Couples Therapy Can Help Mend a Marriage

Couples Therapy Can Help Mend a Marriage

Problems and crises can affect any relationship, no matter how much two people love each other. Sometimes, you might need professional help to resolve a problem. Some mental health experts are trained to help couples heal pain, rebuild trust, and improve communication.

Research shows that couples who seek couples therapy increase their chance of staying together. They also improve communication and satisfaction in their relationship.

What is couples therapy?

Couples therapy is short-term counseling. It’s provided by licensed therapists trained to help couples resolve conflicts. An effective therapist helps couples understand their problems. He or she teaches the couple tools to help them work out disagreements and come up with solutions.

When can it help?

Common issues marriage counselors are trained to help with include:

  • Communication problems

  • Conflicts about child rearing

  • Infidelity

  • Substance abuse

  • Step-parenting

  • Conflicting expectations

  • Sexual problems

Couples are less likely to benefit from therapy if they wait too long before seeking help. Therapy is not likely to help if one partner is not interested in saving the marriage.

How does couples therapy work?

Different therapists have different approaches to counseling. The therapist encourages each partner to answer honestly and fairly to questions. The therapist acts as a mediator or referee. He or she will guide the participants to an understanding of each other’s feelings. The therapist will model respect and acceptance. Marriage counselors don’t take sides. They stay neutral and open to helping both people.

Honesty and a willingness to bring deep-seated resentments and disappointments to the surface in a safe environment with a trained mental health professional are often the key to healing.

What if one partner won’t attend counseling?

Couples therapy is most effective when both people in the relationship go to the sessions. If one partner won’t participate, it may still help for one person to learn better communication skills and puts them to use.

How do you choose a couples therapist?

Look for a marriage counselor who is a licensed mental health professional. This includes

  • Psychiatrists

  • Psychologists

  • Licensed clinical social workers

  • Licensed marriage and family therapists

The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy also provides sources for credentialed therapists. There are no guarantees that couples therapy will save or improve a relationship. But many couples find that a fair, experienced counselor can clarify issues they couldn’t resolve on their own.

Women’s Health Issues 2

Screening can help find breast cancer. Find it early lets you get treated right away. Talk with your health care provider about breast cancer screening.

X-rays of the Spine, Neck, or Back

X-rays of the Spine, Neck, or Back

(Cervical, Thoracic, Lumbar, Sacral, or Coccygeal X-ray Studies)

Procedure overview

What are X-rays of the spine, neck, or back?

X-rays use invisible electromagnetic energy beams to make images of internal tissues, bones, and organs on film. Standard X-rays are performed for many reasons. These include diagnosing tumors or bone injuries.

X-rays are made by using external radiation to produce images of the body, its organs, and other internal structures for diagnostic purposes. X-rays pass through body tissues onto specially-treated plates (similar to camera film) and a “negative” type picture is made (the more solid a structure is, the whiter it appears on the film). Instead of film, X-rays are now typically made by using computers and digital media.

When the body undergoes X-rays, different parts of the body allow varying amounts of the X-ray beams to pass through. Images are made in degrees of light and dark. It depends on the amount of X-rays that penetrate the tissues. The soft tissues in the body (like blood, skin, fat, and muscle) allow most of the X-ray to pass through and appear dark gray on the film. A bone or a tumor, which is denser than soft tissue, allows few of the X-rays to pass through and appears white on the X-ray. At a break in a bone, the X-ray beam passes through the broken area. It appears as a dark line in the white bone.

X-rays of the spine may be performed to evaluate any area of the spine (cervical, thoracic, lumbar, sacral, or coccygeal). Other related procedures that may be used to diagnose spine, back, or neck problems include myelography (myelogram), computed tomography (CT scan), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or bone scans. Please see these procedures for additional information.

Anatomy of the spinal column

Anatomy of the spine

The spinal column is made up of 33 vertebrae that are separated by spongy disks and classified into distinct areas:

  • The cervical area consists of 7 vertebrae in the neck.

  • The thoracic area consists of 12 vertebrae in the chest.

  • The lumbar area consists of 5 vertebrae in the lower back.

  • The sacrum has 5 small, fused vertebrae.

  • The 4 coccygeal vertebrae fuse to form 1 bone, called the coccyx or tailbone.

