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

  • Evidence suggests babies in womb start learning earlier than thought: study

    By Barbara Liston

    ORLANDO, Fla. (Reuters) - Babies in the womb show evidence of learning by their 34th week, three weeks earlier than previously thought, new research has found.

    "It really pushed the envelope" in terms of how early babies begin to learn, lead researcher Charlene Krueger, associate professor at the University of Florida's College of Nursing, said on Thursday.

    The study, published in the journal Infant Behavior and Development, followed 32 women from their 28th through 38th weeks of pregnancy in an investigation to pinpoint when the ability to learn emerges.

    Krueger had the women repeat three times out loud a set 15-second nursery rhyme, and do it twice a day for six weeks. The selected rhyme was previously unknown to the mothers.

    The fetuses' heart rates were monitored at 32, 33 and 34 weeks as they listened to a recording of a female stranger recite the rhyme.

    By the 34th week, Krueger said, the heart rates of the tested fetuses showed an overall slight decline while listening to the recording, compared with a control group of fetuses whose heart rates slightly accelerated while listening to a recording of a new nursery rhyme.

    Krueger said a decelerating heartbeat has long been associated with a fetus recognizing something familiar, compared with an accelerated heartbeat response to a novel sound or experience.

    "We cautiously concluded, because it was not statistically significant, that learning emerged by 34 weeks gestational age," she said.

    At that point, the mothers stopped reciting the rhyme to their babies who were tested again at 36 and 38 weeks.

    "At 38 weeks we confidently concluded the fetus could remember the rhythm of that nursery rhyme, which was four weeks after the mother stopped reciting the rhyme," Krueger said.

    "The deeper and more prolonged response (at 38 weeks), the more confident I felt that learning had gone on," she said.

    Krueger said the findings have implications for the care of pre-term babies in neonatal units. She said she next wants to experiment with placing recordings of the mothers' voices in the babies' cribs so they will benefit from positive impacts of their mothers' voices.

    "What it really shows is how sophisticated the interaction is between a mother and her infant," she said.

    SOURCE: http://bit.ly/1lEBzAl Infant Behavior and Development, May 2014.

  • REFILE-Traumatic childhood events more common among military volunteers

    (change to coding, no change to article text)

    By Andrew M. Seaman

    NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - People who served in the military tend to have experienced more traumatic childhood events, such as being abused or living with an alcohol-dependant parent, than people who are not veterans, according to a new study.

    In particular, men who volunteered for the military were more than twice as likely as men without military experience to report at least one adverse event in childhood, which supports a theory that people may use the military to escape from dysfunctional home lives, the researchers write in JAMA Psychiatry.

    "It may be a sign of resilience," John Blosnich said. "They may recognize the military offers training, education and advancement. Our next step is to look at whether or not these adverse childhood experiences are related to their health outcomes."

    Blosnich is the study's lead author and a researcher at the Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion at the Veterans Affairs Pittsburgh Healthcare System.

    Adverse childhood events include a range of negative experiences that have been linked to lifelong consequences such as post-traumatic stress disorder, drug and alcohol abuse, attempted suicide and shortened life expectancy.

    If past research suggesting some people may join the military to escape personal problems is true, Blosnich and his colleagues write, adverse childhood experiences may be more common among current and former military members.

    That has implications for the current healthcare needs of military personnel and veterans, the authors point out. And, because past trauma may make a person more vulnerable to developing post-traumatic stress disorder after a new adverse event like combat exposure, it suggests elevated risks for poor mental health in the affected soldiers.

    To get a sense of how common adverse childhood experiences are among people who served in the military, the researchers analyzed responses to a survey conducted in 10 U.S. states and the District of Columbia by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2010.

    The survey included questions about 11 adverse childhood experiences, including living with a person with a mental illness, living with a person abusing alcohol or drugs, living with someone who was in jail, going through parental divorce, being physically or verbally abused and being sexually abused.

    Over 60,000 people, including more than 7,500 with a military history, took the survey and were included in the analysis. The study team distinguished between those who served in the all-volunteer military after 1973 and those who served before 1973, during the draft.

    Overall, men who served in the army during the all-volunteer era had more adverse experiences in all 11 categories than those without a history of military service.

    That was especially true for sexual abuse with 11 percent of those from the volunteer-era reporting being touched sexually, compared to about 5 percent of non-military people.

    Those who served in the volunteer military were also about twice as likely to report childhood experiences of being forced to touch someone sexually and being forced to have sex.

    People from the volunteer military were also more likely to report adverse experiences from four of the 11 categories, compared to people without a history of military service.

    Having had an increasing number of adverse experiences is important, the researchers write, because the number is tied to the severity of poor health outcomes later on.

