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My Story–Difficult Healthcare Decisions and Medical Second Opinions

In the coming months, our blog will feature a new series of posts called “My Story.” In them, our physicians will share a personal story or something from their daily practice that our patients may find helpful. Last month Dr. Whitehead offered some thoughts about how her childhood in Botswana continues to influence her commitment to women’s health education. In the following post, Dr. Sparks discusses his own recent surgery and what he learned about facing a confusing healthcare decision…

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A Chat with Dr. Whitehead–for Birmingham Girls!

Brookwood Women’s Services is again offering this excellent program (Saturday May 4th, 9 AM), and Dr. Whitehead is looking forward to participating. Click here to find registration information.
From my childhood in Botswana (my parents were missionaries), I am deeply aware of the difference reproductive-health information can make in the lives of women and girls. The HIV/AIDS epidemic devastated Botswana. Women, particularly young women ages 15 to 24, are still suffering in greater numbers than men, and progress has stalled. The fact of their limited opportunity, especially in education, makes them vulnerable. Nearly half of them cannot…

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Introducing Our New Website! A Wellness Resource for Birmingham Women

Our site, (the web-address has not changed), is an important resource for our current patients and also for women looking for a new obstetrician or gynecologist in Birmingham. We work to keep it up-to-date and informative. If you are a regular visitor to the site, you will notice a bright, fresh look. More important, we have tried to make it easier to find the information our patients use most frequently. The new site is more responsive across a wide variety of mobile devices!

If you have never landed on the Sparks & Favor site or not explored…

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From Dr. Favor–Myth: Men are much more likely to die of heart disease.

Did you know that HEART DISEASE IS THE #1 KILLER OF AMERICAN WOMEN?
Yes, it’s true. According to the Centers for Disease Control, heart disease takes more women than all cancers combined. Yet surveys show that only about half of you are aware of that fact. February is American Heart Month.
THE GENDER GAP IN HEART ATTACK DEATHS
The risk of death after a heart attack is higher in women than men.
Medical research has not been clear about why this occurs. Women are likely to be older than men when they suffer a first heart attack because estrogen…

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“Healthy” Resolutions for 2019…Some Gentle New Year’s Advice!

Among our favorite New Year’s resolutions are those related to a healthier lifestyle.  The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that obesity, tobacco use, and lack of physical activity together cause approximately one-third of all deaths. You can probably guess that my thirty-something years of caring for women when they are healthy and when their health is in jeopardy have not given me the magic key to solving these problems. But as the new year begins, I would like to share a few thoughts…

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ObGyn Update: Are Heavy Periods Interfering with Your Normal Life?

A woman whose menstrual periods are so uncomfortable, frequent, or heavy as to interrupt her usual activities is not comforted by the fact that this is a very common women’s health problem. The medical name for abnormally heavy periods is menorrhagia. Although about a third of women experience this problem at some time, heavy bleeding is not normal. Changes in your normal menstrual cycle are always a reason to talk with your ObGyn. Besides being very disruptive to your life, heavy menstrual bleeding can sometimes signal a more serious problem…

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Confused about Pap Tests?

Preventive Care for Birmingham Women
A few generations ago, cervical cancer took the lives of more women than any other cancer. Today, it is a largely preventable disease. Beginning in the 1940s, the Pap test became available to women. A swab is used to collect cells from the cervix. The sample is then examined to look for abnormal cells, either cancer or pre-cancerous cells.

By the 1990s, research determined that human papilloma virus (HPV) causes cervical cancer. This discovery opened the door to new preventive opportunities. The HPV vaccine, given to preteens and young adults, can provide strong protection…

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Family Risk for Breast or Ovarian Cancer

Although breast cancer risk increases throughout a woman’s life, younger women can also face breast cancer. Experts do not recommend routine screening for breast cancer (mammogram) before age 40. But some women–those with hereditary risk factors for breast or ovarian cancer–may be advised differently.

We want to help our patients recognize risk factors in their family’s medical history. Your annual well-woman exam is an ideal time to review your family history. If your updated family history suggests higher risk, your Ob-Gyn physician may recommend genetic testing for abnormal changes in certain genes (BRCA 1…

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Am I Getting Enough Protein?

As we juggle work and family responsibilities, most of us try to keep an eye on the scale and on good nutrition in general.  But making good nutritional choices gets more confusing with each new diet fad that crosses the Internet. Keto? Paleo? Whole 30? South Beach? Atkins? …Really?

Most of these plans restrict carbohydrates, some more severely than others. The “allowed foods” list is weighted toward high-protein choices. Low-carb plans appeal to the common belief that most of us need more protein. Unfortunately, many people will substitute fats or high-fat protein sources for the carbs they…

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An Announcement from Dr. Sparks

As many of Dr. Sparks’ patients have already heard, beginning October 1st, he will be limiting his practice to gynecology. He looks forward to directing his full-time focus to his patients’ gynecologic care needs and to his long-time interests in minimally-invasive gynecologic surgery, screening and risk-reducing strategies for women’s cancer risk, the menopause transition, and osteoporosis. In 2009, Dr. Sparks was one of the early Birmingham gynecologists to begin using the minimally-invasive procedure known as “robotic surgery.” He is still amazed at how his patients benefit from this technology. More women are able to…

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