Women's healthcare focuses on health, especially as it pertains to the female reproductive system. Regular visits to the gynecologist can help women avoid reproductive problems such as infections, infertility, and even certain types of cancer. Here are some women's health services that can help keep you healthy:
1. Pelvic Exams
Pelvic exams are annual examinations that can ensure that your reproductive system is healthy. During a pelvic exam, you will place your feet in stirrups as you lie on an exam table. Your gynecologist will place a speculum into your vagina, which will allow them to see inside. Pelvic exams may be mildly uncomfortable, but they are a great way to catch potential problems before they worsen.
2. Pap Smears
Pap smears are important diagnostic procedures that can be used to catch cell changes that may signify pre-cancer of the cervix. Pap smears are typically performed at the end of a pelvic exam. Some women only require pap smears every three to five years. However, women who are at greater risk of developing cervical cancer and those who have received abnormal pap smear results in the past may need to be tested more frequently. Regular testing can help women lower their risk of developing full-blown cervical cancer.
Colposcopies can be used to diagnose cervical cancer and abnormal cell changes in the cervix. Women with abnormal pap smear results and those with high-risk HPV infections are typically recommended to undergo colposcopies. During this procedure, your gynecologist will use a magnifying device to view your cervix. They will use acetic acid to highlight areas of concern. If suspicious tissue is found, your gynecologist will take a biopsy for testing. These lab tests can show cell changes that may signify cancer or pre-cancer.
LEEP stands for loop electrosurgical excision procedure. This procedure is used to exercise abnormal cells from the cervix. If your colposcopy discovers abnormal cells, it's important to have them removed before they can turn into cervical cancer. LEEP can achieve this. LEEPs are usually performed as outpatient procedures with the aid of local anesthesia. During your LEEP, your gynecologist will use a colposcope to view your cervix. They will then use a small, electrified loop of metal to precisely remove abnormal tissue from your cervix. This tool will cauterize tissue as it is removed, preventing unwanted bleeding. The tissue removed during your LEEP will be sent to a lab for examination. This step of the process will ensure that your gynecologist has removed all the precancerous tissue from your body.