Women spend over one-third of their lives in the childbearing years, when they not only have to think about their own health but also the health of the precious lives they bring into this world and nurture with their love. There are many exciting challenges and wonderful experiences throughout these years. 

Healthy living by women in their reproductive years can set a foundation for good maternal and infant health. Elements for a healthy life include healthy diet, regular exercise, adequate rest, avoiding obesity, avoiding tobacco or drug use, minimizing use of alcohol, and recognizing and seeking help with mental health or abusive relationships. Women may also lengthen their lives through regular screening for cancer and other illnesses. Women can promote their well-being and avoid unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. Healthy habits through the childbearing years improve birth outcomes, and life-long health.

Gynecological Health

Being proactive about your health is important. Many problems that affect women cannot be detected without thorough periodic examinations by a health care professional. Whether you are sexually active or not, good gynecological care can prevent illness and discomfort.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends annual exams for every woman age 18 years and older. The gynecologic exam allows a health care provider to assess normal development of reproductive organs and screen for certain health problems. It also provides an opportunity to talk with a clinician about any sexual health concerns. This may include menstrual health, pregnancy prevention, concerns about sexually transmitted diseases, or menopausal concerns.

Yearly Exam

A yearly gynecology exam is important for women of all ages. At an annual appointment, a physical exam is performed assessing your heart, lungs, breasts, abdomen and pelvic anatomy. It is also a perfect time to touch base on special individual needs of women in different age groups and/or with a family history of specific illnesses.

During the women's health exam, the physician or advanced practitioner (nurse practitioner, midwife, physicians assistant) will:

  • review your past medical history and surgeries, medications, concerns and medical problems you may be having.
  • assess your blood pressure, height, weight and body mass index
  • discuss the importance of pap smears, screenings for sexually transmitted diseases, self breast exams, mammograms, colonoscopy screenings, immunizations, heart health, bone health
  • discuss practicing good health habits such as eating a well balanced diet, incorporating exercise into your daily life style and being pro-active about your health care in years to come 

Pap Smears

The Pap smear is a screening test for detecting cancerous or precancerous changes of the cervix. The test was developed by Dr. George Papanicolaou in the 1940’s. Since its introduction over 50 years ago, a woman’s chance of dying from cancer of the cervix has decreased by over 75%. This makes the Pap smear one of the most effective cancer screening tests ever invented.

The cervix is the opening of the uterus (or womb). It is covered with a thin layer of tissue that is similar to skin; and just like the skin on your body, the cells that make up this tissue are constantly being shed to make room for the newer, healthier cells. It is these cells which have shed that are collected during the Pap smear and viewed under a microscope for abnormalities.

It is important to remember that although the Pap is a screening test for cancer of the cervix, cancer is not usually the cause of most abnormal smears. Before cervical cancer develops, there are usually several stages of abnormal cells called "dysplasia" (also known as "cervical intraepithelial neoplasia" or CIN). CIN changes take several years to develop and progress, which is why the Pap smear is so effective. When these abnormal cells are found, they can often be treated with procedures in your doctor's office which avoids hospitalization. Keep in mind that like any screening test, 10-20% of the time, a normal Pap result could be a "false-negative". This means that a normal result is reported even though abnormal cells are present. This reinforces the need for repeating Pap smears on a regular basis, which in the long run will cut down on the false-negative results.

Testing for the Human Papiloma Virus (HPV) has now become a routine part of Pap smear screening. Two types of HPV exist; low and high risk. It is the high risk subtypes which have been found to cause cervical dysplasia and cancer. Knowing that high risk HPV must be present in cervical cells to develop cancer and the ability to test for it, has allowed your physician to decrease how often a Pap smear must be performed.

Many women will be used to having Pap smears done yearly. Recommendations have changed and now allow Pap smear screening to be done every 3 years for women 21-29 and 5 years for women 30 years or older. The test for high risk HPV will now routinely be added for women 30 years and older as well as selectively for women 21-29.

If you have an abnormal Pap smear result, don’t panic. There is very low probability of finding invasive cancer, in fact most of the time only dysplasia (CIN) or nothing at all will be found. Your doctor will recommend what further action needs to be taken. Usually this will either be a repeat of the Pap smear in several months or a colposcopy.

