Women’s services



Specializing Institutions

Women’s health services are dedicated to treating women’s unique biological and physiological needs. Obstetrics, gynecology and family planning are areas of focus in women’s health. Women’s services cover a wide range of services, from annual procedures like PAP tests, to mammograms, urinary tract care, menopause, birth plans and delivery. The leading causes of death in women are heart disease, cancer and stroke. Other major health conditions women suffer from are diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and chronic lower respiratory diseases. Healthy lifestyle choices, such as eating healthy and physical activity, reduce women’s health risks.

Women can find a full continuum of mother and baby care at the South Texas Medical Center. Our institutions offer state-of-the-art labor and delivery rooms designed with women and children in mind. Additional women’s services available at our institutions include breast cancer diagnoses and treatment, pregnancy testing, mammograms and all the non-invasive procedures performed using daVinci Gynecologic Surgery systems. Robotically assisted gynecologic surgeries include, but are not limited to, the treatment for cervical and uterine cancer, uterine fibroids, endometriosis, uterine prolapse and menorrhaiga or excessive bleeding.

Institutions at the South Texas Medical Center offering women services take a family-centered approach to maternity care and offer a comprehensive range of obstetrical and gynecological services. Our institutions are also equipped with neonatal intensive care units to care for mothers experiencing special or high-risk deliveries.

Women’s Health Articles

  • Former Adobe exec's start-up seeks to improve the mammogram experience

    By Reuters Staff

    SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Former Adobe Chief Medical Officer Melissa Dyrdahl hopes to bring a spa-like feel to the experience of breast cancer screenings.

    Her start-up, Ella Health, has opened seven mammogram centers across the United States, in places ranging from Toms River, New Jersey to San Francisco. Ella's pitch: to improve the often nerve-wracking process so women will not skip their annual mammogram.

    "We want women to feel like they're in a spa, not a cold and clinical hospital," Dyrdahl, who is chief executive of the company, said in an interview. For instance, Ella reminds its technicians to be "warm and caring" and gives patients a private dressing room and heated cloth robe.

    In recent years, the company has secured capital to purchase 3D mammography units and offer a test that takes X-rays at different angles of the breast. At some $450,000, the equipment is far more expensive than standard mammography units.

    Dyrdahl, also a former marketing director at Apple Inc, said she joined the company after years of "terrible" mammogram experiences. Dyrdahl is herself a breast cancer survivor.

    The American Cancer Society recommends that women over 40 get annual mammograms, but researchers have found that 50 percent of women with insurance opt out, even though most women in that age range are not responsible for additional out-of-pocket costs.

    Ella Health is marketing its service to smaller, independent obstetricians and gynecologists, as well as directly to female patients.

    It is branching out into other areas of women's health. It recently launched a physical therapy service linked to major life events, such as pregnancy and menopause. Dyrdahl said she is also exploring mental and sexual health.

    Ella Health has raised funding from Polaris Venture Partners in Boston, CHL Medical Partners and private investors. The company is planning to raise additional funding in the coming year to fuel expansion across the United States.

  • Police harass Kenyan patients and clinics as abortion battle heats up

    By Katy Migiro

    NAIROBI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Police threats against patients and medics they accuse of giving "illegal abortions", coupled with reversals in Kenyan policies, are stirring fears likely to reduce access to safe abortions, campaigners said.

    Doctors and nurses say police intimidation has increased since last month's sentencing to death of a nurse, Jackson Tali, for murder after a woman died in his car.

    "The police have taken advantage of the ruling to harass healthcare providers in the country," said a statement from the Reproductive Health and Rights Alliance, a coalition including the Kenya Medical Association and National Nurses Association of Kenya.

    Tali, has appealed the ruling, arguing that he tried to save the woman's life in 2009 when she came to his clinic in Gachie, 15km west of Nairobi, bleeding heavily.

    The fear provoked by the Tali ruling will make it harder for women to receive safe abortions or post-abortion care, campaigners said.

    "If I come in bleeding, the healthcare provider would feel: 'No, no, no, if I touch her and then something happens, I could be charged with murder'," said Judith Okal, a Nairobi-based lawyer with the Center for Reproductive Rights advocacy group told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

    Police walked into one health clinic and threatened to arrest women they claimed were seeking abortions, Okal said.

