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5 Things You Can Do To Prepare for Bloomsday!

How do you get prepared for Bloomsday? Training for any race takes dedication and hard work. With Bloomsday just around the corner, we put together a list of 5 things you can do to get prepped for the big race.

Bloomsday

  1. Get started on a running or walking program

There are endless options out there to improve your endurance when preparing for a long distance run or walk, so find one that best caters to your needs and goals. Interval training is a great way to get your heart rate up and give your body the boost it needs to keep running during steady periods of time. If you plan on walking, it’s a good idea to get into a weekly or even daily walking routine to prepare your muscles and joints for the 7 mile trek through Spokane streets—it’s also a great excuse to do some sightseeing as the weather begins to warm up!

  1. Join a team or get a partner

Exercising with other people can often be a lot more fun than just going by yourself. When we have a reliable teammate or partner to push us, we tend to reach past our own expectations and reach our goals for efficiently. Find someone who is going to give you that push you need and you may just build a lifelong exerciseship.

 

  1. Increase your water intake

It is recommended that the average person drinks between 5-8 eight ounce glasses of water a day. When preparing for the big race, it’s important to consistently drink water throughout the day and get in the habit of drinking water BEFORE you are even thirsty. Though Bloomsday doesn’t take place during a hot month, 7.5 miles often takes a lot of sweat—refuel and recharge.

 

  1. Visit your physician

Though Bloomsday participants run and walk at all levels, it’s a good idea to visit your health care provider before starting a training program to make sure your heath is not at risk. They can also let you know if your finish time goal is reasonable and give you tips for proper training.

 

  1. Start stretching regularly

It is always good to stretch before and after doing any strenuous physical activity, but daily stretching is great at increasing flexibility to prevent future injury. If you don’t have much experience with stretching, taking up a Yoga class or even finding a TV program that teaches stretching, Yoga or Pilates at home could be beneficial to your Bloomsday experience.

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Hoops and Health

Between Hoopfest and some amazing local teams (*cough* Gonzaga Basketball), it’s hard not to be a big fan of hoops in our neck of the woods. Not only is it great to watch, but it’s a blast to play. And – whether you are shooting hoops by yourself, playing a pick-up game or are on a competitive team, basketball is an incredible way to stay in shape – and have fun.

5 reasons why basketball is great for your health:

  1. It burns calories:

The obvious reason. Between running, jumping, dribbling and shooting, basketball is a calorie burning powerhouse! According to HealthStatus, a 200lb person burns 408 calories in an hour of shooting baskets, 744 calories in an hour of half-court basketball and 996 calories in an hour of full-court basketball.

  1. It’s great for cardio:

Basketball is an excellent sport in conditioning your cardiovascular system (your heart). It’s also an excellent form of high-intensity interval training. This works only if you are running around a half or full court (obviously full court will be better to get your heart pumping), if you are just shooting around, you may not get as much of a cardio benefit. One added benefit: it’s way more fun than a treadmill.

It helps build motor skills and coordination:

Free-throws, 3-pointers and layups are all incredibly helpful in training your hand-eye coordination and to develop those fine muscle memory skills to become better coordinated. Dribbling is another key ingredient in coordination on the court and helps to develop full-body coordination. Once this skill is mastered, it becomes second nature as a fine motor skill – letting you concentrate on your opponent versus visually making sure the ball is where it should be.

  1. It provides built-in strength training:

Basketball provides an excellent full-body workout and can help to develop lean muscle. Since it’s a physically intensive sport, there is an element of physical resistance training when an opponent may be pushing against you. Strong legs are built by shooting and running. Dribbling and shooting strengthen the arm, wrist and hand.

  1. It reduces stress:

Exercise (basketball included) is considered vital for maintaining mental fitness, and it can reduce stress. Studies show that it is very effective at reducing fatigue, improving alertness and concentration, and at enhancing overall cognitive function. This can be especially helpful when stress has depleted your energy or ability to concentrate. Scientists have found that regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem.

Overall, basketball is an incredible sport. Whether you have never dribbled in your life or are a pro on the court, you’ll get a great full-body workout from it. Plus, with so many courts around our area, it’s a sport that is accessible to anyone – all you need is a ball.

We’re looking forward to this March Madness season – let’s go Zags!

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Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month

Did you know March is National MS Education and Awareness Month? Multiple sclerosis affects more than 2.5 million people worldwide and is an unpredictable disease.  I recently sat down with CHAS Health Chief Clinical Officer, Bill Lockwood to learn more about MS and how it affects the body.

