It is our belief at FĒNOM that a woman is most empowered when she expands her knowledge of her body and her health. We have found that The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists provides a wealth of information concerning women’s health. We encourage our patients to visit ACOG.org to further invest in the future of their health. We consulted their vast network of information to create the following articles for your education.
How to Prepare for your Visit
Set an Appointment
When you contact us to make an appointment, please be prepared to let us know how exactly we can serve you! We offer annual exams, consultations on new or developing problems and appointments with certain specialists. If the reason for your appointment is urgent, please notify us in order that we can assist you as quickly as possible.
Also, make sure to check that your physician accepts your current health insurance. Please bring your insurance card with you to all appointments.
Before Your Visit
Please feel free to come to your appointment with questions. We believe that the more you know, the more empowered you are to take an active role in your health. Ask away; we’re here for you!
We also encourage you to consider your symptoms carefully before you come to your appointment. In order to fully serve you, we need to know as much about what you are experiencing as possible.
Are certain symptoms more prevalent than others? How long have you been experiencing these symptoms? Some of our patients like to write out lists of their symptoms so they don’t forget anything.
The more information you provide, the more we can help.
List Your Medications
It is extremely important that we are aware of your current medications, including vitamin supplements and over-the-counter medications. Please keep a current list of the medications you take, the respective dosages and why you are taking them. If you stop taking a certain medication or begin taking a new one, be sure to let us know.
Complete Health History
When you come to your appointment, we will provide a health history form for you to fill out. We have found that these forms are easier to complete when you have considered your health history before the appointment. If you have any problems or concerns, our staff is happy to help. We will utilize this document over the course of your appointments to ensure we are providing you with the best possible care.
Health events included in the Health History Form include:
- Serious injuries and illnesses
- Surgical procedures
- Drug use
- Exercise habits
- Stress factors (work, moving, marriage, etc.)
- Family history of disease
Past Medical Records
If you are coming to us from a previous health care provider, welcome! We ask that you have your previous health records sent to us, or you can provide us with your previous provider’s information and address and we will request that information for you.
Bring Support for Milestones
We understand that gynecological appointments can be intimidating. Although we are completely devoted to making you as comfortable as possible as we serve you, we encourage you to bring one individual to provide you with further support to milestone appointments, if you so choose. You are not alone in this process!
Your visit will likely consist of a physical examination as conducted by your physician. If you feel uncomfortable with any aspect of the examination, let your physician know. Moreover, if you have any concerns regarding modesty, please make us aware. Your comfort is of the utmost concern to us. We want you to feel as empowered as possible as you invest in your health.
As such, if you have any questions or concerns over the course of your appointment, let your physician know. We are experts in our fields who want more than anything else to empower our fellow women with knowledge. Ask away! The more you know, the healthier you’ll be.
After Your Visit
If your physician diagnosed a condition during your appointment, we encourage you to learn as much about it as possible. Many conditions have a variety of treatment options. Please research these options for yourself before making a decision. Your health is worth the time.
Great sources of information include:
If your condition does not improve or you develop any further problems, contact your physician. We are advocates of your health and comfort. If we can help in any way, do not hesitate to contact us.
Well-Woman Information on Annual Exam
What is an Annual Well-Woman Exam? Is it just a physical? The short answer is no, an Annual Well-Woman exam is an evaluation of the female body as well as the mind and lifestyle. As such, Annual Well-Woman exams are essential for women’s care and your complete wellbeing.
Well-Woman Exams include a discussion of which of the many birth control options is best for you. Our expert physicians can educate you on birth control pills, IUDs, patches, condoms and even implants.
Cancer is scary. We all know someone who has been affected by it. Fortunately, if caught early, many cancers can be treated and your health secured. Cancer has nothing on an informed woman. As such, you can learn about breast, colon, bone and other cancers during your exam.
Women don’t have time for the flu. We’re too busy changing the world. At your annual exam, we will make sure you are up to date on all vaccinations, including flu and HPV, among others.Health Screening
We also screen for high and low blood pressure, diabetes, bone density and many other attributes important to women’s health.
Depression is a serious condition which can be difficult to diagnose. Both women and men experience a wide variety of symptoms to different degrees of severity. Our physicians will discuss any of your symptoms in order to determine if treatment is necessary and discuss your options with you.
Sexually Transmitted Infections Screening
Once women become sexually active, we begin screening for STIs including chlamydia, gonorrhea and genital herpes.
During your exam, your physician will discuss any potential problems you are experiencing during sex and discuss possible treatments. These considerations include pain during sex, hormonal changes that can influence sex, as well as interest in sexual activity and various forms of sex.