Colposcopy means that your doctor will use an in-office magnification system to closely inspect your cervix and possibly to take a biopsy. If at any point in this process you are uncertain about the nature of your treatment, please discuss it further with your physician.

Recommendations for when to repeat a Pap smear after an abnormal result will very. Please follow your physician's individual recommendations closely.

Vaccinations

What is GARDASIL?

GARDASIL is a cervical cancer vaccine that helps protect against 4 types of human papillomavirus (HPV): 2 types that cause 70% of cervical cancer cases, and 2 more types that cause 90% of genital warts cases. The duration of protection of GARDASIL has not been established. GARDASIL is given in 3 doses over 6 months.

Who should be vaccinated with GARDASIL?

GARDASIL is for girls and young women ages 9 to 26. Vaccination is recommended for girls as young as 9 because GARDASIL works when given before there is any contact with HPV Types 6, 11, 16, and 18.

If you're already sexually active, you may still benefit from GARDASIL. That's because even if you have been exposed to HPV, it's unlikely that you have been exposed to all the types of the virus covered by this cervical cancer vaccine. That means GARDASIL could still help guard you against HPV types you haven't been exposed to.

What are the possible GARDASIL side effects?

The most common GARDASIL side effects are:

  • pain, swelling, itching, bruising, and redness at the injection site
  • headache
  • fever
  • nausea
  • dizziness
  • vomiting
  • fainting

Sometimes fainting is accompanied by falling with injury, as well as shaking or stiffening and other seizure-like activity.

Tell your health care professional if you have any of the following problems because these may be signs of an allergic reaction:

  • difficulty breathing
  • wheezing (bronchospasm)
  • hives
  • rash

Tell your health care professional if you have:

  • swollen glands (neck, armpit, or groin)
  • joint pain
  • unusual tiredness or weakness
  • generally feeling unwell
  • leg pain
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain
  • aching muscles
  • muscle weakness
  • seizure
  • bad stomach ache

Who should not get GARDASIL?

You should not get GARDASIL if you have, or have had:

  • an allergic reaction after getting a dose of GARDASIL.
  • a severe allergic reaction to yeast, amorphous aluminum hydroxyphosphate sulfate, polysorbate 80.
     

Tell your health care provider if you:

  • are pregnant or planning to get pregnant. GARDASIL is not recommended for use in pregnant women.
  • have immune problems, like HIV infection, cancer, or you take medicines that affect your immune system.
  • have a fever over 100°F (37.8°C).
  • had an allergic reaction to another dose of GARDASIL.

Your doctor or health care professional will help you decide if you should get the vaccine.

Related Resources

Sexual Health

You often hear about the importance of physical health, mental health and spiritual health, but feeling confident about your sexual health also is very important. Achieving sexual health allows for healthy relationships, planned pregnancies, and disease prevention.

Getting answers about your sexual health is important. If you have questions about women's sexual health, talk openly with your health care provider. There's no reason to be embarrassed about sexual problems. Your doctor can effectively treat a wide variety of sexual problems, including genital herpes, HPV, HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). He or she can also discuss sexual changes that may occur due to other health conditions or menopause.

Safe sex means taking steps before and during that can prevent you from getting an infection, or from giving one to your partner.

Safe Sex

What is “safe” sex?

The only safe sex is no sex. Abstinence may be the only true form of “safe” sex, as all forms of sexual contact carry some risk. Abstinence is a personal decision to refrain from all sexual intercourse: vaginal, anal, or oral. It is possible to get a STD even without having intercourse through skin-to-skin contact. However, certain precautions and safe behaviors can minimize a person’s risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease (STD) and preventing an unwanted pregnancy. 

Some misconceptions about “safe” sex:

  • Kissing is thought to be a safe activity, but herpes and other diseases can be contracted this way.
  • Condoms are commonly thought to protect against STDs. However, while it is true that condoms are useful in preventing certain diseases, such as herpes and gonorrhea, they may not fully protect against other diseases such as genital warts, syphilis or AIDS.