    In another case, she said a nurse paid a bribe after police told him: "You have heard of that nurse who was charged and sentenced for procuring an abortion. We can charge you with that."

    "The police are visiting clinics on Fridays to extort money from the health providers claiming that we should be jailed," gynaecologist John Nyamu said in the statement.

    Nyamu spent a year in jail awaiting trial for murder after his clinic was raided in 2004. He was later acquitted.

    Police in Kenya could not immediately be reached for comment.

    ONE-THIRD OF MATERNAL DEATHS

    Abortion is a hotly contested issue in Kenya and across Africa, where conservative religious beliefs hold sway.

    Unsafe abortions, often caused by inserting knitting needles into the cervix or drinking bleach, account for 35 percent of maternal deaths in Kenya, versus the global average of 13 percent.

    At least 2,600 Kenyan women die in public hospitals each year after having botched backstreet abortions. Many more die at home without seeking medical care.

    "How to perform an abortion" was the most popular Google search topic in Kenya in 2012.

    Prior to 2010, three doctors had to given written consent for the procedure to be performed.

    In its 2010 constitution, Kenya allowed the procedure if a health professional deems it necessary for emergency treatment or "the life or health of the mother is in danger".

    However, enforcement of the law is ambiguous.

    Rich women easily access safe abortions in private facilities, but the poor and uneducated risk their lives trying to expel the foetus themselves or with backstreet quacks, believing that they cannot legally get an abortion.

    The government is fighting to undo the increased access promised by the constitution, campaigners said.

    In 2012, the government published for the first time safe abortion guidelines for medics, but the health ministry's Director of Medical Services (DMS) rescinded them in December 2013.

    In February, the DMS forbid government healthcare providers from attending trainings on safe abortion.

    "It's like the ministry is on a path to make sure that women and girls in Kenya are not going to get access to safe abortion services," Okal said.

    A 2013 government report estimated that 464,000 abortions are performed in Kenya each year.

  • REFILE-Sandwiches may be a source of too much dietary salt

    (Corrects link to Source at bottom, no change to article text)

    By Madeline Kennedy

    (Reuters Health) - Americans consume too much sodium, according to current guidelines, and much of the excess may be hidden in our sandwiches, researchers say.

    Based on national survey data depicting American eating habits over the course of a single day, the study found that half of all adults had a sandwich. And those who did took in more calories and sodium overall than those who didn't.

    The study team calculates that sandwiches, on average, contribute about a fifth of the entire day's sodium intake for people who eat them.

    "Excessive sodium intake is a health risk because of the relationship between sodium and blood pressure," said the study's lead author, Rhonda Sebastian, a nutritionist in the Food Surveys Research Group of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

    High sodium intake has been linked to worsening high blood pressure, a condition that can, in turn, increase the risk of heart disease, congestive heart failure and kidney disease, according to the USDA's 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

    The USDA recommends that everyone, including children, should limit their sodium intake to no more than 2,300 milligrams per day, or about one teaspoon of salt.

    For "adults age 51 and older, African Americans of any age, and individuals with high blood pressure, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease," the guidelines recommend limiting sodium even further, to 1,500 mg a day.

    To see where big contributors of sodium may be lurking in the American diet, the research team used data from nearly 6,000 adults over the age of 20 who participated in the 2009-2010 What We Eat in America survey, part of the annual National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

    During in-person interviews, participants listed all the food and beverages they consumed during the entire previous day, including quantities.

    The results showed that in general, people consumed more sodium throughout the day than the USDA guidelines recommend: an average of 3,900 mg of sodium for sandwich eaters and 3,200 mg for those who didn't have a sandwich.

    This was true for both men and women and across all age groups, the researchers report in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

    But the biggest spread was apparent between men who ate sandwiches, who averaged up to 4,800 mg of sodium in a day, and men who didn't eat them and averaged just under 3,900 mg.

    Men in general ate significantly more sandwiches and took in almost twice as much sodium from sandwiches as women did, Sebastian told Reuters Health in an email.

    But the explanation is not entirely that sandwich eaters consume saltier food, the study team writes in their report. The extra sodium was largely due to sandwich eaters taking in more calories overall, about 300 more than people who did not eat sandwiches.

