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.
Treating Irregular Periods
Irregular periods are common when you first start menstruating. It’s common for them to be early or late, but as you get older, your menstrual cycle should become more regular, with the average length of the cycle lasting 28 days.
You have chronic irregular periods if:
- The length of your menstrual cycle keeps changing
- Your periods are coming early or late
- You experience severe abdominal pain and very heavy bleeding during your period
There are many causes of irregular periods, including:
- Puberty, pregnancy, or menopause
- Contraceptive measures including the pill or intrauterine device
- Extreme weight fluctuations, excessive exercise, or stress
- Medical conditions including thyroid issues, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, or polycystic ovary syndrome
You should see a doctor if:
- Your periods are suddenly irregular and you are under age 45
- Your periods are more frequent than 21 days
- Your periods are less frequent than 35 days
- Your periods last longer than 7 days
- You have severe abdominal pain and heavy bleeding with your periods
- You are trying to have a baby, but you have irregular periods
There are several ways to treat irregular menstruation. The first step is determining what is causing it. If it is due to a medical issue like thyroid problems, medication or treatment of the underlying condition is vital. Additional treatment measures include:
- Losing weight, if irregular menstruation is due to being overweight
- Hormonal therapies, including birth control to regulate menstruation
- Surgical therapy, if irregular menstruation is due to uterine fibroids or other structural issue.
There is also a 5-year intrauterine device known as Mirena, which can lessen bleeding. It also works as a contraceptive. Your doctor can help you decide which treatment option is best for you.
Irregular menstruation may be self-limiting, but it may go on for months or years. It can affect your life, especially if you are trying to get pregnant. It can also be a sign of a serious underlying condition. It’s important to seek out your doctor to find the cause, protect your health, and give you peace-of-mind.
Bladder infections have a way of making themselves known. You may be making multiple trips to the bathroom, feeling like you constantly have to go again. But once you’re in there, you may feel burning or stinging every time you pee. That’s the most distinct sign of a bladder infection.
What is a bladder infection?
A bladder infection is a type of urinary tract infection or UTI. This is an infection anywhere in the urinary tract, like the bladder, kidneys, or urethra. Usually, bladder infections are acute, which means that they occur suddenly. They can sometimes be chronic, which means that they recur over a long term.
Bladder infections are caused by bacteria that enter through the urethra and move into the bladder. Normally, the body can remove the bacteria by flushing them out during urination. However, bacteria can sometimes attach to the walls of the bladder and multiply quickly. Infections can occur when bacteria from the stool get onto the skin and enter the urethra. This is common with women since the urethra is short and the outer opening isn’t far from the anus.
Symptoms of Bladder Infections
The symptoms of a bladder infection may vary between people, depending on the severity of the infection. Some common symptoms include:
- Pain or burning while urinating
- Cloudy or bloody urine
- Frequent urination
- Foul-smelling urine
- Cramping in the lower abdomen or lower back
Treating and Preventing Bladder Infections
Bladder infections are treated with antibiotics to kill the bacteria causing the bladder infection. Your doctor may prescribe medication to help relieve the symptoms associated with the bladder infection.
There are many things that you can do in order to prevent bladder infections, such as:
- Drink six to eight glasses of water daily
- Drink cranberry juice daily
- Urinate as soon as you feel the need, don’t hold it
- Take showers instead of baths
- Wear cotton underwear and loose-fitting clothes
- Avoid using a diaphragm or spermicide
See Your Doctor Today
Don’t live with the pain of a bladder infection any longer. Call your doctor today to schedule an appointment or ask any questions about bladder infections!
Why Would a Hysterectomy Be Necessary?
Do you need a hysterectomy? Hysterectomy is the second most common surgery among women in America. A hysterectomy is a surgical operation to remove a woman's womb, or uterus. The uterus is where a fetus develops when a woman is pregnant. Women undergo a hysterectomy for different reasons. Read on to learn about the conditions that may be treated by hysterectomy.
Cancer- You have invasive cancer of the cervix, uterus, vagina, fallopian tubes, or ovaries. Hysterectomy is often medically necessary and lifesaving when patients are diagnosed with invasive cancer. The procedure may involve removing the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries. The type of hysterectomy performed depends on your situation.
Uterine Fibroids- Uterine fibroids are treated by a hysterectomy. Uterine fibroids are benign growths in the uterine wall. In some women, they can cause long-term heavy bleeding and pain. Your doctor may try other procedures, like endometrial ablation or myomectomy, before a hysterectomy.
Heavy Periods- Infection, changes in hormone levels, or cancer can cause heavy periods. Some women lose a large amount of blood during their periods. They may also experience other symptoms, such as stomach cramps and pain. For some patients, the symptoms can have a significant impact on their quality of life. In some cases, removing the uterus may be the only way of stopping heavy or prolonged vaginal bleeding.
Uterine Prolapse- Uterine prolapse, which is a sliding of the uterus from its position into the vaginal canal. If uterine prolapse is severe, your OBGYN might recommend a hysterectomy. Talk with your healthcare provider about all your treatment options to be sure you understand the benefits and risks of each so that you can choose what's best for you.
Endometriosis- Endometriosis occurs when the tissue that lines the uterus grows on other pelvic organs, such as the ovaries. This can cause bleeding between periods and severe pain. While there's no cure for endometriosis, many women undergo a hysterectomy to alleviate intolerable symptoms of the disease.
Today, thanks to advances in technology, a hysterectomy is much less invasive which means a faster recovery time. Talk to your healthcare provider about how a hysterectomy might improve your symptoms. Hysterectomy has improved the lives of millions of people. And it can do the same for you.
The Importance of a Pap Smear
A pap smear, also known as a Pap test or cervical smear, is a routine procedure done at your gynecologist’s office to detect any irregularities in and on the cervix. The name comes from an abbreviation of the inventor’s name, Greek doctor Georgios Papanikolaou, and this test has been performed since 1923. It is currently the most common form of cervical screening in the United States.
What Are Pap Smears?
Pap smears are procedures done in-office and are performed by a doctor on an exam table. The vaginal opening is expanded with a tool called a speculum, and cells are then collected from the outside of the cervix using a tool called a spatula, which is very different from the one you may have in your kitchen. This procedure only takes a few minutes, and is very important for female health. Some patients report mild cramping during or immediately after the test, but it is usually very brief.
The collected cells are transferred to a glass slide and are examined under a microscope. The reason for this test is to identify any pre-cancerous conditions, most of which are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). These results can usually be used to diagnose other cervical problems and can take a week or two to come back.
A Pap smear is recommended for women to get every three years starting at age 21 until 65, barring any pre-existing conditions or any atypical results; those cases may call for more frequent testing. Regular Pap smears can reduce fatalities caused by cervical cancer very significantly, granted that patients with abnormal results follow their doctors’ treatment recommendations.
Be sure to stay up to date with your Pap smears and call your gynecologist with any questions!
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