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Obstetrics & Gynecology in Augusta, GA
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!

Gynecology

Your Guide to Gynecology: Common Reproductive Health Issues

Reproductive health is vital. However, it might be come as a surprise to you that young women are getting less pelvic exams than ever.

Reportedly, the rate has fallen from 75 percent in 1988 to 56.5 percent in 2017. That’s unfortunate because there are many benefits that come with seeing a reputable OB/GYN on an annual basis.

Gynecology is about focusing on women’s reproductive health and obstetrics is about focusing on pregnant women and their needs. Both areas are essential when it comes to many women’s overall health and well-being. So, let’s take a moment to see why it’s important for women to have an OB/GYN even if they have a primary care physician.

1. Period-Related Issues

Among the list of women’s diseases, period-related issues top it. If a woman’s periods are heavy, painful, or irregular, these are good reasons to see someone who specializes in gynecology. That way, a doctor can see if her lifestyle, hormonal levels, birth control, or something else may be causing her to have problems with her cycle.

2. STDs

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 20 percent of the U.S. population has an STD. The common ones include:

  • Herpes
  • Gonorrhea
  • Chlamydia
  • Trichomoniasis
  • Syphilis
  • Hepatitis A and B
  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)

Many sexually transmitted diseases are curable. However, if they’re left untreated, they could cause infertility, cancer, and other serious health-related challenges.

Sexually transmitted diseases are oftentimes asymptomatic. That’s why it’s important to see a physician annually and to get tested for STDs every six months.

3. Endometriosis

Something that affects fertility issues is endometriosis. It’s what happens when tissue lining that is similar to a woman’s uterine lining grows outside of her uterine cavity. This leads to inflammation.

The inflammation can cause scar tissue, painful periods, and infertility. Pain medication and hormone therapy is often recommended after this diagnosis.

4. Uterine Fibroids

Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths that develop in a woman’s uterus. Some studies say that between 20-70 percent of women will get these fibroids during their reproductive years.

Uterine fibroids do not usually pose a serious health threat. They can cause heavy periods, fatigue, and they can make it challenging to carry a baby to term. All good reasons to see a doctor if a woman senses that she may have them.

5. Gynecology and Obstetrics Specialize in Female Fertility

If a couple has been trying to get pregnant for a year and nothing has happened, there may be fertility issues. Things like heavy or irregular periods and hormone disorders could be the cause.

Setting an appointment with someone who specializes in gynecology makes it possible for them to observe a woman’s family history, health, weight, age, and lifestyle habits to see what the cause of her fertility issues may be.

6. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

Speaking of fertility issues, a common one is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). It’s one of the most popular hormone disorders. PCOS causes cysts on a woman’s ovaries, irregular cycles, and an overproduction of the male hormone androgen.

The cause of PCOS is still being researched. However, some of the symptoms include extreme acne, excessive body hair, unexplained weight gain, darkened skin, and infertility.

7. Imbalanced Hormones

Did you know that 80 percent of women have some type of hormonal imbalance? When this is the case, they typically experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Weight gain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Sweating
  • Joint stiffness
  • Frequent urination
  • Constipation
  • Acne
  • Blurred vision
  • Depression

Since hormone disorders are so common, that’s one reason why annual check-ups are essential. They aren’t something that women should rely on Google articles to diagnose or treat.

8. Early-Onset Menopause

When a woman has gone 12 months without a menstrual cycle, she has experienced menopause and is no longer able to conceive. The average age for this is 51.

If it happens before 40, it’s called premature menopause. If it happens before 45, it is called early menopause. Since both center around a loss of estrogen, it’s important that a doctor examines her to see what underlying issues she may have.

9. HIV

In the United States, 2.1 million Americans are living with HIV, and there are 35,000 new infections every year. Although more people are living with HIV than ever, it is still a serious disease. It is also still contagious.

If you feel that your health has been put at risk, it’s important that you see a doctor as soon as possible. If you have HIV, your healthcare provider can put you on an effective treatment program.

