Maternal Resources


Gynecology Q&A

What is a gynecologist?

A gynecologist (OB/GYN) is a physician who is specially trained to provide medical and surgical care throughout the many stages of a woman’s reproductive life. This care begins with the start of menstruation, extends through the childbearing years, and goes into and beyond menopause.

After graduating from medical school, gynecologists must complete a four-year specialized residency training that focuses on all aspects of women’s reproductive care. This also includes covering women’s primary care such as health maintenance, preventive care, and disease management.

What is a midwife?

Certified nurse midwives are trained and licensed in both nursing and midwifery. They are highly effective when it comes to providing primary health care to women of all ages.

They’re also specially trained to provide basic gynecological services, including wellness and prevention exams, family planning, menopausal management, bio-identical hormones, and nutrition and exercise counseling.

Midwives differ from gynecologists in that they don’t perform gynecologic surgery.

Why should I schedule a well-woman exam?

The well-woman exam is a cornerstone of preventive care in women’s medicine. During a well-woman exam, we will cover virtually every aspect of your health, including:

General health — Exams may include screenings for high blood pressure, diabetes, bone density, and osteoporosis.

Cancer screenings — Depending on what you’re due for, you may undergo a breast, colon, or cervical cancer screening.

Vaccinations — When applicable, you may receive a flu shot or an HPV vaccination.

Sexual infection screening — If you have any symptoms or concerns, the practitioners can screen you for chlamydia, gonorrhea, genital herpes, and other infections that sexual contact can spread.

Menstruation issues — Your annual exam is a good time to discuss any menstrual cycle abnormalities including heavy bleeding, pelvic pain, or irregular periods.

The annual well-woman exam is also an opportune time to discuss any concerns you have about sex, receive preconception counseling, learn more about birth control options, or get help with menopause symptoms.

How often should I have a Pap test?

Pap smear tests are used to check your cervix, or the lower part of the uterus that opens into the vagina, for abnormal cells. Cell changes in your cervix may be an early sign of cervical cancer.

Getting a pap test is one of the best things that women of all ages can do to prevent cervical cancer. It’s recommended every three years for women between the ages of 21 and 65.

Unless you have known risk factors for cervical cancer, we may recommend that you continue to have a Pap test every three years starting at the age of 30 or begin having a Pap test and an HPV test together every five years.