What is MS?

A disease which affects mostly young adults – beginning at ages 20-40 and involves the brain and spinal cord. The underlying cause is a patient’s own immune system destroying the “myelin sheath” or insulation which surrounds nerves in the brain and spinal cord. This affects nerves ability to conduct electric signals as usual.

Who can get it?

It is usually diagnosed in people 18-40 years old and affects women approximately 3 times as much as men. There seems to be some genetic predisposition as it more often affects people of Northern European descent and is more common in family members of MS patients.  There seems to be environmental factors as well since it affects people who live in temperate climates more often than those in very cold or very warm climates.

There is no government mandated reporting requirements so estimates of total incidence may be inaccurate but in 2002 it was estimated that 400,000 people in the US had MS.

Symptoms

The damage to the myelin sheath can affect any nerve in the brain or spinal cord so the symptoms are highly variable and tend to come and go (one of the requirements for diagnosing the disease are symptoms separated by space and time. In other words, two or more discreet episodes affecting different parts of the nervous system at different times, for example, double vision which resolves, followed by arm numbness, which ultimately resolves.

Some of the symptoms include fatigue – the most common symptoms, tingling, visual changes (including double vision) balance problems, nerve pain, swallowing difficulties, trouble walking (due to imbalance or ) leg weakness), constipation, bladder problems (incontinence, or inability to empty), and cognitive (thinking) difficulties.

The symptoms tend to come and go early in the course of the disease but as time goes on, most patients will develop progressive disease, the course is different in every individual who has it.

Diagnosis

The disease is diagnosed by history and physical exam followed by an MRI and blood tests. Sometimes a lumbar puncture (spinal tap) is required. Diagnosis is usually made by a physician who specializes in diseases of the nervous system (“neurologist”). Diagnosing the disease in its early stages allows early administration of “disease modifying drugs) which can slow the course of the disease.

Treatment

Overall care of MS is provided by a care team of physicians, nurses, mental health workers, and physical and occupational therapists. Besides social and physical supports,  there are a number of medications used to treat MS.

There are two main types of medications – disease modifying drugs, and drugs to treat symptoms.

The disease modifying drugs affect the immune system and slow the progression and reduce the number and severity of exacerbations (temporary worsenings) of the disease. There are currently 15 FDA approved disease modifying drugs and at least that many in clinical trials. A total of $870 million has been spent so far in MS research.

There are a number of drugs used to  treat the symptoms of MS (as described above) such as muscle relaxers, bladder relaxers, nerve pain medications, and steroids (used to treat sudden temporary worseinings of the disease).

by Matt Grebe and William Lockwood

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Importance of ongoing learning in a healthcare setting

Since inception, CHAS Health has positioned our patients at the center of every decision we make.  And in order to provide the best possible care for our patients, it’s essential that we provide learning and development opportunities for our valued staff. The healthcare industry is an ever-changing field that requires extensive skills and training. The development of a successful program is key to employee retention, competency, and the balance of work and personal life. There are many benefits that can be derived from a successful learning and development program for everyone involved.

Why is it important?

Learning presents a special opportunity to expand the knowledge base of all employees. Learning and development can increase employee retention, job satisfaction, and productivity. It’s a vital tool when implementing new policies, equipment, and/or employees.

Due to our complex and busy schedules, we’ve received feedback that the best way to ensure that adequate time is dedicated to learning is to provide carved-out and focused time for our clinic staff. That’s why the 3rd Wednesday of the month, we are dedicating learning time to our staff and we will open clinic hours slightly later at 9am.

Our newly developed dedicated learning time supports improved patient care, service to our community, and career development.  It’s often difficult to have quality learning time during the everyday work day, especially with how tight schedules can be. With this time carved out, employees will be able to access educational resources to better careers and patients’ lives.

Please note, the third Wednesday and the last Wednesday of every month, our primary care clinics open at 9am.

Spokane Urgent Care locations open at 9am on the last Wednesday of the month only.

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Be a Smart Woman – Get The Test

Did you know that since the creation of the cervical cancer screening in the 1950’s (AKA “pap test”), there are now 70% fewer cervical cancer fatalities per year?

 

It’s true:  when pre-cancers and early cancers are found during a pap test, the chance of preventing future cancer is simply amazing.

 

With such a great cancer-prevention track record, you would think all women ages 21-65 would take advantage of such a fantastic test.  Unfortunately, the national average is only around 56%.  Some women think that if they are too old to have children, or if they’re not having sex anymore, they don’t need a pap test.  Not true!  Many things can trigger possible pre-cancer, so your best bet is to Get The Test.  And here’s the best part:  after a normal pap test result, your doctor may tell you that you can wait three whole years until your next one.

