By scheduling your annual women’s health exam, you’re taking charge of your health. If your OB/GYN finds anything of concern, she or he can address it before it becomes a bigger problem. As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Each stage in a woman’s life presents unique health issues. Our OB/GYN's at New England Women's Healthcare will work with you through every stage. We're here to be lifelong partners in your health care.
What happens during a women’s health exam?
The following are broad outlines of health issues pertinent to you as a woman and how our team can treat those issues.
Breast, pelvic, and rectovaginal exam
Your appointment at New England Women's Healthcare will start with a breast exam. Your physician will consider your family history and your risk factors, along with professional guidelines, to determine when/if it’s time for a mammogram. Mammograms save lives. Discovering breast cancer early rather than at a later stage makes a big difference.
Your OB/GYN will also conduct a pelvic exam, inserting a speculum into your vagina and using a tiny instrument to take a small number of cells from your cervix. The sample is sent to a lab to see if there are any precancerous or cancerous cervical cells. If you do have precancerous cells, your OB/GYN will perform a test called a colposcopy to examine the area. From there, they'll biopsy the abnormal spots. If your cells are precancerous, your OB/GYN can freeze them or surgically remove them.
You’ll also have a rectovaginal exam during which your OB/GYN manually examines your uterus and checks your ovaries and fallopian tubes. The rectal exam checks for tumors near your uterus, vagina, and rectum.
Sexual health counseling, screenings, and contraception
Before you become sexually active for the first time, you should let your OB/GYN know. They can explain different methods of birth control and help you decide on the right method. There are birth control pills, patches, shots, a ring, IUDs, and more.
If you don’t want children for several years, you might consider a different method than if you want to get pregnant in the next six months.
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are more common than you might realize. Be honest with your OB/GYN about your sexual activity. They can help you prevent an STD. Undiagnosed STDs can actually cause infertility. Some STDs don’t present symptoms, so the only way to know is through testing.
Preconception counseling, pregnancy, and childbirth
You may be at a stage in your life where you’re ready to have children. During preconception counseling, your doctor will examine your family history, lifestyle, medical issues, and risk factors. For example, if you smoke or drink alcohol, your physician will explain how these habits can harm your baby and provide tips on how to quit.
You’ll likely have blood tests that check for conditions such as rubella, hepatitis, and HIV. Your physician will examine your cervix and vagina, and you’ll get a Pap smear if you haven’t had one within the recommended timeline.
Pregnancy and childbirth are special times in your life. Your OB/GYN will follow you every step of the way and act as your partner in bringing your baby safely into the world.
Menopause and beyond
Menopause, or the cessation of your menstrual period, normally occurs in your early 50s. Several years prior, your body’s in a stage called perimenopause. You may experience symptoms that disrupt your life, such as hot flashes, insomnia, and vaginal dryness that can impact your sex life and intimacy with your partner. Your OB/GYN will help you manage these symptoms so your entrance to menopause is as smooth as possible.
This is the age when risk factors for heart disease increase, so your doctor will monitor your blood pressure, make appropriate recommendations, and refer you to specialists if needed. You’ll also receive a referral for a bone density test to see if you’re at risk for osteoporosis.
Call or book an appointment online with New England Women’s Healthcare for outstanding and compassionate treatment.