Ask HER: What to Expect at Your OB/GYN Appointment, Benefits of Coconut Oil, PLUS Get Youthful-Looking Skin

From the Show: HER
Summary: Listen in as Pam and Michelle answer your personal health questions.
Air Date: 5/7/15
Duration: 10
Host: Michelle King Robson and Pam Peeke, MD
Ask HER: What to Expect at Your OB/GYN Appointment, Benefits of Coconut Oil, PLUS Get Youthful-Looking Skin
It's YOUR time on HER Radio. Be a part of the show... send your comments and ask your questions by email, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . It's time to Ask HER. Today, on HER Radio you wanted to know:

What can I do to keep my skin looking young?

One of the most visible signs of aging occurs in the skin, where previously firm and healthy collagen strands give way to wrinkling, dryness, and looseness. Unfortunately, you can't stop the process of aging, but there are ways to help keep your skin healthy, smooth, and refreshingly younger.

For example, if you're a smoker you should stop instantly. Not only is it harmful to your heart and lungs, but you're also speeding up the aging process and damaging your skin. You should also consider upping your vitamin C intake, ALWAYS use a moisturizer with SPF (even when it's not sunny or warm out), use retinol cream, exfoliate, limit your sugar intake, massage your face, add plant proteins in your diet, and add antioxidants to your face cream.

What are the benefits of coconut oil?

For years, coconut oil was deemed as unhealthy due to its high calorie serving and high fat content. However, as the years have progressed, nutritionists are saying coconut oil isn't so bad after all. Some of the benefits of coconut oil include possible weight loss, lowered risk of cardiovascular disease, increase in your energy levels, and reduced cholesterol.

What is usually tested for when you go to the OB/GYN?

This really depends on whether it's your first visit, an annual checkup, or if you've been experiencing some uncomfortable symptoms down there. Usually, each trip will start off with assessing your weight, height, and blood pressure and possibly even a urine test. After that's done, you will be given a gown and asked to get undressed for the physical exam. Your OB/GYN will usually start by asking you some general questions about your overall health before starting the pelvic exam.

Then, your OB/GYN will perform a pap test, by using a cotton swab to remove a sample of your cells from your cervix. This can help determine HPV, cervical cancer or any other abnormalities. If you've asked for an STD test, that swab can also be sent to a lab.

If you have a personal health question you want answered, Pam and Michelle encourage you to send them in to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

RadioMD Presents:HER Radio | Original Air Date: May 7, 2015
Host: Michelle King Robson and Pam Peeke, MD

It's your time on HER Radio. Be a part of the show. Make your comments, ask your questions by email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by calling 877-711-5211. Time to Ask HER.

DR PEEKE: I'm Dr. Pam Peeke. Michelle is off today. We are going to attack these three great questions from you, our wonderful HER listeners. We thank you. Here's the first one:

"What can I do to keep my skin looking young?"

There's your sixty thousand dollar question. The first thing I would do is get up and move. That's right. People who do regular physical activity--notice that I didn't even use the "e" word, exercise, I just said be more physically active--have that glow about them. Because that you know when you are doing physical activity you've got increased circulation throughout the body and that includes your skin. And, of course, if you're doing that, then hopefully, your diet is better, too, and maybe you are handling stress so much better. It all kind of falls together like a domino effect. The first thing is—get active. The next one is up your vitamin C intake. That also includes your diet—so important.

Get it through whole foods, like fruits for instance, and vegetables as well. A study published in The American Journal of Nutrition found that women over forty with the highest amounts of vitamin C in their diet were less likely to develop wrinkles than those who consumed lower levels. Vitamin C, ladies, mucho important. The next one is stop smoking. Do you want a smoker's face? If you want wrinkles, keep smoking. It's one of the worse things you can possibly do because it creates enzymes that damage the actual collagen in your skin and, therefore, you get that telltale sagging which so many smokers have. Who needs that? Pitch the smoking. Come on, ladies. Smoking is so last year. You've heard this from me and from all of the other experts. The next one is stay sun safe.

Slap on that SPF. It is so terribly important. Nothing damages your skin more than sitting out there and getting those UVA rays because they penetrate deep into the skin and they damage the deep collagen support structures there. You don't need that. Wear at least an SPF of 15, or up to 30 for your face. That will work like a charm, but keep it on. If you're in the sun a lot, you have to repeat that exposure over and over again with that SPF cream or moisturizer.

