“Health is wealth,” they say. Yet, with the world moving so fast around us, too many women still tend to prioritize work over their health. To live a longer, happier life, you need to make time for yourself.
If you’re not sure where to begin, here are the top 10 questions women have that are important to their health. These are great conversation starters for when you meet with your primary care provider and can get you started on living a healthier life.
What should I expect in a pelvic examination?
A pelvic examination is a brief exam that looks at female reproductive organs. Your doctor will use a speculum, which is inserted into the vagina, to look for abnormalities in the vagina and cervix and take tissue samples, if needed. Your doctor may also manually feel the area to detect any obvious issues.
This type of exam may be used to check for infections, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and abnormal cell growth. A pelvic examination is usually done by a gynecologist or any healthcare professional specializing in women’s health.
It is recommended that all women from puberty on have an annual pelvic exam. It is also an excellent time to consult your doctor about birth control methods, menstruation issues or concerns, and other related matters. A pelvic exam may or may not include a Pap smear.
What is a Pap smear, and how often should I get one?
A Pap smear is a specific type of screening that is conducted during a pelvic exam. Tissue samples taken during the pelvic exam are sent to a lab to determine if there are cancerous cells in the cervix.
Ask your primary care provider what Pap smear schedule is appropriate for you. The following are recommendations by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists as to how often women should have a Pap smear:
- Under 30 – once every three years
- Under 65 – once every five years
- Over 65 – not necessary unless you have a recent history of abnormal test results
How important are breast exams?
A breast examination is necessary to detect early signs of breast cancer and treat them as soon as possible before it gets worse. Breast examinations include self-examinations, clinical exams, and mammograms.
Do contraceptives work?
Contraceptives can reduce the risk of pregnancy. There are a variety of birth control methods available, and you may have to use more than one form to ensure its effectiveness.
1. Behavioral Method
Avoiding sexual intercourse during days when a woman is fertile is one of the ways to guarantee unwanted pregnancy. You may use charts or other awareness-based methods to track this.
2. Over-the-Counter Products
The most common of these are condoms. Aside from preventing unwanted pregnancies, condoms can also prevent the spread of STDs. Another over-the-counter product is the contraceptive sponge. It is moistened with water and put inside the vagina. The sponge helps block semen as it releases spermicide.
3. Prescription Products
Birth control pills are one of the most popular prescription products. These contain hormones that inhibit your natural hormonal cycle and prevent pregnancy. Other prescription products include intrauterine devices (IUD) and hormone pellets that are placed under the skin.
4. Permanent Procedures
Tubal ligation involves surgically closing or removing the fallopian tubes, preventing an egg from coming into contact with sperm. While reversible, it is a complicated process and does not guarantee you will be fertile again.
How do I deal with menopause?
During menopause, your hormones change, and your period stops. Menopause is a natural part of the aging process and begins at about age 50. Symptoms of menopause include insomnia, mood swings, hot flashes, and night sweats. To lessen the severity of your symptoms, you should be sure to get regular exercise and eat a balanced diet. Your doctor may have additional options to deal with menopause symptoms.
How do I treat painful menstrual cramps?
How to best treating menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea) varies for every individual. There are self-care measures you can take, such as using a heating pad, exercising, and resting as much as you can. Over-the-counter painkillers like ibuprofen or naproxen may also help relieve your symptoms.
What is menorrhagia?
Menorrhagia is the medical term for excessive or heavy bleeding, which may last up to seven days. A common cause of menorrhagia is hormonal imbalance. A woman with menorrhagia may soak a tampon within 30 minutes of inserting it. If this continues to happen, it can lead to anemia. Your healthcare provider may recommend nonsteroidal inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and other medications. There are also surgical procedures that can help more serious cases.
What is metrorrhagia?
Metrorrhagia is abnormal bleeding that occurs between periods or is not associated with menstruation. Some common causes include hormonal imbalance, infection, abnormal cell growth, or complications of pregnancy. Your treatments will depend on the cause of your symptoms. Your provider may recommend medications or surgery.
What if I miss a period?
A missed period – or amenorrhea, if you’ve missed at least three periods in a row – is considered a symptom, not a disease. However, not all missed periods means that you are sick. Sometimes this is due to stress and fatigue. Treatments for a missed period will depend on the cause, and these may include lifestyle changes. Women who are diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome may be treated with oral contraceptives.
How can I address osteoporosis symptoms?
Osteoporosis causes bone loss and a higher risk of bone fracture. It is more common in older women because as you grow older, bone production decreases, resulting in reduced bone mass. Doctors recommend maintaining a healthy lifestyle with exercise and a high-calcium diet.
Quality Primary Care for Women
Despite our busy schedules, women should still remember to take care of their health. Here at Carrus Care Clinic, we provide quality women’s health care. Part of our plan is to help keep our patients happy and healthy for life. Our clinic is located in Atoka, Oklahoma. You may call us at (580) 364-8205, or you may request an appointment now. We also accept walk-in patients!