Routine medical care is an important part of staying healthy. For women, this includes gynecologic (female) examinations and testing.
Current guidelines recommend pap smear testing beginning at 21 years old, and continue through the age of 65. Pap smears are specifically for cervical cancer screening ONLY, not for ovarian cancer. Not every time a woman receives an exam in stirrups necessarily means that a cancer screening was done; some vaginal exams are for urinary complaints, discharge evaluations or to rule out infection.
• For women aged 21 to 29 years old, pap smears should be done every 3 years.
• For women 30 to 65 years old, pap smears should be done every 5 years with pap and co-testing (if both are both normal you can go 5 years before repeating). Co-testing involves screening with a pap smear & HPV testing (HPV virus causes most cervical cancer).
• Women over 65 may stop screening for cervical cancer as long as the testing was normal.
• Women who have had a hysterectomy may also stop screening for cervical cancer as long as the surgery was for treatment of issues other than high-grade pre-cancer abnormalities on pap smear.
• If the pap smear or HPV testing is not normal, additional testing such as colposcopy or more frequent pap smears (with or without HPV testing) may be required.
• Of note, performing a bimanual screening pelvic exam (physician’s two hands) in non-pregnant, adult women without any symptoms is NOT recommended.
Endometrial (uterine) biopsy is an office procedure where a small sample of endometrial tissue is obtained for review by the pathologist. It replaces the traditional D+C (dilatation & curettage) performed in the hospital operating room. An EMB may be recommended for evaluation of abnormal menses, postmenopausal bleeding, or if the pap smear shows certain types of abnormal cells. It is primarily helpful to rule out uterine cancer.
Patients are positioned as if a pap smear were to be performed. The cervix is cleaned with antibacterial solution and stabilized to allow passage of a small straw like instrument (endometrial pipelle) to examine the uterine tissue. The sample is sent for biopsy review.
A woman has the choice to determine the contraception method that is best for her; we are able to help and provide various treatments.
One underutilized option is the Intrauterine Device (IUD). IUDs are an excellent contraceptive choice for many women and are very convenient (you don’t have to remember to take a pill every day). Fifty percent of women working in the health care field select the IUD for their personal needs.
Two categories of IUD are available: Hormonal and Non-hormonal.
1. Hormonal: Some intrauterine devices contain a small amount of progesterone (a naturally occurring hormone) which reduces bleeding and cramping. The most common product is Mirena, which last five years.
2. Non-hormonal: Other types of intrauterine devices contain no hormones and have no impact on bleeding or cramping. The most common type is the Copper-T ParaGard, which lasts for 10 years.
Insertion of an IUD is straightforward and can be quickly done in the office. It is an affordable and reliable method of contraception covered by most insurance payers. Our doctors can help you make a decision that would fit your lifestyle and concerns.
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