Really important and I'll bet you didn't know this—and that is when you cut down on sugar it actually improves your skin because, once again, there is a premature aging of your skin. That's a process called glycation. That is where excess sugar in the blood arteries attach themselves to lipids, nucleic acids, gases, proteins, all kinds of stuff in your collagen and then give you premature aging. Who needs that? Another final thing, how about doing something like exfoliating? Getting rid of some of those dead cells and stimulating some growth. We like that. Which goes hand-in-hand with massage. We love massage. Massage is good. So, you could do self-massage on your face. It is very easy. And that's why they have a lot of those wonderful Clarisonics and other devices that help clean your face and also massage it at the same time. Great question from a HER listener.

Second question:

"What are the benefits of coconut oil?"

Coconut oil has been fraught with all kinds of controversy. For a long time, people said don't have that because it's got so much saturated fat in it.

What does a tablespoon of coconut oil actually have? It's got 117 calories, 0 grams of protein, almost 14 grams of fat, of which 12 are saturated, and no carbohydrate, obviously, and it's got no vitamins or minerals, but what is so special about it? Coconut oil has an unusually high amount of medium-chain fatty acids or triglycerides and these are harder for the body to convert into stored fat and easier for them to burn off than the stuff that you normally get in saturated fat from animal products.

So, that's why a lot of people like using virgin, natural, unrefined coconut oil. It has become a real staple in cooking as a cooking oil that many households use. You don't need that much of it. Many people now say in studies that it has actually helped people maintain a normal cholesterol profile, in diabetes.

Diets that are high in these medium-chain fatty acids that I just talked to you about, that coconut oil has, have been shown to improve glucose tolerance and actually reduce body fat accumulation versus those diets that don't have this in them. This is a very provocative kind of research that I love to read about because it is really important for you to understand. I think there is something to this. And then, when it comes to weight loss, if you look at coconut oil versus soybean oil, for instance, both groups lost weight, but it is only the coconut oil group that saw a decrease in waist size. Meaning that there may be a preference here for more of that weight loss that takes place with the fat deep inside the belly.

You can incorporate coconut oil easily into your diet. Just be on red alert that it has to be virgin coconut oil, not partially hydrogenated coconut oil. Read your labels carefully, it's very, very important. Clearly you want to limit all saturated fats in general, no matter where they come from. You don't need very much at all. Just a small amount will do the trick. If you have any questions, clearly, talk to a registered dietician or to your medical care provider, whomever you want, to help design an excellent dietary program for yourself.

The third and final question is:

"What usually happens when you go to the ob gyn?"

People just usually stumble in there and say whatever. You want to ask a lot of questions, from technical to otherwise. What if you're meeting this physician, this provider, for the very first time? You want to know if they accept health insurance, your health insurance, which hospitals they have admitting privileges to, especially if you are looking at potential pregnancies or surgeries coming up. The office hours; when are they available. If they're not available, who is going to be covering for that physician? This is important information to know and a lot of people never ask this up front.

You know, here at HER Radio we are always about being your own best advocate and make sure that you are completely comfortable with this person before you become a patient. If you do not get along with the person, or if the person does not quite have the personality, does not really communicate well with you, that's not a good thing.

We don't want that. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that girls have their first ob gyn visit when they are 13-15 years old or when they become sexually active, whichever comes first. The first visit for teens may include a talk with the doctor and no exam. It is really important that you have established that rapport. You come in with your little history; tell your physician everything.

Are you taking supplements? Over the counter things? Never, ever be embarrassed. Really, you want to be comfortable with that person because when it comes to the ob gyn, it's kind of personal. We're talking about things that really resonate with your sexuality, with your sexual health, with your reproductive health. You really want to be able to talk to them about sexually transmitted diseases, testing, urinary tract infections, this is so terribly important. In talking to your ob gyn first develop that rapport. Second, ask all of those technical questions.

And next, ask this person to give you a blueprint, a template, to be able to understand how you can best optimize your time with that wonderful primary care provider, whoever they may be, or ob-gyn.

Well, there you have it. What can I do to keep my skin looking young? What are the benefits of coconut oil? And what's going on with the ob gyn when I visit that primary care provider?

I'm Dr. Pam Peeke with Michelle King Robson. You're listening to Her Radio on RadioMD. Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter. Stay well.