women's healthAt University of Utah Health Care we understand that the gastroenterology health of women is unique. While the digestive tracks of men and women are essentially the same, issues related to hormonal fluctuations, pregnancy, and childbirth affect a woman’s digestive health. University of Utah Health Care Gastroenterology Services has physicians and mid-levels focused on the specific needs of women and the best ways to treat them.

Treatment Areas

  • Pelvic floor disorders
  • Autoimmune / immune disorders of the GI tract
  • Functional disorders of the intestine

Our comprehensive team approach brings together experts in all areas of women’s GI health providing the best care possible.

Common Discomforts During Pregnancy

Symptoms of discomfort due to pregnancy vary from woman to woman. The following are some common discomforts. However, each mother-to-be may experience symptoms differently or not at all:

  • Nausea and vomiting. About half of all pregnant women experience nausea and sometimes vomiting in the first trimester. This is also called morning sickness because symptoms are most severe in the morning. Some women may have nausea and vomiting throughout the pregnancy. Morning sickness may be due to the changes in hormone levels during pregnancy.

    Morning sickness seems to be made worse by stress, traveling, and certain foods, like spicy or fatty foods. Eating small meals several times a day may help lessen the symptoms. A diet high in protein and complex carbohydrates (like whole-wheat bread, pasta, bananas, and green, leafy vegetables) may also help reduce the severity of the nausea.

    If vomiting is severe, causing a woman to lose fluids and weight, it may be a sign of a condition called hyperemesis gravidarum. Hyperemesis can lead to dehydration and may require hospitalization for intravenous fluids and nutrition. Call your healthcare provider or midwife if you are having constant or severe nausea and vomiting.

  • Fatigue. As the body works overtime to provide a nourishing environment for the fetus, it is no wonder a pregnant woman often feels tired. In the first trimester, her blood volume and other fluids increase as her body adjusts to the pregnancy. Sometimes anemia is the underlying cause of the fatigue. Anemia is a reduction in the oxygen-carrying capability of red blood cells. It is usually due to low iron levels. A simple blood test performed at a prenatal visit will check for anemia.

  • Hemorrhoids. Because of increased pressure on the rectum and perineum, the increased blood volume, and the increased likelihood of becoming constipated as the pregnancy progresses, hemorrhoids are common in late pregnancy. Avoiding constipation and straining may help to prevent hemorrhoids. Always check with your healthcare provider or midwife before using any medicine to treat this condition.

  • Varicose veins. Varicose veins—swollen, purple veins—are common in the legs and around the vaginal opening during late pregnancy. In most cases, varicose veins are caused by the increased pressure on the legs and the pelvic veins. It is also caused by the increased blood volume.

  • Heartburn and indigestion. Heartburn and indigestion, caused by pressure on the intestines and stomach (which, in turn, pushes stomach contents back up into the esophagus). It can be prevented or reduced by eating smaller meals throughout the day and by avoiding lying down shortly after eating.

  • Bleeding gums. Gums may become more spongy as blood flow increases during pregnancy. This causes them to bleed easily. A pregnant woman should continue to take care of her teeth and gums and go to the dentist for regular checkups. This symptom usually disappears after pregnancy.

  • Pica. Pica is a rare craving to eat substances other than food, like dirt, clay, or coal. The craving may indicate a nutritional deficiency.

  • Swelling or fluid retention. Mild swelling is common during pregnancy but severe swelling that lasts may be a sign of preeclampsia (abnormal condition marked by high blood pressure). Lying on the left side, elevating the legs, and wearing support hose and comfortable shoes may help to relieve the swelling. Be sure to notify your healthcare provider or midwife about sudden swelling, especially in the hands or face, or rapid weight gain.

  • Skin changes. Due to fluctuations in hormone levels, including hormones that stimulate pigmentation of the skin, brown, blotchy patches may happen on the face, forehead, and/or cheeks. This is often called the mask of pregnancy, or chloasma. It often disappears soon after delivery. Using sunscreen when outside can reduce the amount of darkening that happens. 

    Pigmentation may also increase in the skin surrounding the nipples, called the areola. In addition, a dark line often appears down the middle of the stomach. Freckles may darken, and moles may grow.

