The pap smear is a screening test performed to identify abnormal cells in a woman's cervix that may predispose her to cervical cancer. It can help to identify these abnormalities and allow for early treatment to prevent these cells from progressing to cervical cancer. The underlying cause for cervical pre-cancer/cancer is infection with the Human Papilloma Virus.
Abnormal Uterine Bleeding (AUB)
Your monthly cycle begins with the first day of bleeding and ends with the first day of the next cycle. In most women a cycle is about 28 days with duration of bleeding up to 7 days. AUB is defined as bleeding in any of the following situations: between periods, after sex, bleeding after menopause, menses longer than 35 days between start to start or shorter than 21 days, lack of menses for 3 or more months. Bleeding irregularities can be related to normal life transitions such as puberty and the perimenopause Perimenopausal AUB. But, it can also be associated with serious and sometimes fatal conditions such as: fibroids, endometrial polyps, endometrial hyperplasia, endometrial cancer, and cervical cancer.
Dysmenorrhea (Painful Menses)
The uterus is a muscular organ that contracts when you are on your period. These contractions can in some women produce a cramping pain. There are a number of conditions that can increase the intensity of these symptoms: endometriosis, adenomyosis, and fibroids.
Endometriosis is a condition that involves tissue from the lining of a uterus, the endometrium, growing outside the lining of the uterus, such as in the abdominal cavity, ovary, fallopian tube, or in the bowel/bladder. This tissue is still under the influence of hormones and is stimulated to grow and bleed as it would inside the lining of a uterus. When bleeding occurs inside a person's abdomen it contributes to a significant amount of pain that usually localizes to your menstrual cycle. Normally the lining of a persons' uterus is separate from the outer muscular layer of their uterus. In some women the lining may grow into the muscular layer of the uterus. This is referred to as adenomyosis and it can also contribute to menstrual pain as well as irregular vaginal bleeding.
The uterine wall is a structure comprised of bundles of muscles that provide a variety of functions during a woman's lifespan. Areas of this muscular layer can at times become more responsive to estrogen and become enlarged. These enlarged areas are referred to as fibroids. They can occur in a variety of areas within the uterus and depending upon their locations they can cause a variety of symptoms. Typically they will cause increased pain and discomfort with menses and can also contribute to heavy and prolonged menstrual flow. Fibroids usually occur in women between the ages of 30 to 40-years-old. They are also more common in African American women.
First GYN Exam
The first gynecologic exam can be an emotionally challenging experience. It is recommended that young women have their first exam between the ages of 13 to 15-years-old. The first exam will involve a discussion of your history and may include certain exams (general physical exam and external genital exam). You may require a pelvic exam if you are having bleeding problems, suffering pain, or are sexually active. Sexual activity places you at risks for sexually transmitted diseases that many times do not cause symptoms in women. These infections if left untreated can contribute to sterility/infertility in women.
Human Papilloma Virus
HPV is a viral infection that is passed from person to person by skin-to-skin contact as well as in a sexual way (oral and genital sex). There are more than 100 different types of HPV and some can cause genital warts, cervical cancer and pre-cancer, as well as cancers of the head and neck. This sexually transmitted infection is the primary cause for cervical cancer.
Ovarian Cyst/Pelvic Masses
The ovary is a structure that can develop functional cyst and other benign or malignant growths that may contribute to pelvic pain. There are several things that may be physiologic in origin and may not require any intervention. Other types of lesions may require further evaluation and treatment.
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)/STDs
PID is an infection of the female reproductive system. It is a condition that results from bacteria migrating from your vagina and/or cervix toward your uterus, fallopian tubes or ovaries. It can be asymptomatic in some women and in others mild to severe pain can occur. Some common signs are: foul vaginal discharge, pain or ache in lower abdomen, abnormal menstrual bleeding, fever/chills, nausea/vomiting, and painful intercourse. The most common causes for PID are infections with the sexually transmitted diseases Gonorrhea and Chlamydia. It usually occurs when these as well as other types of bacteria go untreated for several days up to a few weeks.
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
PMS is defined as a recurrent feeling of physical and/or mood changes during the days before a menses. They occur month after month and have a impact upon a woman's normal activity. Common symptoms include: depression, moodiness, irritability, emotional outbursts, crying spells, anxiety, social withdrawal, breast tenderness, headache, swelling of hands and feet, aches and pains, gastrointestinal symptoms, abdominal bloating and pain. There are a number of interventions involving natural supplements, as well as, prescription medications that can help to improve or resolve these symptoms.
Puberty is defined as that time in life when your body is in transition from childhood to adult. It usually occurs between the age of 8 to 13-years-old. It involves hormonal changes that influence both your mental as well as physical character.
Rh factor is a protein found on the surface of red blood cells. It is referred to in the designation of Positive or Negative in a person's blood type. This refers to the presence or absence of this factor. It can cause problems in a pregnant woman who has an Rh Negative blood type if she is carrying an infant who is Rh Positive. Any exchange of blood between a mother and fetus in this situation can result in sensitization and isoimmunization. An Rh Negative mother's immune system has never seen an Rh Positive cell. With an exchange of blood the mother's immune system can be induced to produce antibodies to the Rh Factor. These antibodies can cross the placenta eventually and will attack the fetus' Rh Positive cells creating an anemia and possible death of the fetus. This condition is preventable with the use of Rhogam, which is an antibody that can be administered to a pregnant woman during her pregnancy to prevent this process from occurring.