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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 examThe 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.
Birth controlMost 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.
STD testingGynecologists 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 screeningBreast 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.
PreconceptionThe 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.
Menopause managementThough 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.
Our physicians 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.
Contact Northwestern Women’s Health Associates today to schedule your well woman visit.
"Wonderful experience with Dr. Julianne Morton @ NW Women's Associates. I've recommended her to countless girlfriends. Being a first time mom, I went through many physical symptoms and emotions that accompany pregnancy. She is extremely thorough, patient, and has wonderful bedside manner. I felt confident going into delivery with Dr. Morton taking the lead with my delivery. Wonderful practice!"
"Dr. Morton is absolutely amazing. She cared for me throughout my first pregnancy and we found her to be kind and caring and straightforward - could not have asked for a better experience! Dr. Dunn ended up being on call during my delivery and she was great as well. I have always found the nurses and office staff to be friendly and on top of things - very happy with the practice!"
"I had to have a laproscopic hysterectomy done by Dr. Friedell and all went fabulously! They were very detailed in pre-op which made a lot of difference. I came out of surgery feeling great and post op I was back to work within two weeks. Everyone at the practice, at the hospital, at pre-op were incredible."
"Dr.Julianne Morton is amazing! I was recommended by a friend when I moved to the Chicago area and was looking for an OB-GYN. I have seen her for two years in Chicago for my yearly exam. She is beyond kind and great at what she does. Dr.Morton makes you feel very comfortable and is such an incredible doctor! I have recommended her to all of my friends as well who need a new gyno/OB-GYN."