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

  • Third death attributed to ecstasy reported after Dutch dance festival

    By Reuters Staff

    AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - A 41-year-old Dutch woman died after attending a weekend dance festival, police said on Monday, increasing to three the number of deaths at the popular Amsterdam Dance Event suspected of being caused by the drug ecstasy.

    A police department tweet said the woman died after drug use. The police have also issued a warning about tainted drugs.

    The woman and two men, aged 21 and 33, are believed to have gotten sick after taking the party drug, but autopsies have yet to confirm the cause of death.

    A police statement said the woman from the central Dutch city of Utrecht died Sunday morning after going to see DJs perform at the festival, during which hundreds of clubs host electronic music shows.

    Drug deaths are fairly rare in the Netherlands, where use of recreational drugs is tolerated by authorities and party-goers can have drugs tested for free by health authorities.

  • Many US women use custom-compounded hormones for menopause

    By Megan Brooks

    NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - An estimated 1.4 million U.S. women take custom-compounded bioidentical hormone therapy (CBHT) for menopausal symptoms, and most are unaware that these drugs are not FDA-approved, according to late-breaking research presented this week at the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) annual meeting.

    This "important knowledge gap" represents a substantial educational opportunity for clinicians who "play a significant role" in guiding women's choice of menopausal hormone therapy (MHT), the investigators say in a meeting abstract.

    "Even though there are times when a woman might need custom-compounding because she might be sensitive to an approved drug's ingredients, we think that it's important to educate women about the risks and that they are not FDA-approved," JoAnn Pinkerton, of the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, who led the study and presented the data, told Reuters Health by phone.

    To see how many U.S. menopausal women were using CBHT and to explore how much women knew about it versus FDA-approved MHT, two Internet surveys were conducted among women aged 40 and older. One was done by Rose Research in April 2014 and the other was done by Harris Interactive in July 2013.

    In the Rose survey, 5 percent of respondents (883 out of 17,825) were current MHT users. Extrapolating to the general population suggests that at least 3.6 million U.S. women per year use MHT, the researchers say.

    "Multiplying 3.6 million by the average number of drugs current MHT users in Rose were taking per year indicates 57 million prescriptions for MHT may be filled annually," they report.

    Subtracting the roughly 36 million FDA-approved MHT prescriptions filled annually from the estimated 57 million annual MHT prescriptions suggests 21 million CBHT prescriptions may be filled annually, they estimate.

    "Further, dividing the roughly 21 million annual CBHT prescriptions by mean duration of use by number of products being used suggests at least 1.4 million women use CBHT," they say.

    The cost of CBHT prescriptions filled annually in the U.S. "may exceed $1 billion," the researchers say.

    In the Harris survey, 86 percent of the menopausal women appeared to be unaware that these drugs were not FDA-approved, Pinkerton noted.

    "Three-quarters (76 percent) of the Harris completers didn't know whether bioidentical hormone therapies were compounded, if they were FDA-approved or not, and 10 percent believed incorrectly that they were FDA-approved," she told Reuters Health. "That makes us really concerned because it means that we as providers are not doing a good job about talking about the risks."

    She added, "If you think back to the deaths with the fungal meningitis cases, we learned a lot about the unique risks with custom-compounding, that they aren't FDA-approved, monitored or regulated, that there is concern about under dosing or over dosing and there haven't been any large clinical trials to test safety and effectiveness of these products."

    Dr. Pinkerton said that once she looked at this survey data and realized how many women were actually using CBHT, she felt it was important to present it at NAMS and "get the message out" in the hope that more health providers will talk to their patients about the potential risks of using non-FDA-approved compounded products.

  • Kids, dogs touch same soft spots in the brain: study

    By Janice Neumann

    NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Brain scans showing that human responses to our dogs are not unlike those evoked by our children suggest a deep evolutionary bond, according to a recent study.

    The findings are in line with dogs' special place as mankind's best friend, and may support the benefits of dog-assisted therapies, researchers say.

