Category: Dr. Sparks

What Women Need to Know about “Bio-identical Hormones, Custom-Compounded Hormone Therapy and Hormone Pellets–FDA Advises Caution

Nearly twenty years have passed since the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) announced serious safety concerns involving hormone replacement therapy during menopause. Since then, we have come to understand that these early conclusions were misleading, based on an incomplete understanding of the study’s data. Unfortunately, the announcement caused panic among American women. Nearly half of them gave up hormone replacement within a few months. Women whose menopausal symptoms reduced their quality of life resigned themselves to suffer in silence.

With better information, women have now reached a more balanced understanding of the benefits and possible risks of hormone replacement…

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From Dr. Sparks: “Will the Pill Make Me Gain Weight?”

One of the most frequent questions we answer in the office concerns the potential side-effects of birth control pills and other hormonal contraceptives (rings, implants, hormonal I.U.Ds, etc.).  The pill carries a small increased risk for certain health problems (deep-vein thrombosis, heart attack, and stroke), and no method of birth control is one hundred percent effective in preventing pregnancy. Yet, in the fifty-plus years that the pill has been prescribed in the U.S., it has proven to be a very safe and effective contraceptive method. In fact, American women find it safe, effective, and…

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Women and Cancer—Are You Old Enough to Worry?

Slightly more than 1 in 3 American women will develop cancer in her lifetime. Cancer is the second leading cause of death for women (after heart disease). True, it usually strikes during or after middle-age. About 77% of cancers are discovered in people 55 or older. But even if, as you are reading this, “middle-age” seems a long way off; consider that your ability to influence many cancer risk factors begins much earlier in life. Some of the facts I mention here are well-known, but you’ll also find some new insights if you read on…

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Tips for Healthy Travel

Are you considering whether and when to plan a family vacation during this unusual Summer of 2021? Our best advice would center on the question “Have you been vaccinated against COVID-19?” But whenever you decide to resume some of your most enjoyable family activities, these tips for safe travel (from a past blog post) are more important than ever. Know your destination. Does it have specific COVID testing or quarantine requirements? If you are not driving, what does your mode of transportation require. In other words, plan ahead. And enjoy some of the freedoms that vaccination brings…

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COVID Vaccine–an Incredible Gift

The best gift I received this past Christmas was, without a doubt, my first dose of the Pfizer COVID vaccine. When an email in mid-December notified me that I had been given one of Birmingham’s precious first few vaccination appointments, I felt joy and relief. Obstetricians, like other front-line healthcare providers, cannot postpone seeing patients with coronavirus until they recover. Our expectant mothers still need our care. So, I and my partners were offered the vaccine early, and we accepted gratefully. Never for a moment did any of us consider not taking the vaccine.

As doctors, we…

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The CDC Announces Recommendations for Vaccinated People

…with a personal view from an ObGyn physician.
The CDC has recently announced recommendations about how much fully vaccinated people can return to their normal lives. You can read them here. Rather than talking about the particular recommendations, it may be more helpful to comment on the reasoning behind the guidelines.

Vaccination is already decreasing the risk of catching, spreading, and ESPECIALLY becoming very sick or dying from COVID-19. Since COVID, you have come to rely on state and local mandates, CDC guidelines, and even the media to set rules for your behavior. But ultimately you will need to…

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What Birmingham Women Need to Know about COVID Vaccination

The CDC has published this helpful Q&A to encourage you toward a decision to be vaccinated. I am strongly encouraging my patients to receive the vaccine when you become eligible. For our pregnant patients, we recommend that you have a conversation with your obstetrician before receiving the vaccine. You can read more about COVID vaccination for pregnant and breast feeding women in my recent post “Should Our Pregnant and Breastfeeding Patients Receive a COVID-19 Vaccine…

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Dr. Sparks’ COVID-19 New Year’s Resolution

As we wished you good health and happiness at this time last year, we could not have imagined what 2020 would hold. But the New Year always brings hope, and with weekly shipments of vaccine arriving in Birmingham, we have much reason to be hopeful. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but we are not there yet. Let our resolutions for this New Year include continuing to protect ourselves and others until we have all been vaccinated against COVID-19. We can do this for three or four more months and give thanks that it…

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Should Our Pregnant and Breastfeeding Patients Receive a COVID-19 Vaccine?

The short answer is—we don’t know. When the FDA Advisory Committee meets on December 10th to decide the matter of Emergency Use Authorization for the Pfizer COVID vaccine (and a week later for the Moderna vaccine), they are likely to specify whether pregnant and breastfeeding women (along with young children and the very elderly) will be included.
What factors will influence their decision…

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A Tip for Expectant Parents

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