Pap smears allow us to look for abnormal cells on the cervix so we can catch and treat them before they become cancerous. A speculum, which is a smooth, duck-bill shaped instrument, is gently introduced into the vagina and gradually opened to allow your doctor to see your cervix. Cervical cells are obtained with a special, soft instrument. The pap smear is a useful procedure for identifying the human papillomavirus (HPV), which can be found even in women who have had the HPV vaccine. Some women with HPV have no symptoms and heal naturally, while others might develop abnormal and/or precancerous cells on the cervix. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends that women have their first pap smear at age 21. The frequency of future pap smears depends on the results.
A pelvic exam involves looking, palpating (feeling) and obtaining a few cells from your pelvis to check for abnormal growth on the outside and inside. These growths may appear on the vulva (vaginal lips), inside the vagina, or on the cervix, uterus or ovaries. We look for warts, abnormal/precancerous cells on the cervix, masses such as uterine fibroids and enlarged ovaries. We also conduct pelvic exams to check for infections or to evaluate pain. Pelvic exams do not always include a pap smear.
During a breast exam, your doctor feels the tissue of the breasts and checks for any lumps or abnormalities that could be breast cancer. There is controversy about whether or not women should do self breast exams. Certainly, many women find their own breast cancer. If you do them at home, examine your breasts during the week after your period when your breasts are the least dense. After age 35 or 40, women should also have an annual mammogram which can detect tumors before they are big enough to be felt. Learn more about breast cancer detection from the American Cancer Society. We are proud to offer state of the art mammography at our Atlanta Women’s Healthcare Specialists Imaging Center which is conveniently located in the same building as our Buckhead office.
Birth control refers to the ability to prevent pregnancy. There are many methods available, but none is 100% successful. Talk to your doctor about which method will work best with your medical concerns and lifestyle. Options include:
- Barrier methods that block the egg and sperm from meeting. These include condoms and diaphragms.
- Hormonal methods that prevent women from ovulating or releasing an egg. They may also change the cervical mucus so that the sperm cannot swim into the uterus. Examples include birth control pills, the vaginal ring, hormonal patches, injections, implants and intrauterine devices (IUD).
- Non-hormonal methods not listed above include permanent contraception (blocking the fallopian tubes), and natural family planning, which is timing intercourse to coincide with the least fertile time of your menstrual cycle.
- Tubal Ligation
Contraception only works when you use it, so it is important to talk to your doctor about what will work best for you.
- Flu Shots
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Gardasil HPV Vaccine
Treatment for Common Female Health Issues
- Pelvic Pain
- Ovarian Cysts
- Irregular Bleeding
Every woman experiences menopause differently, but officially, you are in menopause when you haven’t had a period for a year. The average age of menopause is 51, although many women experience symptoms like irregular periods or difficulty sleeping well before their periods actually stop. Blood testing of hormone levels may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis, but often menopause is obvious without blood tests. If you are having hot flashes, vaginal dryness, difficulty sleeping and haven’t had a period in several months, you are probably in menopause. A healthy diet and exercise can help ease the symptoms. You may be interested in hormone supplements or other methods to deal with the symptoms of menopause. Talk to your doctor about what options are right for you. Our services include:
- Symptom Management
- Osteoporosis Screening
- Bone Density Screenings
- Hormone Therapy
- Dietary Recommendations
- Pelvic Floor Muscle Therapy
- Surgical Options
- Family History Screenings
- Bone Density