Monday, January 15, 2018

Ever Wondered This About Your Vaginal Health? You’re Not Alone

When it comes to vaginal health, it seems like many of us have more questions than answers. Whether you’re wondering if this period symptom is something serious or you’re worried you might have an infection, it can be hard to know what’s normal. Even with all those questions, most women go to their annual well-woman check-up without thinking twice about what their provider is actually doing.

So, to help you better understand your vaginal health and Thaddeus Lancaster, MD, an obstetrician and gynecologist with Gwinnett Physicians Group–OB/GYN answers some of the most common questions you’ve always wanted to ask, but haven’t.

Q. What does a pap test check?

A. Also called a pap smear, this test involves collecting a few cells off the wall of the cervix. These cells are sent to a lab where the test looks for any abnormal cells.

Q. What can cause abnormal pap test results (and what does an abnormal result mean)?

A.  If the pap test comes back negative, that means there were no abnormal cells. If the test comes back positive, that means the lab detected the presence of abnormal cells. This can indicate slight inflammation, minor cell changes, precancerous indications or cancer. If there are abnormal cells present, the pap test may be repeated, or further testing may be advised.

Q. How often should I have a pap test?

A. The short answer is that it depends on your health history and your physician’s recommendations. For most women between the ages of 21 and 64, a pap test is recommended every three years.

Q. What is a pelvic exam?

A. During a pelvic exam, your healthcare provider checks your external and internal reproductive organs to check for infections and other signs of disease or abnormal cells.

Q. How often should I have a pelvic exam?

A. Depending on your health history and physician’s recommendations, a pelvic exam is recommended every three years for most women between the ages of 21 and 64.

Q. Can the pap test and pelvic exam be performed during my period?

A. It’s preferable to have the pap test and pelvic exam done on a day in which you aren’t menstruating. Presence of menstrual cells in the pap test, in particular, may lead to inconclusive results and re-testing. If you have an appointment and your period starts, call you healthcare provider and ask their preference.

Complete Care for Every Stage of a Woman’s Life

The experts of Gwinnett Physicians Group–OB/GYN are dedicated to fulfilling the unique medical needs of women. With an extensive range of comprehensive women’s health services, you will receive personalized care through every stage of life.

Whether you need an appointment for health maintenance during pregnancy, a routine Pap test or treatment for a UTI, scheduling an appointment has never been easier. From the comfort of your own home, you can use online scheduling to make an appointment with any of the trusted Gwinnett Physicians Group–OB/GYN providers.