Regular gynecologic exams can detect and prevent many types of cancer while they are still curable. It is recommended that all women begin having annual pelvic exams at the age of 21, regardless of sexual history. These well-woman visits to the gynecologist are excellent opportunities to receive counseling about maintaining a healthy lifestyle, as well as information about minimizing health risks.
What to expect during your annual gynecological exam:
- Blood pressure check
- Body mass index (BMI) measurement
- Abdomen and lymph nodes check (generally the glands under arms and groin area)
- Overall health assessment
- External inspection of the area outside the vagina (vulva)
- An internal speculum exam
- A combination internal/external exam called a bimanual examination
Your annual gynecological exam may include a Pap smear (or Pap test), which is generally a quick and painless procedure that is designed to detect cervical dysplasia — precancerous changes in the cervix. When abnormal cells are detected, your doctor has the opportunity to determine why these abnormal changes are occurring and can treat the condition before it turns into cancer.
Depending on the type of abnormal cells found, your doctor may recommend repeating the test in four to six months. Other times, colposcopy may be performed in order to get a better look at the cervix in order to take tissue samples for biopsy.
Pap tests for cervical cancer screening are an especially important part of your gynecological care. Current American Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) guidelines recommend that women have a Pap test every two years starting at age 21. After age 30, you may decrease the frequency to every three years if you’ve had three normal Pap test results in a row and if your immune system has not been weakened by a virus or recent health condition.
Regular preventive care is one of the most important ways to maintain gynecological health over your lifespan. Together, we can promote women’s wellness and help reduce the risks of cervical cancer, one healthy step at a time.
Preparing to become a parent is an incredibly exciting time. From the moment you start trying to conceive through pregnancy and post-partum, your healthcare needs change tremendously, and the Obstetrics and Gynecology Department at North Shore-LIJ is dedicated to providing women with the best practitioners and the most advanced technology available. Supported by our world-class facilities, North Shore-LIJ specialists offer top-notch care for a wide range of issues, including infertility and high-risk pregnancy. Our Center for Human Reproduction, which has helped more than 25,000 babies come into being, offers cutting edge treatments including in vitro fertilization (IVF), egg freezing/fertility preservation, pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), donor egg/sperm, intrauterine implantation, reproductive surgery and much more.
The North Shore-LIJ Obstetrical services are led by a team of well-trained clinicians, including board-certified obstetricians, who guide the woman and her family through each trimester of pregnancy. We have a vast amount of services available, including second and third trimester anatomical assessment, 3-D ultrasound evaluation, fetal doppler velocimetry, fetal echocardiography, chronic villus sampling (CVS), amniocentesis and percutaneous umbilical blood sampling (PUBS). Our Maternal Fetal Medicine team regularly handles high-risk, complex pregnancies and offer extensive pre-conception counseling to women who have existing medical conditions which may include diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and neurological disorders. Our staff is dedicated to providing a family-oriented approach to childbirth and making the transition to your new role as a parent a smooth and joyful experience.
How North Shore-LIJ Can Help
Throughout their lives, women need special care to stay healthy. At North Shore-LIJ, we have specialists in the field of obstetrics and gynecology who offer care in a wide range of issues that affect women of all ages, including infertility, high-risk pregnancy, urological disorders, gynecological cancers and other obstetrical and gynecological conditions. North Shore-LIJ is dedicated to providing women with the best practitioners as well as the most advanced technology in screenings and treatments.