Guidelines for safer sex:

  • Limit your sexual activity to one partner who is having sex with only you. The more partners you or your partners have the higher your risk of getting an STD.
  • Think twice before beginning sexual relations with a new partner. First, discuss past partners, history of STDs, and drug use.
  • Use a latex or polyurethane condom every time you have intercourse to decrease the chances of infection. Male and female condoms are available. 
  • Have an appointment with your healthcare provider and screening for STDs as recommended.
  • Check your body frequently for signs of a sore, rash or discharge.
  • Get immunized-Vaccinations are available that will help prevent hepatitis B and human papillomavirus (HPV).
  • Stay sober. Alcohol and drugs impair your judgment. When you are not sober, you might not choose your partner as carefully. You may also forget to use condoms, or use them incorrectly.

Related Resources

Birth Control

What is birth control?

Birth control refers to any activity, medication, or equipment used to prevent pregnancy. There are many types of birth control available for women who do not wish to become pregnant. The decision on which method is right for you should be made with your health care provider, as well as with your partner.

Birth control methods work in different ways to prevent pregnancy, including:

  • Creating a barrier that blocks sperm from reaching the egg
  • Killing sperm
  • Preventing eggs from being released by the ovaries
  • Changing the cervical mucus to hinder sperm from moving into the uterus
  • Altering the tissue lining the uterus so that a fertilized egg cannot implant

What are the different types of birth control?

Some methods that do not require a prescription from your health care provider include:

  • Abstinence: Not having sexual intercourse.
  • Spermicides: Foams or creams placed inside the vagina to kill sperm; these may also provide some protection against sexually transmitted diseases, especially when used with a latex condom.
  • Male condom: A thin tube made of latex or a natural material that is placed over the penis. The sperm is collected in the end of the condom. Latex condoms may provide some protection against sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Female condom: A liner made of latex or natural material that is placed inside the vagina. Latex condoms may provide some protection against sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Natural family planning: Timing intercourse to avoid "fertile" days using various methods of monitoring body temperature, watching for changes in cervical mucus, and the use of ovulation prediction kits. This method, often known as the "rhythm" method, has a high risk for pregnancy.

Some methods that require a visit to your health care provider for an examination and a prescription include: 

  • Mini-pill: Unlike the traditional birth control pill, the mini-pill has only one hormone, progestin. Taken daily, the mini-pill thickens cervical mucus and prevents the sperm from reaching the egg. The mini-pill also can decrease the flow of your period and protect against pelvic inflammatory disease and ovarian and endometrial cancer.
  • Implanted Devices: A capsule containing the synthetic hormone etonogestrel, implanted under the skin in the upper arm of a woman, which continuously prevents the ovaries from releasing an egg for up to three years. A local anesthetic is required for insertion and removal of this type of birth control.
  • Injections: A progesterone-like drug given by injection to prevent pregnancy by stopping ovulation. The effects last for about three months and another injection must be given to continue birth control effectiveness.
  • Hormone Patches: This is a skin patch worn on the body that releases the hormones estrogen and progestin into the bloodstream. It is most effective in women who weigh less than 200 pounds.
  • Diaphragm or Cervical Cap: A dome-shaped rubber cup with a flexible rim that is inserted through the vagina to cover the cervix. This type of birth control must be inserted prior to having sexual intercourse.
  • Hormonal vaginal contraceptive ring: A ring that is placed inside the vagina around the cervix. The ring releases the hormones estrogen and progestin.
  • Intrauterine Device (IUD): An IUD is an intrauterine device that is a reversible form of contraception. The IUD works by thickening cervical mucus to make it difficult for sperm to enter the cervix or by preventing the fertilized egg from attaching to the wall of the uterus. It is a small T-shaped device that is placed through the cervix into the uterus during an office exam. The procedure takes only a few minutes. A small string at the end of the IUD hangs down through the cervix into the vagina. You can check that the IUD is in place by feeling for the string. The string is also used by your doctor to remove the IUD. It is not felt during everyday activity or by a partner.
     

    This birth control method provides either 5 or 10 years of contraception depending on the device used. It is 99% effective. It may be used in women who have had children and also those who have not. Both types of IUDs prevent fertilization of the egg by damaging or killing sperm. It also effects the uterine lining (where a fertilized egg would implant and grow).

    There are two types of IUDs:

    • The Copper IUD - The copper IUD, Paragard, contains copper which kills sperm. It can stay in place for up to 10 years. Periods may be heavier or slightly longer with the use of Paragard.

