Posts for: February, 2019
Why are Pap Smears Necessary?
If you are age 21 or older, you may be asked to get a pap smear. It’s also called a pap test, and it’s a common procedure used to test for cervical cancer in women. It is a routine procedure performed in the office during which cells are collected from your cervix.
Cervical cancer is a serious condition which often has no symptoms initially, until it’s in the later stages. A pap smear is a vital tool in detecting cervical cancer in the early stages, when treatment outcomes are much better. A pap smear can also find changes in your cervical cells which may indicate cancer developing at some point in the future.
When you reach age 21 or older, your doctor may recommend a pap test, usually performed along with a pelvic examination. In some cases, the pap test is combined with an HPV (human papillomavirus) which is a sexually transmitted condition known to cause cervical cancer.
The pap smear recommendations for healthy women are:
- The first pap smear at age 21
- A pap smear every 3 years if you are ages 21 to 65
- A pap smear every 5 years if combined with an HPV test and you are age 30 or older
Having more frequent pap smears may be indicated if you have risk factors, including:
- An HIV infection
- An abnormal pap smear showing precancerous cells
- A history of smoking
- A weakened immune system due to organ transplant, chemotherapy, or corticosteroid use
To get ready for a pap smear, there are certain guidelines you should follow. Remember to:
- Avoid having sexual intercourse, using a douche, or any vaginal medications or spermicidal products including foams, creams, or gels for at least 2 days before your test.
- Avoid scheduling a pap smear during your menstrual period
A pap smear is a necessary part of protecting women’s health. The test is important because it is the only definitive way to diagnose cervical cancer in the early stages. Early diagnosis is critical to early treatment, which can lead to a better outcome for you.
If you are currently experiencing menopause, you may not be enjoying how your body is changing. Hot flashes, mood swings, and weight gain are just some of the symptoms that can plague you, leaving you wanting a treatment that works. At Williams OB/GYN & Associates in San Dimas, CA, Dr. Richard Anthony Williams and his team help numerous patients just like you navigate the sometimes uncertain waters of menopause. Read on to learn more!
What is menopause?
The National Institute on Aging says that a woman has gone through menopause when she has not menstruated for a full year. Follicle stimulating hormones, Luteinizing hormones, estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone all diminish as the ovaries get older. Hence, a woman is infertile and experiences bodily changes and symptoms which vary in intensity, from mild to severe to even debilitating.
These symptoms often start in the mid-forties and peak in the early fifties when ovulation and menstruation cease. For some women, many symptoms, such as hot flashes, are bothersome into their elder years. Dr. Williams encourages his patients to come to the OB/GYN office in San Dimas to discuss symptoms, undergo a complete gynecological examination, and determine a course of treatment.
Symptoms of menopause may include:
- Sudden feelings of heat and sweating known as hot flashes
- Pain during sex
- Vaginal dryness and itching
- Lowered libido
- Weight gain
- Hair loss
- Problems sleeping
- Memory and concentration difficulties
Treating menopausal symptoms
Dr. Williams believes that his patients should seek help dealing with their symptoms, particularly if they seriously impact day to day life, interpersonal relationships, and the ability to function at home and on the job.
Treatment plans are individualized; there are no cookie-cutter care plans because each woman experiences menopause in her own unique way. Many women respond well to conservative treatments, while others require pharmacological interventions in the form of hormone replacement therapy (HRT). While HRT can cause concerning side effects in some women (blood clots, for instance), short term usage under your doctor's supervision can prove safe and effective.
Other treatments include:
- Low carb/sugar diet
- Daily exercise
- Loose clothing
- Cooler bedroom temperature while sleeping
- Supplements such as black cohash and red clover
Find out more
Don't think you have to go through menopause alone. Your friends at Williams OB/GYN can make the transition manageable. Call today for a consultation with Dr. Williams, and start to feel normal again. Our San Dimas office is open Monday through Friday beginning at 9 am. Phone (909) 599-8677 today!
Treating Irregular Periods
Irregular periods are common when you first start menstruating. It’s common for them to be early or late, but as you get older, your menstrual cycle should become more regular, with the average length of the cycle lasting 28 days.
You have chronic irregular periods if:
- The length of your menstrual cycle keeps changing
- Your periods are coming early or late
- You experience severe abdominal pain and very heavy bleeding during your period
There are many causes of irregular periods, including:
- Puberty, pregnancy, or menopause
- Contraceptive measures including the pill or intrauterine device
- Extreme weight fluctuations, excessive exercise, or stress
- Medical conditions including thyroid issues, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, or polycystic ovary syndrome
You should see a doctor if:
- Your periods are suddenly irregular and you are under age 45
- Your periods are more frequent than 21 days
- Your periods are less frequent than 35 days
- Your periods last longer than 7 days
- You have severe abdominal pain and heavy bleeding with your periods
- You are trying to have a baby, but you have irregular periods
There are several ways to treat irregular menstruation. The first step is determining what is causing it. If it is due to a medical issue like thyroid problems, medication or treatment of the underlying condition is vital. Additional treatment measures include:
- Losing weight, if irregular menstruation is due to being overweight
- Hormonal therapies, including birth control to regulate menstruation
- Surgical therapy, if irregular menstruation is due to uterine fibroids or other structural issue.
There is also a 5-year intrauterine device known as Mirena, which can lessen bleeding. It also works as a contraceptive. Your doctor can help you decide which treatment option is best for you.
Irregular menstruation may be self-limiting, but it may go on for months or years. It can affect your life, especially if you are trying to get pregnant. It can also be a sign of a serious underlying condition. It’s important to seek out your doctor to find the cause, protect your health, and give you peace-of-mind.