10. Gynecological Cancer

Something else that can affect your reproductive organs is gynecological cancer. This includes cervical cancer, ovarian cancer, and uterine cancer. Some symptoms of this health issue include:

  • Constant bloating
  • Pelvic pain
  • Back pain
  • Increased urination
  • Changes in the appearance of the vulva
  • Diarrhea
  • Abnormal bleeding

None of these are symptoms that should be ignored. These are things that must be checked out immediately.

Do You Live in the Augusta, Georgia Area? If So, Give Us a Call

Now that you know more about what gynecology and obstetrics consist of, if you have any health-related issues, do not hesitate to reach out to us. We are passionate when it comes to women’s health. We are also here to provide the best service possible.

Even if these 10 common issues aren’t a concern for you, a routine examination is a proactive way to stay abreast of your reproductive health and needs. Give us a call at (706) 733-4427, or feel free to schedule an appointment anytime.

gynecology

6 Questions to Ask at Your Next Gynecology Appointment

For some women, visiting the gynecologist is intimidating and nerve-wracking. Some women even avoid visiting the gynecologist for these reasons. However, visiting a gynecologist is essential for every woman’s health.

Taking gynecology seriously improves your overall physical health, helps you plan and manage pregnancies and menopause, manage irregular menstrual cycles, and much more. Visiting a gynecologist doesn’t have to be a negative experience either. Keep in mind that your gynecologist sees multiple patients every day and there’s not much they haven’t seen or helped with in the past.

With that being said, it’s time to start preparing for your next up-and-coming gynecology appointment. In the guide below, you’ll discover several questions you should consider asking while visiting with your local gynecologist. Continue reading to get started.

1. Am I Updated on Health Screenings?

Women should start seeing a gynecologist between the ages of 13-15. This helps not only keep their reproductive health in great condition but also helps build a relationship between doctor and patient. It’s then important for women to continue seeing their gynecologist on a regular basis for regular health screenings.

For example, it’s recommended that a woman receive a PAP smear every few years to ensure everything’s looking great and there are no health complications. When you arrive at your appointment, be sure to ask your gynecologist if you’re up to date on all your health screenings.

Some common health screenings are as followed:

  • Pap smears
  • Breast exams
  • Skin exams (for cancer)
  • STD/STI testing

You might also want to ask your gynecologist about screenings for cervical and colon cancer.

2. What Are My Birth Control Options?

One important part of maintaining good feminine sexual health for some is birth control. Birth control is beneficial to some women for a variety of reasons. It’s essential for women looking to take control of their own reproductive health who aren’t quite ready for family planning.

Birth control can also help manage severe PMS symptoms and help regulate irregular menstrual cycles. Some birth controls even help clear acne and maintain balanced hormonal levels. If the benefits of birth control are something you’re interested in but aren’t sure if birth control is right for your body, then speak with your gynecologist about your options.

There are many different types of birth controls ranging from high hormones to no hormones at all. Each birth control option comes with its own pros and cons, which you can your gynecologist can discuss together.

3. How Can I Family Plan Safely?

When you decide it’s time to start your family, don’t hesitate to speak with your OB/GYN about family planning. It’s important to have a conversation with your doctor about fertility and how to safely plan for pregnancy. Your gynecologist might detect risk factors of infertility and provide you with a few options to get around these risk factors.

This is also a good time to have genetic testing done to ensure there aren’t any conditions that may affect the health of your future children and how to plan for them. STD/STI testing during this time is also important as you want to have a healthy body before conception.

Your OB/GYN might also suggest you start taking prenatal vitamins to provide your body with all the proper nutrients it needs to prepare for pregnancy. Any other questions you have about conception and pregnancy can be answered now as well.

4. How Can I Protect Myself From STDs/STIs?

Abstaining from sex, in general, is the only fool-proof way of avoiding contracting STDs and STIs. When this isn’t an option for you, it’s important to gather information about protecting yourself and what to be on the lookout for. For example, condoms are one great way to avoid STDs and STIs.