    • The Hormonal IUD - The hormonal IUD, such as Mirena and Skyla, releases progesterone. This thins the uterine lining and helps make periods lighter with less cramping. The hormonal IUD appears to be slightly more effective at preventing pregnancy than the copper IUD. The hormonal IUD is effective for 3-5 years.

Surgery that results in the inability to become pregnant includes:

  • Hysterectomy: Removal of the uterus and usually the ovaries and fallopian tube. This is a permanent form of birth control.
  • Tubal ligation or tubal occlusion ("tying the tubes"): Surgery to cut, cauterize, or band the fallopian tubes to prevent the egg from being transported to the uterus. Tubal ligation is designed to be a permanent method of birth control. Although certain types of tubal ligations can be reversed, the reversal procedure may not be successful.
  • Tubal sterilization - Essure system: This permanent form of birth control can be done as an outpatient procedure without a surgical incision. During the procedure, a thin tube is used to thread a tiny, springlike device through the vagina to the uterus into each fallopian tube. A material in the device causes scar tissue to develop and permanently plug the tubes after about three months. Other forms of birth control must be used during that time and an X-ray or ultrasound must be done to confirm that the tubes are blocked 
  • Vasectomy: Cutting or clamping the vas deferens, the tubes that carry the sperm from the testes. The testes still produce sperm, but the sperm die and are absorbed by the body. This is a permanent male birth control measure.

Methods that have been suggested as preventive, but may actually present a high risk for pregnancy include:

  • Withdrawal before ejaculation
  • Sexual intercourse during menstruation
  • Standing up immediately after sexual intercourse

Related Resources

Vaginal Infections/STDs

Vaginal Infections

Bacterial Vaginosis

What is bacterial vaginosis?

A bacterial infection is caused by an overgrowth of certain types of bacteria that normally live in the vagina. The normal environment of the vagina may get out of balance and the infection cause bacteria to multiply faster than they normally would while other types of bacteria that normally keep them in check do not.

What are the symptoms of a bacterial infection?

The most common symptoms are an increased vaginal discharge with a strong fishy odor. The discharge is usually thin and dull or dark gray but may have a greenish color.

What may increase my risk of getting a bacterial infection?

The balance and acidity level of the vagina can be changed by many things. Douching, sexual activity, and even pregnancy may increase the occurrence of infection for some women but often a particular cause cannot be determined.

What medication will I receive if I have bacterial vaginosis?

Bacterial infections can be treated by antibiotic medications placed in the vagina or by taking medications by mouth. It is very important that you use these medications for the entire time the physician recommends.

Metrogel (metronidazole gel) and Cleocin (clindamycin cream or ovules) are inserted into the vagina at night using an applicator. These are not often used during pregnancy since they have not been found to be as effective in treating the infection during that time. The length of time these medications are used vary depending on what medication is prescribed.

Antibiotics taken by mouth, such as Flagyl (metronidazole tablets) or clindamycin, are usually taken twice a day for seven days. Many women find oral medication more convenient but while taking Flagyl (metronidazole) you should not consume alcohol. Drinking alcohol while taking this medication often results in severe vomiting.

It is common to delay giving oral antibiotics for bacterial infection to pregnant women until after the first trimester unless symptoms are bothersome. This allows the doctor to use the most effective treatment. Safe treatment is available during the first part of pregnancy but may not be as effective in curing the infection.

If you still have symptoms several days after finishing the treatment recommended by your doctor it is important to call and let them know.

Do I need to see the doctor anytime I have a bacterial infection?

There are no over the counter medications currently available to treat bacterial infections. In order to be sure that the symptoms you are having are from a bacterial infection and should be treated with antibiotics the doctor or other healthcare provider must examine you and collect a sample for testing by the laboratory.

Yeast Infections

What is yeast infection?

A yeast infection is usually caused by a fungus called Candida. A small amount of yeast and bacteria are normally present in the vagina. The bacteria and yeast sometimes get out of balance and the yeast overgrows.

What are the symptoms of a yeast infection?

The most common symptoms are itching and burning in the area around the opening of the vagina. This area may become red and swollen. Vaginal discharge is usually white and lumpy but does not have a strong odor.

What may increase my risk of getting a yeast infection?

