mother’s Day gift ideas:
Exercise equipment A yoga mat, free weights, stability balls, workout DVDs and the like are ideal gifts for busy moms. If you really want to splurge, get mom a stationary bike.
Exercise gear New running shoes, tank tops and shorts could be just the thing for your mom.
Cookbooks There are many cookbooks full of easy, healthy recipes available. Bookmark a few recipes you think she’ll enjoy the most. Remember to pick a cookbook that’s specific to healthy eating. These recipes should include nutrient-rich ingredients that will keep your mom’s hunger satisfied and her body healthy.
Fitness tracking technology Moms who enjoy exercising and staying on top of their health goals probably would enjoy a wearable fitness tracker. These trackers, which usually take the form of bracelets, come in different colors. They have different features, depending on the brand and price. With the help of most wearable fitness trackers, you can track your sleep cycle, heart rate and miles walked. For moms who aren’t into technology, a pedometer also will do the trick.
Planner Most moms are busy. They’re so busy that they sometimes forget about important things, such as annual checkups and cancer screenings. Get your mother a planner, where she can pencil in her important tasks, including taking care of her health.
The bottom line is your mother should feel as though her children and friends love her enough to keep her healthy. Keeping mom healthy means having her around to celebrate more Mother’s Days.
Women’s health: Prevent the top threats The biggest threats to women’s health, which include heart disease, stroke, cancer and unintentional injuries, often are preventable. Take control by talking with your health care provider about your risk factors for these conditions, and then get serious about reducing your risk. Here’s what you need to know to live a longer, healthier life.
Also in today’s tips …
Spontaneous coronary artery dissection Spontaneous coronary artery dissection — sometimes referred to as SCAD — is an uncommon emergency condition that occurs when a tear forms in one of the blood vessels in the heart. Spontaneous coronary artery dissection most commonly affects women in their 40s and 50s, although it can occur at any age. It also can occur in men. People who develop spontaneous coronary artery dissection often are healthy, and most don’t have risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure and diabetes.
Video: Vitamins 101 You may know that vitamins are good for you. But how do you know which ones you need and which ones could be bad for you if you take too much? Learn more about taking vitamin supplements safely in this short video.
Hoarding disorder: Symptoms and causes Hoarding disorder is a persistent difficulty parting with possessions because of a perceived need to save them. A person with hoarding disorder experiences distress at the thought of getting rid of the items and may not see it as a problem — even when it creates an unsafe living environment. This makes treatment a challenge. Learn about the symptoms and causes of hoarding disorder.
How fit are you? See how you measure up Are you ready to start a fitness program? Knowing how fit you are can help you set realistic exercise goals. Get started with this simple assessment to check your heart rate, strength, flexibility and more. Then, use the results to set fitness goals and track your progress.
Birth control is often something women, perhaps in their forties or early fifties, stop worrying about a little too soon. Mayo Clinic gynecologist Dr. Petra Casey says, “We find that in most of the research, by the time a woman reaches the age of 55, she is 95 percent likely to have gone through menopause. Menopause is defined as one year of no periods. If you reach 11 ½ months of no periods, then have a period, the clock starts all over again and you’re still not in menopause.”
Wondering when you’re menopausal and can safely stop birth control? What birth control is best for women over age 35 or 40? Can you still get pregnant in your 40s and 50s? These are common questions women ask of their gynecologists, women’s health physicians and other health care providers.
Overall, almost half of all pregnancies and 75 percent of pregnancies in women over 40 years of age are unplanned. 1,2 Also, some pregnancy complications and risk of miscarriage go up with age. So, if you don’t want to become pregnant, using effective birth control until you are truly menopausal is very important.
Journalists: Broadcast-quality sound bites with Dr. Casey are in the downloads.