The spinal cord, a major part of the central nervous system, is located in the vertebral canal and reaches from the base of the skull to the upper part of the lower back. The spinal cord is surrounded by the bones of the spine and a sac containing cerebrospinal fluid. The spinal cord carries sense and movement signals to and from the brain and controls many reflexes.

Reasons for the procedure

X-rays of the spine, neck, or back may be performed to diagnose the cause of back or neck pain, fractures or broken bones, arthritis, spondylolisthesis (the dislocation or slipping of 1 vertebrae over the 1 below it), degeneration of the disks, tumors, abnormalities in the curvature of the spine like kyphosis or scoliosis, or congenital abnormalities.

There may be other reasons for your health care provider to recommend an X-ray of the spine, neck, or back.

Risks of the procedure

You may want to ask your health care provider about the amount of radiation used during the procedure and the risks related to your particular situation. It is a good idea to keep a record of your past history of radiation exposure, like previous scans and other types of X-rays, so that you can inform your health care provider. Risks associated with radiation exposure may be related to the cumulative number of X-ray exams and/or treatments over a long period of time.

If you are pregnant or suspect that you may be pregnant, you should notify your health care provider. Radiation exposure during pregnancy may lead to birth defects. If it is necessary for you to have a spinal X-ray, special precautions will be made to minimize the radiation exposure to the fetus.

There may be other risks depending on your specific medical condition. Be sure to discuss any concerns with your health care provider prior to the procedure.

Before the procedure

  • Your health care provider will explain the procedure to you and offer you the opportunity to ask questions that you might have about the procedure.

  • Generally, no prior preparation, like fasting or sedation, is required.

  • Notify the radiologic technologist if you are pregnant or suspect you may be pregnant.

  • Notify the radiologic technologist if you have had a recent barium X-ray procedure, as this may interfere with obtaining an optimal X-ray exposure of the lower back area.

  • Based on your medical condition, your health care provider may request other specific preparation.

During the procedure

An X-ray may be performed on an outpatient basis or as part of your stay in a hospital. Procedures may vary depending on your condition and your health care provider’s practices.

Generally, an X-ray procedure of the spine, neck, or back follows this process:

X-ray image of the back and pelvis

  1. You will be asked to remove any clothing, jewelry, hairpins, eyeglasses, hearing aids, or other metal objects that may interfere with the procedure.

  2. If you are asked to remove any clothing, you will be given a gown to wear.

  3. You will be positioned on an X-ray table that carefully places the part of the spine that is to be X-rayed between the X-ray machine and a cassette containing the X-ray film or digital media. Your health care provider may also request X-ray views to be taken from a standing position.

  4. Body parts not being imaged may be covered with a lead apron (shield) to avoid exposure to the X-rays.

  5. The radiologic technologist will ask you to hold still in a certain position for a few moments while the X-ray exposure is made.

  6. If the X-ray is being performed to determine an injury, special care will be taken to prevent further injury. For example, a neck brace may be applied if a cervical spine fracture is suspected.

  7. Some spinal X-ray studies may require several different positions. Unless the technologist instructs you otherwise, it is extremely important to remain completely still while the exposure is made. Any movement may distort the image and even require another study to be done to obtain a clear image of the body part in question. You may be asked to breathe in and out during a thoracic spine X-ray.

  8. The X-ray beam will be focused on the area to be photographed.

  9. The radiologic technologist will step behind a protective window while the image is taken.

While the X-ray procedure itself causes no pain, the manipulation of the body part being examined may cause some discomfort or pain. This is particularly true in the case of a recent injury or invasive procedure like surgery. The radiologic technologist will use all possible comfort measures and complete the procedure as quickly as possible to reduce any discomfort or pain.

After the procedure

Generally, there is no special type of care following an X-ray of the spine, back, or neck. However, your health care provider may give you additional or alternate instructions after the procedure, depending on your particular situation.

Online resources

The content provided here is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your health care provider. Please talk with your health care provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.

This page contains links to other websites with information about this procedure and related health conditions. We hope you find these sites helpful. Please remember we do not control or endorse the information presented on these websites, nor do these sites endorse the information contained here.