 

The pap test only checks for cervical cancer, while different types of cancers (ovarian, uterine, vaginal, or vulvar) require different tests.  No need to get all of them at one time – let your doctor guide you.  When cancer cells are discovered in the early stage, you don’t even know they exist.  That’s why getting the pap test is so important – to find those silent cells.  As you know with all parts of your body, if anything seems “different” than usual, talk about it with your doctor.  They’re used to answering questions, and you know there’s nothing they haven’t already heard.

 

After you get your pap test, your doctor will call you with the results.  If your test comes back “abnormal”, don’t panic – there are many reasons why test results may not be considered “normal”.  It usually doesn’t even mean you have cancer.  Call your doctor, get the information you need, and take the next step.  Your doctor will explain any details or treatment, and guide you all the way.

 

If you are 30 or older, you can also choose to add an HPV test to your pap test.  The two tests are done by your doctor at the same time, and if your pap/HPV “co-test” comes back normal, your doctor may let you wait as long as five years, before your next one.  If you are over 65, have had normal pap test results for many years, or had your cervix removed as part of a total hysterectomy for non-cancerous conditions (like fibroids), your doctor may tell you that you do not need to have the pap test anymore.

 

Cervical cancer is the easiest gynecologic cancer to prevent, as long as you remember to get your pap test and follow up with your doctor regularly.  So take action, Smart Woman.  Get The Test.

 

 

If you’re ready to learn more about this amazing cancer-preventing test, here’s some information about Test Results, and a fun graphic information poster, from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

 

Test Results:  https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/cervical/basic_info/test-results.htm

Infographic poster:  https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/cervical/basic_info/infographic.htm

 

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Why get a flu shot?

CHAS Health recommends that everyone ages 6 months and older get an annual flu shot to lower the risk of getting the flu, and limit flu exposure to others.

Did you know that even though the new year has started and spring is just around the corner, it is still officially the cold and flu season?  Seasonal flu activity can begin as early as October and continue as late as May, in some regions.  Adults and children alike can still catch the flu, and no one wants to expose anyone to illness-causing germs.  Parents of ill children are still faced with the decision whether or not to send them to school, and adults are concerned they might spread illness to their co-workers.  We all want to help minimize missed school and work days.

Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between a cold and the flu, but there are some different symptoms with each illness:

Fever

Often the flu includes a fever, while a cold does not. A fever is the body’s way of fighting off infection.  It is the most common reason adults stay home from work, and why parents keep their children home from school. The definition of a fever is a temperature of 100.4 or higher, though some schools and daycare centers will have their own rules. The general rule of thumb is to stay away from work or school until the fever is gone and temperature has returned to 98.6 degrees.

Upper Respiratory

Adults and children may have several different cold viruses each winter.  Typical cold symptoms include a runny nose, sore throat, and cough, and most people can usually participate in school without any restrictions. Coughs may linger for several weeks after the other symptoms have resolved. It is important to remember the importance of coughing or sneezing into an elbow or a tissue, and to practice proper hand washing techniques to limit the spread of germs.

The flu is similar to a cold, but is accompanied by high fevers and body aches. It can also include extreme fatigue, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or anything else that causes the lack of ability to function normally. If an adult or child has the flu, they should stay home until their symptoms have disappeared.

Vomiting and Diarrhea

When the flu brings vomiting and diarrhea, both adults and children should stay home until these symptoms have resolved. Adults and older children with only mild diarrhea, who are able to use the toilet and wash their hands on their own, may go to work and school if they don’t have any other symptoms.
Illnesses are a normal part life for both adults and children, but they’re no fun to go through. We can’t keep ourselves or our children home for every sniffle and sneeze, and we want to minimize the spread of germs to others.  That’s why getting an annual flu shot is so very important.

If you have any questions about whether or not you or your child should stay home due of any illness, talk to your healthcare provider.

For more information about the 2016-2017 flu season, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):  https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season-2016-2017.htm

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Too sick for school?

Flu season is officially here! Over the next few months, many parents of ill children will be faced with the decision whether or not to send their child to school. The most important thing for parents to consider when making this decision is if the child will be able to learn and participate in school activities. We also don’t want to unnecessarily expose other children to illness causing germs. However, we all want to minimize missed school and work days for both students and their parents. Below are a few guidelines that can help parents make this often tricky call.