You can also speak with your gynecologist about receiving an HPV vaccine and scheduling regular testing. Ask about the signs and symptoms to look out for and let your gynecologist know if you’re suspicious about any current changes in your body.

5. What Are Some Ways to Make My Menstrual Cycle More Comfortable?

All women experience some type of menstrual cycle symptoms. However, not all women experience the same symptoms or the same pain levels associated with these symptoms. If you suffer from severe PMS symptoms, then you need to ask your gynecologist about managing your cycles and feeling more comfortable during that time.

There are several lifestyle changes you can make to help control these pains, such as exercising and avoiding drinking, smoking, and salty foods. You might also find comfort in soaking in a warm bath, but when your menstrual cycle causes you too much pain and discomfort, it’s time to speak with your gynecologist about other relief options.

6. Why Is There an Unusual Scent?

No woman wants to come face to face with vaginal odor. Unfortunately, this happens sometimes due to various reasons. Although infections and cleanliness certainly play a role in this, those aren’t always the reasons for it.

Hormones, bacteria, sweat, menstrual cycles, and leaking urine are all culprits as well. If you notice an unusual scent, always inform your gynecologist so proper treatment, if needed, can be given.

Let Us Help You Prepare For Your Next Gynecology Visit

At Women’s Health of Augusta, we offer state-of-the-art technology to make us better equipped to handle all Gynecological and Obstetrical care issues. We strive to provide compassionate gynecology care and attention to all your individual health needs. We’ve been providing this care to women for more than 40 years and look forward to hearing from you.

Click here to schedule your appointment today. Feel free to reach out to us regarding any questions or concerns you might have.

Gynecology

What to Expect From Your First Gynecology Appointment

Are you preparing for your first gynecology appointment? If so, you may be nervous and might not know what to expect.

Health professionals recommend that young women of 13-15 years old attend their first appointment with a doctor who specializes in gynecology and obstetrics. The gynecologist will perform an exam to ensure the health of your reproductive system.

Even women who have been attending the gynecologist for years tend to feel apprehensive about their annual ob-gyn appointment. Being prepared for your first exam will ease some of those nerves.

Keep reading to learn about what to expect from your first gynecology appointment.

Waiting Room

Like most doctor appointments, you will first meet with a receptionist and be asked to fill out paperwork. Be sure to bring all required information to your appointment.

This typically includes your insurance card, a photo ID, and a form of payment if your insurance does not cover the entire cost of the visit.

Routine Check-Up

Once you are called in, a nurse or medical assistant will give you a routine check-up. This includes taking your height and weight, checking your blood pressure, and taking a urine test.

Sometimes, the nurse or medical assistant will need to take a blood sample or they may send you out for blood work at a lab.

They will also confirm your medical history, history of medications, and ask if there’s anything you’d like the doctor to know.

Before they leave, they will give you a gown to change into for the exam.

Meeting Your Gynecologist

Once you are all changed, your gynecologist will knock on the door to make sure you are ready for them to come in. Here, they will introduce themselves and answer any questions or concerns the nurse/medical assistant relayed to them.

They will also ask questions about your menstrual cycle and past/current sexual activity.

Likewise, they may ask you if you’re interested in going on birth control. If you are interested, they will determine the right form for you.

Don’t worry about opening up to your gynecologist about anything that is bothering you, even if it feels embarrassing. They are there to help you with no judgment.

Breast Exam

Now, it is time for the exam. The first part of the exam is the breast exam.

You will usually be asked to lay down while the ob-gyn manually examines your breasts. They will palpate each breast to feel for any lumps or look for any abnormal areas on your skin or nipples.

If all is well, the test will be complete. If there are any concerns, your doctor will send you out for more testing.

Pelvic Exam

After the breast exam, it will be time for your pelvic exam. Keep in mind that if you are under 21 and not sexually active or don’t have any health concerns, your doctor may not even choose to perform a pelvic exam.

However, if you are sexually active, a pelvic exam is a standard part of your visit.

This part may feel uncomfortable and invasive, but a good gynecologist will go above and beyond to make sure you feel at ease.

