"Breast cancer doesn't run in my family so I'm safe"
"Women sometimes think they can't get breast cancer if they have no family history of the disease. This is often used as an excuse to not go for mammograms. But the truth is that the majority of women who get breast cancer have no family history—it can happen to anyone. Mammograms can detect cancers at a small, curable stage, and can be lifesaving." Ronit Sugar, MD, FACS, board-certified breast surgeon at Aria Health
"I'm in a monogamous relationship, I don't need Pap smears"
"Patients have told me that because they've been married for many years, haven’t had sex in many years, or have always had normal Pap tests that they don't need Pap smears. However, all women should be screened for cervical cancer. HPV, the virus that can cause cervical cancer, is so common that virtually all sexually active women will get it at some point in their lives. And it may not have been detected previously because it can remain dormant for years before it starts causing damage to cells that can lead to cancer. That’s why women ages 30 to 65 should be sure they’re screened with a Pap test and HPV test together at regular intervals." Cherrell Triplett, MD
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"I'm pregnant so I'm eating for two!"
"Sadly it is not true that when you're pregnant you can eat whatever you want. For a singleton pregnancy, you need an average of 300 to 350 calories extra a day during the first and second trimester and 500 calories in the third trimester. Excessive weight gain in pregnancy puts the mom at increased risk for diabetes during pregnancy, other medical complications, and increased chances of needing a C-section." Diana Ramos, MD
Doctors want you to ignore these pregnancy myths, too.
"Hormone treatments will kill you"
"Many patients think that taking hormones is harmful and that you should let nature take its course and age as biology intended. But the truth is that hormone therapy is not deadly. Even in the ominous 2002 Women's Health Initiatives study, we can see that the women who used just estrogen during the first decade of their menopause had an almost 30 percent reduction in all causes of death and a 20 percent lower incidence of breast cancer. With a broad brushstroke, the hormone story was painted as a death sentence for all users but in reality after your ovaries retire and you are estrogen deficient, there is a safe and acceptable way to restore low levels that has more benefits than risks." Steven A. Rabin, MD
"Pregnant women shouldn't exercise"
"Exercise during pregnancy is important for many reasons. Regular exercise reduces stress and increases energy, ensures you gain the right amount of weight in pregnancy, improves common discomforts in pregnancy such as constipation and insomnia, as well as helps prevent pregnancy-related diseases such as elevated blood pressure and gestational diabetes. Research even shows that labor itself is easier and shorter in woman who engaged in regular exercise throughout their pregnancy. " Anate Aelion Brauer, MD
"I'm bleeding even though I'm postmenopausal. It must be stress"
"While stress can cause irregular or missed periods in a premenopausal woman, any bleeding in a postmenopausal woman is abnormal. Once a women is through with menopause, usually by age 52, she should never ever bleed again. Never! Postmenopausal bleeding can benign, but can also be a sign of cancer of the uterus, cervix, or vagina and you should see your doctor right away." Renée Volny Darko, DO, board-certified ob-gyn practicing in Pennsylvania
Here are more surprising health risks that happen after menopause.
"Yogurt will fix a vaginal infection"
"One of the worst pieces of advice I've heard from a patient is one who actually put yogurt into her vagina because a friend told her the probiotics in yogurt would help with her yeast infection. Unfortunately, she used strawberry flavored! It didn't work and there's been no evidence in the literature to prove this to be true." Nicole E. Williams, MD, founder of The Gynecology Institute of Chicago
"I'm healthy and active, so getting pregnant should be a cinch"
"Many women believe that if you are healthy and active, you will never have infertility problems. But this is not true. The healthiest and most active people may still have one of the many issues that cause infertility." Shahin Ghadir, MD, ob-gyn at Southern California Reproductive Center
"I'm carrying high so I must be having a girl"
"Despite what many old wives' tales say, you cannot tell the baby’s sex from any outlying signs. Your baby naturally lowers during the third trimester in preparation for birth and it has nothing to do with the baby’s gender. Similarly, how you carry the baby has more to do with its weight and size than anything else. Any heartburn you may experience is simply due to the womb pushing your stomach upwards, not the baby’s gender." John D. Bertrand, MD, ob-gyn at Walnut Hill
"We've been checked for STIs so we don't need condoms"
"Even if your partner goes to his/her doctor to get an STI check and gets a clean bill of health, there are still illnesses that can be passed through sexual activity, like HPV and herpes, that are difficult to find during a routine checkup as they can hide on a man's penis or in a woman’s vagina. You wouldn't know you had them unless there is an active wart or lesion. Condoms are still the best way to prevent sexually transmitted infections even if your new partner tests negative for STIs during their pre-sex health care checkup." Sherry Ross, MD, an ob-gyn and women’s health expert at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California
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