Fever

A fever is body’s way of fighting off infection and is the most common reason parents keep their children home from school. The definition of a fever is a temperature of 100.4 or higher, though some schools and daycare centers will have their own rules. The general rule of thumb is to keep your child home until they have been fever free for 24 hours.

Upper respiratory Infections

Most children will have several different cold viruses each winter. A child with typical cold symptoms including a runny nose, sore throat, and cough can usually participate in school without any restrictions. Coughs may linger for several weeks after the other symptoms have resolved. It is important to go over the importance of coughing or sneezing into an elbow or a tissue and proper hand washing techniques with your sick child to limit the spread of these germs.

It may be necessary to keep a child home if they have more severe symptoms, such as extreme fatigue, loss of appetite, or anything else that will keep them from learning and participating at school. If a child has influenza (the “flu”), they should be kept home from school until their symptoms have resolved. The flu is similar to a cold but is accompanied by high fevers and body aches. We recommend an annual influenza vaccine to help lower the risk of this illness.

If your child has an ear, sinus, or strep throat infection it is recommended that they stay home from school until at least 24 hours after antibiotic treatment has been started. Conjunctivitis (also known as “pink eye”) can be caused by allergies or a virus, but when it’s caused by bacteria it is very contagious and needs antibiotic treatment before the child returns to school.

Vomiting and Diarrhea

Children with vomiting and diarrhea should also be kept home until their symptoms have resolved. If there are no other symptoms, older children with mild diarrhea that are able to use the toilet and wash their hands on their own may go to school if they don’t have any other symptoms.

Skin

Most childhood rashes are caused by viruses and most are not cause for concern. Certain rashes, such as chicken pox are more severe and highly contagious. If a rash is accompanied by a fever, the child should not attend school. If you are unsure what is causing a child’s rash, it’s a good idea for them be seen by their healthcare provider to find out what the rash is and any precautions that should be taken.

Lice is another common reason for children to miss school. In the past, many schools had a “no nits” policy. Experts now agree that these absences are unnecessary and children can return to school as soon as they have had one lice treatment.
Illnesses are a normal part childhood. We can’t keep our children home for every sniffle and sneeze, but we do want to minimize the spread of germs and make sure that our children go to school ready to learn. If you have any questions about whether or not to send your child to school, talk to your child’s healthcare provider.

Autumn Barbero, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

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New Year’s resolutions suck.

New Year’s resolutions suck.

92% of all New Year’s resolutions fail 1. That’s a pretty staggering statistic. The concept of “starting fresh” is great. New year, new lifestyle…right? But the method of making a resolution is inherently flawed.

“Right from the getgo [a resolution] has failure and procrastination built into it,” says Timothy Pychyl, associate professor of psychology at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, in Canada, whose research focuses on procrastination. They’re typically big overarching ideas of what you want to do this year, with very little follow-up on how to achieve these goals.

It’s easy to throw your hands in the air and call it quits when things don’t go your way. I like to quote the brilliant Kunu from the film Forgetting Sarah Marshall in cases like this, “When life hands you lemons, just say forget (they used a different f word in the movie) the lemons and bail.” But the goal behind resolutions isn’t to get somewhere, it’s really to improve something; which can be more of a long term thing. The goal isn’t to lose 20 pounds and upon achieving that goal eat anything you want and sit-watching 10 hours of Netflix a day. It’s a lifestyle change.

Why January 1st?

January 1st is the date I give myself permission to do whatever thing. Change whatever I want to change. We decide January 1st is the date to do it. But each day is really a potential to start again or to begin. If you need a mental mark and you’ve decided New Year’s Day is the date, then that’s great. Let’s do this! But, let’s reframe your resolution.

How can we improve on our resolutions?

Instead of being vague, be specific. Take the example of “I want to lose weight.” How much are you going to lose? How are you going to lose the weight? What habits can you change in your life to achieve this goal? What support will you need to reach these goals? Is there a start date and an end date to achieve your goal? How will you monitor progress?

Set a specific goal and make a plan. So, in our example of, “I want to lose weight;” it needs to be broken down to make it achievable. Many people like to use the SMART goal strategy:

The acronym SMART has several slightly different variations, which can be used to provide a more comprehensive definition of goal setting:

Specific. Instead of saying, “I’m going to lose weight,” specify how many calories you’ll burn per day, how many calories you’ll intake, etc.

 

Measurable. If you have a smart device that can track calories burned, that definitely helps. A scale is significant in tracking the goal of weight loss – considering it’s one of the only ways to measure your weight.

