Women's Health

Cutler Health Center offers a variety of Women’s Health services including annual examinations, breast examinations, Pap Smears, Sexually Transmitted Infection testing, Birth Control Counseling including IUD insertions, HPV vaccinations, Prescriptions and Refills, colposcopies and Referral to OB-GYN Services.

When should I make an appointment?
Annual examinations are the best way to screen preventatively for potential problems such as cervical cancer. You should make an appointment with your health care provider once a year…
….if you are over the age of 21
….if you have ever been sexually active or
.…you are interested in obtaining birth control
 
It's best to schedule your annual checkup around day 14 of your menstrual cycle or about two weeks after the starting date of your period.

What can I expect at my annual examination?
Your examination will include a pelvic examination, a Pap smear and/or tests for STI’s like chlamydia and gonorrhea and a breast examination. The pelvic exam consists of two parts:  a speculum exam in which the clinician will exam the cervix, and a bimanual exam, where the clinician will feel the position of your internal organs with his/her fingers.
 
What’s involved with a Pap Smear?
A Pap smear is a procedure in which a sample of cells from your cervix is collected and smeared on a microscope slide. A small brush is inserted into the opening of the cervix and twirled around to collect a sample of cells. Cells are then examined under a microscope in order to look for pre-malignant (before cancer) or malignant (cancer) changes. It’s a simple quick and relatively painless screening test. An abnormal Pap result could lead to further examination and further laboratory screenings. 

What’s involved with a colposcopy?
If you have an abnormal Pap result you may be scheduled for a colposcopy.  You are positioned on the examination table like you are for a pap smear. Your clinician will use a colposcope—a large, electric microscope that is positioned approximately 30 cm from the vagina—to view your cervix. The clinician will be looking for abnormal vascular (blood vessel) changes. A tissue sample or biopsy may be taken and sent to the lab for further evaluation. If a sample is taken, you may experience some discomfort, vaginal bleeding and/or discharge. 

Tell me about the HPV vaccination
Genital human papillomavirus (also called HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI). Male and females can be exposed to HPV with any sexual contact. There is a vaccination that can protect females and males against some of the most common types of HPV which cause most cervical cancers. These vaccinations are given in a series of three shots. They are most effective when given before a person’s first sexual contact. Vaccination is recommended for 11-12 year old girls and for females 12 through 26 years of age. Currently there are two vaccines available to girls and young women, Cervarix and Gardasil that are available to protect females again the types of HPV that cause most cervical cancers. Gardasil can also protect against most genital warts. Gardasil also protects young men against most genital warts and is available for at age 9 through 26 years of age. Although, condoms used properly with every sexual act from start to finish may lower the risk of HPV they do not fully protect against HPV. You can eliminate your chances of getting HPV or other STI’s by remaining abstinent and refraining from sexual activity. If you are sexually active get educated, get tested and seek medical advisement regularly and participate in safe sex practices. You can lower your chances by being in a faithful relationship with one partner, limiting your number of sexual partners and choosing a partner with not sexually history. 

I’ve heard about the IUD device?  How does it work?
IUD stands for “intrauterine device. It’s a small, “T shaped” contraceptive device made of flexible plastic and is available by prescription only. A clinician will insert the device into the uterus to protect against pregnancy. IUD’s do not protect against sexually transmitted infection. Use a latex condom with the IUD to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections. Although severe problems with IUD’s are rare, there are some possible complications with the insertion. Occasionally the IUD will partially or completely slip out of the uterus. This is more likely with younger women and women who have never had a baby. If partially expelled the IUD must be removed by a clinician. Very rarely, the IUD is pushed through the wall of the uterus during insertion. This is usually detected and corrected right away. If not it could damage internal organs and surgery may be needed to remove the IUD.  Possible side effects associated with IUD insertion include changes in menstrual flow, spotting between periods and menstrual cramping and backaches. These side effects usually clear up after the first several weeks to month of usage. Most healthy women can use an IUD. Discuss with your health care provider the option of IUD insertions or other methods of birth control that may be appropriate for you.