Endometriosis: Facts for Every Woman

Approximately 5 million women in North America have endometriosis. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and commonly include painful menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea), pelvic pain, heavy menstrual bleeding, pain during intercourse or bowel movements and infertility.

Although endometriosis is common, it’s also widely misunderstood and often misdiagnosed. Education is important to increasing awareness. We recently joined Dr. Christine Metz, Investigator at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research and Professor at the Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine, for a Q&A session on the topic of endometriosis. Dr. Metz shared some valuable information and insights.

What is endometriosis?

Endometriosis is characterized by the growth of endometrial tissue or lesions outside of the uterus. These lesions can grow on the lining of the pelvis, internal organs (e.g. the outside of the uterus, ovaries, Fallopian tubes and rectum). In some women, lesions can grow on more distant areas of the body, including the diaphragm, lungs, kidneys and brain.

What causes endometriosis?

The cause of endometriosis is not completely understood. However, many researchers believe that it arises after abnormal menstrual flow where menstrual blood is carried through the fallopian tubes into the pelvic cavity instead of exiting through the vagina. Like the endometrium, which sheds monthly, endometriosis lesions bleed in response to monthly hormone fluctuations. Other factors that may influence endometriosis are genetics and environmental and immune system factors.

How is endometriosis diagnosed?

One of the most frustrating problems for patients with endometriosis is delayed diagnosis, which can take up to 10 years. The diagnosis of endometriosis requires laparoscopic surgery with pathology confirmation of the biopsy specimens. Early diagnosis by a doctor who specializes in treating endometriosis patients is important because early treatment can dramatically improve patient outcomes.

Do pain and other symptoms correlate with the severity of endometriosis?

No. Pain and other symptoms do NOT always correlate with the severity of the disease.

What are the treatments for endometriosis?

While there is no cure for endometriosis, treatments include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drugs and other pain relievers, hormonal contraceptives (e.g. birth control pills or vaginal rings), other hormonal agents (e.g. gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists and antagonists, androgenic agents, progestins and Danazol) and surgery to remove the lesions or the uterus (in severe cases only).

What can women do?

Researchers at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research at Northwell Health are looking for women with and without endometriosis to participate in the ROSE (Research OutSmarts Endometriosis) research study. Our goal is to investigate the causes of endometriosis and develop non-invasive diagnostic methods and new treatments for women suffering with endometriosis. For additional information, please contact us at ROSE@northwell.edu or call 516-562-ENDO (3636).

Katz Institute for Women’s Health is also here to answer your questions about endometriosis. Call the Katz Institute for Women’s Health Resource Center at 855-850-5494 to speak to a women’s health specialist.

Integrative Medicine: A Holistic Approach to Healthcare

Integrative Medicine: A Holistic Approach to Healthcare

What Are the Benefits of Integrative Medicine?

Integrative medicine is about teaching healthier habits and treating the whole person and not just specific symptoms. The benefits are often far-reaching and long-lasting for patients. Integrative medicine can be an excellent tool for sustaining good health, as well as for treating chronic issues and painful or debilitating diseases and injuries.

Key Principles of Integrative Medicine

Unlike alternative medicine which refers to an approach to healing that is used in place of conventional medical therapies, integrative medicine uses all appropriate therapeutic approaches to achieve optimal health and healing. The following are some of the key principles of integrative medicine:

  • A strong partnership between patient and physician
  • Use of both conventional and alternative medicines and modalities
  • A focus on non-invasive treatments when possible
  • A clear emphasis on promoting health and illness prevention through ongoing healthy living

Combining Therapies

Over the last several decades, the popularity of combining conventional treatments with complementary therapies has grown tremendously. Patients and healthcare providers who were once skeptical of alternative treatments have become believers in the benefits of an integrative approach.

Increasingly, healthcare professionals who specialize in modern medicine are incorporating integrative medicine to promote health and wellness. By combining these approaches with conventional therapies, integrative practitioners can partner with patients and their primary healthcare providers to help relieve pain, reduce stress and support overall well-being.