    Patricia Guenther, a research professor in the Division of Nutrition at the University of Utah who was not involved in the study cautions, however, that it is also a matter of typical sandwich ingredients tending to be higher in sodium.

    "It's the processed meats that generally have the most sodium - cold cuts, luncheon meats, sausages, frankfurters/hot dogs," Guenther said. People do not necessarily need to avoid these foods altogether, but they should limit how much they eat, Guenther told Reuters Health in an email.

    The researchers added that cheese and yeast-based breads are also among the top contributors to the sodium content of sandwiches.

    The study did not account for additional salt sprinkled on foods or salt from non-food sources like antacids. But Sebastian said these sources make up only a small percentage of sodium intake for most people.

    Because overall calorie intake played a large role in how much sodium people took in, Sebastian said, "it's very important to pay attention to portion sizes. It's also important to select more fresh foods that are low in sodium and fewer processed foods that are high in sodium."

    Guenther advises, "pack your own lunches, make your own sandwiches, so you have control of the ingredients and the portion sizes."

    SOURCE: http://bit.ly/1rXqAp3 Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Online October 5, 2014.

  • REFILE-Sandwiches may be a source of too much dietary salt

    (Corrects link to Source at bottom, no change to article text)

    By Madeline Kennedy

    (Reuters Health) - Americans consume too much sodium, according to current guidelines, and much of the excess may be hidden in our sandwiches, researchers say.

    Based on national survey data depicting American eating habits over the course of a single day, the study found that half of all adults had a sandwich. And those who did took in more calories and sodium overall than those who didn't.

    The study team calculates that sandwiches, on average, contribute about a fifth of the entire day's sodium intake for people who eat them.

    "Excessive sodium intake is a health risk because of the relationship between sodium and blood pressure," said the study's lead author, Rhonda Sebastian, a nutritionist in the Food Surveys Research Group of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

    High sodium intake has been linked to worsening high blood pressure, a condition that can, in turn, increase the risk of heart disease, congestive heart failure and kidney disease, according to the USDA's 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

    The USDA recommends that everyone, including children, should limit their sodium intake to no more than 2,300 milligrams per day, or about one teaspoon of salt.

    For "adults age 51 and older, African Americans of any age, and individuals with high blood pressure, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease," the guidelines recommend limiting sodium even further, to 1,500 mg a day.

    To see where big contributors of sodium may be lurking in the American diet, the research team used data from nearly 6,000 adults over the age of 20 who participated in the 2009-2010 What We Eat in America survey, part of the annual National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

    During in-person interviews, participants listed all the food and beverages they consumed during the entire previous day, including quantities.

    The results showed that in general, people consumed more sodium throughout the day than the USDA guidelines recommend: an average of 3,900 mg of sodium for sandwich eaters and 3,200 mg for those who didn't have a sandwich.

    This was true for both men and women and across all age groups, the researchers report in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

    But the biggest spread was apparent between men who ate sandwiches, who averaged up to 4,800 mg of sodium in a day, and men who didn't eat them and averaged just under 3,900 mg.

    Men in general ate significantly more sandwiches and took in almost twice as much sodium from sandwiches as women did, Sebastian told Reuters Health in an email.

    But the explanation is not entirely that sandwich eaters consume saltier food, the study team writes in their report. The extra sodium was largely due to sandwich eaters taking in more calories overall, about 300 more than people who did not eat sandwiches.

    Patricia Guenther, a research professor in the Division of Nutrition at the University of Utah who was not involved in the study cautions, however, that it is also a matter of typical sandwich ingredients tending to be higher in sodium.

    "It's the processed meats that generally have the most sodium - cold cuts, luncheon meats, sausages, frankfurters/hot dogs," Guenther said. People do not necessarily need to avoid these foods altogether, but they should limit how much they eat, Guenther told Reuters Health in an email.

    The researchers added that cheese and yeast-based breads are also among the top contributors to the sodium content of sandwiches.

    The study did not account for additional salt sprinkled on foods or salt from non-food sources like antacids. But Sebastian said these sources make up only a small percentage of sodium intake for most people.

