FAQs

 What is a normal menstrual cycle?

A normal menstrual cycle occurs every 21 to 35 days and can last from 2 to 7 days.  Each cycle is measured from the first day of bleeding to the first day of bleeding for the next cycle.  Menstrual periods can be very regular or slightly irregular and bleeding can be very light or heavy while still considered normal. 

What is the best birth control for me?

The best birth control for any woman is one deemed safe based on her medical history as well as one she will use regularly. There are many types of contraception including birth control pills, patches, vaginal rings, intrauterine systems, subdermal rods, condoms, diaphragms, and permanent sterilization including tubal ligation and occlusion.  It is important to discuss goals of contraception and any medical conditions that may change the effectiveness of these medications or devices with your medical provider.

When should I feel my baby move?

Fetal movement, also known as quickening, usually occurs between 15 and 24 weeks.  First-time moms may not feel fetal movements until 25 weeks while second-time moms may feel movements as early as 12 weeks.  It is easiest to feel movements after meals or when sitting or lying very still.

Why do women gain weight during menopause?

After the age of 30, most women begin to lose lean muscle mass.  Lean muscle mass is responsible for burning calories and maintaining metabolism.  As lean muscle mass is lost, the metabolism slows and women begin gaining weight, even if the diet does not change.  It is important that women maintain lean muscle mass with exercise including resistance training.

When should a woman/girl have her first Pap smear?

Women should begin routine annual cervical screening, also known as Pap smear screening, at the age of 21.  Screening should occur every 2 years until age 30 at which time screening may occur every 3 years.  Screening may occur more frequently if any testing is abnormal or if you and your provider determine testing should be more frequent.  Pelvic examinations to evaluate the uterus, tubes and ovaries should occur yearly.  For more information, please visit:  ACOG

What is genital HPV?

The human papilloma virus also known as HPV, is a sexually-transmitted infection that may result in genital warts and various types of cancer.  Over 40 types of HPV can infect the genital areas of men and women.  These same types can infect the mouth and throat.  HPV is considered a sexually-transmitted infection; however, sexual intercourse is not required for infection.  Skin-to-skin contact can result with infection. There are vaccines available to prevent transmission.  For more information, please visit: ACOG

How often should I have a Pap smear?

Women should begin routine annual cervical screening, also known as Pap smear screening, at the age of 21.  Screening should occur every 2 years until age 30 at which time screening may occur every 3 years.  Screening may occur more frequently if any testing is abnormal or if you and your provider determine testing should be more frequent. Women from age 65 to 70 having 3 consecutive normal pap smears and no abnormal smears in the last 10 years may stop screening.  Women with a history of hysterectomy for noncancerous reasons may also stop screening.  Pelvic examinations to evaluate the uterus, tubes and ovaries should occur yearly.  For more information, please visit:  ACOG

When should I get a mammogram?

According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, women should have their first mammogram at age 40.  Mammograms should be obtained every 1-2 years during the 40s and yearly beginning at 50, but a woman and her doctor may decide to have a baseline mammogram before age 40 if there is a family history of breast cancer.

Should I get the flu vaccine?

In 2010, vaccine experts and the Centers for Disease Control voted to recommend universal flu vaccinations for anyone over 6 months of age.  While everyone should get a flu vaccine each flu season, it’s especially important that the following groups get vaccinated either because they are at high risk of having serious flu-related complications or because they live with or care for people at high risk for developing flu-related complications: 

  1. Pregnant women
  2. Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old
  3. People 50 years of age and older
  4. People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions
  5. People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
  6. People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including health care workers, household contacts of persons at high risk for complications from the flu, and household contacts and out of home caregivers of children less than 6 months of age (these children are too young to be vaccinated)

For more information, please visit:  CDC

What is a VBAC?

When a woman who delivered by cesarean section (C-section) in the past wishes to have a vaginal delivery for a future pregnancy, this is referred to as a vaginal birth after cesarean or VBAC.  There are many advantages to having a VBAC including shorter recovery times, lower risk of infection and less blood loss.  However, there are also many risks including uterine rupture.  Many factors determine if a woman is a good candidate for VBAC including the type of cesarean scar, the reason for cesarean in the previous pregnancy, or complications preventing vaginal delivery.  It is important to discuss these issues with your provider.  For more information please visit:  ACOG

What are signs of preterm labor?

Normal pregnancies are completed in 40 weeks.  These pregnancies ending before 37 weeks are considered preterm.  Approximately 10% of all pregnancies result in preterm delivery.  There are many signs and symptoms of preterm labor and these can include a change or increase in vaginal discharge, vaginal bleeding, pelvic pressure, constant low-back pain, abdominal cramps, regular contractions, or ruptured membranes.  If you are at risk for preterm labor or think you may be having the symptoms of preterm labor, you should contact your provider for evaluation.  For more information please visit: ACOG

What are fibroids?

Fibroids, also known as leiomyomas, are benign growths that develop in or around the uterus.  Fibroids are most common in women age 30-40 but can occur at any age.  Fibroids can cause symptoms including pain, bleeding, pressure, or infertility.  Fibroids may not cause any symptoms at all.  For more information, please visit:  ACOG

What is endometriosis?

The lining of the uterus is called the endometrium and when this type of tissue grows in places other than the uterus, this is called endometriosis.  Endometriosis can cause pelvic pain, ovarian cysts, infertility, or endometriosis can result in no symptoms at all.  Endometriosis can only be diagnosed by surgery.  For more information, please visit:  ACOG

What is polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)?

Polycystic ovarian syndrome or PCOS is a condition that affects 5-10% of all women.  Characteristics of PCOS including elevated levels of hormones called androgens, irregular menstrual cycles, and multiple, small cysts on the ovary.  Women may experience various types of symptoms including irregular periods, acne, abnormal hair growth on the face, chest and abdomen, infertility, obesity and trouble losing weight.  For more information, please visit: ACOG

When should I be tested for infertility?

Approximately 10% of couples have problems with infertility.  Several factors can cause infertility including low sperm count, abnormal sperm, ovulation problems, or problems with the uterus or Fallopian tubes.  Couples who have had unprotected sex without pregnancy after 12 months may consult their physician for evaluation.  For more information, please visit:  ACOG

When should I get a colonoscopy?

Colonoscopies should be performed at age 50 and every 5-10 years to screen for colon cancer or precancerous polyps.  Some patients may need to start screening earlier  and may need more frequent screening depending on high risk factors that may include a strong family history of colon cancer, a history of ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, as well as other conditions that can be discussed by your provider. 

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