Posts Tagged ‘Pap smear’

Take care of your reproductive health

Monday, September 11th, 2017

If you’re planning to get pregnant in the future, it’s important that you take care of your reproductive health now.

Visit your health care provider regularly

Make sure you have an annual checkup with your provider. Your provider will most likely:

  • Give you a physical exam that includes taking your weight and checking your blood pressure
  • Give you a pelvic exam. This is an exam of the pelvic organs, like the vagina, cervix, uterus and ovaries, to make sure they’re healthy.
  • Do a Pap test. This is a medical test in which your provider collects cells from your cervix to check for cancer.

Protect yourself from sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

An STI is an infection that you can get from having unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex with someone who is infected. Many people with STIs don’t know they’re infected because some STIs have no signs or symptoms. Nearly 20 million new STI infections happen each year in the United States. Here’s what you can do to protect yourself from STIs:

  • Don’t have sex. This is the best way to prevent an STI.
  • If you do have sex, have safe sex. Have sex with only one person who doesn’t have other sex partners. If you’re not sure if your partner has an STI, use a barrier method of birth control, like a male or female condom or a dental dam. A dental dam is a square piece of rubber that can help protect you from STIs during oral sex.
  • Get tested and treated. The sooner you’re treated, the less likely you are to have complications from your infection.
  • Ask your partner to get tested and treated. Even if you get treated for an STI, if your partner’s infected he may be able to give you the infection again.

If you’re not ready to get pregnant, use birth control

More than half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned. Planning your pregnancy can help you have a healthy baby. If you’re planning to have a baby, you’re more likely to get healthy before you get pregnant and to get early and regular prenatal care during pregnancy. If you’re not ready for pregnancy, birth control options include:

  • Abstinence. This means you abstain from (don’t have) sex. Abstinence is the only birth control that’s 100 percent effective. This means it prevents pregnancy all the time.
  • Intrauterine devices (IUDs). An IUD is a small, plastic T-shaped device that your provider puts in your uterus. Hormonal IUDs contain progestin and last for 3-5 years. Non-hormonal IUDs contain copper and can work for up to 10 years.
  • Implants. An implant is a tiny rod that contains progestin and is inserted into your arm. The rod is so small that most people can’t see it. Implants can last for about 3 years.
  • Hormonal methods. These methods, like implants, non-copper IUDs, the pill and the patch, contain hormones that prevent you from releasing an egg. Without the egg, you can’t get pregnant.
  • Barrier methods. Condoms and diaphragms are barrier methods because they work by blocking or killing your partner’s sperm so it can’t reach your egg.

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Pap smear – new recommendations

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

The Pap smear is the best way to screen for cervical cancer and yearly screening has been routinely recommended for a long time. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, however, is now recommending that screening be changed to once every three years.

The change, supported by various cancer groups including the American Cancer Society, comes from the belief that annual testing finds “a lot of benign infections that would go away on their own.” Philip Castle of the American Society for Clinical Pathology continued saying “You end up overscreening, overmanaging and overtreating women who are not actually at risk of getting cervical cancer.”

The task force was made up of primary care doctors who are experts in the field of evidence-based research. The cancer groups agreed that, for women who are not at increased risk for cervical cancer, testing every three years makes more sense. The cancer groups also agreed with the recommendation that women under the age of 21 do not need to be tested.

 If you’re not certain which schedule is best for you, talk with your health care provider about it.

Cervical Health Awareness Month

Monday, January 10th, 2011

I was looking through a national health observances calendar the other day and discovered that, among other things, this is Cervical Health Awareness Month.  It was a good reminder to me to schedule an annual check up.

Most women I know don’t relish the thought of having their next Pap smear – I mean really, I can think of a lot of other things I’d rather be doing –  but they do eventually get around to it.  I remember as a busy mom, however, how easy it was to put myself last.  Yep, I’d take the kids to the doc, get their vaccinations, take the hubby to the optometrist or the dog to the vet… but somehow time easily marched by before I stopped slacking off and remembered to take care of myself.  And then one year when I finally did go, I was shocked to find a bad result which eventually led to surgery.  Not an avenue I’d recommend.

Did you know that some cervical surgery may cause a condition known as cervical insufficiency that can lead to premature birth?   Vaginal infections, like Group B strep or sexually transmitted infections, can pose special risks for pregnant women and their babies.

So ladies, make sure you get with the program.  Go for your annual check up.  If there is an early sign of an infection or problem, you can nip it in the bud.  It’s important for you, your future children and the family that loves you.

ACOG revises Pap smear recommendations

Friday, November 20th, 2009

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) today announced new guidelines on Pap smears and cervical cancer screenings. The organization says that women can wait until they’re age 21 to have their first Pap tests. ACOG also says that women between the ages of 21 and 30 should have a Pap test and cervical cancer screening once every two years instead of once every year. Women aged 30 and older who’ve had no previous complications in their last three screenings can have a Pap test once every three years.

The organization revised its recommendations based on the latest research about Pap tests and cervical cancer rates, showing that most cervical cancer cases come from women who don’t regularly see health care providers. ACOG also says that data shows testing at two and three year intervals can be just as effective at preventing cervical cancer.

While these recommendations represent a shift in women’s health care, talk to your health provider about what is best for you.