Conflicting media coverage makes it difficult to know when to come to the gynecologist. We continue to stress the importance of an annual exam: A yearly “well woman” exam is recommended and encouraged by physicians, every insurance company and every governmental agency. A Pap smear is an important component of screening for disease, the cells on your cervix, infection and HPV. Your practitioner will discuss this with you in further detail.
For every woman, the yearly gynecological exam performed by a practitioner who is specially trained in women’s health, addresses a variety of important concerns. A yearly pelvic exam is recommended for adult women. This detects many pelvic diseases: cysts, fibroids, endometriosis, sexually transmitted diseases, and cancer of the vulva, vagina, cervix, uterus and ovaries. The exam may also diagnose pelvic and vaginal relaxation problems (prolapse of the bladder and uterus) and urinary leakage. The causes of abnormal bleeding and pelvic pain may be discussed and treated. Hemorrhoids are evaluated and treatment given. The breast exam is a critical component of the annual exam and is necessary in all women including those having annual mammograms.
Many other important issues are addressed. Sexuality, libido and relationship issues can be discussed and a plan to help can be outlined. Bone health is a major concern for women as they enter menopause. Early counseling and treatment is important and can prevent future problems with osteoporosis. Psychological issues-depression, anxiety, trouble sleeping, PMS, menopausal symptoms are another common topic for discussion and treatment. Pelvic and back pain is investigated. Fertility problems are common and these are addressed.
For those seeking to prevent pregnancy, your gynecologic practitioner knows all available contraceptive options-you should be aware of all risks and benefits. Nutrition and wellness are very important; as is proper weight control. Smoking cessation has come a long way and options are available. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. When found early most women are cured. This is done by a combination of breast examination and testing, such as mammogram and breast US. We also do BRCA gene testing. At the annual exam, we screen for and treat common medical problems, such as headaches, diabetes, thyroid disease, vaginal and urinary infections, cholesterol, anemia, and many others.
The Good News!
Health insurance reform legislation passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama in March 2010 (Obamacare) requires that preventive services that have strong scientific evidence of health benefit must be completely covered and plans can no longer charge a patient copayment, coinsurance or deductible for these services when they are delivered by a network provider. Therefore, you are able to do your yearly gyne exam without a co-pay! And all of the above medical care is available to you. This will affect all insurance policies by 2014 and includes the following:
- FDA approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures and contraceptive counseling
- Well-woman visits including preconception counseling and routine, low-risk prenatal care
- HIV counseling and screening for all sexually active women
- Human papillomavirus DNA (HPV) testing for all women 30 years and older
- Sexually transmitted infection counseling for all sexually active women annually
- Breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling
- Screening and counseling for interpersonal issues and domestic violence
- Screening for gestational diabetes
- Medical devices such as IUD, diaphragm, and contraceptive implants
- Female sterilization
Coverage is provided for the following types of services without co-pay when using an in-network provider:
- Chlamydia infection screening
- Gonorrhea and syphilis screening
- Counseling about genetic testing for breast cancer
- Counseling to help stop use of tobacco products
- Osteoporosis (bone density) screening
- Cholesterol screening based on age and individual risk factors
- Colorectal cancer screenings
- Screening and counseling for alcohol misuse
- Use of folic acid to promote health
- Use of aspirin to prevent heart disease
- Health counseling to include nutrition and weight management
- Hepatitis A and B
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
- Influenza (Flu)
- Measles, mumps, rubella
- Meningococcal (Meningitis)
- Pneumococcal (Pneumonia)
- Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis
- Varicella (Chickenpox)
For pregnancies, coverage may also be provided for the following types of services without co-pay when using an in-network provider:
- Anemia screening for iron deficiency
- Syphilis screening
- Hepatitis B screening
- Blood testing for Rh incompatibility
- Urinary tract infection screening
- Breastfeeding education
Women are living longer! Stay active, healthy and vibrant! A yearly annual examination by a trained and certified women’s healthcare provider will ensure problems are found early and addressed. Be sure to schedule your appointment.