Depending on your medical history, your health care provider will talk with you about the best options for you. If you are at a healthy weight, don’t smoke, don’t have high blood pressure or history of blood clots, you can probably continue the oral contraceptive pill, patch or ring well into your 50s. 3
Other great options which don’t contain the hormone estrogen include IUDs, implants, shots and minipills. Some IUDs contain the hormone levonorgestrel, a kind of progestin, which helps decrease or even eliminate heavy menstrual bleeding, a common problem for women in their 40s. These types of IUDs last 3 to 5 years. Another kind of IUD is made of copper, does not contain hormones and can last up to 10 years. Both types of IUD and the contraceptive implant, a small flexible rod which is inserted under the skin of your arm for 3 years of birth control, are collectively called long-acting reversible contraception (LARC). They are more effective than pills, patch or ring, don’t contain the hormone estrogen (so women who cannot use estrogen can use these), and can protect you against pregnancy for several years. 4
Just in case you had unprotected sex and you don’t wish to become pregnant, there are also several kinds of emergency contraception, previously known as the morning after pill. There are pills called Plan B One-Step which you can get at your local pharmacy without a prescription. They contain the hormone levonorgestrel and delay ovulation or release of an egg. They do not interfere with an established pregnancy or cause a miscarriage. Plan B should be taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex but must be taken within 72 hours. Another option which is more effective, especially if you are heavier, is Ella. Ella is effective in decreasing the risk of pregnancy up to 5 days after unprotected sex but requires a prescription. A copper IUD inserted within 5 days of unprotected sex is the most effective option for emergency contraception but requires an appointment with a health care provider. The advantage of the IUD is that you can keep it for birth control for up to 10 years (and about 80% of women do). 5
Once you have missed your period for a year, you are considered menopausal and may safely stop birth control. About 90-95% of women will be menopausal by age 55 and may stop birth control then. Sometimes lab tests are also performed to confirm menopause, but most women don’t need them. Even before the final period, many women experience menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and trouble sleeping. You can start on menopausal hormone therapy using an estrogen patch to help manage symptoms and use one of the progestin-only birth control options for contraception and to protect the uterine lining from growing too much with the estrogen. The progestin-containing IUD, implant, shot or minipill all work well for this. If you have had a hysterectomy, you can take estrogen alone. 6 If you would like to avoid hormones as you transition into menopause, you can use the copper IUD, barrier methods like condoms, cervical cap, diaphragm or sponge, or have a minor surgical procedure to tie or block your fallopian tubes. Your health care provider can help guide you in choosing the best birth control option for you during the menopausal transition.
Finer LB,. Zolna, MR Declines in Unintended Pregnancy in the United States, 2008–2011.N Engl J Med 2016; 374:843-852March 3, 2016DOI
Shifren, JL, Gass, ML, for the NAMS Recommendations for Clinical Care of Midlife Women Working Group. The North American Menopause Society Recommendations for Clinical Care of Midlife Women Menopause: The Journal of The North American Menopause Society Vol. 21, No. 10
Choosing a method of birth control can be difficult. You need to know the options and how to pick the type of contraception that’s right for you and your partner. Some of the most commonly used methods are a combination of birth control pills and condoms. Sterilization can be a choice if you’re sure you don’t want to have children in the future. But there are still a number of other options to consider.
There are many different options available to help prevent pregnancy. The most commonly known methods include condoms, birth control pills, and getting your tubes tied. However, several other choices are available. Each option has differences that can make it either the right or wrong choice for you.
In order to help decide what method is best for you, consider what your plans are for having children in the future, if you will remember to take a pill at the same time every day, or if you are ok with having a birth control device within your body. No decision is right or wrong. The best choice is the decision that is best for you.
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Birth Control Pills
Birth control pills are not all the same. They come with different hormones (estrogen and progesterone or progesterone alone) and can affect your periods differently. Pills containing estrogen can increase your risk for blood clots in the legs and lungs and should not be used if you are more likely to develop these conditions.
Conventional birth control pills contain both estrogen and progesterone. The NuvaRing and OrthoEvra patch also contain these hormones and work similarly to conventional birth control pills. The advantage of the NuvaRing or OrthoEvra is that you don’t need to remember to take a pill every day. If you take birth control pills, the NuvaRing, or OrthoEvra in the conventional manner, you will have a period every month.
Alternatively, you can take birth control pills in a continuous manner. This means that you take a pill containing hormones every day. When using birth control pills continuously, you may not have any period, or may have if only four times a year.