  • Stretch marks. Pinkish stretch marks may appear on the stomach, breasts, thighs, or buttocks. Stretch marks are generally caused by a rapid increase in weight. The marks usually fade after pregnancy.

  • Yeast infections. Due to hormone changes and increased vaginal discharge, also called leukorrhea, a pregnant woman is more susceptible to yeast infections. Yeast infections are characterized by a thick, whitish discharge from the vagina and itching. Yeast infections are highly treatable. Always talk with your healthcare provider or midwife before taking any medicine for this condition. 

  • Congested or bloody nose. During pregnancy, the lining of the respiratory tract receives more blood, often making it more congested. This congestion can also cause stuffiness in the nose or nosebleeds. In addition, small blood vessels in the nose are easily damaged due to the increased blood volume, causing nosebleeds.

  • Constipation. Increased pressure from the pregnancy on the rectum and intestines can interfere with digestion and subsequent bowel movements. In addition, hormone changes may slow down the food being processed by the body. Increasing fluids, regular exercise, and increasing the fiber in your diet are some of the ways to prevent constipation. Always check with your healthcare provider or midwife before taking any medicine for this condition. 

  • Backache. As a woman's weight increases, her balance changes, and her center of gravity is pulled forward, straining her back. Pelvic joints that begin to loosen in preparation for childbirth also contribute to this back strain. Proper posture and proper lifting techniques throughout the pregnancy can help reduce the strain on the back.

  • Dizziness. Dizziness during pregnancy is a common symptom, which may be caused by:

    • Low blood pressure due to the uterus compressing major arteries

    • Low blood sugar

    • Low iron

    • Quickly moving from a sitting position to a standing position

    • Dehydration

    To prevent injury from falling during episodes of dizziness, a pregnant woman should stand up slowly and hold on to the walls and other stable structures for support and balance.

  • Headaches. Hormonal changes may be the cause of headaches during pregnancy, especially during the first trimester. Rest, proper nutrition, and adequate fluid intake may help ease headache symptoms. Always talk with your healthcare provider or midwife before taking any medicine for this condition. If you have a severe headache or a headache that does not resolve, call your healthcare provider. It may be a sign of preeclampsia. 

Kathleen K. Boynton, M.D.

Patient Rating:

4.7

4.7 out of 5

Kathleen Boynton, M.D. received her medical degree from the University of Florida. She also served as an Intern, Resident, and Chief Resident while in Florida. Dr. Boynton then came to Utah, and completed her Fellowship at the University of Utah. Her clinical interests include immune related disorders of the GI tract. Dr. Boynton is board certi... Read More

Specialties:

Endoscopy, GI Motility, Gastroenterology, Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), Inflammatory Bowel Disease/Crohn's/Ulcerative Colitis, Women's GI Health

Locations:

South Jordan Health Center (801) 213-9797
University Hospital
Gastroenterology, Clinic 3
(801) 213-9797
University Hospital
Gastroenterology Endoscopy Center
(801) 213-9797

Jenny M. Hatch, PA-C

Patient Rating:

4.8

4.8 out of 5

Clinical Fellowship in Hepatology - American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases Masters in Physician Assistant Studies - University of Utah Molecular Pathogenesis and Molecular Medicine - Training - University of Chicago Masters of Science in Nutrition - University of Utah Board Certified - Physician Assistant - National Commission on C... Read More

Specialties:

Hepatology, Liver Disease, Liver Transplant, Physician Assistant, Women's GI Health

Locations:

University Hospital
Kidney and Liver Clinic
(801) 213-9797
University Hospital
Liver Transplant
(801) 585-6321

Keisa M. Lynch, APRN, FNP-C, DNP

Patient Rating:

4.8

4.8 out of 5

Keisa M. Lynch, DNP, APRN, FNP is a family nurse practitioner in the department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the University of Utah School of Medicine. Her clinical interests include treatment, diagnosis and continuing care for gastrointestinal diseases and hepatology. Keisa received her Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree from The U... Read More

Specialties:

