Well Women Visits
All women are encouraged to visit their gynecologist every year for a well woman visit. The purpose of the well woman visit is to
ensure that you are healthy inside and out. During these visits with your physician, medical problems may be identified, risk
factors for disease discussed, and prevention practices implemented. It is through well women visits that we establish strong
clinician-patient relationships. At Northwestern Women’s Health Associates
, we understand the delicate nature of women’s health.
Our team offers compassionate care with discretion.
The depth of a well woman visit is dependent on various factors, such as the age of the patient, existing medical
concerns, and the discussion that takes place during consultation. In addition to assessing vitals such as blood
pressure, heart, and lungs, your physician will also perform an annual breast and pelvic exam, discuss birth control
and STD screening if needed, screen for breast cancer, and help you plan for conception. Pap smears will be done
according to current recommendations.
Annual breast and pelvic exam
The annual breast exam is part of the breast cancer screening process. During this quick examination, your physician
may also discuss the importance of self-examination, and demonstrate how this is performed.
Pelvic examinations are performed to assess uterine and ovarian health. Using visualization and manual palpation,
your physician will look for abnormalities and screen for cervical cancer. As necessary, a Pap smear may be performed and
we might check for HPV, the Human Papillomavirus.
Most women use some type of birth control for a large portion of their lives. Many, from the time they first
engage in sexual activity to the time they no longer have a period. Because the use of birth control spans many
years, there is a necessity to have choices for the various stages of life. Your gynecologist helps you navigate
the choices you have for birth control, and offers data to support claims of efficiency for the different methods available.
Some of the most commonly used, most effective methods of birth control used today include:
- Oral contraceptives. Birth control pills are taken on a daily basis. These pills prevent pregnancy by regulating hormones throughout the month. When the cycle of pills is complete each month, menstruation occurs.
- The vaginal ring is an option for hormone birth control that does not require daily attention. A vaginal ring is inserted each month. Near the cervix, the ring releases hormones for 21 days before it is removed for the remaining 7 days of the month. During these 7 days, menstruation occurs.
- Hormone birth control may also be injected. Shots are given in the office of your gynecologist every three months.
- IUD’s are available with a small amount of progesterone (Mirena) or without hormone (Paragard)
- A diaphragm can be fitted in the office for use as needed
- Essure causes permanent blockage of the tubes
Though hormone birth control is very common and effective, it is important to note that these methods do not
protect against sexually transmitted diseases.
Gynecologists make it a point to discuss STDs with patients as early as their teens. Many of those who have
contracted an STD have such mild symptoms that they are unaware of the potential health hazard. The more a
woman understands about STDs and how to prevent them, the more empowered she is to guard her health.
- Genital herpes
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
- Viral hepatitis
STD testing is vital to the prevention of STDS because if a woman does not know she has a disease,
she could spread it unknowingly. In our practice, annual STD testing is recommended for all sexually
active patients who have more than one partner in a year.
Breast cancer screening
Breast cancer mammogram screening is recommended for all women beginning at the age of forty. However,
with more recognized cases of breast cancer in younger women today, many women do elect to begin breast
cancer screenings earlier. The earlier breast cancer is detected and treated, the better the prognosis for long term health.
Screening for breast cancer is achieved in a three-pronged approach that includes clinical breast exams,
mammography, and breast self-awareness. Education regarding breast self-exams is freely given in our practice,
and our patients are encouraged to begin performing these monthly exams as early as possible.
Mammography is one of the most recognized cancer screening tests. A mammogram is x-ray imaging to examine breast
tissue. Patients do not need to receive any injections or special preparation for this test. There are two reasons
why a mammogram may be performed. One is to evaluate breast tissue in an asymptomatic woman. The other reason a
mammogram may be performed is to evaluate tissue after a lump or abnormality has been found.
The time before a woman becomes pregnant is as important as her health throughout pregnancy. One of the components
to excellent obstetric care is the completion of a preconception visit. Preconception care may begin up to a year
before you plan to start your family. This type of care allows us to address any potential health concerns or risks for pregnancy.
The preconception visit gives you and your physician the opportunity to prepare for your pregnancy well in advance.
This level of care is beneficial for a woman’s physical and emotional health, opening the doors for discussion
regarding any thoughts pertaining to family medical history, current lifestyle and diet, stress, and other factors
that may affect pregnancy.
Your gynecologist may perform a physical examination during your preconception visit, order lab tests, and discuss
how to chart menstruation and ovulation.
Though all women go through menopause, the experience from one woman to the next can vary widely. The
individualized counseling patients receive at Northwestern Women’s Health Associates is designed to identify
the specific challenges faced during perimenopause and menopause.
Menopause management helps a woman adjust to the changes that are occurring in her body. The bothersome
symptoms may be alleviated through specific lifestyle guidance or medication. Additionally, our team begins
to prepare for the common problems women face after menopause, such as heart disease and osteoporosis, by
performing screenings and preventive steps.
believe in working with each woman to face her unique emotional and physical menopause
experience. This phase in life is inevitable. However, your gynecologist can help you navigate menopause
in such a way that allows you to continue enjoying life.