Good health begins with regular exams, recommended screenings, and smart lifestyle choices. At LowCountry Women’s Specialists our specialty is promoting women’s health and providing options to enhance your health from adolescence and beyond.
Annual Exams and Pap Smears
Well-woman exams are an essential part of maintaining long-term health and preventing illness before it occurs. Routine exams and screenings are typically once a year, depending on your age, health history, lifestyle, and other important issues. You and your health care provider can determine how often you need to be examined and screened for certain diseases and conditions. Each visit includes a full medical history, physical exam (general, breast and pelvic), and discussion of health maintenance strategies.
What is the difference between a pelvic exam and a pap smear?
A pelvic exam is a thorough exam by a gynecologist or another skilled provider including inspection of the external genitalia for lesions or abnormalities, a pap smear via a speculum exam, a bimanual exam to palpate uterine size as well as ovaries, and often times a rectal exam among other techniques as deemed necessary.
The current recommendations state a pap smear, which screens for cervical cancer, may be spaced out every 2 years in those 21 to 29 years of age and every 3 years in those 30 years and older with a history of 3 consecutive negative pap smears. Every female with ovaries needs a yearly pelvic exam to evaluate ovaries for cysts and/or masses. Unlike cervical cancer, there is no good screening test for ovarian cancer which will kill 15,500 women this year. Ovarian cancer accounts for more deaths than any other cancer death of the reproductive system including cervical cancer. One in 71 women will get ovarian cancer in their lifetime and 1 in 95 women will die of ovarian cancer.
Abnormal Uterine Bleeding
The hectic schedules of today’s busy women have no room for things that slow you down. Heavy, painful periods or experiencing break through bleeding between cycles can disrupt your lifestyle. We have treatment options available to meet every woman’s unique needs.
Pelvic Pain or Endometriosis
Our Physicians have the knowledge and experience to understand that chronic pelvic pain can be attributed to a number of different causes. After an exam and any necessary testing, we will listen to your concerns, answer your questions and help you determine the treatment option best suited for your diagnosis.
When the result of a Pap smear is abnormal or when the cervix looks abnormal during the collection of a Pap smear a colposcopy may be ordered. During the procedure, a special microscope (called a colposcope) is used to look into the vagina and very closely at the cervix to determine what is causing the abnormal looking cervix or the abnormal Pap smear so that appropriate treatment can be given.
In Office Surgical Procedures
With new advances in surgical techniques and the use of less sedating anesthetics, Lowcountry physicians feel proud to provide our patients with safer, less invasive, more cost effective alternatives to hospital-based surgeries.
Our in-office procedures offer you the comfort and convenience of an office visit while still providing the same knowledge, expertise and quality of care of a hospital surgery.
LowCountry Women’s Specialist has performed more than 1000 in-office procedures within the past 5 years so you can trust our experience and expertise.
Hysteroscopy is used to diagnose or treat problems of the uterus. A hysteroscope is a thin, lighted telescope-like device. It is inserted through your vagina into your uterus. The hysteroscope transmits the image of your uterus onto a screen. Other instruments are used along with the hysteroscope for treatment.
Why is hysteroscopy done?
One of the most common uses for hysteroscopy is to find the cause of abnormal uterine bleeding. Abnormal bleeding can mean that a woman’s menstrual periods are heavier or longer than usual or occur less often or more often than normal. Bleeding between menstrual periods also is abnormal.
Hysteroscopy also is used in the following situations:
• Remove adhesions that may occur because of infection or from past surgery
• Diagnose the cause of repeated miscarriage when a woman has more than two miscarriages in a row
• Locate an intrauterine device
• Perform sterilization, in which the hysteroscope is used to place small implants into a woman’s fallopian tubes as a permanent form of birth control.
How is hysteroscopy performed?
Before the procedure, you may be given a medication to help you relax, or general anesthesia or local anesthesia may be used to block the pain. If you have general anesthesia, you will not be awake during the procedure.
Hysteroscopy can be done in a doctor’s office or at the hospital. It will be scheduled when you are not having your menstrual period. To make the procedure easier, your health care provider may dilate (open) your cervix before your hysteroscopy. You may be given medication that is inserted into the cervix, or special dilators may be used.
A speculum is first inserted into the vagina. The hysteroscope is then inserted and gently moved through the cervix into your uterus. Carbon dioxide gas or a fluid, such as saline (salt water), will be put through the hysteroscope into your uterus to expand it. The gas or fluid helps your health care provider see the lining more clearly. The amount of fluid used is carefully checked throughout the procedure. Your health care provider can view the lining of your uterus and the openings of the fallopian tubes by looking through the hysteroscope. If a biopsy or other procedure is done, small instruments will be passed through the hysteroscope.
What should I expect during recovery?
You should be able to go home shortly after the procedure. If you had general anesthesia, you may need to wait until its effects have worn off.
