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Obstetrics & Gynecology in Augusta, GA
Obstetrics

Obstetrics: An Overview of Popular Prenatal Tests

The word “test” is enough to inspire anxiety in a lot of our patients. After all, they’ve spent their whole lives learning that a test is something you can fail! When the test in question involves the health of your new baby, the prospect can seem even more nerve-wracking.

At Women’s Health of Augusta, our obstetrics team ensures that every expectant parent understands what to expect, from their first prenatal visit to their sweet baby’s delivery day. If you’re nervous about your prenatal care, the right team can make all the difference.

That’s why we’ve created this guide to the common and optional prenatal tests you’ll experience during your pregnancy journey. We’ve found that transparency can make the process more comfortable for everyone involved.

In other words, consider this your “study guide” for your upcoming tests, and you’re sure to “pass” with flying colors! Read on to learn all there is to know about routine and genetic testing.

Common Prenatal Tests

Your obstetrician wants to ensure that you and your baby are as healthy as possible during your pregnancy. Proper care and observation will involve a lot of new and unfamiliar diagnostic tests and tools. Below, we’ll describe the exams and procedures that most doctors require during a healthy pregnancy.

Routine Blood Tests

During your first trimester of pregnancy, your doctor will take a blood sample. They will look for specific diseases and illnesses that can impact your pregnancy. These can include:

  • Tuberculosis
  • HIV or AIDS
  • Rubella
  • Hepatitis B
  • Hepatitis C
  • Certain STIs

If your bloodwork shows you have any of the above conditions, your doctor can help make referrals and get you treatment. They will have the necessary information to accommodate these conditions during your care.

Your doctor will also take a blood sample to determine your Complete Blood Count or CBC. They will be looking at the number of types of cells in your blood, which can help them spot conditions like anemia.

During initial blood testing, your doctor will be able to tell you your blood type.

Your team will also check to see if your blood contains the Rh factor. This information can ensure your body does not create antibodies that can harm your baby. If you are Rh negative, your doctor may prescribe medication to prevent this.

Urinalysis and Urine Culture

Your doctor will most likely request a urine sample during your first prenatal appointment. This test will look for signs of infection or sugar in the urine. This sample will serve as a baseline as your pregnancy progresses.

If your doctor finds signs of a UTI, you will receive antibiotics. This medication will not harm your baby.

Glucose Screening

During your second trimester, your doctor will order a Glucose Screening test to look for signs of gestational diabetes. During the test, a technician will give you a sweet drink. They will then test your blood to see your body’s insulin response in action.

Depending on the results, your doctor might order a second glucose test. If the test shows you have gestational diabetes, you will receive medication and dietary counseling.

Sonography

A sonogram (or ultrasound) is a painless, noninvasive imaging test used to monitor your baby in utero. You will likely have a minimum of two ultrasounds during your pregnancy.

The first sonogram will be during the first trimester. This test will help identify your due date.

The second sonogram will occur during the 18th through 22nd week of pregnancy. Most doctors call this the anatomy scan. This is an exciting test for many new parents, as they may learn the biological sex of their new baby.

Some doctors schedule more frequent ultrasound tests, especially for high-risk mothers. Ask your doctor about how many sonograms you can expect to receive during your pregnancy.

Group B Streptococcus Screening

During the third trimester, your doctor will take a GBS culture to look for bacteria known as Group B Streptococcus. If present in the vaginal or rectal area, it can pass to your baby during delivery. Your doctor will take a swab of the site and send it to the lab for analysis.

If your doctor finds GBS present in your sample, you will receive IV antibiotics during labor.

Optional Prenatal Tests

Many prenatal tests are optional but can help new parents find peace of mind. You will usually complete a survey to identify your risk factors during your first trimester. Your doctor might use that information to recommend certain optional genetic screening tests.

Amniocentesis

During this test, a doctor will use a thin needle to withdraw some amniotic fluid from within your uterus. Your doctor will send this fluid to the lab for analysis. It can help you find certain birth defects such as Down’s syndrome and muscular dystrophy.

Chorionic Villus Sampling

During CVS testing, a doctor will take a small tissue sample from your placenta. It can provide much of the same information as amniocentesis, though the odds of complications are higher. You might choose this test if you need to confirm genetic information as early in your pregnancy as possible.

Start Your Journey at Augusta’s Choice for Obstetrics

Working with a trustworthy obstetrics team is the key to feeling secure and supported on your prenatal journey.

Women’s Health of Augusta employs the most compassionate and knowledgeable professionals to ensure you’ll always know what’s coming next. They will guide you through your prenatal care and testing and help provide the thoughtful information you need to make the best choices for your baby.

We’d love to welcome you and your baby to the Women’s Health of Augusta family. Contact us today so we can answer any questions you have about the above prenatal tests. We’ll help set up an appointment so you can begin building a relationship with a caring, trustworthy obstetrician.

selecting a gynecologist,

7 Mistakes You Need to Avoid When Selecting a Gynecologist

Choosing your gynecologist can feel like an overwhelming decision. There are over 12,500 gynecologists across the United States, meaning there are almost certainly a few qualified doctors available near you.

However, not all gynecologists are equal. Some have different experiences, qualifications, standards, and specialties. Therefore, it’s important to choose the right one for your needs.

Fortunately, we can help with that. Let’s talk about some common mistakes to avoid when selecting a gynecologist.

1. Not Asking For Recommendations

This might not come across as an obvious mistake, avoiding asking for personal recommendations means you’re missing out on a major resource!  Take the time to talk to your peers and family members about who they do or do not recommend. You should also consider asking your trusted physician who they would refer you to. A recommendation or referral from someone you trust will offer peace of mind while making your important decision

2. Neglecting to Vet Online

Take a moment to check the doctor’s online reputation to see what previous patients have to say. This can offer valuable insights into their bedside manner, communication, expertise, and more.