You will be asked to lay back on the exam table and bend your knees to place your feet into the two stirrups at the end of the table. Your doctor will often remind you to make sure you’re scooted to the edge of the table and to keep your legs relaxed and spread apart.

External Exam

The first portion of the pelvic exam is the external exam. During this, the doctor will examine the external part of the vagina, checking your vulva, clitoris, and labia for any abnormalities.

Your doctor will usually talk you through each part of the exam as they perform it to ensure you feel safe and relaxed. Be sure to also take deep breaths to lower tension and anxiety.

Internal Exam

Next, is the internal exam. Your doctor will take a metal device called a speculum which is coated with a lubricant to minimize discomfort.

With the use of a light and the speculum, the doctor will be able to get a view of your cervix and make sure there are no spots, redness, or sores.

This is also when the doctor will swab the inside of the vagina to check for any STDS.

You should not experience any pain during the internal exam, although you may feel slight pressure or discomfort.

Pap Smear

If you are 21 years or older, you will need to receive a pap smear. A pap smear will check for cervical cancer or HPV cells.

The ob-gyn will use a thin brush to swab your cervix. This may feel a bit odd or uncomfortable, but not painful. Many people describe it as a mild pinching or scratching sensation.

Bimanual Exam

Lastly, your doctor will perform a bimanual exam. The speculum will be taken out of the vagina and they will insert two gloved fingers, also containing lubricant.

They will then press around your abdomen to make sure your pelvic organs feel normal.

Completion of the Appointment

After your pelvic exam, your appointment is complete. Your ob-gyn will leave the room for you to get changed back into your clothes.

They also may provide you with wipes if you need to dry your private area.

Be sure to schedule your next annual visit upon leaving. After your appointment, you may need to pick up any prescription your ob-gyn prescribed or go for further testing if necessary.

First Gynecology and Obstetrics Appointment

If you have an upcoming appointment, it’s normal to be nervous, but remember, it’s something every woman will need to go through at some point during their life and is necessary for your health and wellbeing.

If you are ready to search for a gynecologist near me? Women’s Health of Augusta provides many different types of quality gynecology services.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

obstetrics and gynecology

Obstetrics and Gynecology: Understanding the Differences

There are now over 110,700 gynecologists and obstetricians across the US. Not many people realize there’s a difference between obstetrics and gynecology, though. Understanding the difference between OB and GYN can help you seek the help you need.

You can visit a women’s health care specialist based on your specific goals and concerns. Otherwise, you could visit the wrong physician.

What is the difference between OB and GYN doctors, exactly? Which specialist should you visit? Keep reading to find out.

After reading this guide, you can make a more informed choice with your health in mind.

Read on to learn everything you need to know about gynecology and obstetrics today!

Obstetrics

Before we discuss the difference between obstetrics and gynecology, let’s look at each specialty separately. What exactly is obstetrics?

Obstetrics is a branch of medicine that focuses on surgical and medical care before, during, and after women give birth. This specialty focuses on caring for and maintaining the patient’s health during each stage of maternity.

These stages include:

  • Pregnancy
  • Labor
  • Childbirth
  • The postpartum period

Obstetricians are responsible for delivering babies. They can also provide therapies to help patients get pregnant. For example, some obstetricians specialize in offering fertility treatments.

Obstetricians can also offer guidance in Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs) for patients who deliver their babies prematurely.

These specialists will ensure patients have a healthy pregnancy and that they deliver a healthy baby.

You might need to consult an obstetrician if you experience any complications during your pregnancy, too. For example, you might require their expertise regarding:

  • Preeclampsia
  • Placenta issues
  • Signs of fetal distress
  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Delivery through Cesarean section

Once you have the baby, your obstetrician can also help if you’re experiencing postpartum depression or other post-pregnancy issues.

Gynecology

It’s normal for people to use the terms “obstetrics” and “gynecology” interchangeably. However, there are differences between the two specialties.

A gynecologist specializes in caring for a woman’s reproductive health through all stages. They can offer care and treatment from the time a woman gets her first period. They’ll offer help all the way to a woman’s post-menopausal stage, too.

