Frequently Asked Questions – Gynecology

When should I have my first gynecology exam and/or pap test?

Gynecologic exams and pap screens begin at age 21, but we are happy to see younger patients to discuss contraception, STD screening, or irregular/heavy/painful periods.

How often do I need a pap smear?

Women from 20-29 should have a pap smear every 3 years. Women age 30-65 should have a pap and HPV test every 3 years. These intervals change when abnormalities are found. Pap smears are generally discontinued at age 65. Yearly examinations are still recommended for breast and pelvic exam, prescription refills, and to address other concerns.

Can I still get my pap smear done if I am on my period?

Whenever possible try to schedule your annual exam when you do not have your period, but we can still do your pap smear if the flow is not heavy.

Should I be tested for HPV?

HPV is transmitted sexually and is very common. It often goes away on it’s own, especially in young women. We look for it specifically when the pap smear comes back abnormal in women in their 20s. We routinely do a pap with HPV screen for women after age 30.

What should I do if I think I have a sexually transmitted infection?

Avoid sexual activity and call of office for an appointment to get tested. Getting tested and treated early can avoid long-term complications. Not all STDs have symptoms so it is important to consider testing if you feel you are at risk.

What should I do if I think I have a urinary tract infection?

Call our office to talk with one of our nurses. We can generally get you in same day for an evaluation if needed.

What should I do if I think I have a vaginal infection?

Call our office to talk with one of our nurses. We can generally get you in same day for an evaluation if needed.

What should I do if I forget to take a birth control pill?

If you miss one pill take it as soon as you remember, or two at the same time if you don’t remember until the next day. If you miss more than one pill please call for advice and use back up contraception such as condoms for the rest of the pill pack. Taking more than one pill at a time can cause nausea, and light bleeding may occur with irregular pill taking. If it is difficult to remember to take the pill regularly, you can talk with your provider about alternative forms of contraception.

I am having some irregular bleeding on the pill, is that normal?

Spotting and irregular bleeding are common for up to 3-4 months after starting a birth control pill or other hormonal form of contraception. This is not harmful and does not mean that your birth control is not effective.

What should I watch for when I start the birth control pill?

Birth control pills can increase the risk of blood clot, heart attack, stroke, liver or gallbladder disease. They can also increase your blood pressure. Please let your provider know if you have a history of high blood pressure or migraine with aura; other contraception options would be preferred. If you have symptoms such as calf pain or swelling, chest pain or shortness of breath, call our office right away.

Should I take the morning after pill?

If you have an episode of unprotected intercourse or birth control failure you can take the morning after pill, which can prevent pregnancy. It is most effective in the 72 hours after intercourse, but the earlier it is taken the more effective it is. It is available over the counter, and does not effect or abort an existing pregnancy.

What should I do if I miss my period?

If you are sexually active you should do a home pregnancy test. Certain forms of contraception can cause you to miss your period, feel free to call if questions. If you are not on contraception and miss your period for 3 months you should come in for an appointment.

When should I start getting mammograms?

For most women mammogram screening starts at age 40 as recommended by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the American Cancer Society. The USPSTF recommends screening starting at age 50. Earlier screening may be indicated for women who have a family history or other risk factors, please discuss with your provider. Sometimes 3-D imaging or breast MRIs are recommended for women at high risk for cancer.

I have been told I have dense breasts, what does this mean?

Dense breasts can make it more difficult to detect cancer both on clinical exam and on mammogram. There are varying recommendations about whether additional screening is needed, and may depend on other risk factors as well. Please discuss this with your provider.

What should I do if I am having menopausal symptoms?

We have several options for management including lifestyle changes, hormone replacement therapy, and localized treatment. Please make an appointment to discuss with a provider.