A doctor may be able to control reviews on their website, but they can’t always manage reviews on Google, Yelp, or other online directories. While you shouldn’t rely entirely on a doctor’s online reputation, we are fortunate enough to live in a time with ample opportunities for reading patient reviews.

3. Not Verifying Credentials or Experience

While this may sound unnecessary, you may want to consider verifying a doctor’s credentials and experience. If you’re new to an area or if you’re unfamiliar with their office, you may not know the standards they require. At the minimum, they will need an MD or a Doctorate of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) and a valid license to practice.

You should also realize that a clinic or physician may not offer the services or specializations you need.

Therefore, you should look for a clinic that offers specific tests, abnormal smears, or any other specific healthcare need you may have.

4. Not Checking the Location

Location, especially if you’re pregnant or believe you will need to make frequent visits to your new gynecologist,  should be a key factor during your search. Find a gynecologist’s office that is relatively close to your home, office, or somewhere you regularly visit.

5. Not Comparing Rates

Comparing gynecologists’ costs is another step you can take. However, don’t let it be the only factor.

The reason this is in the fifth spot and not the first is that the quality and accessibility of care are far more important.

If this is for a one-time visit, or if you don’t have health insurance, comparing costs could save you some money on your medical bill. Without insurance, make sure you call ahead to ask about out-of-pocket expenses.

However, for a high-risk pregnancy or a serious gynecological disorder, insurance is essential. Talk to your insurance agency about out-of-pocket costs and then compare gynecologist costs between

6. Insurance Coverage

Speaking of costs, let’s talk about the good ol’ insurance network. Make sure that your insurance provider covers the gynecologist and the services you need beforehand.

As always, there can be some bureaucratic issues with coverage, depending on the type of facility, network coverage, and services you need. Make sure you know ahead of time that your insurance will cover these needs.

Insurance will certainly cover most routine checkups if the doctor is in the provider’s network. If you need special services, check ahead of time to ensure that you don’t run into any issues. Out-of-pocket costs without insurance coverage can range from $110 to $447 just for a routine checkup, and more for specialized care.

7. Availability

It is important that you contact the office beforehand to verify your prospective doctor’s availability. If you need more immediate care, then you don’t want to have to wait four months for your first consultation.

Prenatal Care

What Are the Benefits of Seeking Early Prenatal Care?

According to the CDC, about 6% of pregnant women don’t receive any prenatal care prior to giving birth. That works out to be almost 250,000 pregnant women in total.

If you’re pregnant at the moment, you should make it your mission to get the prenatal care you need throughout your pregnancy. Most gynecology services will be able to provide you with prenatal care.

So, what is prenatal care? Well, it’s essentially a series of checkups that take place throughout your pregnancy to see how both you and your baby are doing. This form of women’s health care is very important for both women’s health and the health of their babies.

There are a whole host of benefits that you’ll get to enjoy when you secure the prenatal care services you need during pregnancy. Check out a few of the biggest benefits of prenatal care below so that you’re able to get a better understanding of why you should take advantage of it.

Allows You to Develop a Pregnancy Plan

From the moment you first find out you’re pregnant, it’s going to be important for you to come up with a pregnancy plan. You’ll need to think about things like:

  • Which foods and beverages you’ll need to eliminate from your diet
  • What steps you’ll take to maintain a healthy weight
  • How deep into your pregnancy you’ll continue to work

Creating a pregnancy plan on your own may be very challenging. It’ll be so much easier when you’re getting prenatal care from doctors and nurses you trust. They’ll be able to make the best possible suggestions for you and your baby.

Ensures You’re Taking the Right Prenatal Supplements

There are certain prenatal supplements you’re going to want to take for the sake of your baby’s health. For example, it’ll be important for you to take 400 micrograms of folic acid every day. It’ll help prevent the most common birth defects.

When you seek prenatal care, you’ll be able to discover more about the other supplements you might want to consider taking during your pregnancy. A team of doctors and nurses can recommend the right prenatal supplements to you and even talk to you about where to find them.

Helps You Take Control of Any Preexisting Health Conditions

If you currently suffer from diabetes, high blood pressure, or any other health conditions, it’s going to be extra important for you to receive prenatal care. Doctors and nurses will be able to help you take better control of these conditions so that they don’t affect you or your baby when you’re pregnant.

They’ll also be able to tell you whether or not you can continue to take certain prescription medications that you might be on at this time. There are many different medicines that could prove to be risky when you’re pregnant.

Reduces the Risk of Any Pregnancy Complications

Ideally, you’re going to want your entire pregnancy to go as smoothly as possible. The last thing you want is to be put on bed rest when you’re pregnant or to need to have your baby induced ahead of schedule.

There are some instances in which these kinds of complications can’t be avoided. But you can reduce the risk of any pregnancy complications by getting the proper prenatal care from a facility that specializes in providing women’s health care.

Monitors Your Baby’s Health Throughout Your Pregnancy

The doctors and nurses who provide you with prenatal care will obviously be worried about more than just your health. They’re also going to pay close attention to the health of your baby throughout your pregnancy.

During prenatal care, you’ll often have ultrasounds done so that doctors and nurses can monitor your baby’s health and the growth they experience over time. They’ll also listen to your baby’s heartbeat to make sure it sounds okay.

You’ll be amazed to see how much doctors and nurses are able to learn about your baby’s health from the outside. It’ll provide you with peace of mind and give you a chance to make lifestyle changes if doctors and nurses sense any potential issues that could be going on.

