Annual Well Woman Exam
Annual gynecologic exams should be a part of every woman’s health routine. Yearly exams are essential to ensure your reproductive health and can also provide early detection for certain cancers. Preventive care includes:
Discussion of health topics based on your age and risk factors
Exams and screening tests
How Should I Prepare for My Exam?
The most important thing to do before your gynecological exam is research. Women should be prepared to discuss their family medical history and be ready for questions about their menstrual cycle. Some of the most commonly asked questions your provider may ask include:
When was your last period?
How long does your period typically last? What are your periods like?
What age did you start your period?
Are you sexually active? What type of birth control do you use?
What to Expect for Your Annual Gynecology Exams
In addition to checking your height, weight, and blood pressure, your doctor will ask you questions about your general health, menstrual period and sexual activities. During your exam, your doctor will perform the following exams and tests.
During your breast exam, your doctor will check your breasts for signs of any potential problems, such as a lump. He or she will examine each breast by moving his or her fingers around your breast in a pattern. You may also be shown how to perform monthly self-examinations.
During your pelvic exam, your doctor will examine your vagina, cervix and reproductive organs. Once you place your feet against footrests at the end of the examining table and slide forward, your doctor will then insert an instrument called a speculum into your vagina to gently spread the walls apart to examine the area. Your doctor then places one or two gloved, lubricated fingers into your vagina and the other hand presses on your abdomen from the outside to check the size, position, and shape of your internal pelvic organs. The pelvic exam may feel a bit uncomfortable, but should not hurt.
A Pap smear checks for abnormal cells in the cervix that could lead to cancer. The doctor will insert a small cotton-tipped swab through the vagina into the cervix. Cells are removed from the cervix and sent to a laboratory to be checked for any abnormalities. The Pap smear is painless.
Topics to Discuss at Your Annual Well Woman Exam
These assessments should include screening, evaluation and counseling, and immunizations based on age and risk factors.
At 20 Years old
You should have your first pap test if you haven’t already and have a sexually transmitted infection screening if necessary.
At 30 Years old
Be sure to talk with your doctor if you are planning on getting pregnant. Continue to get an annual well-woman visit during your 30s.
At 40 Years old
Decide with your gyn when you should have a mammogram, especially if you have certain risk factors. Discussion and counseling about perimenopause and menopause.
At 50 Years old
During your 50s, it is good to get a lung cancer screening if you are a current or past smoker. It is also time to have a preventative screening for colorectal cancer.
At 60 Years old
Continue to get regular mammograms and osteoporosis screenings during your 60s.
At 70 Years old
Be sure to get a seasonal flu shot, a shingles shot, and a pneumonia shot, as well as others your doctor may recommend along with your mammogram and general health screening
What is birth control counseling?
If you’re in your reproductive years, expect your doctor at Women’s Health First to counsel you on contraception needs to help you avoid the risk of an unintended pregnancy. When you do decide to get pregnant, your doctor will help you decide how to stop your birth control and counsel you on how to have the healthiest pregnancy possible.
During birth control counseling, your doctor takes the time to educate you on contraceptives, both what’s available and the pros, cons and risks of each. The doctor will clarify what you know and understand about reproductive health, and preventing pregnancy.
What types of birth control does Women’s Health First Health offer?
If you’re in need of birth control, your doctor can review your health history and help you determine which kind of birth control best suits you and your needs, giving you the most effective protection possible. Some recommended birth control methods include:
Birth control pills
Your doctor’s recommendation is made based on:
Whether you’ve previously had children
If you plan on having children in the near future
What is an IUD?
An IUD is a device inserted into the uterus to prevent conception( pregnancy). The IUD can have hormones or without. The IUDs have one of the lowest failure rates of any contraceptive method. The doctors at Women’s Health First are trained and qualified to insert and remove IUDs.
Are there non-hormonal birth control options?
If you’re looking for hormone-free birth control protection, talk to your doctor about your options. Your doctor could fit you for a diaphragm, or if you’re not planning on having any more children, they may recommend a non-hormonal IUD.
What are the types of vaginal infections?
Vaginitis is an inflammation of the vagina that can result in discharge, itching and pain. Reduced estrogen levels after menopause and some skin disorders can also cause vaginitis.
Some of the types of vaginal infections can include:
Candida or "yeast" infections
Viral vaginitis like Herpes Simplex Virus
STDs like Gonorrhea or Chlamydia
The doctor’s at Women’s Health First can provide screening and testing to determine if you have a vaginal infection or STD, and recommend treatment.
How do I know if I have a vaginal infection or STD?
Symptoms of vaginal infections and STDs can vary. You may have itching, burning or a discharge that alert you to your infection, while other STDs like chlamydia have few symptoms. It’s important to have regular Pap smears and checkups to receive screening for STIs and other infections to detect them early for effective treatment. At your visit with your doctor you can discuss if you are at risk and should be tested.
How do I get screened for STDs or other vaginal infections?
Screening for the various types of STDs and vaginal infections can be done during a routine women’s wellness exam. Screening recommendations vary by gender, age, and sexual behavior. For the majority of women, some STD screening is recommended at least annually. Screening can include a visual pelvic exam, blood/urine testing or tissue samples, depending on your symptoms.
What health issues can occur from vaginal infections?
Though most vaginal infections are benign and mainly cause an annoyance, sometimes it can impact your reproductive and overall health, most commonly with fertility. Some infections can cause infertility or be dangerous during pregnancy. Other infections can put you at higher risk for cervical cancer
What causes abnormal periods?
