The Human Papilloma Virus is a very common infection that is passed from person to person through sexual contact. Approximately three out of every four people who are sexually active will acquire an HPV infection at some point in their lives. Most of these people will never have any symptoms or complications from the virus. However, HPV can cause genital warts or cancer/pre-cancer of the cervix.
A vaccine is available to protect you against the most common strains of HPV. It is approved for use in women between the ages of nine and twenty-six. Ideally, you would be vaccinated before you start having sex, but it can be beneficial for you even if you have already been sexually active.
With so many types of birth control available today, choosing the right form for you can be overwhelming. The doctors can help you decide which method to use based on your preferences and medical history. There are two major categories of contraception: non-hormonal and hormonal methods.
- Male condoms are a disposable thin sheath that fits over the erect penis and provides a barrier to prevent semen from entering the vagina.
- Female condoms are a disposable sheath connected by two rings that is inserted into the vagina up to 8 hours before intercourse.
- Intrauterine devices (IUDs) are a device that your doctor inserts into your uterus to prevent fertilization. The IUD can remain in place for up to ten years.
- Permanent sterilization – If you are sure that your family is complete, you can elect to permanently prevent pregnancy. This can be done by a surgical procedure called a tubal ligation, where the fallopian tubes are sealed with clips or electrical current. Alternatively, an Essure procedure can be performed, where a camera is inserted into your uterus and a small coil is placed inside each Fallopian tube to prevent fertilization.
- Birth control pills are pills that contain estrogen and progesterone hormones. The pills are taken daily and prevent ovulation so that pregnancy cannot occur.
- The mini pill is a progesterone only pill, which can be used in women who are breastfeeding or are unable to take estrogen for medical reasons.
- The hormonal patch is a band-aid like patch that is worn on the skin and releases estrogen and progesterone to prevent pregnancy.
- Hormonal injections are progesterone only injections that are given every 3 months.
- Hormonal implants are small progesterone-releasing devices that are inserted under the skin of your arm. The hormone is gradually released to prevent pregnancy and can stay in place for up to 3 years.
- Intrauterine devices (IUDs) – Some IUDs contain small amounts of progesterone that is slowly released in the uterus while the IUD is in place. This allows women to avoid other side effects, but results in light or absent periods
- Emergency contraception is a series of birth control pills that should be taken within 72 hours after unprotected intercourse. This is now also available over the counter.
Breast care is an important part of routine health care for women. The doctors will discuss home breast screening and order mammograms as indicated. A mammogram is a special x-ray of the breasts that is one of the best ways to detect early breast cancer. Current recommendations state that women should have a yearly mammogram starting at age forty or earlier if there is a strong family history of the disease
Menopause can be a difficult time for some women. It is diagnosed after you have not had a period for one year. On average, this will occur around age fifty-one. Many women will start to experience symptoms before their periods stop such as:
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Vaginal dryness or difficulty with intercourse
- Irregular periods
- Mood changes
The doctors can discuss management options for your symptoms including non-medical options and hormone replacement therapy
Our bones are constantly undergoing turnover and bone loss starts to increase as women age, increasing the risk of osteoporosis. This is a condition where the bones are thin and are at increased risk of fracture. The doctors will order bone scans for you as indicated to screen for osteoporosis. Some things you can do to prevent your bones from becoming too thin are to get enough calcium (1200 mg per day is recommended for postmenopausal women), weight bearing exercise such as walking, and limiting alcohol and tobacco use.
Teenagers can experience specific gynecologic concerns, most commonly irregular periods, heavy bleeding, painful periods, vaginal or pelvic pain, and vaginal discharge. In addition to providing initial gynecologic exams in a sensitive manner, the doctors are skilled at management of the issues unique to this phase of life.
Hereditary cancer testing
A strong family history of breast, ovarian, uterine, or colon cancers could indicate a genetic cause. The doctors can counsel you about options to see if you are a carrier for a gene that could increase your risk of these cancers, such as BRCA 1 or 2 or Lynch syndrome. In addition, the doctors are able to personalize a screening and/or prevention plan for those women who are found to be carriers of these genes