Cache Valley Women’s Center at the Lodge has a professional and comfortable approach to gynecological services. We treat each woman as an individual and take your special needs and concerns seriously.
Cache Valley Women’s Center at the Lodge treats each woman as an individual and take your special needs and concerns seriously.
What is the Difference Between a Gynecologist and an Obstetrician?
Gynecologists are doctors who specialize in women’s health and focus on the female reproductive system. Obstetricians care for women during their pregnancy and just after the baby is born. They also deliver babies. An OB/GYN is trained to do all of these things.
Building up a relationship with your doctor enables a girl or woman to be more comfortable asking questions about menstruation, sexuality and so on. It also provides a point of contact if symptoms occur in the future. Women are advised to visit a gynecologist annually for a checkup and any time they have symptoms that concern them.
Let’s Talk About It
How Often Should You Visit a Gynecologist?
It’s important to have a well-woman exam, also called an annual exam, with your caregiver once a year. This exam helps you learn more about your body and what steps you need to take to become healthier.
What is a Well-Woman Exam?
A well-woman exam is recommended once a year. It often includes breast and pelvic exams and a pap smear but can also address any individual needs. You’re able to bring up any concerns or questions you might have regarding sexuality, stress, parenting, family planning, and/or hormones. Your caregiver will take your vitals, height, and weight and give you a physical exam. We will also ask about updates on your current life and work situation, family health history, and basic questions about your diet and health.
A pelvic exam is very important for a woman’s overall health and checks the health of your reproductive organs—including your vulva, vagina, cervix, and uterus. Your physician will also check for ovarian cysts, sexually transmitted infections, or certain cancers. This is usually done by taking a pap smear/test. A pap test consists of gathering cells from your cervix with an extended swab and are typically recommended every three to five years. These procedures are quick, often painless, and vital for your health.
Cache Valley Women’s Center also offers vaccines, including Gardasil, which is a vaccine for HPV, a virus known to cause certain cervical and uterine cancers.
What To Expect At An Exam
What is a Premarital Examination?
A premarital exam, or basic gynecological exam, helps you establish a relationship with your doctor before you begin having sex. It usually includes a discussion of birth control options, what to do if you get a UTI, and other related topics.
A sexual health visit can include a discussion of anything you’d like. Below are a few ideas of topics to discuss during your appointment:
- Contraceptive counseling (birth control) and a prescription or placement.
- Your anatomy and physiology
- How to make sexual activity an enjoyable experience
- Testing and counseling for sexually transmitted infections
- The HPV vaccine: What it is and when we recommend it
- Cervical cancer screening: What it is and when we recommend it
- Any specific questions or concerns you may have
- Any questions about becoming pregnant
What is a Pelvic Exam?
What is a Pap Test?
A pap smear/test is a type of screening that checks for cancer of the cervix or any cervical abnormalities that might lead to cancer. Your gynecologist examines the vulva and the cervix with a speculum and will take a small sample of cells to examine.
Do I Need To Have a Pap Test and Pelvic Exam Every Year?
While a pap test shows abnormal cells and signs of cervical cancer, a pelvic exam checks for skin cancers, diseases of the vulva, STI’s and different forms of cancer. While your pap test can usually be performed every few years, you should have a pelvic exam every year. Pap smears are typically recommended every three to five years.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, if you’re over 21 but under 29, you often only need a pap test every three years. If you are between the ages of 30 to 64, it is recommended that you have a pap test every three to five years.
When Should My Daughter See An OB/GYN For The First Time?
As a parent, it can often feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders—particularly when it comes to decisions that affect the health and well-being of your child.
Given the average, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends girls see an OB/GYN between the ages of 13 and 15. This is particularly important if she is or plans to be sexually active or if she experiences painful or irregular periods. Learn more about when and why it’s important for you daughter to see a gynecologist once she starts her period.
Birth Control Options
One of the most popular forms of birth control is most commonly known as “the pill.” Oral contraceptives come in an estrogen/progestin combo pill or a progestin-only form. You must take the pill at the same time every day for maximum effectiveness. It can also help reduce heavy periods, cramping, and offer some protection against certain health conditions.
IUDs are small, flexible devices inserted into the uterus to prevent pregnancy. IUDs have the advantage of being long-term, low-maintenance forms of birth control. Fertility usually returns quickly after having an IUD removed. Women who choose an IUD have the option between a hormonal or non-hormonal IUD. Hormonal IUDs (brand names Mirena and Skyla) emit small amounts of progesterone into the uterus to prevent pregnancy.