Constipation, Diarrhea, Eosinophilic Esophagitis, Esophageal Diseases, Family Nurse Practitioner, Gastroenterology, Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), Hepatology, Inflammatory Bowel Disease/Crohn's/Ulcerative Colitis, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Liver Disease, Women's GI Health, Women's Health

Locations:

Redwood Health Center
Gastroenterology
(801) 213-9797
University Hospital
Gastroenterology, Clinic 3
(801) 213-9797
University Hospital
Kidney and Liver Clinic
(801) 213-9797

Whitney Mentaberry, APRN, NP-C

Patient Rating:

4.6

4.6 out of 5

Whitney J. Mentaberry NP-C, BSN-RN, is a family Nurse Practitioner in the department of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition at the University of Utah School of Medicine. Whitney specializes in the diagnosis and continuing care for gastrointestinal diseases. Whitney received her Master of Science in Nursing degree from Westminster College in... Read More

Specialties:

Barrett's Esophagus, Constipation, Diarrhea, Eosinophilic Esophagitis, Esophageal Diseases, Esophageal Motility Disorders, Fecal Incontinence, GI Motility, Gastroenterology, Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), Hepatology, Inflammatory Bowel Disease/Crohn's/Ulcerative Colitis, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Liver Biopsies, Liver Disease, Women's GI Health

Locations:

Redwood Health Center
Gastroenterology
(801) 213-9797
Redwood Health Center
Redwood Urgent Care
(801) 213-9797
University Hospital
Gastroenterology, Clinic 3
(801) 213-9797

Kathryn A. Peterson, M.D.

Patient Rating:

4.9

4.9 out of 5

Kathryn Peterson, MD is an Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine at the University Of Utah School Of Medicine and a Huntsman Cancer Institute investigator. She is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine. Dr. Peterson specializes in diagnosing and treating diseases of the digestive system including Eosiniphilic Esophagit... Read More

Specialties:

Barrett's Esophagus, Endoscopy, Eosinophilic Esophagitis, Esophageal Diseases, GI Motility, Gastroenterology, Inflammatory Bowel Disease/Crohn's/Ulcerative Colitis, Women's GI Health

Locations:

Redwood Health Center
Gastroenterology
(801) 213-9797
University Hospital
Gastroenterology, Clinic 3
(801) 213-9797
University Hospital
Gastroenterology Endoscopy Center
(801) 213-9797

Talina Skirko, APRN, FNP-C, DNP

Talina R. Skirko, APRN, FNP-C, DNP is a family nurse practitioner in the department of Gastroenterology at the University of Utah School of Medicine. Her clinical interests include treatment, diagnosis and continuing care for gastrointestinal diseases. Her specific interests include general gastroenterology, esophageal diseases, nutrition, and irri... Read More

Specialties:

Constipation, Diarrhea, Esophageal Diseases, Gastroenterology, Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Women's GI Health

Locations:

Redwood Health Center (801) 213-9797
University Hospital
Gastroenterology, Clinic 3
(801) 213-9797

Matthew H. Steenblik, M.D.

Dr. Matthew Steenblik completed his medical degree and Internal Medicine residency training at the University of Utah. He then served as chief medical resident in the Department of Medicine before completing his Gastroenterology fellowship at the University of Utah where he also served as chief fellow. He is currently seeing all types of cases i... Read More

Michael J. Walker, M.D.

Dr. Michael Walker received his medical degree from the Chicago Medical School at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science and completed an Internal Medicine residency at the University of Utah. He then served as chief medical resident in the Department of Medicine. Following this time, he completed his Gastroenterology fellowship at ... Read More

University Hospital
Clinic 3
50 North Medical Drive
Salt Lake City, UT 84132
Map
Appointments
(801) 585-5724
Redwood Health Center 1525 West 2100 South
Salt Lake City UT 84119
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Appointments
(801) 213-9715
(866) 455-6703
Redstone Health Center 1743 W. Redstone Center Dr.
Park City, UT 84098
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Appointments
(801) 213-9715
(866) 455-6703
South Jordan Health Center 5126 W. Daybreak Parkway
South Jordan, UT 84095
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Appointments
(801) 213-4500