    There were far fewer differences among men who were drafted into the military, female veterans and people who never served in the military.

    In the draft era, the researchers note, men without adverse experiences entering the military would have diluted the effect of volunteers.

    Women may not demonstrate the same patterns because female survivors of adverse experiences - especially victims of sexual abuse - may not see the military as an escape, they add.

    It's impossible to know whether those who reported more adverse childhood experiences joined the military because of them or had poorer health as adults, Blosnich said, because the survey didn't ask those questions.

    "I think we just need to know more about this and how it may or may not operate within military health in order to know where to go from here," he said.

    SOURCE: http://bit.ly/1nxhBvE JAMA Psychiatry, online July 23, 2014.

  • REFILE-Traumatic childhood events more common among military volunteers

    (change to coding, no change to article text)

    By Andrew M. Seaman

    NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - People who served in the military tend to have experienced more traumatic childhood events, such as being abused or living with an alcohol-dependant parent, than people who are not veterans, according to a new study.

    In particular, men who volunteered for the military were more than twice as likely as men without military experience to report at least one adverse event in childhood, which supports a theory that people may use the military to escape from dysfunctional home lives, the researchers write in JAMA Psychiatry.

    "It may be a sign of resilience," John Blosnich said. "They may recognize the military offers training, education and advancement. Our next step is to look at whether or not these adverse childhood experiences are related to their health outcomes."

    Blosnich is the study's lead author and a researcher at the Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion at the Veterans Affairs Pittsburgh Healthcare System.

    Adverse childhood events include a range of negative experiences that have been linked to lifelong consequences such as post-traumatic stress disorder, drug and alcohol abuse, attempted suicide and shortened life expectancy.

    If past research suggesting some people may join the military to escape personal problems is true, Blosnich and his colleagues write, adverse childhood experiences may be more common among current and former military members.

    That has implications for the current healthcare needs of military personnel and veterans, the authors point out. And, because past trauma may make a person more vulnerable to developing post-traumatic stress disorder after a new adverse event like combat exposure, it suggests elevated risks for poor mental health in the affected soldiers.

    To get a sense of how common adverse childhood experiences are among people who served in the military, the researchers analyzed responses to a survey conducted in 10 U.S. states and the District of Columbia by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2010.

    The survey included questions about 11 adverse childhood experiences, including living with a person with a mental illness, living with a person abusing alcohol or drugs, living with someone who was in jail, going through parental divorce, being physically or verbally abused and being sexually abused.

    Over 60,000 people, including more than 7,500 with a military history, took the survey and were included in the analysis. The study team distinguished between those who served in the all-volunteer military after 1973 and those who served before 1973, during the draft.

    Overall, men who served in the army during the all-volunteer era had more adverse experiences in all 11 categories than those without a history of military service.

    That was especially true for sexual abuse with 11 percent of those from the volunteer-era reporting being touched sexually, compared to about 5 percent of non-military people.

    Those who served in the volunteer military were also about twice as likely to report childhood experiences of being forced to touch someone sexually and being forced to have sex.

    People from the volunteer military were also more likely to report adverse experiences from four of the 11 categories, compared to people without a history of military service.

    Having had an increasing number of adverse experiences is important, the researchers write, because the number is tied to the severity of poor health outcomes later on.

    There were far fewer differences among men who were drafted into the military, female veterans and people who never served in the military.

    In the draft era, the researchers note, men without adverse experiences entering the military would have diluted the effect of volunteers.

    Women may not demonstrate the same patterns because female survivors of adverse experiences - especially victims of sexual abuse - may not see the military as an escape, they add.

    It's impossible to know whether those who reported more adverse childhood experiences joined the military because of them or had poorer health as adults, Blosnich said, because the survey didn't ask those questions.

    "I think we just need to know more about this and how it may or may not operate within military health in order to know where to go from here," he said.

    SOURCE: http://bit.ly/1nxhBvE JAMA Psychiatry, online July 23, 2014.

  • EU finds 'morning after pills' work, regardless of a woman's weight

    By Reuters Staff

    LONDON (Reuters) - Emergency contraceptives, known as the "morning after pill," remain suitable for all women who need them, regardless of a woman's weight, European regulators said on Thursday.

    The European Medicines Agency had questioned whether the contraceptives worked as effectively in women weighing more than 75 kg (165 lbs), but its experts concluded that the benefits of using them outweighed the risks.

    While some clinical studies suggested a reduced effectiveness in women with high bodyweight, others found no such connection and the agency decided there was not enough evidence to conclude with any certainty that there was a risk.

    The European review looked at the effectiveness of Takeda's Norlevo and Bayer's Levonelle, containing levonorgestrel, and HR Pharma's ellaOne, containing ulipristal acetate.