Depending on the brand, they are effective for three to five years. Non-hormonal IUDs emit trace amounts of copper that prevent pregnancy and are effective for up to 10 years.
For women who know they are done having children, sterilization is a permanent birth control option. Options include tubal ligation, hysterectomy, and in some cases, minilaparotomy (removal of a section of the fallopian tube on each side and done one to two days after a woman gives birth).
For men who wish to undergo sterilization, we ask that you visit with your urology physician.
Depo-Provera is a progestin shot you receive from your OB/GYN every 12 weeks. This low-maintenance shot can offer fewer cramps and lighter periods for some. However, it can take up to a year to get pregnant after you stop.
The Patch (Ortho Evra)
Vaginal Ring (Nuva Ring)
Infertility Testing & Treatment
How Long Does It Usually Take To Get Pregnant?
Some women become pregnant quickly and for others, it takes longer. It’s normal for it to take some time.
- The average woman under 30 years old has about a 20% chance of getting pregnant within each month, provided there aren’t any undiagnosed fertility issues.
- Within a year of trying, the average woman’s chances of conceiving are 90% (again assuming no underlying complications).
When Should I Consider Fertility Testing?
Several factors can affect a couple’s chances of conceiving, such as:
- Nutrition and lifestyle
- How often you have sex
- Stress levels
The recommendation from both the American Congress of Obestetricians and Gynecologists and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine is that women under age 30 try to conceive for 12 months before seeking treatment. For women over age 30, try for six months before seeking help from a fertility specialist. Both partners should undergo a comprehensive physical and medical assessment.
What Does Fertility Testing Look For?
For women, tests are very comprehensive and can include exams for:
- A hormone imbalance
- A tumor or cyst
- Eating disorders
- Alcohol or drug use
- Thyroid gland problems
- Excess weight
- Brief menstrual cycle
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Polyps in the uterus
- Endometriosis or fibroids
- Scar tissue or adhesions
- Chronic medical illness
- A previous ectopic (tubal) pregnancy
- A birth defect
- DES syndrome (certain medication given to women to prevent miscarriage or premature birth can result in fertility problems for their children)
- Abnormal cervical mucus
For men, a semen sample is tested.
What Tests Are Used To Determine Fertility?
Normally, a complete medical history and physical exam are the first steps in diagnosing a fertility problem. After that, some of the diagnostic tests may include:
- Blood and urine tests to check hormone levels
- A pap smear to check the health of the cervix
- Urine test to evaluate LH surges
- Basal body temperature test. This checks whether the woman’s ovaries are releasing eggs
- An endometrial biopsy. The physician removes a piece of tissue in the uterine lining
- Examining this tissue helps tell the physician whether eggs have been released and whether the corpus luteum produces enough progesterone.
- An ultrasound to look for fibroids or cysts in the uterus or ovaries
- A post-coital test. The physician takes a sample of mucus from the woman’s vagina. She must have the test during her fertile days and within 12 hours after she and her partner have sex. This test helps determine whether the man’s sperm can survive in the woman’s cervical mucus.
- A laparoscopy checks for scar tissue or endometriosis in the woman’s fallopian tubes or ovaries.
- This procedure usually requires general anesthesia
- Hysterosalpingogram, the cervix is clamped and a needle filled with dye is injected into the uterus. An x-ray is taken to determine whether the dye passes through the open ends of the fallopian tubes. This procedure is performed at Logan Regional Hospital.
How Common is Infertility?
Is IUI a Good Option For Me?
Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) is a fertility treatment that involves placing sperm inside a woman’s uterus to facilitate fertilization. The goal of IUI is to increase the number of sperm that reach the fallopian tubes and subsequently increase the chance of fertilization.
IUI provides the sperm an advantage by giving it a head start but still requires a sperm to reach and fertilize the egg on its own. It is a less invasive and less expensive option compared to In Vitro Fertilization.
Breast Cancer Screening
How Often Do I Need a Mammogram?
Routine breast exams are very important to detect breast cancer as early as possible. In addition to your annual breast exam, we encourage you to give yourself a monthly breast exam. A woman should begin with yearly mammograms at age 40, or sooner if you have a family history of breast cancer.
Become familiar with how your breasts look and feel. This helps you notice any symptoms such as lumps, pain, or changes in size that may be of concern. You should report any changes that you notice to your doctor or healthcare provider. Learn more tips for knowing when and why to get a mammogram on our blog.
Why Are Breast Self Exams Important?
