What does women’s health involve?
Women’s health is an important topic because women are presented with unique health issues. Some health issues that affect women and men can actually affect women differently. For example:
- Women are more likely to show signs of anxiety and depressions than men
- Women are more likely to get urinary tract infections (UTIs)
- Women are more likely to pass away following a heart attack
- Osteoporosis and arthritis is know to affect women more than men
- The effects of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) can be more serious among women than men
The most common medical concerns for women include menopause, pregnancy and conditions of the female organs. For a healthy pregnancy, early and regular prenatal care are extremely important. Screenings for breast cancer and cervical cancer are recommended, as are bone density tests for osteoporosis. At Blue Water Medical in Vancouver, we provide Pap smears and annual well woman exams.
Pap smears, or Pap tests, are one of the most important screenings for women. The Pap test can save lives by detecting cancers and precancers in the cervix. Precancers are cell changes that could potentially become cancer if they are not properly treated. These tests are covered by most health insurance plans and they should be scheduled every three years between the ages of 21 and 65. Women with weakened immune systems may need to schedule tests more frequently.
If you have had a hysterectomy or your cervix has been removed and you do not have a history of cervical cancer or abnormal Pap results, you do not need to schedule a Pap smear. If you are 65 or older and your last three tests were normal, with no abnormal test results within the past 10 years, you will no longer need to schedule Pap smears.
During the exam, a speculum is used to open the vagina so that the cervix is visible. A brush will then be used to swipe a few cells from the inside and surface of the cervix. The cells are sent away to a lab for testing. Pap tests may be mildly uncomfortable but you should not experience any pain. The results usually take 1-3 weeks to come back. Most of the time the results are normal, but should you get abnormal results, it does not always mean that you have cancer. Regardless of the results, we will discuss the next steps with you.
Well Woman Exams
Well woman exams are annual preventive screenings of breast and gynecological diseases. Women of all ages can protect their health with these yearly check-ups. During the exam, we will discuss your health and lifestyle with you, and we will perform a physical examination of the pelvis and breast. A pelvic exam will check for ovarian or uterine abnormalities and cervical cancer. Depending on your age, a mammogram, bone density scan, Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) test, or Pap smear may be ordered. If you are 40 or older, it is recommended that you schedule a clinical breast exam every year. For women in their 20s and 30s, a clinical breast exam should be scheduled every 2-3 years.
A well woman exam is extremely beneficial because women should be screened regularly for breast and gynecologic cancers (ovarian, uterine, vaginal and vulvar). They also allow women to discuss additional screenings and concerns, including sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). If you need pre-pregnancy counseling, we can also review your options and provide you with information.
Examinations should be performed annually starting at the age of 21. If you are in your mid-to-late teens, we recommend that you schedule your first well woman exam. The physicians at Blue Water Medical conduct these exams from our clinic in Vancouver.
Request an appointment in Vancouver
If you live in the Vancouver area, and you’d like to discuss your health with certified physicians, request an appointment at Blue Water Medical. We are happy to address any concerns or questions that you might have about your health. You can request an appointment using our online form, or you can give us a call at (604) 558-3185.
*Individual results may vary; not a guarantee.