Frequently Asked Questions

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1. At what age should I have my first visit with a gynecologist?

For a healthy girl, between the ages of 13 and 15.

We'll talk about breast and pelvic exams, answer questions about development, puberty and peer pressure. We'll also give information about health and sexuality.

Are you a mother considering a visit for your daughter? Think through the intent of the visit. Is it a menstrual problem? Does your daughter need a resource for information?

A young lady's first visit with a gynecologist should be in a comfortable relaxed and calm environment.

2. What's a healthy weight?

While many young women focus on a number, we are more interested in your lifestyle. Establishing healthy patterns now helps lifelong vitality and reproductive health.

Eat from all food groups, emphasizing fruits and vegetables. Exercise regularly. Be kind to your body.

3. When will I need a pelvic exam?

Within three years of becoming sexually active. If not sexually active, plan your first visit between 18 and 21 years of age.

4. I want to talk with my daughter about growing up, but don't know what to say.

We will gladly talk with you about age-appropriate information for your daughter. From you, she'll learn about sensitive topics such as development and contraception.

5. What are symptoms of postpartum depression?

Many women go through hormonal changes during pregnancy and after delivery. Hormones produce chemical changes in the brain that may lead to depression.

Initially, a new mom may feel the "baby blues." These occur within about three days after delivery and go away within about ten days.

Postpartum depression is different from "baby blues." It can last from two weeks after birth to up to one year.

Symptoms include:

  • Losing interest or pleasure in life
  • Losing appetite
  • Having less energy and motivation to do things
  • Having a hard time falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Sleeping more than usual
  • Excessive crying or tearfulness
  • Feeling worthless, hopeless or overly guilty
  • Feeling restless, irritable or anxious
  • Experiencing unexplained weight gain or loss
  • Having thoughts about hurting yourself or your baby

During your post-delivery checkup, we will talk about your physical and emotional health.

6. When should I take prenatal vitamins?

As you begin to plan a family, talk with us about the many ways you can prepare your body for pregnancy, including prenatal vitamins. Taken before pregnancy, these help at the earliest stages of development, providing three very important nutrients - iron, folic acid and calcium.

Folic acid helps prevent birth defect very early in pregnancy. More iron meets the demands of pregnancy. Calcium helps build strong bones and teeth for your baby.

7. When do I need a mammogram?

When you visit, we discuss family history and identify factors that may affect your health. This discussion helps us determine an appropriate time for your baseline mammogram, between 35 and 40 years of age.

At 40 years, plan an annual mammogram screening.

Close relative with breast cancer? Your first mammogram may be at an even younger age.

8. Do I need to take calcium to avoid osteoporosis?

Life can be hectic in your twenties, thirties and forties with friends, family and work commitments. These years cover your reproductive and premenopausal stages. Calcium maintains bone stability and strength when bone mass normally decreases.

Eat two to three servings of dairy foods per day. If this is not in your diet, take a supplement to achieve about 1,000 mg of calcium per day.

Bones need exercise, just like muscles, to gain strength. Weight bearing exercise, such as walking, dancing or lifting weights, helps build strong bones.

9. What are the symptoms of menopause?

In a woman's natural aging process, monthly menstruation ends. Hormonal changes leading up to menopause happen over several years, normally between the ages of 42 and 56.

The clearest sign of the start of menopause are irregular periods and when blood flow becomes lighter or heavier.

Additional signs may include the following: weight gain, hot flashes, insomnia, night sweats, vaginal dryness, joint pain, fatigue, short-term memory problems, bowel upset, dry eyes, itchy skin, mood swings and urinary tract infections.

10. Do I need Pap smears after a hysterectomy?

It depends on your hysterectomy.

With a total hysterectomy, removing both cervix and uterus, you probably do not need an annual Pap smear. If only the uterus was removed, you do need the annual test. If cervical cancer was involved, you need a Pap smear.

After any hysterectomy, we continue annual pelvic exams.

11. After menopause, do I still need an annual exam?

Yes, including a breast exam, a check of your ovaries through a pelvic exam, a screen for cervical cancer through a Pap smear and a discussion about diet, nutrition and your emotional health.

Get a Pap smear about every three years after menopause. Low-risk women in their late sixties or early seventies may usually stop having Pap smears.

12. What can I expect after menopause?

Emotionally, you'll probably experience new levels of satisfaction in your life. Women report having more fun in their everyday lives and enjoy their independence. Perhaps new freedom with less responsibility, retirement, travel or leisure activities, encourages this period of great exploration.

Physically, you will probably feel much better as menopause symptoms and stress subside. As your body becomes accustomed to new hormone levels, you will begin to feel more comfortable in your body.