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

American Cancer Society

Arthritis Foundation

National Cancer Institute (NCI)

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

National Library of Medicine

Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases – National Resource Center – NIH

Scoliosis Research Society

What You Need to Know About Digital Mammography

What You Need to Know About Digital Mammography

A screening mammogram that produces a digital image is just as effective at finding breast cancer as a traditional mammogram done with X-rays. The traditional mammogram is called analog mammography. No woman should skip her mammogram because a digital mammogram is not available. 

But digital technology offers several potential advantages over the current film method for mammography. Unlike film images, digital images:

  • Can be stored and transferred electronically

  • Are less likely to get lost

  • Can be manipulated to correct for underexposure or overexposure, potentially eliminating the need for another mammogram

  • Allow radiologists to use software to help interpret or read them

  • Have a large dynamic range that allows examination of all areas of the breast, despite varying densities

Many of the mammography machines in use today are digital units. The process of getting a digital mammogram is just like a regular mammogram. In fact, the only way you may know what type you get is to ask the technologist working with you.

Your Second Trimester 1

Stretch marks may appear on your abdomen, and the skin around your nipples will darken in this trimester. 

Preventing Zika During Pregnancy

Preventing Zika During Pregnancy

Zika is a virus that causes a mild infection in most people, but can lead to severe complications. It can cause severe birth defects in an unborn baby if a pregnant woman has the virus. There is no vaccine to prevent Zika infection. If you live in or travel to an area with Zika, you can take important steps to protect yourself and your family.

How does Zika spread?

The Zika virus spreads through mosquito bites and sexual activity. To prevent infection during pregnancy, you need to protect yourself from mosquitoes and use protection during any sexual activity.

Protecting yourself during pregnancy

If you are pregnant right now: 

  • Don’t travel to areas with active Zika.

  • If you do travel to an area with Zika, get tested for Zika within 2 weeks of returning home.

  • If you live in an area with Zika, take steps to prevent mosquito bites (see below).

  • If you live in or your partner travels to an area with Zika, use protection every time you have sexual activity. This includes vaginal, oral, and anal sex, and use of shared sex toys. Use condoms and dental dams. Or choose to not have sex during the pregnancy.

  • Get tested for Zika as often as advised by your healthcare provider.

Preventing mosquito bites

If you live in or travel to an area with Zika, protect yourself from mosquito bites. Make sure to: 

  • Get rid of standing water in your yard. Mosquitoes lay eggs near water. Check pots and planters, outdoor kids’ toys, bird baths, and any other containers for puddles of water. Empty the water regularly and keep these areas clean and dry.

  • Choose air conditioning or screens. At home, don’t leave windows or doors open unless they have screens. Patch any holes in the screens. When picking a restaurant, hotel, or other venue, choose places with screens in windows and doors, or air conditioning.

  • Wear protective clothing. Wear clothing that covers your body to prevent mosquito bites. Choose clothing with long sleeves and long pant legs. Wear socks and shoes to cover your feet and ankles.

  • Use insect skin spray often. Buy a skin spray that is EPA-approved and contains DEET, picaridin (also called KBR 3023, Bayrepel, or icaridin), oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthan-diol (PMD), or IR3535. Make sure to follow the instructions on the label about how to apply and when to reapply. Use it during the day and at night. EPA-approved insect sprays are safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women.

  • Use permethrin. This is a type of insecticide you can apply to fabrics. If you are going camping, treat your clothing, shoes, and your tent with permethrin. You can also buy gear that’s already treated. Don’t use permethrin directly on your skin.

  • Sleep with a mosquito net. Make sure to use a mosquito net if you are sleeping outdoors or in a place with no screens or air conditioning.

 

If you think you may have Zika

If you live in or you or your partner visits an area with Zika, contact your healthcare provider right away if you have symptoms. Symptoms may be mild and can include fever, rash, joint pain, red eyes, muscle aches, and headache. You may need a blood or urine test to check for the virus. There is no treatment for Zika. If you test positive for Zika, your healthcare provider will closely watch the health of you and your baby during your pregnancy.

What is the U.S. Zika Pregnancy Registry?

If you test positive for Zika, your information will be put into the U.S. Zika Pregnancy Registry. This is a way for the CDC to track the virus and how it affects pregnant women and babies. Your information is only used by the CDC’s health centers so they can manage the virus and its effects. The information is sent to them by your healthcare provider. It may include details about your health and your baby’s health up to 1 year old.