The balance between yeast and bacteria can be changed by many things. Taking some types of antibiotics, pregnancy, and diabetes increase the likelihood that a woman will get a yeast infection.

What medication will I receive if I have a yeast infection?

Yeast infections can be treated by medication placed in the vagina or by taking a pill by mouth.

The cream (usually Terazol, also known as Terconazole) is placed in the vagina with an applicator at night for 3 to 7 days and is safe to use during pregnancy. Most women find that symptoms are relieved sooner by using the cream and a small amount can be used around the outside of the vagina to help decrease itching and irritation through the day. It is very important that you use the medication for the entire time it is prescribed even if your symptoms go away in order to make sure the infection is completely treated.

The pill (Diflucan or Fluconazole) is often just one pill taken one time. In some cases more than one pill may be prescribed by your doctor to be taken 3 days apart. Symptoms may not go away for a few days after taking the pill.

If you still have symptoms several days after finishing the treatment recommended by your doctor it is important to call and let us know.

Do I need to see the doctor anytime I have a yeast infection?

There are some treatments available without a prescription to treat yeast infections that work very well for most women. We suggest that anyone who has never before had a yeast infection, isn’t absolutely sure that the problems they are having are a yeast infection, or has tried these treatments without the symptoms going away completely make an appointment. It is important that we make sure that the symptoms you are having are really caused by yeast and not another type of vaginal infection. Medications to treat yeast when the symptoms have another cause, like bacteria, can make symptoms worse.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)

Screening tests are available for many of the most common sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). You may request screening tests or your physician may offer these tests at your appointment based on a number of risk factors and current recommendations. Some common STDs are Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, Trichomoniasis, Syphilis, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), and Hepatitis B.

Screening tests for Chlamydia are routinely performed at the time of a pelvic exam for women sexually active and age 25 or under. At the time of the exam, a small swab may be used to collect a sample from the cervix to determine if Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, and/or Trichomoniasis are present. A small amount of your blood may be drawn and sent to the laboratory for testing in order to screen for Syphilis, HIV, and Hepatitis B. Results from these tests are usually available within a week to ten days.

  • Gonorrhea: Gonorrhea is an infection that often occurs with no symptoms in women. The cause is a bacterium that grows quickly in warm, moist areas of the body. The most common place this germ grows is the cervix but it may also infect the mouth or throat through oral sex with an infected partner. Gonorrhea can also infect the rectum and urinary tract. Gonorrhea is treated with antibiotics which are given by mouth and by injection. Sexual partners must be treated to prevent the infection from recurring. 
  • Chlamydia: Chlamydia is one of the most common STDs in the United States today and also often occurs with no symptoms in women. Chlamydia is a bacterium that commonly infects the cervix and may spread to the uterus and fallopian tubes. Chlamydia can also be found in the urinary tract, rectum, throat, and even the lining of the eye. Chlamydia is treated with antibiotics which are given by mouth. Sexual partners must be treated to prevent the infection from recurring. Delay in diagnosis of Chlamydia may lead to difficulty becoming pregnant. 
  • Trichomoniasis: Trichomoniasis is a condition caused by a microscopic parasite. Symptoms may include a yellow-gray or green vaginal discharge. The discharge may have a fishy odor. There may be burning, irritation, redness, and swelling of the vulva and sometimes there is pain during urination. Trichomoniasis is usually treated with a single dose of antibiotic by mouth. Sexual partners must be treated to prevent the infection from recurring.
  • Syphilis: Syphilis occurs in stages. It first appears as a painless sore (called a chancre) which last 10 days to 6 weeks after contact. If not treated the next stage begins 1 week to 3 months later when a rash may appear and you may feel as if you have the flu. The rash usually appears on the soles of the feet and palms of the hands. Flat warts may be seen on the vulva. The rash goes away in a few weeks or months but the disease may return years later. If not treated syphilis may affect your heart, blood vessels, and nervous system. If treated early, long term problems can be prevented. Syphilis may be spread by contact with a chancre during the first stage of infection or by touching the rash, warts, or infected blood during the second stage of infection. Syphilis is treated with antibiotics. Because it is easy to spread during the first and second stages, you should avoid sexual contact until both you and your partner’s treatment have been completed.
  • HIV: Human Immunodeficiency virus (HIV) causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). The rate of HIV infection is increasing most rapidly among heterosexual women. The HIV virus enters the bloodstream by way of body fluids- usually blood or semen. The virus then invades and kills cells of the immune system making the body less able to fight disease. If someone is infected, he or she will always carry the virus and may pass it on to others. There is no vaccine to prevent HIV infection and there is no cure for AIDS. However, there are some medications that fight HIV-related infections and help protect your immune system. This can help you live a longer, healthier life. Treatment with medication during pregnancy can greatly lower the risk of passing the HIV virus to the baby.
  • Hepatitis B: Hepatitis B is a type of hepatitis virus that attacks and damages the liver over time, eventually causing the liver to stop working. The liver cleanses waste from the body, breaks down and filters out harmful substances that you consume, and creates a substance that helps with the digestion of food. A person infected with hepatitis B virus may not show any symptoms. When symptoms do occur they may include yellowing of the skin and eyes, loss of appetite, nausea, headache, stomachache, muscle aches, and extreme fatigue (tiredness). For most adults the infection clears up completely in a few weeks and they then become immune to the virus but 5- 10% of infected adults become carriers for the rest of their lives (the infection never clears up). All carriers can pass the virus to others by direct contact with body fluids such as semen, blood, and vaginal fluids. There is no cure for hepatitis B- it is best to take steps to prevent it. A vaccine is available which triggers your body’s immune system to fight off the virus when you are exposed to it and this is recommended for anyone at high risk. 
  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV): 

