Gynecology is the field of medicine devoted to the female reproductive system. At Northwestern Women’s
, patient care is centered on the individual. Our practice offers the latest treatments
and procedures to address a woman’s diverse needs throughout the various phases of life. Our thorough
gynecological care includes well woman visits, breast cancer screenings, STD testing, family planning,
treatment of fibroids, ovarian cysts, and other issues, and minimally invasive surgical procedures
standard laparoscopy and also utilizing the da Vinci Si Surgical System
consists of regular recommended examinations, including breast and pelvic exams and Pap
smears. In recent years, the guidelines for routine tests have changed, as they may, as well, in the
future. Currently, the recommendation is that all women, regardless of sexual orientation, begin Pap
smear diagnostic testing at the age of 21. A Pap smear, which takes a small sample of cells from the cervix,
is designed to identify abnormalities that may indicate pre-cancer or cancer.
Visits with your gynecologist
are designed to monitor your reproductive health. However, your physician has a
wealth of knowledge that can help you find answers to questions you may have regarding birth control, pregnancy,
sexually transmitted diseases, menopause, sexuality, and more.
In addition to maintaining yearly well woman visits with your gynecologist, it is important to schedule an appointment
if you experience symptoms such as:
- Severe or unusual menstrual pain
- Severe or unusual pain in the vagina, pelvic region, or abdomen
- Abnormal vaginal discharge
- Abnormal uterine bleeding
- Swelling or pain of the vulva or vaginal area
- Itching, lumps, or sores on the vulva or vagina
- Changes in the breast such as puckering, dimpling, or thickening
Your gynecologist has the expertise to identify and treat your unique concerns, such as ovarian cysts and fibroids.
Uterine fibroids may develop at any age, but are most commonly seen in women aged 30 - 50. Though fibroids are
typically benign, their presence inside the uterus, within the uterine wall, or on its outer surface may cause
a number of unpleasant symptoms. The complications of fibroids include pain and heavy menstruation, bleeding outside
of menstruation, anemia, enlargement of the abdomen, miscarriage, and more.
There are several treatment options for fibroids, which may be considered in the instance of persistent
symptoms like pain or heavy bleeding. Bleeding, in particular, may be controlled with certain hormone-altering
medications such as birth control pills. Gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists may be used to halt menstruation
and shrink fibroids in preparation for other treatments. If necessary, fibroids may be removed in the myomectomy
procedure. This surgery removes existing fibroids while preserving the uterus. Should new fibroids develop,
further surgery may be needed. In some instances, hysterectomy, which removes the uterus, is most appropriate.
Fibroids, may be starved through uterine artery embolization, or treated with resection in the hysteroscopy procedure.
Ovarian cysts, which may be detected during a routine pelvic examination or via specific symptoms, are quite common
amongst women of childbearing age. One or more of these fluid-filled sacs can form on the ovary, causing mild discomfort,
sharp pain in the abdomen, or bleeding, which requires prompt medical attention. In many cases, especially if the cyst
is small, no symptoms occur.
Symptomatic or not, most ovarian cysts are benign (non-cancerous). In women past menopause, ovarian cysts may be
evaluated with an ultrasound as well as a specific blood test to measure the level of CA 125, a substance associated
with ovarian cancer in the postmenopausal years. Due to mitigating factors in premenopausal women that can cause false
positive elevated CA 125, this test is less accurate in women who are still menstruating.
Treatment of ovarian cysts will vary based on symptoms, the size of cysts, the age of the patient, and her desire
to have children in the future. In many cases, it is possible to treat ovarian cysts without removing the entire ovary.
In some instances, birth control pills will be prescribed to prevent the development of additional cysts if one or more
exists. In cases where symptoms are more severe, a cystectomy may be performed using laparoscopic surgery.