How often should I see my OB/GYN doctor, and at what age do I start visits?
Young women usually should start seeing an OB/GYN between the ages of 18 and 21. They should be seen earlier than this if they become sexually active, have abnormally heavy or painful menstrual cycles, or if they do not develop a cycle by the age of 14 to 16. While pelvic exams are rarely required during the first visit, this visit helps to establish a relationship with the doctor of your choice and to review your medical and sexual history (even if you have not had sexual intercourse). All women should have annual Pap smears beginning at age 21, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
How often should I do breast exams?
Although there has been national debate recently regarding how best to screen for breast cancer, the self-breast exam remains the easiest, quickest, and least expensive method for detecting breast masses. Once a month, after the conclusion of your menstrual cycle or if menopausal, at your discretion, you should perform a self breast exam. The most complete exam includes both lying down and upright evaluations. An exam in the shower with soapy hands is easy to incorporate.
By doing a monthly breast exam yourself, you learn how your breasts feel. This helps you detect any changes or signs of a problem. Any lumps, changes or nipple discharges should be discussed with your doctor.
We also offer gene testing for breast cancer risk which is explained in the following video:
When should I get my first mammogram?
Women age 40 and older should have mammograms every one or two years. However, the likelihood of developing breast cancer is higher if a close blood relative has been diagnosed with the disease, especially if they were diagnosed before the age of 50. Likewise, women who began having their periods before the age of 12 or who went through menopause after the age of 55 are at higher risk, as are women who had their first child after age 30 or who never had a child. If you believe you may be at a higher risk, ask your physician when you should start being examined.
Should I have a Pap smear after a hysterectomy?
The frequency depends on your gynecologic history. Why did you have the hysterectomy? Did you have abnormal Pap smears or HPV (human papillomavirus)? Are you sexually active? It is still important to have a pelvic exam, of which the Pap is only one component. A pelvic exam should be a routine part of your annual examination
I skipped one of my birth control pills, and I am now experiencing vaginal bleeding. What should I do?
The skipping of just one birth control pill can potentially cause “breakthrough bleeding.” This is a relatively normal occurrence, and you should take the missed pill as soon as you realize you’ve skipped it. If you have skipped more than two birth control pills, you may have some heavier bleeding and you should use condoms for the remainder of the month.
I missed my period, but the pregnancy test is negative. What should I do?
Women who miss a period but find their pregnancy test result to be negative should cautiously monitor the situation, as sometimes something as simple as an increase in stress can cause a woman to miss her period. However, if the same thing happens during the next cycle, you should contact our office to schedule an appointment; you may need to change your birth control.
Can I have a Pap smear if I have my period?
You should try to schedule your annual exam for when you are not having your period. However, you can have a Pap smear during your period as long as the flow is not very heavy.
I am experiencing some burning with urination, is there anything to help with the pain?
When dealing with burning urination, it is advised that you increase your fluid intake. Drinking cranberry juice has also long been recognized as helpful in alleviating the symptoms of what might be a bladder infection. Women who experience burning while urinating are strongly encouraged to have a urinalysis performed so that the exact problem can be identified and diagnosed. Your gynecologist may then recommend other treatment, or they may decide that prescribing medicine is the best course of action.
I have gone through menopause but am experiencing spotting or staining. What should I do?
Call the doctor’s office and speak with the nurse or doctor about your symptoms
What should I do if I think I have a vaginal infection or a urinary tract infection (UTI)?
Call our office to schedule an exam.
Should I be tested for HPV?
If you are sexually active, you are at risk of exposure to human papillomavirus (HPV, or genital warts). Please discuss HPV testing with your doctor during your visit. When your Pap smear is performed the cells can be tested for HPV.
The following video will also help explain HPV and the implications of testing positive for it.
What should I do if my partner has been diagnosed with genital warts or any other STD?
Call our office to schedule an appointment.