Abnormal periods can be caused by a variety of issues or nothing at all. Some of the most common issues that cause irregular periods include:
Polycystic ovary syndrome
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
Blood clotting disorders
Sometimes, irregular periods are seen at both ends of the spectrum , when menstruation starts ( young women) and at the other end as it comes to a finish ( perimenopausal/menopausal women)
How are abnormal periods treated?
The doctors at Women’s Health First will determine with you the most effective course of treatment by taking considering:
Your health history
What’s causing your abnormal periods
If you are planning on having more children
The amount your abnormal periods disrupts your life
Depending on your needs, you and your doctor will come up with a treatment plan to regulate your periods and fit your lifestyle.
What is an “abnormal” Pap smear?
Pap smear is a simple procedure that looks for abnormal cell changes in the cervix. Pap smears are not a diagnostic test but a screening tool to find abnormal cells in the cervix. Women who have regular pap smears increase their chance for early detection and treatment of any potential problem. Many of the abnormal paps are related to HPV infection,
Is an HPV infection dangerous?
HPV, or human papillomavirus, is a common virus that has more than 100 strains. About 40 of the strains are sexually transmitted. An HPV infection can go away on its own, but it should be monitored. Certain HPV strains are linked to cervical cancer, which is why it’s important to detect it early and to be monitored for changes in your cervical cells.
What happens if I have an abnormal pap smear or an HPV infection?
An abnormal Pap smear or HPV infection, does not necessarily mean you will get cervical cancer. Often, no treatment is needed, just more frequent Pap smears and testing to monitor the cells in the cervix. After an abnormal pap diagnosis is noted a procedure called a colposcopy will be performed, which is an examination that occurs in the office using a machine that will magnify the cells of your cervix. If an abnormal area is visualized a small biopsy sample will be taken to be analyzed by the pathologist.
What are the treatment options for abnormal cervical cells?
Both abnormal Pap smears and HPV infection are used for early detection and treatment of cervix cancer. Many times treatment is just observation and serial paps. Other options include removing the abnormal cells to prevent cancer from forming. Some of the treatments for removing abnormal cervical cells include loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) and cold knife cone. Both procedures are performed by the doctors at Women’s Health First.
What is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is caused by a hormonal imbalance that results in enlarged ovaries that have multiple small cysts. PCOS symptoms can also include:
Excessive hair growth
While the cause of PCOS is unknown, it is one of the most common contributors to infertility. It’s often treated with medication. Birth control pills are used to regulate periods, while other medications are given to prevent diabetes and regulate cholesterol.
What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a common disorder where the tissues that line the uterus begin to grow outside the uterus, including on the:
This disorder is known for causing heavy, irregular periods and pain in the abdominal area. Although it’s treatable with hormones and excision surgery, it’s often considered a chronic disease, as it may return regardless of treatment.
What is Votiva?
Votiva is a non-surgical, RF (Radio Frequency) technology that addresses a variety of feminine wellness concerns. Commonly referred to as a Vaginal Rejuvenation, this cutting-edge procedure uses two handheld devices on the outer and inner areas of the vagina to resurface the skin and stimulate elastin and collagen production.
In response to treatments vaginal tissue tightens the skin and can improve vaginal laxity, stress urinary incontinence, vaginal lubrication, sensation and muscle tone. Votiva improves blood flow and sensitivity as well as elasticity and wrinkles on the labia and vulva. Treatments are quick (under an hour) with little to no downtime. And, since 2016, over 5 million women have had successful treatments with this technology.
What are the benefits?
Improves vaginal dryness
Decreases laxity and wrinkled appearance of the internal and external vagina
Strengthens the muscles of the vagina
Increases blood flow
Enhances vaginal sensitivity
Decreases pain with intercourse
Increases sexual desire and self-confidence
Improves mild to moderate urinary incontinence
Decreases pain caused by labial hypertrophy
Decreases excess labial tissue
What can I expect during treatment?
Patients will feel a heating sensation during the treatment. Some patients will have slight discomfort during the procedure, while others will not experience any discomfort at all.
Why would I need vaginal rejuvenation?
As women age, the body experiences changes. The external and internal vaginal region experiences a loss of collagen and elastin which can lead to relaxation of the skin and muscles, causing laxity.
Childbirth can lead to internal and external vaginal laxity, scarring from lacerations, and can cause pain with intercourse. The change in hormone levels from menopause, breast cancer treatments, and breast feeding can lead to vaginal dryness, pain with intercourse, and decreased sensitivity of the internal and external vagina.
Now with Votiva, there is a non-surgical and non-hormonal treatment option that is safe, gentle, and effective
What results can I expect?
The term vaginal rejuvenation broadly refers to treatments designed to help a woman treat a loss in elastin and collagen in the vaginal region as well as dryness or incontinence attributed to vaginal childbirth and aging. The Votiva treatment will target the issue(s) you’ve discussed with your provider. It can help alleviate urinary incontinence, sexual discomfort, vaginal irritation and cosmetic concerns.
Positive outcomes can be felt and seen immediately with continuing effects over the long-term. Patients will notice visible results with the skin tightening and collagen production including fewer wrinkles, less dryness and irritation. Each individual’s results may vary with some reporting improvements the same day and most noticing change by the second treatment. Full benefits may take a few weeks, improvements can continue for up to several months post-treatment and benefits continue over time.
What is the downtime?
Depending on the intensity of the treatment, there is little to no downtime. You will be able to resume your normal activity level immediately. Most patients will be able to resume intercourse in 48 hours.
How many treatments do I need?
While every patient is different, most patients will need 3 treatments, 3 to 6 weeks apart, and some may need maintenance once every year or two. Results can be seen immediately and improvements continue to occur over time.
I am interested—what next?
If you are ready to discuss options, please call our office to set up a consultation. If you are a candidate, your physician will create a treatment plan tailored for you.