Attainable. This really depends on your level of exercise and food intake in a day. Start small, e.g. “I’m going to walk 15 minutes every day.” Or measure approximate calories burned, e.g. “I’m going to burn 300 calories every day through exercise.”

Relevant. Exercise is so important in weight loss! It definitely fits in your larger weight loss plan; so does watching your food intake. Personally I’m a big fan of myfitnesspal. It lets you diary your food easily and has great tips and recipes right from your smart phone or computer, plus you can log your workouts.

Time-bound. Set a goal for the week. You can try again next week, or set a new goal if it doesn’t work. It’s easier to be successful if you commit to a goal framed around a set amount of time. These can be short term – weekly goals or daily goals. Or your long term – “I want to lose 20 pounds by May 9th.”

Get others involved!

Talk about it! Let people know about your goal – friends, family, co-workers. There may be someone or a group working towards the same goal that would help hold you accountable for your actions. Having someone to share your struggles and successes with makes your journey to a healthier lifestyle easier and less daunting.

Talk to your health provider about your goals. Did you know we have a program called “Quit Happens” to help our patients in their quest to quit smoking?* There are often different programs or support groups available to you that you might not be aware of.

Set a goal in the positive.

Add to your life instead of subtracting. For example, instead of “eat less unhealthy food,” try to “eat more healthy food.” Instead of, “don’t be so lazy,” try, “I’m adding more exercise to my routine.” You’re trying to improve your life, not make it feel like a chore.

Remember that it’s a process: If you have a terrible day, literally don’t move from the couch, and order nothing but pizza delivered to your door, don’t worry. Expect to consistently try at your goal vs. expecting perfection and giving up once perfection isn’t met. And remember, every day can by January 1st in your mind – a day to reset. If you fall back and need a reset date, there is always one tomorrow.

Keep your future in mind. Think of where you want to be in a few years and how this goal is just a piece of it.

 

1 University of Scranton. Journal of Clinical Psychology, January 13, 2012.

*If you are interested in quitting smoking, we have a lot of great resources for you. See your provider or pharmacist for more information and ask them about the Quit Happens program.

By Matt Grebe, Content Manager

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Post-Holiday Depression

Presents have been unwrapped; cookies cooked and consumed, memories of joy on faces remain in your phone. But now that the festivities are over and it’s time to start taking down the lights, are you feeling down? It’s no surprise that the decrease in celebration and excitement can certainly affect moods, causing disappointment or even sadness. “It’s not an uncommon phenomenon, so if you are feeling that way, you are not alone,” says Martha Nelson, CHAS Health Behavioral Health Provider.

 

Causes:

  • Busyness – It’s a crazy hectic time of year. You just finished having so many people to get the perfect present for, the perfect meals, and attended too many functions. It’s such a wonderful time, but also, exhausting. Coming down from the busyness and hype is tough.
  • Family – Family is the best! Family is the worst! All kinds of feelings come up during the holiday season and it can certainly take an emotional toll. Do you have family members that are stressful to be around? “Hope for the best, prepare for the worst,” most definitely applies here. Even the most incredible families can cause some levels of exhaustion.
  • Memories – Holidays bring past memories, and often a sense of nostalgia for good times that have passed and loved ones that may be gone.
  • Fatigue – Fatigue is a common contributing factor for holiday depression. It can be a packed time of year, with normal routines and exercise out the window. Additionally, it’s cold outside (and so warm under the blankets). No wonder you can feel fatigued. It’s the time of year I personally put off a lot of things in exchange for sleeping in or going to sleep early.
  • Sugar and food – So many good treats! So many good foods! During this time of year, there is so much to eat, drink, and be merry with. It’s easy to go overboard, throw your routine out the window, and over eat (or under eat if you swap eating something good in order to splurge on a dessert). The amounts of blood sugar spikes can lead you feeling crabby, hungry and a little bit sad.