Prepares You for the Physical and Mental Impact of Pregnancy

Being pregnant can be very taxing on both your body and mind. You’re going to have all kinds of aches and pains that you’ll have to deal with on a daily basis. You might also find that your hormones may cause mental health problems during your pregnancy.

The doctors and nurses that extend prenatal care to you will be able to help prepare you for some of the physical and mental effects of pregnancy. They’ll also be able to come up with solutions for any pregnancy problems you might face.

Gives You Easy Access to Postnatal Care

Pre- and post-natal care will both be important for you and your baby. By seeking prenatal care, you’ll also be able to find a place that can give you access to postnatal care once you give birth.

You’ll be able to transition seamlessly from prenatal care to postnatal care when you have the right gynecology service on your side. It’ll increase the chances of you and your baby enjoying a better experience overall both when you’re pregnant and during the first few weeks of your baby’s life.

Contact Us for All Your Prenatal Care Needs

Are you trying to get pregnant right now or did you recently find out that you’re pregnant? Women’s Health of Augusta can set you up with the prenatal care services you need.

We’ve been helping women deliver babies at University Hospital and Trinity Hospital since the 1970s. You can trust us to assist you throughout your pregnancy journey by providing you with all the benefits listed here.

Get in touch with us now to speak with someone about your prenatal care needs. We also offer a wide range of other gynecological services at our facility.

Gynecology

Gynecology Guide: How to Prepare for the Gynecologist

Though gynecologists treat women at any age, it’s recommended that you start visiting from the age of 13 to 15 years. Building a relationship with your doctor can help you feel more comfortable asking health-related questions. Some people still aren’t sure how to prepare for their gynecology appointments, though.

Here are a few tips that can help you feel more comfortable about your upcoming check-up. With this gynecology guide, you can also prepare questions to ask during your appointment.

Read on to learn more!

Consider Why You’re Going

Before your first appointment at a gynecologist’s office, consider why you’re going in the first place. Outlining your needs will help ensure you ask the right questions. You can make the most of your time and the doctor’s during your upcoming appointment.

For example, you might consider asking about:

  • Birth control options
  • Period or hormonal changes/issues
  • Testing for sexually transmitted diseases

One of the reasons people feel anxious about appointments is that they don’t know what to expect. Avoiding the gynecologist could foster even more avoidance in the future.

Routine exams can help your doctor catch potential problems early on. For example, perhaps there are abnormal cells on your cervix. Treatment is easier when these cells are precancerous.

You might have a serious health problem without realizing it, too. For example, heavy bleeding or a polyp in the pelvic area could require treatment. Regular appointments ensure you and the doctor don’t miss anything that might require immediate attention.

Exams also ensure preventative care (particularly for patients ages 26 and younger). For example, your doctor might recommend a vaccine to prevent health problems like vulvar or vaginal warts. Otherwise, these problems might require more extensive exams and treatments in the future.

Once you determine why you’re going, draft a list of questions you want to ask ahead of time.

Feel free to ask questions about what to expect during the appointment, too. For example, you might ask what a pelvic exam entails and why it’s needed. Asking these questions can help you feel more comfortable once you know what to expect.

Know Your History

Before your gynecology appointment, consider talking to a family member about your family’s medical history. Your doctor will ask questions about your family’s medical history to determine if you require preventative care.

Start by asking your mother about her health history and ask if any conditions run in the family. For example, you can ask if your family has a history of blood clots. If blood clots run in your family, your doctor might recommend contraceptive alternatives that contain estrogen.

Consider drafting a list of your own medical history details as well. For example, your doctor will need to know of past surgeries or any medications you’re currently taking.

If you have medical records, bring them with you to the appointment.

Make sure to track your menstrual cycle before your appointment, too. Your doctor will ask about the first day of your last period. You can use a tracking app on your phone to keep track of dates, flow, and other details.

Preparing for Pelvic Exams

The percentage of women who have received a pelvic exam in the past 12 months has decreased over time. A pelvic exam will help your doctor determine if both your ovaries and uterus are healthy. If you’re nervous about pelvic exams, it can help to know what to expect before your appointment.

Let your doctor know ahead of time if you’re nervous. They likely have a few relaxation methods that can help. They’ll know how to make the exam more comfortable for you, too.

For example, deep breathing exercises can help you relax. Deep breathing could also help relax your pelvic muscles, which will make the exam faster and easier.

Usually, a pelvic exam involves an external exam to review the vulva (the labia, clitoris, and opening of the vagina). Your doctor will complete the cervical and vaginal exam using a speculum (a device that’s inserted into the vagina). Then, they’ll complete a bimanual exam of your reproductive organs.

You have control over the exam. Your doctor will only complete an exam if you’re 100% comfortable. If there are parts of the appointment you want to skip, let your doctor know.

They might have an alternate way to examine you.

Remain Open and Honest

During the appointment, remain open and honest with your gynecologist. The information you provide will help them address any concerns you have.

For example, your gynecologist will ask if you’re sexually active. They’ll ask how many sexual partners you have and if any have been diagnosed with an STD.

Let your gynecologist know about any concerns or symptoms you have that might indicate an STD or STI. These can include:

  • Pain during intercourse
  • Painful and/or itchy bumps on the genitals
  • Heavy or otherwise unusual bleeding
  • Discharge with an odd smell
  • Unusual vaginal discharge

Remaining honest with your answers will allow your doctor to gather the information they need to support you. They won’t judge you based on the answers you provide.

Schedule Your Next Appointment

Before leaving your gynecologist’s office, determine when you should schedule your next appointment.