    "Women should be reassured that regardless of their body weight, emergency contraceptives can still be used to prevent unintended pregnancy," said Sarah Branch, of Britain's drugs watchdog the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.

  • Peer-led stress reduction may help mothers of kids with autism

    By Shereen Lehman

    NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Programs teaching "mindfulness" and "positive psychology" both helped mothers of children with autism and other mental-development disabilities to reduce their stress, anxiety and depression, according to a new study.

    Most services for such families focus on the disabled child, researchers say, but improving the mental health of parents is likely to make them better caregivers and that, in turn, could improve their child's development.

    "There are literally decades of studies that have described the high levels of stress and distress, anxiety and depressive symptoms that moms and dads of children with developmental disabilities suffer, and I didn't want to describe anymore, I wanted to do something about it," said Elizabeth Dykens, who led the new study.

    "So this is really for parents - it was for their mental health and wellbeing, for their own adult development," said Dykens, an associate director of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Research on Human Development in Nashville, Tennessee.

    "And I think that's what really sets it apart from the traditional interventions that are much more child oriented," she told Reuters Health.

    Past research has found that cognitive behavioral therapies, such as Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction and so-called positive psychology, are effective at reducing symptoms of stress, anxiety and even depression, Dykens and her colleagues write in the journal Pediatrics.

    Those two approaches have also been shown to lend themselves to group programs and to being delivered by non-professionals who have undergone the therapy themselves and been thoroughly trained to help peers, the authors add.

    For their study, Dykens and her colleagues enrolled 243 mothers of children with autism or other neurodevelopmental disabilities and randomly assigned them to groups that would receive either the mindfulness training or a positive psychology program called Positive Adult Development (PAD).

    "Mindfulness basically helps people focus on the present moment in a non-judgmental way, and it does that through deep belly breathing, gentle movements like yoga or qigong and meditation," Dykens said.

    She said the PAD group was more focused on thoughts, including practicing gratitude and forgiveness and defining one's own strengths.

    "Things that would counteract the anger or disappointment or feelings of guilt or sadness families often experience as they try to deal with the kids' challenging behavior and also work with the systems that are involved in providing care," she said.

    Four peer mentors, who were themselves mothers of children with developmental disabilities, had gone through the therapies and been trained to lead the groups under the supervision of a social worker.

    Both programs consisted of hour-and-a-half weekly sessions for six weeks. Psychological questionnaires were used to assess the participating mothers a total of six times before, during and up to six months after treatment.

    At the start, about 85 percent of the participating mothers had significantly elevated levels of stress, 48 percent were clinically depressed and 41 percent had anxiety disorders.

    By the end of six weeks, both groups showed significant reductions in stress, depression and anxiety levels, with sharp drops starting after just two weeks. In addition, both groups reported improved sleep and life satisfaction.

    Mothers in the mindfulness group had greater improvements in anxiety, depression, sleep and wellbeing and stronger responses in the categories of anxiety and depression, compared to the women in the positive psychology program during that time.

    The researchers speculate that may be because of the immediacy of physical relaxation promoted by the mindfulness approach. But over the longer follow-up period, mothers in the positive psychology group reported greater reductions in depression and improvements in life satisfaction compared to the mindfulness group, the researchers note.

    They acknowledge the study had some limitations because it compared two active interventions without using a comparison group that got no treatment.

    But, the study team writes, "untreated mothers of offspring with disabilities do not necessarily become less depressed over time." If anything, research shows they experience more health and mental health problems with age, the authors say.

    Dr. Eric Hollander told Reuters Health that despite its limitations, the study was large enough to show some interesting results.

    "It's pretty hard to show significant differences between active interventions but nevertheless the study did show some hints or suggestions of differences in terms of the type of interventions," he said.

    Hollander, who was not involved in the study, directs the Compulsive, Impulsive and Autism Spectrum Disorder Program at Montefiore Medical Center in New York.

    He said this is an important area for research because "families with children with autism spectrum disorder have higher caregiver burden than any other disorder."

    "I think the idea of using parents or peers to run these interventions is a good one because I think that families will identify with people who've been through the process," he said. "And it does bring down the cost."

    Dykens said that parents looking for this type of help could find books on mindfulness practice and there are some community mental health centers that offer help as well.

    Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction is a program originally developed for severely ill patients coping with pain, but is now offered more widely and parents can search online for psychotherapists, meditation centers and other health and wellness centers that may offer the course.

    Dykens added that joining parent groups and searching for local chapters of specific advocacy groups, such as the Autism Society and the National Down Syndrome Society, might also help parents.

    SOURCE: http://bit.ly/1rofAmY Pediatrics, online July 21, 2014.