Gynecologists can offer treatment for any conditions that affect the reproductive system as well. These conditions might involve the:

  • Cervix
  • Ovaries
  • Uterus
  • Fallopian tubes
  • Vagina

GYN doctors can also perform screenings related to reproductive health. These screenings can include pelvic exams, pap smears, and breast exams. You might need to visit a GYN doctor for a tubal ligation or hysterectomy as well.

They can also provide human papillomavirus (HPV) shots.

You might consider visiting GYN doctors for advice regarding sexual matters. For example, you can discuss contraceptives and sexual practices during an appointment. They can offer advice regarding protection against sexually transmitted diseases, too.

In other words, you can visit a gynecologist for concerns related to female reproductive health that aren’t related to pregnancies.

A few related issues might include:

  • Endometriosis
  • Irregular menstruation
  • Uterine fibroids
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Cervical and vaginal polyps
  • Prolapse of pelvic organs
  • Cancers of the reproductive system
  • Conditions that cause pain during sex
  • Vaginal infections

If you become pregnant, however, you’ll need to visit an obstetrician.

Differentiating the Two

Between 2018 and 2028, the US will experience only a 2% increase in obstetricians and gynecologists.

In fact, many areas don’t have enough women’s health care physicians under either specialty. In 2020, there was a gap of 8,000 positions that remained unfulfilled in obstetrics and gynecology. The number could increase to a shortage of 22,000 positions by 2050.

The main difference between an OB and GYN is their focus. An OB focuses on pregnancies. GYN doctors, on the other hand, focus on all other fields of women’s health care.

When to Visit an OB/GYN

It’s best to treat potential health and medical issues by taking a preventative approach. Even if you’re healthy, consider finding a local OB/GYN. A specialist who focuses on both obstetrics and gynecology can cover your women’s health care needs.

You can schedule a preventative checkup once a year with a local specialist.

During your appointment, your OB/GYN can conduct evaluations or schedule any immunizations you might need. They can also request lab tests to determine if you have a specific condition.

Your doctor will determine which tests you need based on your age group.

You can also visit an OB/GYN to schedule a pelvic exam. Your doctor might recommend other screenings or tests based on your health and age.

You should also visit an OB/GYN if you notice any changes to your reproductive cycle. For example, these changes might include:

  • Your first menstrual cycle
  • Pregnancy
  • Perimenopause
  • Menopause

Some changes are normal. However, you should schedule an appointment if any changes are unexpected or unusual. For example, you might notice changes in the volume or frequency of your menstrual bleeding.

You should also visit your OB/GYN if you experience pain during intercourse or while urinating.

Reproductive Needs and Goals

You can also schedule a consultation appointment based on your reproductive goals. For example, you might need an appointment to discuss:

  • Safe sex tips
  • Contraception
  • Sterilization
  • Birth control
  • Treatment and prevention of pain during sex
  • Vaccinations
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge
  • Planning a pregnancy
  • Prenatal care
  • Infertility treatment

Let your OB/GYN physician know about any new symptoms you begin experiencing, too.

For example, you might experience pain before or during menstruation. You can ask your OB/GYN questions about cramps, bleeding, or mood swings.

If you’re going through menopause, you can also discuss symptoms like hot flashes, bone loss, or low libido. Your OB/GYN can help with solutions like hormone replacement therapy or other treatment options.

Having a go-to OB/GYN will give you peace of mind. Even if you’re healthy, you can schedule annual appointments to assess your reproductive health. If there are any areas for concern, you can work with your doctor to develop a treatment plan.

Obstetrics and Gynecology: Differentiating OBs and GYN

To recap, what is the difference between obstetrics and gynecology? Obstetrics focuses on childbirth. Gynecology, on the other hand, focuses on a woman’s overall reproductive health.

You can visit your local OB/GYN to discuss your reproductive health needs or to plan a pregnancy.

Eager to schedule your next consultation appointment? We can’t wait to see you.

Contact us today to get started.