For example, you should schedule a pelvic exam every three years. You might need to visit your gynecologist more often if you have specific concerns. For example, perhaps you’re interested in getting pregnant or want to renew your birth control prescription.

Prepare for Your Next Gynecology Appointment With These Tips

Preparing for your next (or first) gynecology appointment doesn’t have to feel stressful. Instead, use these tips to remain organized and in control. Preparing ahead of time can help you feel more comfortable before your appointment.

Remember, your doctor is there to support your health. Don’t hesitate to ask any questions you might have.

Ready to schedule your next appointment? We can’t wait to see you!

Contact our office today to schedule your next appointment.

gynecology

7 Signs It May Be Time for a Gynecology Appointment

Nearly two-thirds of surveyed women report feeling some level of anxiety surrounding their gynecology visits. Can you relate? While going to a general practitioner tends not to inspire fear, the gynecologist is a different story.

Your local gynecologist wants to make sure that you’re safe and healthy, so it’s important to never skip a gynecology appointment. But how do you know when it’s time to schedule one?

Let’s talk about it. Read on for a few top signs that you’re due for an appointment with your gynecologist.

1. It’s Been a While Since Your Last Appointment

The first sign that it’s time to visit a gynecologist is simply that it’s been a while since your last visit (or that you’ve never visited a gynecologist in the past at all).

It’s helpful to visit a gynecologist about once per year for a general exam. If you have a reproductive health issue, you may have to make more frequent visits.

If you have a new sexual partner, it’s also a good idea to visit your gynecologist (or at the very least, get an STD screening just to be safe).

Remember that you won’t need a pap every time you go to the gynecologist in most cases, so don’t let that scare you away. Visiting them annually will keep you safe and healthy.

2. You’re Experiencing Menstrual Changes

Menstrual cycles are rarely completely consistent forever. People who menstruate of all ages can experience random changes in their cycles. If something is unusual one month but then goes back to normal the next month, it isn’t a cause for concern.

However, if the changes continue, it may be time for a gynecology appointment.

It’s possible that there’s no problem at all. Your body may just be changing and you’re experiencing the “new normal.” That said, there are also some conditions that can cause changes in your menstrual cycle.

It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Common changes you may experience include:

  • Longer periods
  • Much shorter periods
  • No period at all
  • A period that seems to be constant spotting
  • An unusually heavy flow

Make sure you note exactly what changed with as much detail as possible so you’re ready to explain the situation to your doctor.

3. You Have Unusual Discharge

It’s important to note that vaginal discharge is completely normal. It also changes throughout your cycle. In most cases, discharge is not a cause for concern.

Discharge can be thin and watery, thick and sticky, or anywhere in between, and still be healthy. It may change due to a new exercise routine, where you are in your cycle, and a variety of other reasons that aren’t anything to worry about.

There are a few signs that your discharge is a problem, however. If it has an unusual color or smell, it’s a sign that there’s something wrong. If it persists, it’s time to make an appointment with your gynecologist.

4. You’re Experiencing Extreme Pain During Your Period

A bit of discomfort during your period is, unfortunately, normal. Cramping and bloating come with the territory. But what if you’re experiencing an unusual amount of pain?

Periods should not be unbearably painful. If your period pain is getting in the way of your life, you should contact a doctor to see if there’s an underlying cause.

Even if there isn’t a serious cause for your period pain, you may be able to start taking medication (like birth control) that can make your periods more tolerable.

5. You’re Experiencing Pain During Sex

Pain during sex is not normal. If you’re suddenly experiencing pain during sex, and it’s consistent and not just a one-off, it’s time to talk to a doctor.

It could be the result of an STD, cysts, tearing, and more. Regardless, it’s best to be checked out by a professional before you cause more damage.

6. You’re Responding Poorly to Your Birth Control

Many people take birth control to prevent pregnancy and make their periods more manageable. Most people tolerate birth control well, but not every form of birth control is right for every patient.

If you find that you’re not responding well to your birth control, it’s time to visit your gynecologist for help. They can help you find a birth control method that works best for you.

Common signs that your birth control may not be right for you include (but are not limited to):

  • Worsening mood swings
  • Hair loss
  • Constant spotting
  • Long periods
  • Pain

Not all forms of birth control are hormonal and not all forms of hormonal birth control will cause problematic side effects for everyone. Finding a good match is essential.

7. You’re Experiencing Itching or Burning

If you’re experiencing itching and burning in your vaginal area, it’s time to make an appointment to visit your gynecologist. These are almost always signs of a problem.

Even if the itching and burning sensations aren’t accompanied by unusual discharge or any other worrisome changes, they could indicate that something is wrong. These are common symptoms of several STDs as well as yeast infections.

Is It Time for Your Next Gynecology Appointment?

With all of these things in mind, is it time to schedule a gynecology appointment? Remember, if it’s been over a year since your last appointment, the answer is a resounding “Yes!”

When it comes to your reproductive health, it’s always better to be safe rather than sorry. Schedule your next gynecology appointment today.

At Women’s Health of Augusta, we aim to provide a comfortable environment for all of our patients seeking reproductive healthcare. Contact us to learn more about our services or to schedule an appointment today.

gynecology

How to Choose the Best Gynecologist for Your Needs

At least 13 percent of women 18 and older are in poor health.

This is why selecting a gynecologist is so important. There are so many gynecologists to choose from that you may be wondering exactly how you can decide which one is right for your needs.

The good news is that there are certain key factors you can look for to decide if a gynecologist is right for you.

Once you understand exactly what you should look for, the choice becomes easier. Here’s a look at the top things you should bear in mind when selecting a doctor who specializes in gynecology.