Your physician will discuss your current lifestyle choices, including diet and exercise. She will also measure your body mass index (BMI) and discuss any problems that can arise when an individual is overweight.
Menstrual Period Problems
An annual exam is a good time to discuss any problems with your menstrual period. You and your physician can discuss premenstrual symptoms (PMS), painful periods, first periods, heavy periods and irregular periods.
If you are planning on becoming pregnant, we are excited to help! Your physician will discuss any previous pregnancies as well as your current lifestyle choices in order to recommend options for your pregnancy.
Hormone Therapy – What are My Options?
As women grow older, we are likely to experience hormonal changes. There is nothing wrong with these changes; they are completely natural, even though the consequent symptoms may not be very pleasant. We believe it is absolutely essential that our patients understand that these symptoms are treatable. Women do not deserve to suffer. Most women will experience menopause for half of our lives. It is completely possible, when we come together as informed, intelligent women, that we live through this time without being uncomfortable.
Menopause marks the end of a woman’s menstrual cycle; it is specifically defined as the period of a woman’s life that follows a twelve-month absence of menstrual periods, which signifies the end of a woman’s reproductive capabilities. This can be a difficult time in a woman’s life. But don’t worry! We have you covered.
Many women feel an onset of symptoms before menopause occurs in a transitional period called perimenopause. These symptoms are the result of the body’s steadily decreasing production of the hormone estrogen, which drives a woman’s menstrual cycle. These symptoms can vary in severity for all women.
For instance, changes in a woman’s menstrual period are often indicative of perimenopause. Symptoms can include:
- Longer cycles
- Lighter or heavier flow
- Bleeding between periods
- Bleeding after sexual intercourse
- Spotting in menstrual period
- Hot flashes
Again, while all these symptoms are completely natural, you should report them to your physician so that we can begin to alleviate these symptoms as well as prepare for any possible future health implications.
These symptoms can become more severe once perimenopause has passed and menopause has fully set in. These symptoms can include:
- Vaginal dryness
- Decreased interest in sex
- Pain during sex
- Hot flashes
- Trouble falling and staying asleep
- Urinary tract changes
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (irritation and emotional instability)
Together, however, we can treat these symptoms through hormone therapy. Essentially, there are two overreaching types of hormone therapy. The first, systemic hormone therapy, involves the introduction of hormone directly into the bloodstream. In turn, the hormones, often estrogen, go directly to the areas of the body where they are needed. Pills, skin patches, gels and sprays are all considered systemic methods of hormone therapy. Progestin, a form of progesterone, may also be prescribed if a woman has not had a hysterectomy.
In cyclic systemic hormone therapy, a woman will take estrogen every day but only take progestin a few times a week or month. Meanwhile, continuous systemic hormone therapy is when a woman takes both progestin and estrogen every day. You and your physician will determine which method is best for your specific condition.
The second major form of treatment, local hormone therapy, is for women whose sole symptom is vaginal dryness. Creams, tablets and vaginal rings are all forms of local hormone therapy. These therapies help to strengthen a woman’s vaginal walls as well as increase elasticity.
As such, there is no reason for a woman to live in pain once she has entered menopause. This is a new, exciting stage of your life. Don’t let untreated symptoms take that away from you.
While there are many benefits to hormone therapy, there are also some risks. Your physician will discuss the pros and cons of the many forms of hormone therapy should you choose to pursue them. This is your life. This is your body. Don’t let menopause define you.
We’ve all heard about Zika, but what effect does it have on women? Zika is a virus spread by mosquitoes (the Aedes species). These mosquitoes bite during the day and night. The virus can be spread from person to a person (via sexual contact) and from a mother to her fetus during pregnancy. Infection with Zika may or may not produce symptoms. If symptoms occur, they are usually mild and spontaneously resolve. Infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects. At this point, there is not a vaccine or medication to prevent or treat the virus.
We do encourage you to take active steps to prevent mosquito bites. Covering exposed skin with long sleeves/pants, using EPA registered DEET containing mosquito repellents as directed, wearing permethrin-treated clothing/gear, staying in air-conditioned spaces and using mosquito netting when appropriate are all ways you can reduce your risk of contracting the Zika virus.
We also encourage our patients to avoid Zika areas if they are pregnant or planning pregnancy in the next year. According to the Center for Disease Control, local mosquito-borne viral transmission HAS been reported in Texas (Brownsville area) as well as Florida. The virus has been well established in American Samoa, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, many Caribbean countries, Central and South American countries, Mexico, some Pacific Island countries and Singapore. Please check the CDC website for the most up to date information on epidemic and endemic infections at www.cdc.gov.