A Healthy Thankfulness

 I stepped off the bus apprehensive about the scene unfolding in front of me. The Infirmary or “Home for the Poor” as it was otherwise known, was a collection of dilapidated barracks housing abandoned physically and mentally ill men and women who were deemed to have no value to either family or society. The Infirmary was located on a purposefully isolated knoll in coastal Jamaica symbolically situated to reinforce their desire to forget its existence. The contrast surrounding its physical location was as stark as the dichotomy of the island itself. A lush forest populated with exotic fruit trees and bathed in rainbow colored foliage surrounded the ramshackle open aired barracks originally commissioned by Queen Victoria in 1898. On an island where five-star luxury resorts share the same zip code as cockroach infested hovels, the mocking beauty of the surrounding forest was in contradistinction to the decaying dormitory of the forgotten.
We were greeted gleefully (and a bit unexpectedly) at the door of the men’s quarters by a thirtyish Jamaican, physically mature but with the mind of a child. Richard had a toothless smile the size of the island itself as he exclaimed, “Oh boy, they’re here! Oh boy, they’re here!” in raid fire succession. His repetitive phrases were sincere and he instantly touched our hearts and calmed some of our apprehensions. We came to learn that Richard had been housed at the Infirmary all of his adult life, and his apparent inability to understand the destitution of his surroundings was counted as a blessing.

Entering the first cinder block building I was struck by numerous sensations all vying for attention. Visually the scene was disturbing: cot after cot of ancient bodies positioned as if trapped in their bed by some invisible barrier. The distinctive odor, one I had come to associate with hopelessness, was a mixture of urine, putrid food, and stale, unmoving air, and it covered the room like an unseen fog.

Our small band of church mission workers spent an hour in the Infirmary talking, praying, bathing and cleaning our hosts. Soon, we loaded up a few of the less ill and mobile onto our bus and made the short trip to the Jamaican beachfront frequented by the locals. There were no hotels, Tiki bars, or swimming pools, just a few kids and adults enjoying a respite from the oppressive heat. Those who were ambulatory walked arm in arm with their chaperone to the shoreline, while others were carried fireman style to the water. We sat in the cool, shallow waters of the Caribbean and spent the next few minutes rubbing soft sand on the resident’s life-weary skin, all the while hoping that they might forget for just a moment that they had to return to their reality.

Earlier in the day I had observed a skeleton-thin, talkative gentleman pacing to and fro among the cots greeting other residents all the while holding up an obviously grossly oversized pair of trousers. As I sat in the gentle cleansing waves with Zebe, the owner of the XXL pants, I asked him if he could have anything in the world – anything at all – what would he ask for? He took the question quite seriously and pondered it briefly then looked me in the eye and in his most thoughtful voice exclaimed, “A belt. Yes, I would very much like a belt!”

This is a time of year when we invoke thankfulness in an almost nonchalant fashion. I have to remind myself to punch through the complacency of abundance and rethink what it means to be thankful. We are bombarded with admonitions to be thankful for a free country, good health, and material comforts. All of these things are grand and worthy of thanks; however, thinking of Zebe reminds me that the things that I see as worthy of thanks are largely due to my perspective.

Regardless of circumstances, I can choose to be thankful. Tethering my appreciation only to objects or accomplishments is a set up for disappointment as those things may not always be present; however, if my basis for thankfulness is rooted in my ability to choose, then no circumstance can dissuade me. Choosing to be thankful for your good health (and your ability to change it if you are not satisfied) leads to joy, peace of mind, and goodwill.

I see the world through my own lens. In other words, where you are in the world, physically, emotionally and spiritually, colors how you understand thankfulness. If I had cancer, I would be very thankful for the anti-nausea medicine that follows the powerful chemotherapy; whereas, such medicine would not enter my thoughts otherwise. If I have all my worldly possessions stashed under a six by three foot cot, I am thankful for a belt. It is a matter of perspective.
Let us celebrate this season of thankfulness with an understanding and appreciation of our choices, and hopefully, this will lead us to action that will translate into healthy blessings for ourselves and others.

Is Health Care Reform Really Necessary?