    HPV is a common virus. In 2005, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that 20 million people in the United States had this virus. There are many different types of HPV; some cause no harm. Others can cause diseases of the genital area. For most people the virus goes away on its own. When the virus does not go away it can develop into cervical cancer, precancerous lesions, or genital warts, depending on the HPV type.

    In 2005, the CDC estimated that at least 50% of sexually active people catch HPV during their lifetime. A male or female of any age who takes part in any kind of sexual activity that involves genital contact is at risk. Many people who have HPV may not show any signs or symptoms.

    Recent studies have shown that HPV may also cause cancers in the mouth or throat. Ask your provider about the HPV vaccine, Gardasil.

     

Infertility

What is infertility?

Infertility refers to the inability of a couple of child-bearing age to conceive a child after one year of regular sexual activity without contraceptive use. Infertility is very common, affecting about 6 million Americans. Infertility can be due to health issues in the male partner, female partner, or both. In one-third of cases the cause is unknown. Both men and women are about equally affected by infertility.

What causes infertility?

The most common male infertility factors include azoospermia (no sperm cells are produced) and oligospermia (few sperm cells are produced). Sometimes, sperm cells are malformed or they die before they can reach the egg. In rare cases, infertility in men is caused by a genetic disease such as cystic fibrosis or a chromosomal abnormality. 

The most common female infertility factor is an ovulation disorder. Other causes of female infertility include blocked fallopian tubes, which can occur when a woman has had pelvic inflammatory disease or endometriosis (a sometimes painful condition causing adhesions and cysts). Congenital anomalies (birth defects) involving the structure of the uterus and uterine fibroids may be associated with repeated miscarriages. 

What are infertility tests?

Infertility tests are done to help find out why a couple cannot become pregnant. The tests help find whether the problem is with the man, the woman, or both. Tests usually include a physical exam, semen analysis, blood tests, and special procedures.

When to see the doctor

If you are under 35 and have been trying to get pregnant without success for a year, see your doctor. Women 35 and older should see their doctor after six months of trying.

Blood, urine, and imaging tests can be done to discover why you are having trouble getting pregnant. A semen analysis can be done to check a man's sperm count and the overall health of the sperm.

Your doctor may refer you to a reproductive endocrinologist, a doctor who specializes in infertility. Infertility treatment is available, but it can be quite costly and physically and emotionally challenging.

Related Links:

Ultrasound Services

Springfield Clinic ultrasound services are accredited by the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM), an association dedicated to promoting the safe and effective use of ultrasound.

Accreditation means our practice has met nationally accepted standards and has demonstrated consistent excellence in patient care. Actual cases and reports have been reviewed by the AIUM and show that both the performance and the interpretation of ultrasound examinations offered by physicians and meet or exceed nationally accepted standards.