    "The overlap says a lot about how similar the relationships could be, but we're only speculating," said Lori Palley, who led the study with Luke Stoeckel at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

    The experiments involved 14 mothers ages 22 to 45, each with at least one child between two and 10 years old and one dog owned for at least two years.

    Each woman underwent magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, (which measures brain activity by detecting changes in blood flow) and viewed images of her own child and dog as well as unfamiliar children and canines.

    Afterwards the mothers took an 11-question multiple choice test that asked about the hair color of their child and dog, the number of pictures viewed and had the women rate images based on their emotional value.

    "Basically we compared the human-pet bond with that of the maternal-child relationship and analyzed patterns of brain activity when moms viewed the images with the aim of understanding what areas might be common and what areas distinct," said Palley, who is assistant director of Veterinary Services at the hospital's Center for Comparative Medicine.

    When mothers looked at pictures of their own kids and their own dogs, areas of their brains associated with emotion, reward, visual processing and social cognition showed increased activity on the scans.

    But there was more brain activity in areas involved in bond formation (typically maternal-child and romantic bonds) when mothers viewed their own children versus their own dogs, the study team reports in the journal PLOS ONE.

    "What's really interesting about this is we suspect that perhaps there is some evolutionary significance to that," said Palley. "It would make sense that would be an area where you would want it to be kind of specific for relationships that should be sustained at all cost."

    In all cases, brain responses were strongest when the women viewed their own child versus one they didn't know, and their own dog versus an unknown dog.

    An area of the brain involved in visual and social processing was more active when moms looked at their pets than at their kids.

    "I think perhaps we process the dog's face differently than we process the human face, but we don't know that. We'd actually have to do more work to look at that area more specifically to determine exactly what this finding means," Palley said.

    She added that she was interested in the health benefits of pet ownership and animal-assisted therapy and, in this study, wanted to examine the science involved.

    "How do you better understand the human animal-connection or figure out for whom perhaps pet or animal assisted-therapy would be more beneficial," Palley said. "What is going on in the brain?"

    Palley cautioned that the results would need to be replicated in a larger study involving other people, including women without kids and men.

    The findings help support what many researchers already suspected, according to Alan M. Beck, professor and director of the Center for the Human-Animal Bond at Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine.

    "We have a long history, a kind of affiliation," said Beck of the relationship people have with dogs. "Dogs learn from us, we learn from dogs, so it's not surprising that even brain activity would show how inborn it is."

    Beck, who has done a number of studies and written extensively on human-animal bonds, also said the study might add some scientific legitimacy to pet ownership.

    "It was kind of cool," Beck said of the study. "It's just one of the tools that allows a better understanding that this is a true biological/species behavior as opposed to something we've learned from our mothers to be nice to animals."

    The study might also help show that people who love pets can also love people.

    "We are wired to some degree to be nurturers of critters that evoke a desire of being nurtured and cared for," Beck said. SOURCE: http://bit.ly/1sfnXDM PLOS ONE, online October 3, 2014.

  • Stars mourn U.S. actress Elizabeth Pena, dead at 55

    By Reuters Staff

    (Reuters) - Television stars and other celebrities mourned U.S. actress Elizabeth Pena, whose career was marked by roles in the films "La Bamba," "Jacob's Ladder" and "Lone Star," and who died earlier this week at age 55.

    Pena, who more recently appeared on the hit TV show "Modern Family," died on Tuesday at a Los Angeles hospital of natural causes after a short illness, her manager Gina Rugolo said.

    "Rest in Peace Elizabeth Pena," wrote "Desperate Housewives" star Eva Longoria on Twitter late on Wednesday. "You paved the way for so many of us!!"

    Zoe Saldana, the actress and dancer, offered prayers to Pena's family.

    "My heart is broken!!!" she wrote on Twitter.

    Born in Elizabeth, New Jersey and graduating from New York's High School of Performing Arts in 1977, Pena went on to appear in films including "Down and Out in Beverly Hills," "*batteries not included" and "Rush Hour."

    She also acted on television, including her role on "Modern Family." She most recently appeared in several episodes of "Matador," a TV drama.