A breast self examination (BSE) is important for early detection of breast cancer. Try to get in the habit of doing a breast self–examination once a month to familiarize yourself with how your breasts normally look and feel. Look for any changes in breast tissue, such as changes in size, feeling a palpable lump, dimpling or puckering of the breast, inversion of the nipple, redness or scaliness of the breast skin, redness or scaliness of the nipple/areola area, or discharge of secretions from the nipple.
Are Tests Needed To Check For Menopause?
Tests are not typically needed to diagnose menopause because women tend to experience irregular periods and hot flashes as her hormone levels fluctuate. Under certain circumstances, your doctor may recommend blood tests to check your levels of:
- Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and estrogen (estradiol). Your FSH levels increase and estradiol levels decrease as menopause occurs.
- Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). An underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) can cause symptoms similar to those of menopause.
Does Menopause Require Medical Treatment?
Menopause does not require medical treatment. Instead, treatments focus on relieving your signs and symptoms and preventing or managing chronic conditions that may occur with aging. Talk with your physician about which treatments are right for you. Treatments may include:
- Hormone therapy
- Vaginal estrogen
- Low-dose antidepressants
- Gabapentin (Neurontin, Gralise, others) has been shown to help reduce hot flashes.
- Clonidine (Catapres, Kapvay, others) might provide some relief from hot flashes
- Medications to prevent or treat osteoporosis.
Should I Get Tested?
If you have had unprotected sex, have a new partner (or more than one partner), or worried for any reason that you may have been exposed to an STI, talk to your healthcare provider.
What STIs Do You Test For?
Common STIs we test for include: chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV, herpes, HPV, syphilis, and trichomoniasis. You and your healthcare provider work together to determine if you need to be tested for all of these, some, or other types of STIs.
Colposcopy, Cryotherapy & LEEP
What Does a Colposcopy Screen For?
A colposcopy is done when the results of a cervical cancer screen show abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix. It is the process of looking at the cervix through a special magnifying device called a colposcope. This exam allows your physician to find problems that cannot be seen by the eye alone.
What Happens During Cryotherapy?
Cryotherapy is a treatment that prevents cervical cancer. Your doctor uses chemicals to essentially freeze abnormal cells from your cervix so normal ones can grow back.
What is LEEP?
LEEP stands for Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure and also helps prevent cervical cancer. In this case, a small electrical wire loop is used to remove abnormal cells from your cervix. This procedure may be performed after abnormal cells are found during a pap test, colposcopy, or biopsy.
Minimally Invasive Hysterectomies
Also commonly known as a laparoscopic hysterectomy. Your physician uses specialized tools that are inserted through fingernail-size incisions in the abdomen. This approach often results in a much faster recovery and less pain than with a traditional hysterectomy.
Laparoscopic Treatment of Endometriosis and Ovarian Cysts
A laparoscopy is the most common type of surgery for both the diagnosis and treatment of endometriosis. It allows observation of the reproductive organs without the need to create a large abdominal incision. During the procedure, the surgeon makes a small incision in the abdomen to insert the surgical instruments and a small camera (laparoscope) to increase visibility. Your surgeon will either remove the lesions or cysts or destroy them with intense heat and cauterization.
This procedure allows the physician to visualize the uterine cavity for diagnostic purposes. As a minimally invasive procedure, it is highly accurate for diagnosing abnormalities in the endometrial cavity and the endocervical canal.
In-office Endometrial Ablation
A thin tube with a tiny camera is used to look inside the uterus. No incisions are made. The physician then uses another device to burn the lining of the endometrium.
Bladder Repair & Incontinence Procedures
Sometimes a woman’s muscles or tissues that support the urethra, bladder, uterus, or rectum are damaged. There are a few different types of surgery for treatment:
- Synthetic materials are injected into the tissue around the urethra to provide support and tighten the opening of the bladder neck. The procedure is usually performed in your health care professional’s office with local anesthesia. A lighted scope is inserted into the urethra and the material is injected through a thin needle. The procedure takes less than 20 minutes and may take two or three injections to get the desired result. The injections may improve symptoms but do not usually result in a complete cure of incontinence.
- Urethral Sling — There are two types
- Midurethral sling—The mid-urethral sling is the most common type of surgery used to correct SUI. It is a narrow strap made of synthetic mesh and placed under the urethra. It acts as a hammock to lift or support the urethra and the neck of the bladder.
- Traditional sling—In this type of surgery, the sling is a strip of your tissue taken from the lower abdomen or thigh. The ends of the sling are stitched in place through an incision in the abdomen.
- The part of the urethra nearest to the bladder is restored to its normal position.