At some point all women will need to receive routine pelvic exams in order to check their vaginal and reproductive health. This exam allows your gynecologist to be able to examine the vagina, cervix, ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus to look for early warning signs of infection or other problems.
Unless otherwise recommended by a physician, most women will undergo their first pelvic exam at the age of 21. After which, this simple exam should become a regular part of your well-woman care.
Getting a Pelvic Exam
We know that any kind of new exam or procedure can make anyone a little nervous. That’s why we want you to know what to expect before coming into the office for your first pelvic exam. Here’s what to expect:
We will provide you with a dressing gown, which you will change into in private. From there, you will lie down on the exam table and place your feet into elevated footrests. You will move your body towards the end of the table and our gynecologist will instruct you on what to do to make sure they can perform the exam. Relaxing as much as possible during the exam is important as it will make the process more comfortable for you.
There are usually three different parts involved in a pelvic exam:
- The external exam: This allows us to look at the external tissue of the vulva to detect any irritation, abnormal discharge or warning signs of other problems like genital warts or cysts.
- The internal exam: A special instrument known as a speculum will be carefully inserted into the vagina to open up the walls so that your gynecologist can examine the uterus and cervix. Sometimes a small brush is inserted into the vagina to collect cells from the cervix for testing. This is known as a Pap smear and it allows your doctor to check for precancerous and cancerous cervical cells.
- The bimanual exam: The speculum is removed and your gynecologist will then place one or two gloved fingers into the vagina and press on the abdomen to check the size and shape of the uterus and to feel for any enlargements, tenderness, or pain.
While the first pelvic exam may feel a bit awkward and weird it should never feel painful or uncomfortable. If you are experiencing any discomfort please let us know. We will talk you through the entire process so you know what’s going to happen before it does. If you have any questions or concerns for us this is also the time to let us know.
How often should I get a pelvic exam?
This will depend on several factors. Based on your current health, medical history and any past medical test results we will determine whether you will only need to come in once a year or whether you could benefit from visiting us more often.
What is an IUD?
An IUD (intra uterine device) is a temporary form of birth control for women. It is a small, plastic device that is implanted into the uterus by an OBGYN to prevent pregnancy.
How Does an IUD Work?
There are two different forms of the device - hormonal and copper. The device prevents pregnancy in several ways. The copper version prevents fertilization by targeting and killing the sperm. The hormonal version releases daily low levels of levonorgestrel, thickens the mucus produced by the cervix during ovulation and thins out the uterine lining, all of which prevent the sperm from fertilizing an egg.
Do IUDs Provide STD/STI Protection?
No. IUDs only offer protection from pregnancy, and will not protect against sexually transmitted diseases and infections. Discuss sexual activity and risk factors with your OBGYN to determine the best methods for protection and safe sex with an IUD.
Who is a Good Candidate for an Intra Uterine Device?
IUDs are safe and effective for both younger women in their teens and older women, and can be used whether or not a woman has already given birth.
Will an IUD Affect the Ability to Get Pregnant in the Future?
No. The device does not affect fertility, and the woman's ability to conceive will be the same as before the device was implanted once it is removed, according to the woman's age and individual fertility levels. Once a woman is ready to become pregnant, an OBGYN can help to establish a fertility chart to determine ovulation and the best time to conceive.
Is the Device Painful?
Some women, particularly those who have never had children, may experience some initial discomfort when it is first implanted. Over the counter pain killers like Advil or Motrin prior to insertion of the device can help to minimize any pain or discomfort during and immediately following implantation.
If your OBGYN has recommended that you get a sonohysterogram done find out more about this procedure and what to expect.
Are you dealing with abnormal between-cycle bleeding, infertility or repeated miscarriages? While ultrasounds are often the first diagnostic test performed, if an ultrasound has come back normal and you’re still experiencing symptoms, then a gynecologist may recommend getting a sonohysterogram.
What can a sonohysterogram detect?
This procedure still uses an ultrasound to examine the inside of the uterus, but instead of just an ultrasound a saline solution is administered in the uterus beforehand. By injecting this solution inside the uterus we can obtain more details of the uterus that you wouldn’t be able to see with a regular ultrasound alone. A sonohysterogram can often be performed right in your gynecologist’s office and it usually takes about 15 minutes to complete.