Your Insurance Coverage

It’s no use selecting a gynecologist that you cannot pay for, unless you don’t mind being out of pocket for everything. However, if you do have insurance coverage, you will want to select a gynecologist that your insurance will cover.

Understanding your insurance coverage and targeting those doctors within your insurance company’s network is critical. If you check the website of your insurance company, you may be able to find out which gynecologists are in their network. This will help you to narrow your search.

Great Reviews

If you have family or friends who regularly use gynecologists, then it is likely that they will have some good recommendations for you. It is always a good idea to ask your family and friends if they know of any gynecologist that they think will be suitable for you.

This way, you will be able to choose from a pool of qualified professionals that can assist you. You can ask your general practitioner as well to recommend someone to you.

If you don’t have the luxury of asking people for their recommendations, then the next best thing is to check out the reviews for a gynecologist.

These days, a lot of medical practitioners are getting reviews on their social media pages as well as their business pages. Search for any gynecologist you are interested in and find their reviews.

Take a close look at the reviews they are getting from their patients. Websites for medical practitioners will often ask people to rate a gynecologist based on certain principles.

For example, they may be rated based on the office environment that they have, the friendliness of the staff, their trustworthiness, and the ease with which you can schedule a gynecological appointment.

Look at Experience

Experience should play a role in your selection of a gynecologist. The doctor that you choose should have been practicing for a reasonable amount of time.

This will make it easy for them to understand the ins and outs of different types of gynecology issues. They should have practiced long enough to know more than what is in a textbook. This type of experience is invaluable, especially in some complicated situations.

At the very least, when selecting a gynecologist, you should know that they have a lot of specialized experience in the problems that you are having.

Examine Qualifications

The qualifications of your gynecologist are also critical. Often, you can find out about the board certification of your gynecologist simply by doing a search and finding their online biography.

You can then find out if a gynecologist specializes in certain areas by checking out their online profile. This is especially important if you have a specific gynecology need, such as heavy menstrual cramps.

The Level of Communication

One of the things you cannot afford to overlook is whether you and your gynecologist can communicate effectively.

You need to make sure that your gynecologist has the same values as you, especially when it comes to more sensitive issues such as birth control and even pregnancy.

You can try to find out what their views are on sensitive issues.

This way you can avoid a situation later on where you feel uncomfortable because of moral standpoints.

Bedside Manner

The bedside manner of the gynecologist that you are selecting is extremely important. The last thing you want to do is to find a doctor who is dismissive of your feelings about any issue that you are facing.

This can cause you to feel as if you can’t confide your feelings and maybe even your symptoms to your gynecologist. You want a doctor who will listen to what you have to say and also respect it.

Your doctor should be someone with whom you can have free communication back and forth. This way you will be able to trust their opinions and adhere to them for the good of your health. The bottom line is that your gynecologist should be someone who you feel very comfortable with.

Another thing you may want to consider is whether you feel comfortable with a male or a female gynecologist. Some women prefer to see a doctor who is female. Depending on your culture or religion, you may be directed toward a female doctor.

Before deciding on the gender of your gynecologist, it is a good idea for you to sit down and think about what you value most. Then you can decide which doctor is right for you regardless of their gender.

Select an Expert In Gynecology

Selecting the best gynecologist is important. It is not something that you should leave to chance or take lightly.

When it comes to your health, everything needs to be properly assessed, and this includes the doctors that you select.

The best gynecologist for your needs is one who is experienced, well-educated, has good bedside manner, and good patient reviews. In short, it should be a person in whom you can have complete confidence.

If you would like to book an appointment, please contact us.

first mammogram

When Should Women Get Their First Mammogram?

Are you wondering when the best time is to get your first mammogram? Mammograms are a crucial part of women’s health. They can detect breast cancer as soon as it appears, and earlier detection means a better chance of beating the disease.

In the United States, it’s expected that new instances of invasive breast cancer will reach 287,850 cases in 2022. This article will help you understand why it’s important to get a mammogram early and how you can find out when is the best time for your first mammogram.

You’ll also learn how to prepare for your appointment and what to expect. Read on to find out more about when you should get your first mammogram.

What Is a Mammogram?

The best test available to doctors to detect breast cancer early is performing routine mammograms. Mammography uses X-ray images taken of the breast. Doctors can use mammograms to look for any early indications of breast cancer.

This is the best screening available to doctors to detect breast cancer early. Without a mammogram, it could take a patient diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer up to three years before they would have detected the lump on their own.

The Benefits of a Mammogram

The second most frequent malignancy in women is breast cancer. Ten out of every 100,000 women between the ages of 20 and 24 will receive a breast cancer diagnosis. As women reach their late 20s and early 30s, that number rises.

Around 40 to 50, there are noticeable increases. The majority of diagnoses of breast cancer happen for women over the age of 70. Why then do professionals advise testing for much younger women if the majority of women do not develop breast cancer until they are in their 70s?

Numerous studies show that screening mammograms reduce the risk of breast cancer-related death by 15% to 29%. Having a mammogram at the earliest appropriate age can reduce your risk of death. Regular mammograms aid in early detection and help save lives.

When to Get Your First Mammogram

Early screening helps save lives, according to all medical professionals. The precise age of that initial screening is still up for discussion. By the age of 45, the American Cancer Society advises that women get their first mammogram.

According to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, women may delay their initial screening until age 50. However, because mammograms can identify breast abnormalities in their earliest stages in women in their 40s, the Mayo Clinic supports screening as early as age 40.

