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

  • Uganda plans to pass new version of anti-gay law by Christmas-lawmaker

    By Elias Biryabarema

    KAMPALA (Reuters) - Drafters of a revised anti-gay law want parliament to pass it in time to be a "Christmas gift" for Ugandans, a lawmaker said on Friday, after a controversial earlier version was quashed because of legal technicalities.

    Legislation passed by parliament almost a year ago, which would have punished gay sex with long prison terms, provoked a storm of international protest and led some donor countries to withhold aid. A constitutional court overturned the law in August.

    Abdu Latif Ssebagala, a member of a parliamentary committee formed in September to draft a new version, said it had finished the bill and was ready to present it to parliament for debate.

    "The draft is ready and we have strengthened the law, especially in areas of promotion and luring children. Next week we expect to meet the speaker to fix a date for the re-tabling to parliament," he told Reuters.

    Ssebagala said the committee wanted it passed within weeks so that Ugandans "can celebrate it as a Christmas gift".

    The earlier version would have punished gay sex with long prison terms, including life sentences for "aggravated homosexuality".

    The latter category included an HIV-positive person having gay sex or gay sex with anyone vulnerable, such as when the victim is disabled or a child in the perpetrator's care.

    In August, President Yoweri Museveni said he wanted the law amended to remove penalties for consenting adults. Ssebagala said however the new version still punished gay sex among consenting adults.

    In October the president wrote in a newspaper that re-introducing the law risked triggering a trade boycott by the West.

    Analysts say Museveni - expected to run for re-election in 2016 - is walking a tightrope, trying to appease his conservative domestic constituency while wary of alienating donors who finance about 20 percent of Uganda's budget.

    "This bill is inconsistent with fundamental freedoms and human rights ... accepting it would be a display of weakness rather than leadership," said Asia Russell, Uganda-based director of international policy at Health GAP, an HIV advocacy group.

    Like most of sub-Saharan Africa, Uganda is highly religious and socially conservative. Disapproval of homosexuality is widespread and attacks on gays common.

    Influential evangelical pastors have urged Ugandan legislators to reintroduce the law since it was quashed.

    Presidential spokesman Tamale Mirundi said Museveni "is a democrat" and could not dictate to parliament what to do.

    "We'll only know his views when the new law is passed and is sent to him for signing," he said.

    The constitutional court overturned the earlier law on the grounds parliament had passed it without the required quorum.

  • With gene mutations, second breast cancer risk rises over time

    By Kathryn Doyle

    (Reuters Health) - Women who are genetically susceptible to breast cancer and develop it in one breast are at higher than average risk for a tumor in the other breast, and that risk may increase as time goes on, according to a new analysis.

    Mutations in the BRCA 1 or 2 genes increase the risk for several types of cancer and account for 5 percent to 10 percent of breast cancers, according to the National Cancer Institute.

    Researchers from Spain reviewed 20 studies of the risk of cancer in the second breast of BRCA 1 and 2 carriers.

    For breast cancer patients with the BRCA 1 mutation, the risk of a cancer in the opposite breast rose from 15 percent at five years after diagnosis to 27 percent at 10 years and 33 percent at 15 years.

    For the BRCA 2 mutation, the risk increased from nine percent at five years to 19 percent at 10 years to 23 percent at 15 years.

    For women with neither mutation, the risk of cancer in the opposite breast stayed low at 3 percent and 5 percent at the five and 10 year marks, according to results in the journal The Breast. There wasn't enough data to estimate the 15-year risk in this group, the authors write.

    Even though the risk for cancer of the second breast is much higher for BRCA carriers, it still means there is a 70 to 80 percent chance that they won't develop breast cancer 10 to 15 years later, said Dr. Katharine Yao, who wasn't involved with the new study but directs the breast surgical program at NorthShore University HealthSystem in Chicago.

    "(Women) should be concerned but also realize that we have very effective ways to monitor the breast with breast MRI and mammograms which detect cancer at an early stage (small size, node negative) and at a stage that is easily treatable and has a good prognosis," Yao told Reuters Health by email.

    The new data have been known for some time, said Dr. Todd Tuttle, a surgeon at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis who was not involved in the review.

    "I think most of these women should strongly consider contralateral prophylactic mastectomy because their risk of contralateral breast cancer is so high," Tuttle told Reuters Health by email.

    "However, there are some groups of patients who may not benefit from that procedure including those patients who have a high stage first cancer and those who have other considerable medical problems," he said.

    A study Tuttle led earlier this year found that for women without the mutation, removing the other breast does not extend life (see Reuters story of August 15, 2014 here: http://reut.rs/1AlZUUu).

    Though it doesn't appear to extend life, the extra mastectomy does help avoid future breast imaging and maintain aesthetic symmetry, so some women without the mutations may still prefer it, he said.

    In another study in February of this year, women with stage I or II breast cancer and BRCA mutations did survive longer with double vs single mastectomy.

    For women who do not have the BRCA mutations, "patients do often overestimate their contralateral breast cancer risk and do not realize how low it really is," Yao said.

    SOURCE: http://bit.ly/1uNf1Wx The Breast, online November 7, 2014.

  • Appeals court order keeps Mississippi's sole abortion clinic open

    By Emily Le Coz

    JACKSON Miss. (Reuters) - Mississippi's sole abortion clinic will remain open after a federal appeals court refused on Thursday to reconsider its decision to block a state law that would have closed it.

    The law, passed in 2012, required doctors at the clinic to have admitting privileges at local hospitals, a standard they could not meet.