    Because overall calorie intake played a large role in how much sodium people took in, Sebastian said, "it's very important to pay attention to portion sizes. It's also important to select more fresh foods that are low in sodium and fewer processed foods that are high in sodium."

    Guenther advises, "pack your own lunches, make your own sandwiches, so you have control of the ingredients and the portion sizes."

    SOURCE: http://bit.ly/1rXqAp3 Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Online October 5, 2014.

  • "Wandering eye" may raise risk of falls for older adults

    By Shereen Lehman

    (Reuters Health) - Older people with strabismus, where one eye points slightly inward or outward affecting vision, are about 27 percent more likely than people without the condition to be injured by a fall, according to a new study.

    The disorder, often called "wandering eye," becomes more common with age and can cause double vision or depth perception problems because the two eyes are not pointing in the same direction.

    Previous studies have shown that having other eye disorders like cataracts, glaucoma or age-related macular degeneration increases the risk of injuries, fractures or falls, the study team writes in JAMA Opthalmology. But this is the first to examine whether so-called binocular vision problems have the same effect.

    "Strabismus in adults is becoming more prevalent as the aging population increases and we do not know the impact of strabismus on patient quality of life and morbidity," lead author Dr. Stacy Pineles told Reuters Health in an email.

    "We hypothesized that strabismus could cause double vision or diminished depth perception, and we wanted to see whether this was associated with injuries such as falls, fractures, and musculoskeletal injuries," said Pineles, an ophthalmologist with the Jules Stein Eye Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles.

    Pineles and her colleagues looked at a random sample of Medicare claims for more than two million beneficiaries over the years 2002 to 2011.

    They found almost 100,000 diagnoses of binocular vision problems. The great majority were either strabismus or diplopia, meaning double vision, which often goes along with strabismus. On average the patients were older, white, were more often male and had other health problems like diabetes and heart disease.

    About 75 percent of those with binocular vision problems had also reported some type of musculoskeletal injury, fall or fracture during that 10-year time span, compared to about 60 percent of patients without a binocular visual disorder.

    After taking into consideration age, region and other potential contributors to falling, such as other illnesses, the researchers calculated that people with binocular vision disorders had a 27 percent higher risk of falls, fractures and injuries overall.

    For people with a specific diagnosis of diplopia, the risk was 36 percent higher.

    The study team cautions that they don't know if the injuries occurred before the vision problems were diagnosed or afterward, so they can't say for certain that the eye disorders are to blame for the falls. They also don't know which patients were being treated for their vision problems.

    Still, Pineles said that elderly patients with vision problems should be sure they optimize lighting in their homes, get help when navigating unfamiliar areas and use low-vision aids if necessary.

    Dr. Jamie Rosenberg, an ophthalmologist at Montefiore Medical Center in New York who specializes in strabismus, said that eye problems can sometimes seem less important to elderly patients compared to other illnesses they may have. But "they can affect their life in a significant way and keeping them safe from falls is a huge part of keeping older people healthy."

    Rosenberg, who wasn't involved in the new study, said there are treatment options for strabismus, such as wearing special glasses with prisms that help align the double images seen by people with diplopia.

    "Even though the eyes aren't straight the two images that are being processed by the brain will be one," she said.

    Surgery may also be an option. "A lot of people think that older people can't have strabismus surgery to straighten their eyes but that's actually not true at all," Rosenberg said.

    The new study may underestimate the magnitude of the problem, noted Priscilla Rogers, an aging and vision loss expert at the American Foundation for the Blind's Vision Aware program.

    "Only people who seek medical care from a fall would be included, so the problem is probably bigger and greater than this study suggests," she told Reuters Health in an email.

    Access to eye care may be one obstacle keeping older people from getting help for vision disorders, she noted. "Medicare does not pay for new glasses and people on a fixed income may not want to buy new glasses because they cost too much," Rogers said. "They can, after all, see - they just may not see well enough to avoid a trip or fall."

    Rogers said that fall prevention programs such as "A Matter of Balance" offered in several states (http://bit.ly/1FZWPgF ) can help reduce the risk of injuries among people with visual impairments.

    SOURCE: http://bit.ly/1wylK5I JAMA Ophthalmology, online October 23, 2014.