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The Importance of Wellness Exams

The Importance of Wellness Exams

It’s no secret that regular check-ups with your medical professional are essential to your health. If you don’t know already, one of the many purposes of wellness exams is preventive care — screenings and testings can help doctors catch illnesses and abnormalities before they create serious problems for you later in life. 

Our caring staff at The Fertility & Gynecology Center-Monterey Bay IVF in Monterey, California, is led by Edward Ramirez, MD, FACOG, a board-certified gynecological specialist with years of experience providing quality care to women. When it comes to family planning and fertility, the necessity for regular care is just as high, and should be especially important if you’re planning to have children. 

What happens during a wellness exam? 

Wellness exams have many names: ‘well-woman exam,’ and ‘pelvic exam’ are two common terms used to describe a meeting with a gynecologist for a check-up and screening of your female reproductive organs. During your wellness exam at The Fertility & Gynecology Center, Dr. Ramirez conducts a breast exam, pap smear, blood work, and birth control counseling, if you're interested in birth control. 

Each step of your wellness exam is designed to give Dr. Ramirez a complete picture of your reproductive health. He also sits with you to discuss your medical history, including any risk factors you may have that are associated with serious illness, or that may interfere with your fertility. Your first exam with us may take up to 45 minutes, so please be prepared.  

Breast exam

One of the best tools available for the detection and prevention of breast cancer is a breast exam. Dr. Ramirez examines you for lumps in your breast, or any irregularities in your nipples and skin. If Dr. Ramirez finds a lump, he may order more testing. What type of additional testing depends on several factors, but could include a mammogram and a biopsy, where tissue is removed and sent for testing. 

Breast exams are particularly important for women who are pregnant, or are considering becoming pregnant. Breast cancer doesn’t harm fetuses, nor does pregnancy cause cancer. Hormones that circulate through the body, however, can exacerbate the growth of the disease, and put the life of the mother in a precarious position.

Treating pregnant mothers for breast cancer is a delicate process. While surgery can generally be performed safely during the first trimester of pregnancy, advanced stages of breast cancer require a combination of chemotherapy and surgery. This is a risky situation for the unborn child, and working closely with Dr. Ramirez, as well as talking with your partner, is essential to the health of the mother and the fetus. 

Pap smear

According to Planned Parenthood, a woman’s first well-woman exam should happen around age 13, but the first pap smear should happen by at least age 21. The purpose of a pap smear is primarily to examine the cervix for abnormal cells. These cellular abnormalities could be just that — abnormalities, but there’s a possibility that abnormal cells could be cancerous. 

Cervical cancer affects an estimated 14,480 women each year, with nearly 5,000 of those women dying as a result. Some 20% of cases occur in women over 65, leaving the sweeping majority in younger age groups. Cervical cancer is preventable, but regular wellness exams are key to early detection and treatment to prevent exacerbation. 

Blood/hormone panels 

Blood panels for female hormones test for several hormones, including :

Testing hormone levels gives Dr. Ramirez a better idea of how healthy your reproductive system is overall. Estrogen levels that are too high or too low can affect other organs, including your thyroid. Progesterone levels can tell Dr. Ramirez how ready your uterus is to support a child, in addition to whether or not you’re at risk of developing breast cancer. 

Testing for FSH hormone levels can give Dr. Ramirez important information about your ovarian function and menopause, among other things. Testosterone levels can give him more information concerning the frequency of menstrual periods, weight gain, and infertility.

What about birth control? I’m not ready to start a family

Dr. Ramirez is more than happy to go over your birth control options with you. Whether the pill, patch, shot, or IUD is best for you, he determines the best way to give you the protection you need. Wellness doesn’t have to focus on family planning — in fact, failing to focus on wellness can make it more difficult to have a baby. 

If you’re not sure about your sexual or reproductive health, we’re here to provide the necessary testing and screenings for you. Call us today at 831-649-4483, or book an appointment with us online.

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