    A three-member panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in July upheld a lower court ruling blocking the law as a legal challenge continues. On Thursday, the appeals court denied Mississippi's request for a reconsideration of the injunction by the full court.

    "This is definitely good news," said Diane Derzis, who owns the Jackson Women's Health Organization, the only abortion clinic in Mississippi. "We've been waiting so long. It's a true Thanksgiving."

    Mississippi is among several states that have passed laws requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their clinics.

    Abortion rights campaigners say the laws, some of which are under court review, impose medically unnecessary requirements targeting providers of the procedure.

    Anti-abortion advocates have countered that they are intended to protect women's health, though some have also said they would likely shutter clinics.

    "There are a lot of places women can go if they want an abortion," said Tanya Britton, a board member of Pro-Life Mississippi. "They can go to Louisiana. They can go to Arkansas. They can go to Alabama."

    Many hospitals refused to consider the admitting privileges applications of doctors working for the Jackson Women's Health Organization, which nearly closed as a result.

    A federal district court judge in 2012 issued a temporary injunction blocking the law because it would have forced women seeking abortions to go out of state. The same judge issued a second injunction in 2013 that remains in effect with Thursday's order.

    Advocates who brought the suit against Mississippi's law expect it to move forward at the trial court in 2015.

    The state has the option of asking the U.S. Supreme Court to lift the injunction, with a spokeswoman for the Mississippi Attorney General's Office saying it is considering its options.

  • Most heavy drinkers are not alcoholics, U.S. study finds

    By David Beasley

    ATLANTA (Reuters) - Contrary to popular opinion, only 10 percent of U.S. adults who drink too much are alcoholics, according to a federal study released on Thursday, a finding that could have implications for reducing consumption of beer, wine and liquor.

    While many people think that most, if not all, heavy drinkers are alcoholics, medical specialists have long suspected that belief is incorrect, said Robert Brewer, an author of a study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that analyzed self-reported data from 138,100 U.S. adults.

    The study, published in the CDC's Preventing Chronic Disease, found that 90 percent of heavy drinkers fell short of the criteria for alcoholism. Women who have eight or more drinks per week and men who have 15 or more are considered heavy drinkers.

    Signs of alcoholism include an inability to stop or reduce drinking, continuing to drink even after it causes problems with family or work, and excessive time spent drinking each day.

    Only a third of those who admitted binge drinking 10 or more times in the previous month were alcoholics, the study found. The CDC defines binge drinking as consuming four drinks for women and five drinks for men in a single occasion.

    Alcoholism was most common among those with annual family incomes of less than $25,000, according to the study.

    Heavy drinkers should not cheer the new study's results, Brewer cautioned.

    Drinking too much is unhealthy, killing 88,000 people annually regardless of whether the drinker is an alcoholic, the CDC said. Health effects include breast cancer, liver and heart disease and auto accidents.

    "Anybody who takes from this paper that excessive drinking is not dangerous unless you are dependent is simply not getting the message, which is that drinking too much is bad, period," Brewer said.

    That said, it is important to quantify the percentage of alcoholics among heavy drinkers in order to develop effective strategies for reducing alcohol consumption, Brewer said.

    For example, alcoholics may require treatment to stop drinking, while non-alcoholics might cut back if alcohol taxes were raised or the number of stores allowed to sell alcohol is reduced, Brewer said.

    "The great preponderance of people who are drinking too much are not candidates for specialized treatment but they can be helped in other ways," Brewer said.

    SOURCE: http://1.usa.gov/1F8mfaC Preventing Chronic Disease, online November 20, 2014.

  • Boston Scientific to pay $18.5 mln in mesh case

    By Jessica Dye

    NEW YORK (Reuters) - Boston Scientific Corp was ordered Thursday to pay $18.5 million for injuries caused by transvaginal mesh devices, a plaintiffs' lawyer said, in the third courtroom loss for the company over the products.

    A jury in West Virginia federal court found the Massachusetts company liable to four women following a 10-day trial, according to their lawyer, Doug Monsour. The company was ordered to pay each of the four women damages ranging from $3.25 million to $4.25 million for the injuries.

    Jurors also said Boston Scientific had acted with "gross negligence" and awarded each woman $1 million in punitive damages, Monsour said.

    "This jury, after carefully thinking about the evidence for two days, came to the proper decision that this was a defective product," Monsour said.

    Boston Scientific said in a statement that it disagreed with the verdict and was considering its appeals options.

    The four plaintiffs say they suffered injuries such as pain during sex, nerve damage and infection as a result of the company's Obtryx device, which is used to treat stress urinary incontinence.

    Their claims are among more than 24,000 in U.S. state and federal courts against Boston Scientific over mesh devices.

    Plaintiffs' lawyers said at trial that Boston Scientific failed to perform sufficient safety testing in its rush to bring mesh products to market. They accused the company of using polypropylene to make the devices despite warnings that it was not meant to be permanently implanted in humans, and neglecting to tell doctors and women about those risks.

    Boston Scientific has fought back against claims that the devices are defective or were to blame for the women's complications.

    Last week, a Miami federal jury returned a $26.7 million verdict against Boston Scientific following a trial involving claims from four women over its Pinnacle device for treating pelvic organ prolapse. It did not award punitive damages.

    Earlier, a jury in Texas ordered the company to pay $73 million, which was later reduced to $34 million, in another mesh trial. Boston Scientific, however, won its first two mesh trials in Massachusetts state court.

    Boston Scientific is among seven major defendants, also including C.R. Bard and Johnson & Johnson's Ethicon Inc, that together are facing more than 60,000 mesh lawsuits in federal court.