Even while some medical professionals believe that getting a mammogram when you’re younger is best, there are still issues involved. If the doctor finds an abnormality, more testing with another mammography, biopsies, or ultrasound imaging may be required since women in their 40s and 50s are more prone to experience a false positive.

The best thing you can do is consult with your doctor about the ideal age for you to start screening. Because the simple truth is that every woman is different.

When you should receive your first mammogram depends on several unique factors, including your family history of breast cancer (women with a close family history of the disease should get checked sooner than women without one). You should discuss when to start screening with your doctor right away if you are over 30 and have a close family member with a history of breast cancer.

Women with moderate risks should discuss getting a mammogram with their doctors at least by the age of 40. Your annual wellness appointment is the ideal opportunity to discuss obtaining a mammogram with your doctor.

What to Expect During a Mammogram

You will stand in front of an X-ray machine. The X-ray technician will place your breast on a plastic plate. Your breast will be firmly pressed from above by another plate.

The plates flatten your breast. This holds your breast motionless during the X-ray. Be aware that some pressure will be present.

To create a side view of the breast, the stages are repeated. The other breast will undergo a similar X-ray procedure. After that, you will have to wait as the technologist makes sure there is no need to repeat the X-rays.

Remember that the technician is unable to inform you of the results of your mammography. Due to the slight variations in every woman’s breasts, every mammogram may appear a bit different.

Most women find getting a mammogram uncomfortable. Some ladies say it hurts. However, mammography only takes a little while, so the discomfort does pass.

Your experience will vary depending on the technician’s expertise, the size of your breasts, and how hard they need squeezing. If you are about to start or are on your period, your breasts may be extra sensitive. The X-ray will get examined by a radiologist for any early indications of breast cancer or other issues.

When Will You Get the Results of Your Mammogram?

Depending on the facility, you should receive the results in a few weeks. After a radiologist reviews your mammogram results, they will inform you and your doctor of the findings.

The mammography facility will inform you if there is a problem. If you don’t get a report of your results within 30 days, get in touch with your doctor or the mammography center.

What Happens if Your Mammogram Is Normal?

Maintain your mammography schedule following the suggested frequency.

Mammograms function best when they can be compared to earlier ones. By comparing them, the radiologist can check for changes in your breasts.

What Happens if Your Mammogram Is Abnormal?

The presence of cancer is not always indicated by an abnormal mammogram. However, the doctor won’t be able to be certain unless you have additional mammograms, examinations, or tests. A surgeon or breast specialist may also be recommended to you.

You may not always need surgery or have cancer. These skilled medical professionals can identify breast issues. Follow-up exams will be performed by medical professionals to determine whether breast cancer exists.

Getting Your First Mammogram Can Feel a Little Overwhelming

We understand that when you get your first mammogram, the process can feel a bit daunting. But don’t worry. We are here to walk you through the process.

For 40+ years, Women’s Health of Augusta has offered the best all-inclusive obstetrical and gynecology treatment in the region. All of our doctors are now accepting new patients and are board-certified (Fellows of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology) or board eligible.

We are sensitive and considerate of your particular needs. We can also manage any gynecological or obstetrical care concerns you have. Contact us or check out our Blog section for helpful information.

Gynecology

Gynecology: 6 Reasons to See a Gynecologist Regularly

Did you know that it’s not uncommon for people in the United States to actively avoid medical care? For many women, this includes avoiding or skipping their annual gynecology appointments. This is often due to a lack of education or even anxiety about visiting a gynecologist.

However, there are several good reasons to make sure you see a gynecologist on a regular basis — and not just when you’re trying to get pregnant or think you might have an infection. So, the importance of gynecology appointments cannot be stressed enough.

We’ve put together a brief guide that details everything you need to know about why you should make regular visits to this type of professional. Let’s dive in.

1. Annual Pap Smears Can Detect Early Signs of Cancer

Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable types of cancer, yet it’s still the fourth leading cause of cancer death in women worldwide. One of the best ways to catch cervical cancer early is to get a pap smear at least once per year.

This simple test involves taking a sample of cells from your cervix, which is then checked for abnormal changes that could indicate cancer.

2. Gynecologists Can Help With More Than Just Reproductive Health

While gynecologists are experts in reproductive health, they can also help with a variety of other health concerns.

For example, they can provide guidance on menopause, incontinence, and sexual dysfunction. Plus, because they’re trained in both obstetrics and gynecology, they’re often able to provide holistic care for women throughout their lives.

Under the right circumstances, visiting a gynecologist could lead to a sharp increase in your quality of life.

3. You Might Need More Than One Type of Gynecologic Care

There are different types of gynecologic care, and you might need more than one type depending on your age and health history.

For example, you might need a family planning appointment to discuss birth control options. Or, you may need a consultation about menopause or perimenopause.

4. Gynecologists Can Provide Guidance on Healthy Lifestyle Choices

Your gynecologist can also provide guidance on how to make healthy lifestyle choices that can reduce your risk of developing certain health conditions. For example, they might recommend ways to reduce your stress levels or how to eat a healthier diet.

Depending on your health situation, the recommendations can go a long way toward helping you improve your lifestyle.

5. Gynecologists Can Help You Understand Your Body

If you’re ever concerned about changes in your body, your gynecologist can help you understand what’s normal and what’s not. They can also provide guidance on when you should be worried about something and when you shouldn’t.

Having this level of understanding will help you feel more comfortable about your body and its natural functions.

6. Regular Gynecology Appointments Can Help Build a Relationship of Trust

Finally, regular gynecology appointments can help you build a relationship of trust with your gynecologist.

This is important because it means you’ll be more likely to feel comfortable discussing sensitive topics with them, such as sexual health concerns. It may take a couple of visits, but you will eventually begin to develop a bond with them.

