At Commonwealth OB-Gyn, located on Commonwealth Avenue in Brookline Village, our all-female team of Board Certified gynecologists is dedicated to keeping you healthy throughout all phases of your life. We believe that “keeping you healthy” means far more than simply offering medical assistance when you don’t feel well. A critical element of maintaining your health and well-being, one that unfortunately continues to be overlooked by far too many women, is undergoing an annual exam and cancer screening with a qualified gynecologist. Why is an annual exam so important?
- It offers you the opportunity to build a relationship with a practitioner so you feel comfortable discussing personal and potentially intimate issues such as sexual health, birth control, and sexually-transmitted diseases.
- It enables your practitioner to develop a comprehensive understanding of your unique situation, including your family’s medical history, your sexual health, and your family planning goals, in order to help guide you safely and effective through all of the different phases of a woman’s life.
- It provides a critical opportunity to diagnose potential health problems, including but not limited to cancers such as breast, cervical, and ovarian, early in their development, making treatment easier and increasing the chances that it will be treated successful.
What Your Annual Exam Will Involve
At Commonwealth OB-Gyn, our goal is to make your annual exam and cancer screenings as thorough, as effective, and as comfortable as possible. This is our opportunity to get to know you as a patient and your opportunity to ask questions and express any concerns that you may have about your health. Your exam will involve:
- Routine health monitoring: As at any visit to a physician, we will record information such as weight and blood pressure, as well as information about your recent menstrual history. You should have the date that your last period started available.
- Medical history: Your physician will review your medical history and that of your family, and will discuss general health issues such as nutrition and exercise, and reproductive issues relevant to your stage in life, such as sexual activity, the need for birth control, or hormone replacement therapy, as well as remind you of critical screenings that must be done outside the exam, such as breast self-checks and mammograms if appropriate. You will have an opportunity to raise any concerns or questions that you would like your physician to address.
- Physical exam: The physical exam can feel intrusive and very personal, but it should not generally be uncomfortable. It involves three major elements:
- Physical palpitation of the breasts
- A visual and manual examination of the vulva, vagina, uterus, ovaries, and potentially the rectum
- A swab of the cervix
- A check of any implanted birth control methods, if appropriate
Breast and Cervical Cancer Screenings
Breast cancer and cervical cancer remain potentially deadly illnesses facing women in the United States today, but your chances of surviving a cancer diagnosis increase greatly the earlier the cancer is detected and treated. Unfortunately, these cancers often exhibit few obvious symptoms until they reach a late stage. Your annual exam involves several routine screening procedures that have shown to significantly increase the rate of early detection.
- Breast cancer: Routine screening for breast cancer involves three critical pieces, which together offer the best possible opportunity for early detection:
- Yearly breast exam during your annual gynecological physical: your physician will palpitate the breasts to feel for any unusual lumps, tenderness, irregular breast tissue, or other abnormalities.
- Monthly self-check: All women are encouraged to conduct a monthly self-exam of their breasts and alert their physician immediately should a lump or abnormality be felt. During your yearly exam, your doctor will provide guidance and instructions on proper self-exam techniques.
- Regular mammograms, if age appropriate. Around age 35, your physician will recommend a base-line mammogram, with annual mammograms starting at age 40.
- Cervical cancer: An annual test known as a “pap smear” is currently the best available method of screening for cervical cancer. Annual pap smears should start at age 21, with testing for HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) included after age 30. A pap smear involves gently swabbing the cervix to collect sample cells during the physical exam; these cells are sent to a laboratory to test for abnormalities indicating potential cancer risk.
Contact Commonwealth OB-Gyn
If you would like more information about annual examinations and cancer screenings at Commonwealth OB-Gyn, or would like to learn more about our practice, our physicians, and our services, we encourage you to schedule your appointment today. We look forward to hearing from you!