    Pena also tried her hand at directing, including an episode of Resurrection Boulevard, a TV drama in which she also acted, and became only the fourth Latina to join the Director's Guild of America.

    Pena is survived by her husband, Hans Rolla, and two children, along with her mother and sister, Rugolo said.

  • Diet may influence ovarian cancer survival

    By Kathryn Doyle

    NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Women with healthier diets before an ovarian cancer diagnosis are less likely to die in the years following the cancer than women with poorer diets, according to a new study.

    The exceptions were women with diabetes or a high waist circumference, which is often linked to diabetes.

    A healthy diet before diagnosis may indicate a stronger immune system and, indirectly, the capacity to respond favorably to cancer therapy, said lead author Cynthia A. Thomson of Health Promotion Sciences at the Canyon Ranch Center for Prevention and Health Promotion at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

    "It also may reflect our capacity to sustain healthy eating after diagnosis, which in turn could support better health in a broader sense," Thomson told Reuters Health by email.

    Researchers looked back at 636 cases of ovarian cancer occurring between 1993 and 1998, 90 percent of which were invasive cancers.

    The women had filled out dietary and physical activity questionnaires at least one year before their cancer diagnoses as part of the larger Women's Health Initiative study. Researchers measured their heights, weights and waist circumferences.

    The healthy eating index in this study measured 10 dietary components, scoring diets with a higher amount of vegetables and fruit, more variety in vegetables and fruit, more whole grains, lower amounts of fat and alcohol and more fiber as healthier than other diets.

    On average, the women were diagnosed with ovarian cancer around age 63.

    As of September 17, 2012, 354 of the women had died, and 305 of those died specifically from ovarian cancer.

    When the researchers divided the women into three groups based on their diet quality, those in the healthiest-eating group were 27 percent less likely to die of any cause after ovarian cancer diagnosis than those in the poorest diet group, according to the results published in JNCI, the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

    There was a similar but slightly weaker association between pre-diagnosis diet and death due specifically to ovarian cancer.

    "The index gives more points for eating good foods, such as vegetables and whole grains, and fewer points for eating not-recommended foods, such as added sugars, fatty foods and refined grains," said Dr. Elisa V. Bandera, associate professor of Epidemiology at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey in New Brunswick.

    "Interestingly, they found that it was not the individual components that affected mortality, but an overall healthy diet," said Bandera, who was not part of the new study.

    A diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains may lower inflammation, which has been linked to ovarian cancer mortality, she told Reuters Heath by email.

    "Such a diet has also been linked to reduced risk of other chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease which may complicate ovarian cancer treatment and increase mortality," she said.

    High scores on the Healthy Eating Index are very similar to guidelines and recommendations for cancer survivors provided by the American Institute for Cancer Research and the American Cancer Society, Dr. Anne McTiernan of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle told Reuters Health by email.

    "However, the data on diet and lifestyle associations with ovarian cancer survival are all observational," said McTiernan, who was not involved in the new study. "Clear recommendations would require a randomized controlled clinical trial - the gold standard of medical evidence - before women with ovarian cancer could be advised to change their lifestyles in order to improve their prognosis."

    Women with a history of diabetes and those with a waist circumference greater than 34 inches did not seem to get the same survival benefit from a healthy diet as other women. In their report, the study authors note that past research has already linked diabetes with higher-than-average mortality in ovarian cancer.

    The amount of regular exercise women got before diagnosis did not seem to affect the link between diet quality and survival.

    Although the researchers accounted for exercise and total calorie intake, they did not account for ovarian cancer treatment. Women who had healthier diets may also have had access to better treatment, Bandera noted.

    In any case, Thomson said, healthy diets do seem to be important to reduce cancer risk and to improve survival after cancer. "One in two U.S. adults will be diagnosed with some form of cancer in their lifetime and eating healthy is important in regards to how we come through this experience."

    Healthy behaviors may also delay the onset of cancer, for example from age 55 to 65, but that is difficult to demonstrate, she said.

    SOURCE: http://bit.ly/VFCL0c JNCI, online October 16, 2014.