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Keeping women of all ages at the peak of health is our top priority. Taking preventative actions by keeping up with annual screenings and exams is the first step toward maintaining your health and early detection of problems. Talk to our doctors to learn more about what measures you should be taking.

Your Pap

The Pap test, also called a Pap smear, looks for pre-cancerous and cancerous cells in the cervix. Abnormal cells may become cancerous if not treated or removed. Cervical cancer can be prevented by having regular Pap tests. Most insurance plans cover Pap tests and cervical cancer screenings at no cost to you.
Medical professionals encourage most women ages 21 to 65 to schedule Pap tests as part of their routine health care.

  • Women ages 21 to 29 should get a Pap test every three years
  • Women ages 30 to 64 should get a Pap test and human papillomavirus (HPV) test together every five years, or a Pap test by itself every three years
  • If you are 65 or older, ask your doctor when you can stop having Pap tests

Talk to your doctor about getting Pap tests more often if:

  • You have a weakened immune system because of an organ transplant, chemotherapy or steroid use
  • Your mother was exposed to diethylstilbestrol (DES) while pregnant
  • You have had treatment for abnormal Pap results or cervical cancer
  • You are HIV-positive

Abnormal Results

Don’t worry, abnormal Pap test results do not typically mean you have cancer. Often there is just a small abnormality with the cervix. If results are unclear or show a small change in the cells of the cervix, your doctor will likely repeat the Pap test immediately, in six months or in a year.
Some abnormal cells do eventually become cancer. Treating abnormal cells that don’t go away prevents nearly all cases of cervical cancer. Your doctor will talk to you about the best way to treat the cells. Often treatment is done at the doctor’s office and is minimally invasive.
For additional information, visit LEEP and Colposcopy pages

Birth Control Options

Method Number of pregnancies per 100 women* Use Risks
Sterilization surgery for women Less than 1 *Onetime procedure *Permanent *Pain
*Bleeding *Infection or other complications after surgery *Ectopic pregnancy
Surgical sterilization implant for women Less than 1 *Onetime procedure *Waiting period before it works *Mild to moderate pain after insertion *Ectopic pregnancy
Sterilization surgery for men Less than 1 *Onetime procedure *Waiting period before it works *Permanent * Pain *Bleeding *Infection
Implantable rod Less than 1 *Inserted by a health care provider *Lasts up to three years *Changes in bleeding patterns *Weight gain *Breast and abdominal pain
IUD copper Less than 1 *Inserted by a health care provider *Lasts up to 10 years *Cramps *Bleeding *Pelvic inflammatory disease *Infertility *Tear or hole in uterus
IUD with progestin Less than 1 *Inserted by a health care provider *Lasts 3 -5 years, depending on type *Irregular bleeding *No periods *Abdominal/pelvic pain *Ovarian cysts
Shot/Injection 6 Need a shot every 3 months *Bone loss *Bleeding between periods *Weight gain *Nervousness *Abdominal discomfort *Headaches
Oral Contraceptives (Combined Pill) “The Pill” 9 Must swallow a pill every day *Nausea *Breast tenderness *Headache *Rare: high blood pressure, blood clots, heart attack, stroke
Oral Contraceptives (Progestin only) “The Minipill” 9 Must swallow a pill every day *Irregular bleeding *Headache *Breast tenderness *Nausea *Dizziness
Patch 9 Put on a new patch each week for 3 weeks (21 total days). Don’t put on a patch during the 4th week. *Exposure to higher average levels of estrogen than most oral contraceptives
Vaginal Contraceptive Ring 9 Put the ring into the vagina yourself. Keep the ring in your vagina for 3 weeks and then take it out for 1 week. *Vaginal discharge *Discomfort in the vagina *Mild irritation *Risks are similar to oral contraceptives (combined)
Diaphram with Spermicide 12 Must use every time you have sex *Irritation *Allergic reactions *Urinary tract infection *Toxic shock
Sponge with Spermicide 12-24 Must use every time you have sex *Irritation *Allergic reactions *Urinary tract infection *Toxic shock
Cervical Cap with Spermicide 17-23 Must use every time you have sex *Irritation *Allergic reactions *Abnormal Pap test
Male Condom 18 Must use every time you have sex. Except for abstinence, latex condoms are the best protection against HIV/AIDs and other STDs. *Allergic reactions
Female Condom 21 Must use every time you have sex. May give you some protection against STIs. *Irritation *Allergic reactions
Spermicide Alone 28 Must use every time you have sex. *Irritation *Allergic reactions *Urinary tract infection

*Birth Control Guide from the FDA Office of Women’s Health

Menopause (including Hormone Replacement Therapy)

Menopause is the last menstrual period for a woman and a normal part of aging. Women may notice changes in their bodies before and after menopause. There are typically three stages including perimenopause, menopause and post menopause. Perimenopause can begin several years before your final period. Changing levels of estrogen and progesterone, the two hormones made in your ovaries, leads to symptoms similar to those experienced in menopause such as a lower sex drive, hot flashes, fatigue and irregular periods. Menopause is defined as when a woman does not have her period for a year; after that she enters post menopause. The average age for a woman to have her last period is 51.

Hormone Replacement Therapy

Hormone replacement therapy was once standard for women undergoing menopause however, now doctors use careful consideration before prescribing medications containing female hormones. It can be a good option for women in certain circumstances. There are various types of hormone therapy including systemic hormone therapy and lose-dose vaginal products. Systemic estrogen is a pill, patch, gel or spray and is considered by doctors the most effective way to treat hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms. Low-dose vaginal products come in the form of cream, tablet or ring and treat vaginal and urinary symptoms. They do not help with hot flashes or protect against osteoporosis.