And, many healthcare providers themselves use integrative approaches for their own personal healthcare because of the distinct health and wellness benefits.

“All medicine is integrative,” says Lucy P. Gade, MD, MPH, Medical Director, Center for Wellness and Integrative Medicine, Northwell Health. “By shifting from being disease-oriented to health-oriented, we can identify risks and minimize them as part of a whole person approach to healthcare. This can enable individuals to live healthier and happier lives.”

Common Integrative Health Approaches Used in Integrative Medicine

  • Deep breathing
  • Yoga
  • Tai chi or qi gong
  • Meditation
  • Massage
  • Functional nutrition
  • Homeopathy
  • Guided imagery

Want to learn more about integrative medicine? At Katz Institute for Women’s Health, we’re here to answer your questions. Call the Katz Institute for Women’s Health Resource Center at 855-850-5494 to speak to a women’s health specialist.

Get Heart Healthy in 2017

Take Charge of Your Heart Health

When it comes to women’s health, it’s a fact that breast cancer gets far more attention than heart disease. Yet, five times as many women die from heart disease as breast cancer each year. Because heart disease has historically been considered a “man’s disease,” many women lack an awareness of their potential risk.

According to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease, including heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke, kills approximately 500,000 women in the United States each year. This number exceeds the next seven causes of death combined, including all cancers. Although these statistics are alarming, there is some good news, too. The death rate from heart disease has decreased by 30 percent in the United States since 1998. This drop is due in large part to greater awareness and healthcare providers’ increasing focus on cardiac screening as part of primary care for women.

What Can You Do?

Although 90 percent of women have at least one risk factor for developing heart disease, 80 percent of current cases are preventable. There are many ways you can lower your risk. And, by doing so, you can improve your overall health and feel great, too! The following are a few simple strategies to help you proactively lower your risk of a cardiac event.

Move More

While going to the gym or participating in a regular exercise class is a great way to lower your risk of a heart attack or stroke, there are many ways to incorporate physical activity into your daily routine. It can be as simple as taking a brisk walk, dancing or riding your bike. The key is to aim for some amount of physical activity 30 minutes per day.

Manage Your Stress

Heart disease is more common in women who experience chronic stress. Although it’s impossible to remove all sources of daily stress, there are ways to manage your stress, including limiting exposure to triggers that bring on stressful feelings. For example, if you’re feeling short on time, you may want to re-prioritize your schedule. Seeking the support of a trusted friend, family member or counselor can provide comfort if you’re anxious about a relationship or situation. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of changing your perspective to better cope with daily stressful events.

In addition, there are good ways to relieve your stress. Exercise and yoga are natural remedies for anxiety and stress that release powerful endorphins in the brain which reduce pain and lift your mood. Making time to connect with people around you and spending time outside can also offer significant mood-boosting benefits.

Find the Right Doctor

Your primary healthcare provider should be someone you trust and can talk to without embarrassment or anxiety. When it comes to your heart, your doctor can be a primary source of information and support to ensure you’re doing all you can to protect your health.

“I recommend choosing a doctor who you can relate to like a trusted confidant or friend,” says Dr. Stacey Rosen, Vice President, Women’s Health, Katz Institute for Women’s Health. “By developing a rapport, you can gain the insights and motivation you need to lower your risk of developing heart disease.”

Know your Numbers

Hypertension, high cholesterol and elevated blood sugar are all easy to diagnose but can often get overlooked in women who don’t obtain regular checkups. Learning your numbers is the first step in controlling heart disease before symptoms develop.

Do you want to learn more about women’s heart health prevention? At Katz Institute for Women’s Health, we’re here to answer your questions. Call the Katz Institute for Women’s Health Resource Center at 855-850-5494 to speak to a women’s health specialist.

holiday eating

Smart Holiday Eating Strategies

Favorite childhood memories often involve enjoying the sweets and treats of the holidays. While they’re still just as delicious when we indulge in them as adults, they can lead to unwanted, post-holiday weight gain. Navigating the dinners, desserts, parties and drinks that often go hand-in-hand with holiday celebrations can be challenging for even the most disciplined eaters. This is why many gain post-holiday pounds. One way to maintain a healthy weight throughout the year is to have smart holiday eating strategies for keeping calories in check throughout the holiday season.