    Health care reform is about as hot a topic as pepper sauce on Texas armadillo meat.  The pundits and politicians are bantering about like hens in a hen house clucking about this plan and that reform.  It is politically and philosophically prudent to be on the side of some type of change in the health care system.  No one disagrees that the system is unsustainable in its present configuration.  I concur that the situation is dire; the patient is in cardiac arrest and something has to be done.  However, I differ from many in believing that the solution is one that is simpler yet more impractical than a government take over.  I realize that sounds somewhat contradictory – simpler yet impractical – so let me explain.

    First, it is important to understand that we have two separate but intertwined problems: health insurance and health care.  As I am not an insurance expert so I will only opine about health care.  We will never cure this country’s ills without a strong dose of personal responsibility.  The government, politicians, insurance magnates, and even doctors are not only inadequate to change the system but incapable of effectively bringing about change because the change has to begin from within.  It has to come from the individual; the man in the mirror.  The biggest healthcare crisis in this country is not cancer, AIDS, heart disease or lack of insurance; it is people not choosing to live their lives in a healthy manner.  Until we as individuals start adopting the things we know to do to stay healthy, we will persist as a nation in need of sick care delivery instead of health care. 

Part of the problem is one of education.  For example, many feel that getting regular mammograms and doing self-breast exams are excellent preventive tools for breast cancer.  They are not!  They are simply tools of early detection. The cancer already exists when the utility of mammograms and self-breast exams are realized.  These tools prevent nothing other than higher morbidity and mortality, which is a good thing!  But we have to move back one level if we are to prevent breast cancer.  For example, decreasing your body mass index (BMI) a simple measurement that assesses your amount of body fat, can reduce the occurrence of breast cancer 40%!  Reducing obesity, stopping smoking, increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables, limiting alcohol intake; these are behaviors that all substantially reduce the likelihood that you will develop a breast cancer.  Are mammograms and self-breast exams important?  Of course, they are, but our focus should not only be on early detection but also prevention.  There are multiple factors that go into disease development, many of which we don’t understand.  My point is that, in general, a skinny vegetarian has a lower incidence of breast cancer than an overweight couch potato, and when you expand that to whole populations you begin to see how individual decisions can have a massive collective effect.

Another example from the field of women’s health is cervical cancer.  The Pap smear revolutionized the care and treatment of cervical cancer in the 50’s as it allowed for the detection of the disease in it earliest stages. As time went by and research progressed it became apparent that a major cause of cervical cancer is infection with the Human Papilloma Virus.  Pap smears can pick up changes in the cervical cells long before they develop as a cancer, but the Pap only detects the changes once they are there.   Two things can prevent HPV infection (and thereby most cases of cervical dysplasia): an HPV vaccine and monogamy.  Having multiple sexual contacts dramatically increases your risk of infection with HPV and thus greatly increases your risk of cervical dysplasia and cancer.  Again, prevention is different from early detection.  If you want to prevent cervical cancer, develop effective programs supporting vaccination, abstinence, and monogamy.  How many politicians are willing to handle that hot potato? 

     These are but two examples illustrating that the answer to our health care crises begins at home.  Providing health insurance to everyone will only reduce the number of uninsured, a noble undertaking, but it will do little to solve the problem of reducing and preventing disease.  At the beginning of this diatribe I stated that the answer was simple; personal responsibility.  I also said it was impractical.  An individual has every right to live the life they choose.  I have no moral authority to tell anyone that they must stop smoking, for example.  They choose their lifestyle, but they, in turn, must take responsibility for their actions.  Here is where the hypocrisy arises.  We clamor for personal rights but we cower from accepting personal responsibility.  Do we as a society have a moral imperative to take care of the sick and helpless?  Absolutely!  But that is paralleled by a moral responsibility of the individual to make decisions that improve their health.  I am my brother’s keeper, but in turn, it is my brother’s responsibility to not embrace behaviors that jeopardize his health and my good will.

    Will we ever be a society of both free will and moral accountability? We must if we are to survive this health crisis.