Our team of Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographers has many years of experience in the areas of Obstetric and Gynecologic Ultrasound. They have all achieved a level of competency in both technical procedures and patient care. Both the physicians and sonographers in the practice receive continuing medical education in ultrasound to enhance their knowledge and keep their skills current. Effectively and safely meeting the growing needs of our patients is our number one priority.

Pelvic ultrasound may be performed to assist the physician in evaluating pelvic pain, abnormal bleeding, masses felt on exam, intrauterine device placement, or for comparison to prior imaging studies to evaluate changes. Obstetrical ultrasound may be used for initial confirmation of pregnancy, evaluating the thickness of the cervix, in combination with select genetic tests to assess risk, careful measurement and evaluation of all viewable organ systems, and to check on the well-being of your baby when medically indicated later in pregnancy.

Both 3 dimensional imaging and Doppler imaging to assess blood flow can be utilized if medically indicated to assist with evaluating a suspected or known medical condition.

Breast Health

Routine care is the best way to keep you and your breasts healthy. Although detecting breast cancer at its earliest stages is the main goal of routine breast care, other benign conditions, such as fibrocystic breasts or cysts, are often discovered during routine care.

Awareness of your own body and routine visual examination, combined with monthly breast self- exams can aid in the detection of breast changes or serious breast conditions

The following information and links provide an educational overview of common benign breast findings. You should always discuss any changes in the appearance, shape or color of your breasts with your physician to determine if appropriate testing should be performed. 

Breast Problems

Breast problems or changes may occur in women at any age. Most causes of breast changes are benign, but some changes may be due to serious conditions such as breast cancer.

Breast symptoms can include:

  • Breast lump (with or without pain)
  • Breast pain
  • Breast swelling
  • Breast tenderness
  • Change in the look and feel of the skin of the breast, such as dimpling or puckering
  • Change in the size, shape or appearance of the breast
  • New onset of inverted nipple
  • Nipple discharge or tenderness
  • Rash or sore on the breast or nipple

Breast symptoms can vary in character and intensity depending on the underlying cause and individual factors. They can be constant, or may only be felt when you examine or massage your breast. Breast symptoms can gradually build over weeks or months, or they can appear suddenly, such as breast symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) or mastitis. They can occur in one or both breasts at a time.

Your breasts will undergo normal changes over the course of your life as far as size, shape, consistency and appearance. Hormonal changes are a common cause of breast symptoms. Hormonal changes can occur at the onset of puberty; during menstrual cycles, pregnancy, breastfeeding, perimenopause, and menopause; and with the use of hormone medications.

Breast symptoms can be caused by physical changes, such as weight fluctuations, or other causes such as breast injury and breast surgery. Breast symptoms can occur as a result of breast cancer and other diseases, disorders or conditions, such as breast infections, breast adenosis, and cysts.

Seek prompt medical care if you have unexplained breast symptoms in one or both breasts. Left undetected and untreated, some underlying causes of breast symptoms, such as breast cancer, can lead to serious or life-threatening complications. Seeking regular medical care throughout your life improves your chances of discovering some serious diseases at their earliest, most curable stages.

Breast Exams

A breast exam is generally done by your health provider at your “annual exam.” The physician, nurse practitioner, or physician’s assistant has been trained to notice abnormalities during your breast exam.

If you have felt something on your exam, or have questions about your breast exam, please let your practitioner know. 

The combination of your self-exam and your provider’s exam as well as recommended mammograms gives you the best chance for early detection of breast abnormalities.

Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women in the United States, other than skin cancer.

According to the National Cancer Institute, when breast cancer is found early and is still localized (restricted to the site of origin, without evidence of spread), the relative survival rate, when measured at five years, is around 98 percent. When breast cancer is found at a late stage (cancer that has spread to distant parts of the body), the survival rate at five years is about 23 percent.

Although the incidence of breast cancer is beginning to decrease, one out of eight women will develop breast cancer at some point in her life. Mortality rates have decreased over the past several years because of early detection and improved treatment.

If you are diagnosed with breast cancer, the most important thing for you to remember is that it is not a hopeless condition. Early detection and modern therapy with a combination of surgery, radiation, drugs, or hormones can help many patients.

Related Links: