Posts for: September, 2017
Due to the complexities of the female reproductive system, women have health concerns that require regular testing by an Ob/Gyn (obstetrician-gynecologist). The standard gynecological test administered to women in their reproductive years is called a pap smear. Find out why you shouldn't put off getting a pap smear if you're a woman over the age of 21.
What Is a Pap Smear?
A pap smear is an exam that allows your gynecologist to view a sample of cells on your cervix. A tool called a speculum is used to widen the vagina so that a swab of cells can be taken and the cervix can be examined visually. The entire procedure takes about 30 minutes. Women also often opt for STD testing at their pap smear appointments.
Why Pap Smears Are Important
Regular pap smears are important because they allow for early detection of potential problems. One of the most common concerns that gynecologists have for sexually active women is cervical cancer caused by HPV (human papillomavirus). When abnormal cells are checked and caught early, they can be treated with simple procedures to avoid future problems. Cervical cancer is considered very rare now, mostly thanks to regular pap smears, and it is most effectively treated in its early stages. Other concerns, like Bacterial Vaginosis and yeast infections can be diagnosed by a pap smear, and treated with medication.
How Often Should You Schedule a Pap Smear Appointment?
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that regardless of sexual activity, young women should schedule their first pap smear appointment at age 21. After that, pap smears should be scheduled every two years until age 30. After that, pap smear appointment can be scheduled every three years as long as there isn't a problem detected. Women who have abnormal pap smears should take their gynecologist's advice for how often to come in for checkups.
Call Your Ob/Gyn Today
Today is a good day to call your local Ob/Gyn to schedule a pap smear. Don't put off this relatively simple and quick checkup appointment for women as it is an important part of maintaining good gynecological health.
Preconception counseling is an important step in pregnancy planning. When you are ready to have become pregnant, it is a good idea to schedule an appointment with your gynecologist first. There are specific questions your doctor will ask that can help you determine if you are truly ready to get pregnant. If you decide that it is the right time to conceive, your doctor can advise you on what things you can do now to improve your chances of conceiving, as well as how to prepare for pregnancy.
Preconception counseling is an excellent time to discuss any specific concerns you have with your doctor. For instance, having certain health conditions, such as diabetes, can potentially impact your health and the baby’s during pregnancy. Being older when pregnant, particularly in your mid to late 30s or even 40s, poses additional risks as well. There are many factors to take into account when deciding to become pregnant. Your doctor can assess your specific situation and make recommendations to help you have the healthiest pregnancy possible.
During your preconception counseling appointment, your doctor will discuss a variety of concerns with you and your partner, if you have one. Topics of discussion can include:
- Hereditary conditions that might be inherited by the baby
- Health conditions and concerns of the mother-to-be
- Maintaining a balanced and healthy diet
- Safe exercises for pregnancy
- Cessation of tobacco products, alcohol and other drugs
- Important immunizations for both mother and child
- Ways for the partner to be supportive during pregnancy
- Any other concerns the patient, partner or doctor might have
Seeing a doctor regularly throughout pregnancy is always important. It is also just as important to schedule time with your doctor to discuss various concerns before becoming pregnant. Preconception counseling can help you achieve optimal health for you and your baby throughout your pregnancy.