Night sweats, hot flashes, increased anxiety or irritability? These may be signs of menopause or perimenopase. While the average age is about 50, some women may experience symptoms as early as age 40 ar as late as age 55.
Your physician will discuss the emotional & physical effects of menopause and help you determine if the benefits of hormone replacement or other therapies are an option for you.
Obstetrics - Normal & High Risk
LowCountry Women’s Specialists provides complete obstetrical care that includes prenatal visits, the delivery and a postpartum evaluation. For your convenience, prenatal labs and routine ultrasounds are performed in the office.
Thanks to a breakthrough surgical technology, there is a new category of minimally invasive surgery for which you may be a candidate. It is an effective alternative to both open surgery and laparoscopy. Through the use of the da Vinci® Surgical System, surgeons are now able to offer a minimally invasive option for complex surgical procedures.
This state-of-the-art surgical technique allows our physicians to perform many kinds of major surgery with unmatched precision and control.
Potential Benefits of Robotic Surgery
- Shorter hospital stay. Faster return to normal daily activities. Less blood loss. Less pain. Less scarring. Fewer complications.
- With da Vinci, small incisions are used to introduce miniaturized wristed instruments and a high-definition 3D camera. Seated comfortably at the da Vinci console, your surgeon views a magnified, high-resolution 3D image of the surgical site.
- At the same time, state-of-the-art robotic and computer technologies scale, filter and seamlessly translate your surgeon’s hand movements into precise micro-movements of the da Vinci instruments.
- The System cannot be programmed, nor can it make decisions on its own. Rather, the da Vinci System requires that every surgical maneuver be performed with direct input from your surgeon.
Find more information about your care using the links below. If you have any questions, please talk with your doctor.
Annual Exams: What to Do When
The following are guidelines and recommendations from the US Preventive Services Task Force:
- Get tested at least every 2 years if you have normal blood pressure (lower than 120/80).
- Get tested once a year if you have blood pressure between 120/80 and 139/89.
- Discuss treatment with your doctor or nurse if you have blood pressure 140/90 or higher.
Bone Mineral Density
- Discuss with your doctor or nurse if you are at risk of osteoporosis. Get this test at least once at age 65 or older and talk to your doctor or nurse about repeat testing.
Breast Cancer Screening
- The American College of Obstetrics & Gynecologists recommends mammograms beginning at age 40 and each year thereafter.
- We encourage women of all ages to do monthly self breast exams.
Cervical Cancer Screening
- Ages 18 – 39: Get a Pap test every 3 years if you are 21 or older and have a cervix.
- If you are 30 or older, you can get a Pap test and HPV test together every 5 years.
- Ages 40 – 64: Get a Pap test and HPV test together every 5 years if you have a cervix.
- Ages 65+: Ask your doctor or nurse if you need to get a Pap test.
- Get tested for chlamydia yearly through age 24 if you are sexually active or pregnant.
- Age 25 and older, get tested for chlamydia if you are sexually active and at increased risk, pregnant or not pregnant. For more information about STD’s, please click here.
- Starting at age 20, get a cholesterol test regularly if you are at increased risk for heart disease.
- Ask your doctor or nurse how often you need your cholesterol tested.
Colorectal Cancer Screening
- Starting at age 50 and through age 75, get screened for colorectal cancer.
- Talk to your doctor or nurse about which screening test is best for you and how often you need it.
- Get screened for diabetes if your blood pressure is higher than 135/80 or if you take medicine for high blood pressure.
- Get tested for gonorrhea if you are sexually active and at increased risk, pregnant or not pregnant. For more information about STD’s, please click here.
- Get tested for HIV at least once.
- Discuss your risk with your doctor or nurse because you may need more frequent tests.
- All pregnant women need to be tested for HIV. For more information about STD’s, please click here.
- Age 21 younger – do not start testing, regardless of behavior, risk factors and age at first sex.
- Age 21-29, cytology screen every 3 years and do not conduct HPV testing.
- Age 30 – 65, co-test every 5 years with both cytology and HPV testing.
- Age 65+, future screening recommendations depend on past screening results.
- Post hysterectomy: if the cervix is removed and there is no history of CIN2 or higher, no more screening is needed. For those with high-grade lesions before hysterectomy, keep screening with cytology every 3 years for the next 20 years.
* These are routine guidelines and don’t apply to women who are immunocompromised, HIV positive, were exposed to diethylstilbestrol (DES) in utero, or with a history of cervical cancer.
- Get tested for HSV if you are sexually active and at increased risk, pregnant or not pregnant. For more information about STD’s, please click here.
- Get tested for syphilis if you are at increased risk or pregnant. For more information about STD’s, please click here.
- Get tested for trichomonas if you are sexually active and at increased risk, pregnant or not pregnant. For more information about STD’s, please click here.