If you are pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant within the next year, please discuss Zika with your doctor if you or your partner have traveled to an area of concern. Testing may be indicated, or we may encourage you to postpone a planned pregnancy. We can help you time your decisions to help keep you and your future children safe and healthy!
Vaccine to Prevent Cervical Cancer
In June 2006, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted to recommend the first vaccine developed to prevent cervical cancer caused by certain types of genital human papillomavirus (HPV). The vaccine, Gardasilâ, protects against four HPV types, which together cause 70% of cervical cancers and 90% of genital warts. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently licensed this vaccine for use in girls/women, ages 9-26 years. The vaccine is given through a series of three shots over a six-month period. The HPV vaccine is now available. Ask your physician for this investment in your health!
Progesterone therapy for prevention of preterm labor in at risk
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Frequently Asked Questions
Q: When should a first gynecological visit occur and what can be expected?
We recommend that girls have their first gynecologic visit somewhere between the ages of thirteen and fifteen years. This first appointment could simply be a conversation between you, your daughter and your doctor. Your physician will likely ask questions about your daughter’s menstrual period or potential sexual activities. These questions might seem personal to your daughter, which is why you might have her consider these questions before the appointment.
We will likely perform a general physical exam as well as an external genital exam to access your daughter’s health. We generally do not perform a pelvic exam during this visit unless your daughter is experiencing certain symptoms such as uncommon pain or bleeding. If sexually active, we offer tests for a number of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Q: When should I consider having an infertility evaluation?
You might consider an infertility evaluation if you experience any of the following:
- After having one year of regular sexual intercourse without the use of birth control, you have not become pregnant.
- You are over 35 years of age and have been unable to become pregnant after six months sex without birth control.
- You experience an irregular menstrual cycle
- Either you or your partner experience a known fertility issue.
Q: What is important to include in my diet during pregnancy?
- During pregnancy, you should include vitamins and minerals, specifically folic acid and iron, both of which you will need more of than a woman who is not pregnant.
- You can also take a prenatal vitamin supplement. Coupled with a well-rounded diet, you should have all the necessary vitamins and minerals for your pregnancy.
- When planning your diet, you should focus on sources of Calcium, Vitamin D and Omega-3 fatty acids. Calcium can be found in dairy products and dark, leafy greens, while Vitamin D and Omega-3 can both be found in fish.
Q: How can I tell the difference between true and false labor?
False labor contractions are often not as regular and weaker than those characteristics of true labor. The best and sometimes sole means of telling the difference is a vaginal exam which can identify changes in your cervix that signal the start of labor.
False labor is often defined by contractions which stop when you walk, rest or shift positions. These contractions are generally weak and do not get much stronger, often only felt in the front of the body.
Contractions characteristic of true labor occur at regular increments and get closer together over time. These contractions do not stop due to movement and can be felt from the back to the front of the body.
Q: What are common symptoms of menopause?
- Periods end: The most common symptom of menopause is the natural stopping of menstrual periods. Women, on average, tend to enter menopause at 51 years of age.
- Hot flashes: Menopausal women experience hot flashes to varying degrees. A hot flash is a surge of heat which races to the upper body and face. Some women experience these flashes several times a month while others can experience them many times in a single day.
- Sleep Issues: Menopause can often cause insomnia, as well as night sweats and an inability to stay asleep.
- Vaginal Dryness and Infections: Due to decreased productions of estrogen, menopausal women can experience vaginal dryness as well as increased occurrence of vaginal infections.
Q: Should you be tested for BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations?
We only recommend genetic testing for women with a high chance of BRCA mutation. Consider these questions if you are concerned about BRCA:
- Have you or a family member ever been diagnosed with breast cancer or ovarian cancer?
- Are you of Eastern or Central European Jewish ancestry?
- Have any of your close relatives been diagnosed with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation?
- Your physician will consider your answers to these questions in determining your risk for BRCA mutations. If your physician determines that you have a low risk, you will likely not be tested.
Q: Should I get a hysterectomy?
A hysterectomy can be performed to treat a variety of women’s health issues, such as:
- Uterine fibroids
- Abnormal uterine bleeding
- Gynecologic cancer
- Pelvic support problems
- Chronic pelvic pain
Q: Do you have a list of some safe medications to use during pregnancy?
Avoid using medications during pregnancy, unless your provider prescribes one for you. However, occasionally illness or a new medical condition may develop requiring therapy.
We have compiled a list that you may use to guide you. There is no need to check with our office before using the medications found on this page >>.