Ask Beverly: Hot Topic Women’s Health Questions

Let’s face it: visiting the gynecologist isn’t nearly as fun as shopping for a new pair of shoes. But, it is important. All women should make a point to stay on top of their reproductive health, regardless of their age or life stage. Don’t just take our word for it; OCH Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner Beverly Gann helps answer questions you may not know (or want) to ask about you (and your daughter’s) health:

When should I go for my first mammogram? Females should look to schedule their first mammogram around age 40. However, it is important to discuss your family history of breast cancer with your provider, as this may change when you should receive your first mammogram. 

What is the best and safest birth control method for teenagers? The best birth control method is the one your teenager will actually use! From my experience, it seems as if long acting types (birth controls that are not user-controlled) are very popular with young women. Ask your women’s health provider what options are available.

What is the difference between a pap smear and a pelvic exam? A pap smear is a test for cervical cancer. It is sometimes performed during a pelvic exam. A pelvic exam is the internal exam of female organs done for STD testing, menstrual problems, pregnancy and other concerns.

 What do I need to know about STIs? Anyone is able to get a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI). Using condoms consistently will decrease the possibility of contracting an STI during any sexual act.

 What is peri-menopause? Peri-menopause is “the change.” It is the time it takes for the ovaries to stop ovulating (menstruation cycles eventually stop so that a woman can no longer get pregnant). Main symptoms include: irregular periods, problems sleeping, hot flashes, mood changes and low libido.

Normally, peri-menopause occurs in women between the ages of 45 to 55 years. Women are considered “in menopause” or “menopausal” if they have not had a menstrual cycle for 12 continuous months. There are other reasons cycles can stop, so it’s advisable to discuss your cycle with your provider.

How can I prepare my daughter for a women’s health exam? Take her to your annual exam (as soon as you feel she’s old enough to be involved in ‘girl talk’). Bringing her along can help calm her fears. Depending on her or your comfort level, your daughter can step out during the actual exam or remain seated by your head.

 What are the pros and cons of hormone replacement therapy? The pros and cons mostly relate to dose and length of use.  It’s important to discuss your concerns with your provider. Remember, not everyone needs hormone replacement and the general rule is lowest dose for the shortest time.

Beverly Gann, WHNP is certified in women’s health and has worked at OCH since 2002. She has more than 16 years experience working in women’s health. Beverly received her education from the St. John’s School of Nursing and the University of Missouri at St. Louis, Barnes School of Nursing. In 2011, the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce and Springfield Business Journal named her as a local Health Care Champion honoree.

Questions? Contact the Women’s Health Department at Ozarks Community Hospital (417) 837-4079.


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