Routine & Preventative Women's Health Care
The female reproductive system is complicated. That's why checking in on it on a regular basis is so important. Even if she is not experiencing symptoms, a woman needs to have a doctor examine her reproductive system on a regular basis. Examples of necessary exams include an annual pelvic and breast exam, regular PAP smears, and more. And when needed, women's health screenings may also include a mammogram, testing for HPV, STI screening, and so on.
At Somerset Gynecology and Obstetrics, we offer all of these services and more, allowing you to take control of your health. We encourage every woman to visit us annually, and to use these visits as an opportunity to discuss your family planning needs, menstrual comfort, and more! Schedule your appointment online or call us at (248) 816-9200.
FAQs on Routine Women’s Health Exam:
What Routine Care Services Does Somerset Gynecology & Obstetrics Offer?
Our practice offers routine annual exams, pap smears, and health maintenance services to our patients.
What Happens During Routine Annual Wellness Exams?
Annual exams allow your gynecologist to check in on the state of your body and reproductive health overall. Every woman’s health needs are different, so your specific annual exam process will be dependent on your age, sexual history, and medical history. Women should start receiving annual exams between the ages of 18 and 21, or when they become sexually active. Note that these exams are sometimes referred to as well-woman visits, gynecological exams, or pelvic exams. If you hear these terms, they refer to the same procedure as Somerset’s annual exam.
Exams conducted during a visit can include all or a combination of the following:
- Urine Sample: Urine samples are used to check for kidney health, various infections, and pregnancy.
- Pelvic exams: A physical examination of the external and internal female pelvic organs. During a pelvic exam, your doctor will tell you exactly what they are doing, to help you avoid discomfort and uneasiness.
- STI testing: Testing for common sexually transmitted infections (i.e. chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes, HIV/AIDS).
- Pap tests: Also known as a pap smear, this test involves the collection of cervical cells to check for abnormalities that may be indicative of cervical cancer.
- Breast examinations: A hands-on exam that allows your doctor to detect a lump in your breast, as well as other changes that might require more testing.
Note that some tests and exams may not be performed at every annual exam; for example, younger women tend to only need a Pap smear every three years. Additional tests and mammogram screenings may also be recommended as patients age. If you have questions about what testing you are due for presently or in the next few years, do not hesitate to bring them up with your doctor.
What Can I Do to Prepare for My Annual Exam?
There are a couple of best practices that you can follow to help your exam run as smoothly as possible:
- We recommend scheduling an appointment between menstrual periods, to ensure testing and physical exams have minimal external interference.
- We ask that patients not have vaginal intercourse or insert anything into their vagina, including douches or vaginal products, for at least 24 hours before their exam. These activities may irritate vaginal tissue and increase the chance of incorrect Pap test results.
- We ask that patients be ready to answer their doctors’ questions. Patients should also bring questions of their own should they have concerns they want to discuss with their doctor.
What Sorts of Questions Will I Need To Answer?
While testing is an important part of an annual exam, information about your medical history is just as important to us. Patients visiting us should be able to answer questions about:
- Menstrual Cycles: Changes in a woman's period can be indicative of health issues. We ask that patients know when their last period was, how long their bleeding typically lasts, and how often they have periods. We also ask that you report any changes in your menstrual history to us.
- Spotting & Discharge: If you experience spotting between periods, we want to know about it. You should also bring up any unusual pain, itching, or discharge from your vagina or vulva.
- Sexual Activity: While talking about sex can be embarrassing, it’s important to be open and active about your sexual activities (and safe sex practices) with your doctor. Different activities can raise your risk for different problems, and an accurate history can help us provide any testing and care you may need.
- Pain: Do you experience pain during sex? What about abnormally painful periods? Pain of any sort related to your reproductive system needs to be reported to your doctor.
- Family Planning: Some women want to start a family during their lifetime. Others don’t. Either way, talk about your family plan needs with your doctor - they can make age-based recommendations to help you reach either goal!
- General Medical Health: If you have any other medical conditions (i.e. illnesses or infections), or if there is a history of a disease in your family, we want to know about it, just in case they can affect your reproductive health. You may also be asked about alcohol or other drug use, allergies, smoking, and any recent surgeries. All these things can affect your reproductive health.
What Sorts of Questions Should I Ask?
Your annual exam is the perfect time for you to ask about any changes you've experienced with your reproductive health and/or sexual health needs. This can include:
- Starting, changing your type of, or ending birth control use
- Changes in vaginal discharge or smell
- Irregular periods, spotting, or non-menstrual vaginal bleeding
- Pelvic pain (generalized or during/after sex)
- Testing for sexually transmitted infections
- Family planning needs and goals
How Do Health Maintenance Services Connect to My Reproductive Health?
Women's health maintenance is the underlying goal of all of our services. This service focuses on disease prevention and health promotion in general. Individual women will receive specific services and care as needed. The following are all examples of health maintenance services in action:
- Blood pressure and weight measurements will be used to make recommendations to women regarding their general wellness and reproductive health.
- Premenopausal women will receive preconception counseling or contraception to meet their long-term family planning goals.
- Women planning on beginning a family will receive nutritional recommendations to support their fertility.
- High-risk sexually active women will be counseled on reducing the risk of sexually transmitted infections
Somerset Gynecology & Obstetrics is committed to a personalized women’s health experience. Our team, our services, and our tools combine to create a diverse and well-rounded work environment - with you and your health at the central focus of it all!