An injection of progesterone (Depo-Provera) can also serve as an effective method of birth control. It lasts for 3 months. You need to visit a nurse every 3 months to continue receiving the injection. After stopping the Depo-Provera, it may take some time before your periods become normal and you are able to get pregnant.
Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptives
Long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) provide you with effective birth control for several years. They are great options if you know you want to be pregnant eventually, but not anytime soon. LARCs don’t require you to take a pill every day and can easily be placed in your doctor’s office. When it is time for your LARC to be removed or you want to get pregnant, it can simply be removed in the office as well. You can get pregnant soon after removing your LARC.
Intrauterine devices (IUD) (Mirena, Skyla, Kyleena, Liletta, ParaGard) are “T” shaped and are inserted into the uterus. A pelvic exam is required for the placement of your IUD. The ParaGard is hormone free and effective for 10 years. The remaining IUDs have progesterone and are effective for 3-5 years. The progesterone can affect your period, often resulting in lighter and less painful bleeding.
A contraceptive implant (Nexplanon) can also be placed under the skin in your arm. This is effective for 3 years and does not require a pelvic exam. It contains progesterone and can cause your periods to become lighter.
Barrier Birth Control
Birth control that forms a barrier between the sperm and the uterus can also be used. These include male and female condoms and female diaphragms. These methods also help reduce the risk of getting a sexually transmitted infection. Barrier methods of birth control are less effective at preventing pregnancy than other methods and need to be used every time you have sex.
Natural Family Planning
Use of the rhythm method, checking your cervical mucus, and testing your temperature when your first wake up can be used to help predict when you ovulate. This is the time that you want to avoid unprotected sex if you don’t want to get pregnant. You can also use the withdrawal method, in which the man withdraws his penis from the vagina prior to ejaculation. Similar to barrier birth control, this method is not as effect as other methods of birth control.
When you know you don’t want the any possibility of pregnancy in the future, sterilization can be considered. For both women and men, a small surgery is required. For women, this can be performed by tubal ligation (tubes tied) or removal of the fallopian tubes (salpingectomy).
A device can also be placed through the uterus into the fallopian tubes causing the fallopian tubes to be blocked (Essure). This procedure does not require any abdominal incisions, but does require a test in radiology and alternative birth control for 3 months after the procedure.
For men, vasectomy is the only option for sterilization. During this procedure, the tubes that carry sperm into the semen are cut and sealed. A follow-up test is required after the procedure to make sure sperm are no longer in the semen.
Calcium is important for optimal bone health throughout your life. The mineral is also a component of the plaque that develops in your heart arteries if you have atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. Does this mean taking calcium increases your risk of heart disease and heart attack?
Authors of a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association examines this issue and found that, when taken in supplement form, calcium may increase a woman’s risk. But the opposite is true when consuming calcium-rich foods. In that case, calcium is good for your heart.
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Although diet is the best way to get calcium, calcium supplements may be an option if your diet falls short. Before you consider calcium supplements, be sure you understand how much calcium you need, the pros and cons of calcium supplements, and which type of supplement to choose.
Your body needs calcium to build and maintain strong bones. Your heart, muscles and nerves also need calcium to function properly.The benefits of calcium
Some studies suggest that calcium, along with vitamin D, may have benefits beyond bone health: perhaps protecting against cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure. But evidence about such health benefits is not definitive.
Calcium and diet
Your body doesn’t produce calcium, so you must get it through other sources. Calcium can be found in a variety of foods, including:
Dairy products, such as cheese, milk and yogurt
Dark green leafy vegetables, such as broccoli and kale
Fish with edible soft bones, such as sardines and canned salmon
Calcium-fortified foods and beverages, such as soy products, cereal and fruit juices, and milk substitutes
To absorb calcium, your body also needs vitamin D. A few foods naturally contain small amounts of vitamin D, such as canned salmon with bones and egg yolks. You can also get vitamin D from fortified foods and sun exposure. The RDA for vitamin D is 600 international units (15 micrograms) a day for most adults.