What Should I Look For in a Gynecologist?

If you’re looking for a gynecologist, it’s important to find one that you feel comfortable with. This is the only way that you can ensure you make this a pleasant experience.

Here are a few things to look for.

They Should Be Board-Certified

As you might guess, you’ll want to make sure your gynecologist is board certified.

This means they’ve completed the necessary training and passed a rigorous exam. Otherwise, you may find yourself in a situation where you do not receive the best medical care.

This could lead to a number of complications in the future, such as being misdiagnosed or having your gynecologist overlook a serious issue.

They Should Have Extensive Experience

It’s also a good idea to find a gynecologist with experience.

You can ask them how long they’ve been in practice or check their reviews online. Although younger gynecologists are not always inept, it’s in your best interest to choose one who has been practicing for a while.

Keep this in mind when making your decision.

They Should Make You Feel Comfortable

Finally, it’s important to find a gynecologist that makes you feel comfortable.

This means they should be someone you feel like you can talk to openly and candidly. If your gynecologist ever makes you feel uncomfortable or you do not feel like you can communicate with them, it’s best to choose someone else. Many people find gynecologist visits unpleasant, and there’s no reason to make these situations worse.

When Should I See a Gynecologist?

In general, you should see a gynecologist once per year for a wellness exam. This is a yearly appointment where they’ll perform a physical exam and order any necessary screenings, such as a pap smear.

If you’re sexually active, you should also see a gynecologist more frequently. This is because you’re at an increased risk of developing sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

If you’re ever concerned about changes in your body or have any questions about your reproductive health, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with a gynecologist. They can provide the guidance and support you need.

Making a Gynecology Appointment Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated

No matter what your age, it’s important to make gynecology appointments regularly.

They can provide vital guidance on everything from reproductive health to menopause and beyond. Plus, they can help you make healthy lifestyle choices that can reduce your risk of developing certain health conditions.

Looking for other ways we can help you out in the future? Be sure to reach out to us today and see what we can do!

obstetrics

Obstetrics: What to Expect From Your First Trimester

Did you know that pregnant women make up around 1% of the United States population at any given time? For many people, the early weeks of a pregnancy can be an exciting time.

But, there’s also a lot of stress that comes with facing the unknown. That’s why we made this obstetrics guide with some pregnancy tips.

In it, we’ll break down what you can expect from your first trimester, from body changes to obstetric visits. That way, you can begin your pregnancy with the confidence that you need. Let’s get started!

How Long Is the First Trimester?

As the name suggests, the first trimester is the first and earliest phase of pregnancy. The first trimester begins before you’re ever actually pregnant. It officially starts on the day of your last period.

Then, it lasts till the end of your thirteenth week pregnant. In other words, it lasts for a little over three months.

Compared to the other trimesters, your body is going through the most rapid changes. Let’s take a closer look at some of the physical changes that come with your first trimester.

Physical Body Changes to Expect

There are some physical body changes and symptoms that will occur during your first few months. First, there’s morning sickness. And sadly, this nausea isn’t confined to the morning.

It can strike at any part of the day. Next, your breasts will likely get bigger and swollen. It’s normal for them also to feel tender and tingly. These changes are caused by rapid hormonal changes.

Speaking of hormonal changes, it’s also common to experience mood swings. And it’s not just from happy to sad states. Many women report being elated, anxious, excited, and exhausted all at the same time.

Know that these emotional states are perfectly normal. Hormonal changes are also responsible for the weird cravings you experience while pregnant. You may also be repelled by certain smells or tastes that you used to like.

Even though your baby is still small, it’s important to try to gain between three to four pounds in your first trimester. If you don’t gain this weight, it’s all right as long as you put it on in the second or third trimester.

Lastly, you might notice other symptoms like increased urination, fatigue, constipation, and heartburn.

What Isn’t Normal?

For expecting mothers, any minor symptom can seem scary. That being said, some things are perfectly normal, and other things will require medical attention.

In terms of what’s normal, you’re likely going to experience headaches, stomach pain, and cramping.

What’s more, light bleeding is normal when the embryo attaches to the uterus. That being said, some symptoms are cause for concern. These include:

  • Heavy bleeding
  • Severe pain in your abdomen
  • Pain during urination
  • Rapid feelings of thirst
  • Fevers over 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Chills
  • Severe puffiness in your face or hands

Remember that your chances for a miscarriage are highest in the first trimester. So, if you experience any of these symptoms, then you should see a professional right away. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Schedule An Obstetrics and Gynecology Visit

Your first trimester is when it’s time to book your first OB-GYN visit. What should you expect from your visit? First, your doctor will review your health records and perform a basic physical.

That way, they know of any pre-existing conditions that might affect the baby. After that, you’ll undergo a lot of tests. These include a urine analysis, Pap smear, and blood work.

The blood work is especially important because it will tell them things like your hCG levels, blood type, Rh levels, and the presence of any infections. After that, you’ll undergo an ultrasound.

This will be used to detect a heartbeat, determine how far along you are, and see if things are progressing as they should be. If your family suffers from genetic illnesses or diabetes, then you might also be screened with some genetic tests.

Your doctor is going to be asking you a lot of questions during the process. Make sure you ask questions, too if you have any. Write down any that you have before your visit, so you don’t forget them at the moment.

Get Ready to Avoid Certain Things

When you first get pregnant, there are a few things that most people know to avoid. For example, it’s widely known that a few drinks can cause a high chance of developing fetal alcohol syndrome.

Similarly, most people know that cigarettes and drug use are bad for the baby. However, there are other things that you should avoid that aren’t as widely known.

