Annual Exams -Routine women’s or “gynecologic” exams are a very important part of health care for women. The annual exam provides an opportunity for your clinician to detect and test for abnormalities of the breast, vulva, vagina, cervix, ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus, and colon. Listed are the basic things that may be included in your exam.
Screening for Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI’s): STI testing will be done upon your request or your clinician may recommend testing. Testing for Chlamydia & Gonorrhea are done using a Q-tip to swab the cervix or by a urine test. Herpes and HPV can more easily be diagnosed if symptoms are present at the time of examination. HIV, Hepatitis B, Syphilis are detected by a simple blood test.
Abnormal growths: Infection with HPV (human papilloma virus) is a known precursor to dysplasia and cervical cancer. Most often HPV is not visible but when it is present your provider may see growths that are characteristic of HPV. An important part of your exam is palpation (examination by touch and/or pressure). Abnormal growths, including cancer of the breast, ovaries, and uterus are commonly found by palpation.
Pap smears: Pap smears detect cervical dysplasia (abnormal cervical cells) and cervical cancer. Routine Pap smears provide an opportunity for early detection and treatment of dysplasia and prevention of cervical cancer.
Cancers: Breast, uterine, ovarian, and colon cancers are more common in women over age 50 but can occur in younger women.
Breast self-exam: Although the risk of having breast cancer in your 20s and 30s is low, it can happen. Your 20s and 30s are a time in which to become familiar with your breasts and to develop the routine of a monthly breast self-exam. At the end of your menses each month, examine your breasts with a visual inspection in front of a mirror, checking for skin, nipple or symmetry changes. Then, lying down with opposite hand to breast, use your fingertips to go up and down across your breast in round circular motions, including the perimeter and the armpit. Report any changes or discrete lumps to your health care provider.
Mammography is an x-ray of the breast, which is used to help find breast cancer early along with the clinical breast exam and breast self-exam. If cancers are found when they are small, there is a higher rate of cure. The American Cancer Society recommends a baseline mammogram at age 40 and, depending on risk factors, every one to two years between ages 40 and 50, then yearly after age 50.
Warning signs or indications to seek medical care include:
- Abdominal pain or cramping
- Abdominal lump, swelling or bloating
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding, spotting or discharge
- Pain with intercourse
- Breast lump, pain or discharge
- Abnormal bleeding or irregular menses
- Unexplained weight loss
- Persistent digestive problems
- Menopause is defined as the absence of menstrual periods for 12 months. It is the time in a woman’s life when the function of the ovaries ceases.
- The process of menopause does not occur overnight, but rather is a gradual process. This so-called perimenopausal transition period is a different experience for each woman.
- The average age of menopause onset is 51 years old, but menopause may occur as early as the 30s or as late as the 60s There is no reliable lab test to predict when a woman will experience menopause.
- The age at which a woman starts having menstrual periods is not related to the age of menopause onset.
- Symptoms of menopause can include abnormal vaginal bleeding, hot flashes, vaginal and urinary symptoms, and mood changes.
- Complications that women may develop after menopause include osteoporosis and heart disease.
- Treatments for menopause are customized for each woman.
- Treatments are directed toward alleviating uncomfortable or distressing symptoms.
HRT: Hormone replacement therapy is used by many women to replace estrogen and or progesterone lost during perimenopause and menopause. HRT is prescribed and can be synthetic or bio-identical. All HRT comes with increased risks as documented by the WHI studies. Each woman is individual and her hormone therapy should be too. A consultation is required before any hormones can be prescribed. We are a proud provider for Hormone Replacement Pellets – a BHRT(bio-identical hormone replacement therapy) that is an in office procedure where we implant a BHRT pellet just under the skin in the hip area. These pellets last anywhere from 3-4 months, making it convenient and easy.
Birthcontrol: There are more—and safer—birth control options than ever before. While any birth control method can fail (except abstinence), the risk of failure per year is less than 1% for many methods, as opposed to the 85% chance of pregnancy if you don’t use birth control.
Menstrual Irregularities: Menstrual irregularities are common disorders of a woman’s reproductive organs, including the uterus and/or the ovaries. Menstrual irregularities include a variety of conditions in which menstruation is irregular, heavy, painful, or does not occur at all. Risk factors for the development of menstrual irregularities include having a mother or sister with menstrual irregularities, never having children and starting the menstrual period at an early or late age. Symptoms of menstrual irregularities can mimic symptoms of other conditions, such as potentially fatal uterine cancer. It is important for women who experience symptoms of menstrual irregularities to promptly seek medical care and diagnosis. A diagnosis may be delayed for a variety of reasons. For information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of menstrual irregularities. Diagnosis of menstrual irregularities begins with a thorough medical history, including symptoms, and examination, including a pelvic examination. Diagnostic testing varies depending on the suspected cause.
Colposcopy: is a medical diagnostic procedure to examine an illuminated, magnified view of the cervix and the tissues of the vagina and vulva Many premalignant lesions and malignant lesions in these areas have discernible characteristics which can be detected through the examination. It is done using a colposcope, which provides an enlarged view of the areas, allowing the colposcopist to visually distinguish normal from abnormal appearing tissue and take directed biopsies for further pathological examination. The main goal of colposcopy is to prevent cervical cancer by detecting precancerous lesions early and treating them.
Gynecological Needs: We charge a flat office fee of $50 for any women’s health visits. We do not accept insurance however if you need labs done and have insurance we will submit your insurance with any lab specimens such as pap or biopsies that will be billed by the lab to your insurance.