“Often it’s a matter of doing simple things like not going to a party hungry that can help you avoid over-indulging during the holidays,” says Marissa Licata, MS, RD, CDN, nutritionist with the Katz Institute for Women’s Health. “While it’s always good to substitute healthier foods for richer holiday fare, making strategic decisions about how and when you eat during the holidays can make a big difference.” Licata suggests a variety of strategies for managing calorie consumption throughout the holidays. These include:

Don’t Skip Meals

We can all get busy decking the halls, shopping for gifts and getting together with friends and family. Yet, we still require the same level of nutrients during the holidays as we do the rest of the year. By ensuring we eat balanced breakfasts and lunches, we can greatly reduce our desire to overeat during a holiday event or meal.

Eat before a Party

It can be tempting to avoid eating during the day because you know they’ll be plenty of good food at a party. The reality is arriving at a celebration with an empty stomach is a surefire way to excessively snack (and be negatively impacted by the effects of alcohol). Before the party, eat a small healthy snack that will keep your appetite in check and you on track for eating right.

Bring Something Healthy to a Potluck

Making something for a potluck event is a wonderful way to showcase your culinary skills. This year, make it a point to whip up something healthy and flavorful. Not only will other party attendees appreciate your efforts, you’ll have a healthy option if your only other choices are cheese-laden spinach dip and pigs in a blanket.

Stand Away from the Buffet Table

It can be tempting to grab a handful of nuts or reach for that last canape, but you know they amount to empty calories that you don’t need. Don’t increase your temptation by standing close to the buffet. Instead, make a single trip through the line and eat only the items on your plate.

Carefully Select Your Buffet Offerings

Don’t make a seven-layer dip of everything on the buffet line. Choose only the items that you really enjoy and savor each bite. Loading a slab of prime rib on top of a collection of mini quiches, cocktail shrimp and chicken skewers will leave you feeling full and may keep you up all night with heartburn. Moderation is your friend!

Be Careful of Calorie-Laden Beverages

For many, holiday cheer involves a beverage or two. Yet, it’s very easy to consume hundreds of empty calories without even being aware of it. If you’re trying to keep weight in check throughout the season, you will want to avoid high calorie beverages like egg nog and high fat coffee drinks. Smarter options include wine spritzers, light beers, herbal teas, or even mineral water with a twist of lemon.

Stick to Your Exercise Schedule

Your calendar is booked, and you still have gifts to buy and trees to trim. During the holiday season, we’re all pressed for time, and scheduling exercise can seem next to impossible. Yet, exercise is not only necessary for keeping weight in check, it’s also a great stress reliever during this hectic time of year.

Katz Institute for Women’s Health is here to answer your questions about nutrition and healthy eating. For more information or to schedule an appointment with our nutritionist, call the Katz Institute for Women’s Health Resource Center at 855-850-5494 to speak to a women’s health specialist.

Health Tips, October 2015

1: Make Breast Self-Exam a Monthly Habit: Forty percent of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump. Getting in the habit of a monthly self-exam is very important for women of all ages. While mammograms can help detect cancer before you can feel a lump, you can also be proactive by alerting your doctor if you notice any changes.

2: Get Outside and Enjoy the Season: The glorious colors of fall are all around. Before the cold winter weather strikes, take time for a daily stroll to appreciate the changing of the seasons. Along with burning calories, strengthening muscles and improving circulation, regular walking can help improve your mood, slow mental decline and even lower the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

3: Avoid the Temptation of Halloween Candy – Who isn’t tempted by Halloween candy that seems to be nearly everywhere throughout the month of October? Yet, before you reach for the candy corn or a peanut butter cup, it’s important to remember that the impact of these bite-sized treats can really add up. Just because they’re small in size doesn’t mean that they’re not loaded with calories. Avoid fall weight gain by opting for healthier options like a crisp apple or a handful of nuts.