For example, did you know you should avoid your cat’s litter box? Cat feces can contain a parasite known as toxoplasmosis. If you contract this parasite, then it can cause serious health problems for fetuses in the first trimester.

You should also avoid hot tubs, saunas, and hot baths. Anything that brings you a temperature above 101 degrees Fahrenheit is bad.

Lastly, make sure you’re careful around raw or undercooked food. That means no more sushi or beef tartare while you’re pregnant.

Looking For Prenatal Care? Contact Women’s Health of Augusta

We hope this obstetrics guide helped you learn what to expect from your first trimester. As you can see, there are a lot of uncomfortable body change symptoms that come within the first three months of pregnancy.

However, despite the discomfort, it’s still vital to get your ducks in a row in terms of finding an obstetrics provider. If you live in the Augusta, Georgia area, then you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better option than Women’s Health of Augusta.

For forty years, we’ve been providing comprehensive care to our community. Plus, we accept most types of insurance. So, if you’re ready for the expert prenatal care that you deserve, contact us today to schedule an appointment.

pap smear test

Pap Smear Test: How Often Do You Need to Have This Done

In 2022, it’s estimated that 14,100 new cases of cervical cancer will be diagnosed in the United States. Most women are diagnosed with cervical cancer between 35 and 44, with the average age of diagnosis at 50.

However, cervical cancer rarely occurs in women who get a regular pap smear test as they are able to detect abnormal cells before it becomes a bigger problem.

If you haven’t had a pap test in a while, it’s time to start paying attention. It’s important to understand how pap smear tests work and how frequently you should get them.

Keep reading this guide to learn about pap tests so you can catch any health problems early on!

Overview of a Pap Smear Test

The Papanicolaou test or Pap test is a procedure that collects cells from your cervix. Pap smear tests detect precancerous and cancerous changes in your cervix.

Pap smear tests detect not only cervical cancer but also other abnormalities like inflammation. Often, your doctor will do additional testing for sexually transmitted diseases during your exam.

Pap Smear Test and Pelvic Exams

It’s also important to realize that Pap tests are not the same thing as pelvic exams, and many women get these confused.

During a pelvic exam, your doctor will assess your reproductive organs for any abnormalities. They’ll typically press on your abdomen and pelvis area while inserting a gloved hand into your vagina so they can determine the size and shape of your ovaries and uterus.

Though a pelvic exam is often done at the same time as a pap smear, that’s not always the case. You’ll need to talk to your doctor about how you should be scheduling this exam.

Pap Smear Testing and HPV Testing

Human papillomavirus, or HPV, is the most common cause of cervical cancer. There are over 100 types of HPV; certain types of HPV infections that appear as genital warts near your cervix, vagina, or anus will most likely lead to cervical cancer.

You get HPV through cuts or small tears in your skin, and genital HPV infections often occur from unprotected sexual intercourse.

For this reason, pap smear tests are usually done at the same time as an HPV test, which is often referred to as co-testing.

What Can You Expect During a Pap Smear?

During a pap test, your doctor will use a speculum to help them see into your vagina. Then, they’ll use a special swab to collect cells from outside the cervix to send to a laboratory and be examined under a microscope.

The pap smear test takes a few minutes, and although it may feel uncomfortable, you shouldn’t experience any pain. Some women experience light bleeding and mild cramping after a pap smear, but you shouldn’t experience this for longer than 24 hours.

How Should You Prepare for a Pap Smear Test?

You’ll need to prepare for your pap smear test to ensure you have the most accurate results possible.

First, it’s best to schedule your pap test at least five days after your period. Most healthcare providers avoid performing pap tests during your menstrual period because that can alter the results. You’ll need to check with your doctor about what they recommend.

You’ll also want to avoid sexual intercourse, vaginal creams, lubricants, or douches at least two days prior to your pap smear test.

Who Should Get Pap Smear Tests?

Pap smear tests are a vital part of your healthcare routine, and all women between the ages of 21 and 65 should get regular pap test screenings.

How Often Should You Get a Pap Smear Test?

The frequency of pap smears depends on your age, medical history, and what types of results you’ve had from previous pap smear tests.

Based on your age, you’ll need to follow a schedule that includes:

  • No pap testing before the age of 21
  • A pap test every three years between 21 and 29
  • A pap test and HPV test every five years if you’re between 30 and 65
  • No pap testing after 65 if you’re not at high risk

Typically, you’ll need more frequent pap smear testing if you have certain health conditions like HIV or are immunocompromised from other conditions or medical treatments.

You’ll also need to have pap smears more often if you have a history of cervical cancer, have been treated for HPV, or have had abnormal pap smear results in the past.

When Can You Stop Getting Pap Smear Tests?

If you’re older than 65 and have had three normal pap tests or two normal co-testing results within the last ten years, your doctor may advise you that you don’t need further pap testing.

You may also not need regular pap tests if you don’t have a cervix due to a hysterectomy and have no history of abnormal pap test results or of cervical cancer.

Make sure you find a doctor who specializes in gynecology and can give you expert advice on your individual health needs before stopping your routine pap smear tests and HPV screenings.

Talk to Your Doctor About a Pap Smear Test Today

Now that you know more about the importance of getting a routine pap smear test, you’ll be able to better care for your health.

If you’re looking for a doctor to manage your gynecological care, then it’s time to turn to the professionals at Women’s Health of Augusta. We’ve been caring for women for more than 40 years and can guide you through the treatment you need.

We offer gynecological and obstetric care for women of all ages. We can help you with menstrual and hormonal concerns, PMS, contraceptive needs, breast disorders, and weight management.

Make sure you contact us today to schedule the gynecological tests you need!