Our doctors and staff are trained to detect and treat a wide variety of conditions that may develop in a woman’s reproductive system. We value the relationships we have with our patients and believe in streamlining visits to make it as convenient as possible to receive gynecological care.
What Is Gynecology?
Gynecology is the medical specialty in which the primary focus is the female reproductive system. Gynecologists diagnose and treat conditions of the breasts, vagina, vulva, ovaries, cervix, uterus, and fallopian tubes.
A gynecologist provides care that revolves around a woman’s reproductive and sexual health. While it is not uncommon for a primary physician to offer Pap screenings and pelvic exams, a gynecologist’s training supports the diagnosis and treatment of complex gynecological issues. Some of the issues within the realm of your gynecologist include:
- Birth control and family planning
- Abnormal periods
- Screening, diagnosing and treating sexually transmitted infections
- Pelvic floor dysfunction
When Should I First See The Gynecologist?
Craig Ranch OB/GYN staff recommend gynecologic exams for women aged 21 and older. However, some younger women begin seeing their gynecologist either when they begin menstruating or when they become sexually active. Visits that take place before age 21 typically do not involve Pap smears. Rather, they revolve around discussing how a woman’s body is changing and how to manage reproductive health.
What Exams Are Performed At My Annual Gynecology Visit?
Annual well-woman visits typically involve routine screenings for breast and cervical health. This appointment begins with standard measurements of weight, blood pressure, and notation of the date of your last period. If you have questions or have any irregularities in your menstrual cycle, discuss them with your doctor.
After this brief consultation, your doctor will conduct a breast exam, pelvic exam, and Pap smear.
How Do I Prepare for an Annual Gynecological Exam?
There is very little to do before your annual gynecology exam. If you have questions or concerns, we suggest that you write them down to bring up during your appointment. To ensure that nothing interferes with your pelvic exam or Pap, we recommend avoiding tampons, spermicides, vaginal medications, and powder for 24 hours before your visit. Also, to be on the safe side, avoid sexual intercourse the night before your exam. The presence of semen in the vaginal canal could affect the accuracy of your exam.
Can You Go To a Gynecology Annual Exam on Your Period?
Provided that you are not bleeding heavily, you may undergo your gynecology exam when you're on your period. Being on your period should not increase the amount of discomfort you experience during your exam. The primary concern is that, if there is a lot of blood present at the time of your exam and screenings, your results may be altered. Talk to your doctor about the best timing for your exam.
How Long is a Gynecology Appointment?
Your appointment may last from 30 to 60 minutes depending on your questions and the number of screenings you will have done. Your pelvic exam and Pap only take a couple of minutes each. The rest of your visit may be spent discussing your medical history or recent changes in vaginal or reproductive health. The doctor may also perform a brief breast exam during this visit. This also takes just a few minutes.
Can You Have a Mammogram While Breastfeeding?
Studies indicate that it is safe to have a mammogram while breastfeeding if the test is necessary at that time. To reduce the chances of your mammogram being uncomfortable, it is advisable to bring your baby with you to your screening and breastfeed just a few minutes before the test. You may also bring a pump with you so that you can express milk prior to your mammogram.
“Great staff and great doctors! From the front desk right when you walk into the nurse taking you back. The doctor is very informative and took her time with me. I didn’t feel rushed at all! I would recommend this office to anyone!!”
– Michelle M.
What Is A Pap Smear?
A Pap smear is a cervical screening that takes less than 5 minutes to complete. During the exam, your Craig Ranch OB/GYN doctor will collect cells from your cervix on a cotton swab. Cells are then placed onto a small dish and preserved for microscopic examination in the lab. Pap tests give doctors and their patients the best chance at detecting and treating cervical cancer in its earliest stages. A Pap can even detect abnormal cells that suggest cancer may occur in the future.
How Often you should be getting Pap Smears
Pap tests are not always performed during annual exams, but annual exams are always important to maintain. Your doctor will schedule routine Pap smears based on your age and history of normal Paps. Healthy women with no recent history of abnormal Pap may only need this screening every 3 to 5 years.
When Should I Get My First Mammogram?
Craig Ranch OB/GYN recommends that mammogram screenings begin at 45. Women aged 45 to 54 are encouraged to undergo mammograms on a yearly basis. After age 55, this may decrease to once every two years. Some women choose to begin undergoing mammograms as early as age 40. Our staff can discuss the appropriate timeline for your screenings based on your medical history, family history, and personal preferences.
Additional Visits To My Gynecologist
Patients may need to see their gynecologist in between their annual well-woman visits if they notice symptoms that may indicate infection or other health concerns. We encourage patients to contact our office if they experience symptoms such as burning upon urination, painful intercourse, irregular menstrual bleeding, persistent abdominal pain, or any other instances that are not normal for your body.
When Will I Receive Results From My Testing?
Our staff will send any routine screening tests, such as a Pap smear, to a medical lab for examination. It may take 1 to 3 weeks for patients to receive their results. Mammogram results may take up to 30 days.
What Happens If my Pap Smear Results Are Abnormal?
An abnormal Pap smear does not mean you have cervical cancer. Based on the degree of cellular abnormality, your doctor may suggest a follow-up Pap in one year, and HPV screening, or a colposcopy. Our providers will explain the details of the test and answer any questions you have.