Health Tips, September 2015

1: Learn Stroke Warning Signs: Each year 55,000 more women than men suffer a stroke, according to the National Stroke Association. Like with a heart attack, symptoms of a stroke are often different in women. Common symptoms include loss of consciousness, weakness, difficulty breathing, nausea, seizure and confusion. If you are experiencing symptoms, call 911 immediately. Read tips for protecting your heart.

2: Stretching Offers Extended Benefits: Women of all ages can incorporate stretching into their exercise program to increase muscle flexibility and joint range of motion. The controlled movements of yoga and tai chi are a great way to stretch. Health benefits of regular stretching are far-reaching, including improved circulation, better posture, stress relief and enhanced coordination. Learn more about keeping your bones, muscles and joints safe during exercise.

3: Delight in the Flavors of Fall: With the changing of the season comes a bounty of fruits and vegetables that can be incorporated into healthy fall meals. Seasonal produce is always the freshest and most affordable option in the grocery store and at the farmer’s market. Experiment with cooler weather favorites like apples, beets, cranberries, eggplant, grapes, pears and pomegranates. Don’t forget to include a dash of pumpkin spice to bread, sweet potatoes and squash!

Health Tips, August, 2015

1: Know the Symptoms of a Heart Attack: Women often don’t get the classic heart attack symptoms that men experience, such as crushing chest pain that radiates down one arm. Many women experience vague or even silent symptoms. However, there are some common symptoms of a heart attack to watch out for including a tightening in the chest, pain in the back, neck or jaw, stomach pain, nausea and shortness of breath. Learn more about cardiovascular health.

2: Reap the Benefits of a Swimming Workout: The pool offers a lot more than just a place to cool off during these warm summer months. A regular swimming workout can improve blood pressure, cholesterol levels, cardiovascular performance and cognitive function.  And, an hour-long swim burns around 500 calories while also being easy on your joints. Swimming is something you can do your entire life. Read more fitness tips.

3: Think beyond Meat for Summer Grilling: Grilling is an essential part of summer meals, but it doesn’t have to be just about meat. Loading up the grill with fruits and vegetables can be a healthy and colorful alternative. A few farmer’s market finds that will delight the palates of vegetarians and meat-eaters alike include peaches, watermelon, zucchini, Portobello mushrooms and even avocados! Learn more about healthy nutrition.

Health Tips, July 10, 2015

1: Avoid Getting Overheated during Exercise: It’s normal for your body temperature to rise during exercise; but during the warm summer months, it’s easy to get overheated. This can lead to dehydration and a variety of other heat-related symptoms, including headache, nausea, weakness, dizziness, fainting and cramps. To prevent heat-related illness, drink plenty of water and choose a cool workout location such as an air-conditioned gym or use the morning or early evening hours for outdoor exercise. Read about more summer safety tips.

2: Swimmer’s Ear Isn’t Just a Kids’ Condition:  Most of us think of ear infections as a common childhood condition. Yet, in the summer, many adults develop painful symptoms caused by otitis externa, an infection of the outer ear canal. Commonly called “swimmer’s ear,” this condition often occurs while swimming. Other causes can include placing fingers, cotton swabs or other objects in the ears. Symptoms often start with mild itching in the ear canal. However, if it is not promptly treated, this condition can lead to pain, discharge and decreased hearing. If you are experiencing any symptoms of swimmer’s ear, call your doctor immediately.

3. Work More Fish into Your Diet: Fatty fish, such as salmon, trout, herring and mackerel, are high in protein, vitamins and minerals. They are also loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, which can help lower the risk of heart disease and support healthy brain development in children and adolescents. Create fun ways to eat fish, such as in tacos or skewered with your favorite vegetables and grilled. Canned and frozen fish can also provide quick, healthy meals that offer a nutritional benefit exceeding other typical staples like chicken breasts and ground turkey. Learn more about healthy nutrition.