When will a sonohysterogram be performed?
For obvious reasons this procedure will be performed when you don’t have your menstrual cycle, since bleeding could make it more difficult to see the uterus. This test isn’t performed on women who are pregnant or could be pregnant, as well as women with pelvic infections.
What should I expect from my procedure?
During the first portion of your treatment we will perform a regular transvaginal ultrasound. Then the solution will be injected into the uterus, and the ultrasound will be performed again.
After your procedure it is normal to experience some slight cramping and spotting, but most women are able to return to their normal activities the very same day as their procedure. But if you are having any symptoms that are concerning, you need to call your OBGYN.
If you are dealing with unusual uterine bleeding or having fertility issues, it’s certainly time to talk to a OBGYN specialist who can help provide you with the answers you need.
Affecting over 80 percent of women by the time they reach age 50, fibroids are abnormal uterine growths that can cause great discomfort, heavy periods, and abdominal pain. Luckily, there is a number of treatment options available to the millions of women who suffer from this condition. Read on to learn more about fibroids and how your local OBGYN can help ease your symptoms!
As mentioned above fibroids are typically non-cancerous tumors that develop within the uterine line. Although it is officially unclear on what exactly causes them to grow, experts generally agree that fibroid growth is influenced by a few factors, including hormone production, family history, a history of pregnancy, and being overweight.
While some people with fibroids report feeling no effect from their presence, other women report a range of different symptoms, such as:
Heavy and extended menstrual flow
Pelvis and lower back pain
If you suspect that you may have fibroids, schedule an appointment with your local OBGYN to undergo a pelvic exam.
Once your gynecologist has discovered the presence of fibroids, a specific treatment plan can be crafted specifically for you based on your age, your fibroid size, and the overall status of your health. Some possibilities for mild fibroids include:
Applying heat to the areas that are experiencing cramps
Losing weight, if you are overweight
Dietary changes, such as avoiding meat and high-calorie foods
For more serious cases, hormone regulating medications such as Lupron will cause your estrogen to drop, and thus cause menstrual cessation and fibroid shrinkage. If a patient’s fibroids are very large, a hysterectomy may even be in order.
Concerned? Give Us a Call!
If you suspect that you may have fibroids, don’t wait for the condition to get worse—contact your local gynecologist to seek relief and boost your health!
Why are Pap Smears Necessary?
If you are age 21 or older, you may be asked to get a pap smear. It’s also called a pap test, and it’s a common procedure used to test for cervical cancer in women. It is a routine procedure performed in the office during which cells are collected from your cervix.
Cervical cancer is a serious condition which often has no symptoms initially, until it’s in the later stages. A pap smear is a vital tool in detecting cervical cancer in the early stages, when treatment outcomes are much better. A pap smear can also find changes in your cervical cells which may indicate cancer developing at some point in the future.
When you reach age 21 or older, your doctor may recommend a pap test, usually performed along with a pelvic examination. In some cases, the pap test is combined with an HPV (human papillomavirus) which is a sexually transmitted condition known to cause cervical cancer.
The pap smear recommendations for healthy women are:
- The first pap smear at age 21
- A pap smear every 3 years if you are ages 21 to 65
- A pap smear every 5 years if combined with an HPV test and you are age 30 or older
Having more frequent pap smears may be indicated if you have risk factors, including:
- An HIV infection
- An abnormal pap smear showing precancerous cells
- A history of smoking
- A weakened immune system due to organ transplant, chemotherapy, or corticosteroid use
To get ready for a pap smear, there are certain guidelines you should follow. Remember to:
- Avoid having sexual intercourse, using a douche, or any vaginal medications or spermicidal products including foams, creams, or gels for at least 2 days before your test.
- Avoid scheduling a pap smear during your menstrual period
A pap smear is a necessary part of protecting women’s health. The test is important because it is the only definitive way to diagnose cervical cancer in the early stages. Early diagnosis is critical to early treatment, which can lead to a better outcome for you.
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