 

Ideas to help cope with post-holiday depression:

  • Take what you enjoyed during the holidays and continue it throughout the year. If you enjoyed spending time with friends and family, invite them over soon for a meal, play some games, or watch a movie.
  • Have fun! Go to a movie, see a play, go to the Museum of Arts and Culture, ski or do some tubing at Mt. Spokane.
  • Start or continue your exercise routine. Sometimes exercise goes out the window during the holidays (sometimes it goes out the window well before the holidays too). But, now is a perfect time to re-start or get in to a new routine. Include a buddy so you have company and someone you look forward to hanging out with and to hold each other accountable.
  • If you’ve gained weight, don’t worry about it. There were a lot of good treats around. No regrets. It doesn’t mean you are weak, worthless, or irresponsible, it means there were some awesome cookies around…gotta live a little. Right? However, it’s never too late to get back on track with a healthy eating plan.
  • Plan something each week to look forward to.
  • Take care of yourself, including eating well (don’t confuse this with not eating), exercising and getting enough sleep. Have a good attitude as well; it’s easily to slip in to negative notions.
  • If the post-holiday blues hang on for too long, consider reaching out to a behavioral health specialist. Seasonal affective disorder is a legit issue that many people deal with. As we roll in to 2017, remember to make the resolution to highlight health and happiness.

By Matt Grebe and Martha Nelson

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Contraception Options

Women use contraception for many reasons, but the primary reason is to prevent pregnancy.  There are many options for contraception and some options are more effective than others.  Choosing the right method for YOU can be confusing at first, but a conversation with your midwife or provider can help.

 

Natural Family Planning/Fertility Awareness:

1 in 4 women will be pregnant within a year using this method.  The sad, tired, worn out joke goes:  What do you call couples that practice Natural Family Planning?  Answer: Parents.

 

Natural Family Planning involves a commitment to learning about your cycle, reading your body signals daily, and a commitment by both partners to practice abstinence during your fertile periods.  This method can be highly successful for motivated partners.

 

Barrier Methods: 1 in 4 women will be pregnant within a year using this method, but you can purchase these over the counter without a prescription from a provider.

 

Diaphragm:  The only diaphragm on the market currently is the Caya.  It is a one-size fits all diaphragm that can be purchased over the counter at pharmacies.  Coupled with a spermicide, it can be effective if used properly.  This is a great option if you do not wish to become pregnant, do not want an implant inside your body, and are willing to use the Caya every time you have sex.

 

Condoms:  This method has the benefit of protecting against sexually transmitted infections.  Your partner must be willing to use the condom every time you have sex.  The downside is that they can break, leak, slip, or just not be used.

 

Hormonal contraception options: About 1 in 15 women will become pregnant within a year using these methods.  All of these methods require a prescription by a provider, but there is legislation in some states to make some of these methods available in the pharmacy without a provider visit.

 

Pills:  The tradition birth control pills contain two hormones, estrogen and progesterone.  The Mini Pill contains only progesterone.  They do have a slight increased risk of blood clots, so your provider will investigate your medical history and ask questions related to migraines, heart disease, blood clotting disorders, seizures, and other medical complications.  The pills are very effective if taken every day, but missing even one pill can cause you to ovulate and place you at risk of pregnancy.

 

Patch: If you choose the patch, you place a new patch on your skin every week for three weeks.  The fourth week you do not wear a patch and you get your period.  The hormones in the patch are both estrogen and progesterone.  If you are overweight, the hormones might not work as effectively for you due to absorption issues through the skin.

 

Ring:  The NuvaRing is a soft plastic ring that you can place in the vagina for three weeks.  The hormones estrogen and progesterone slowly absorb into your body.  The fourth week, you remove it and have your period.  Some women love the convenience and some women report being able to feel the ring in the vagina.

 

Depo Shot:  The hormonal method of birth control that has the greatest documented side effects is the Depo shot.  It is an injection of high dose progesterone that you get every 3 months.  For the first 3-6 months you can have very irregular spotting and bleeding, but usually after the 2nd or 3rd dose, your periods go away.  It can take 18-24 months for your fertility to return after you stop the Depo shots.  Major side effects include depression and weight gain.

 

Long Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC): <1 in 100 will get pregnant using these methods.  They are as effective as tying your tubes but completely reversible.

Nexplanon:  The Nexplanon is a small plastic rod that is inserted into your arm.  It stays there for 3 years, slowly releasing progesterone every day to keep you from ovulating.  The side effects can include unpredictable spotting, headaches, increase appetite, and depression.  After about one year, many women report that their periods have stopped, but they will return when the Nexplanon is removed.

 

IUD:  There are two forms of IntraUterine Devices: the Mirena and the Paragard.  Both are inserted into the uterus and act primarily against sperm to prevent pregnancy.  The Mirena lasts for 5 years, releases a small amount of progesterone to thin the lining of the uterus, and many women report lighter or no periods while using the Mirena.  The Paragard lasts for 10 years, contains no hormone, but your periods might be heavier with heavier cramping.  Both of these must be placed by a trained provider.