Health and Wellness: OB/GYN

Why your OB/GYN well-care visits are so important

Annual well-care visits, immunizations and monitoring a healthy pregnancy are essential to a woman’s health and quality of life, now and throughout her entire lifetime.

In order to maintain optimal reproductive and sexual health, women should visit a gynecologist for an exam once a year to get a Pap smear, a breast and pelvic exam, and any other tests or screenings as appropriate.

Women should also visit their gynecologist regularly to seek treatment for irregular periods, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), vaginal infections and to learn about various contraceptive methods.

What to expect during an OB/GYN exam

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that girls should have their first OB/GYN visit when they're 13-15 years old or when they become sexually active.

A typical OB/GYN exam includes:

  • Checking your weight and blood pressure
  • You may also have blood and urine tests
  • Physical exam
  • Breast exam to check for lumps or other abnormalities
  • Pelvic exam: Your OB/GYN will examine the outside of your vagina, which includes the vulva area and vaginal opening, for abnormalities. He/she will then examine your reproductive organs from the inside, using a speculum (a device that holds the vagina open) to view the inside of your vagina and cervix (the opening to your uterus). Your OB/GYN will also examine the walls of the vagina and cervix.
  • A Pap test is often done during the pelvic exam. Your OB/GYN will remove a sample of cells from your cervix which will be sent to a lab and checked for cervical cancer and other abnormalities.
  • If you are sexually active, your OB/GYN might also test for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as herpes, gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis and HIV.
  • Internal bimanual exam. Your OB/GYN will place one or two gloved fingers in your vagina and the other hand on top of the lower part of your abdomen in order to feel your cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries.
  • Your OB/GYN may also perform a rectovaginal exam which involves placing a gloved finger in your rectum.
  • Various screening tests may be ordered, including a mammogram, breast ultrasound, pelvic ultrasound and bone density test.

Expecting a baby? Your OB plays a central role before, during and after your pregnancy.

During your pregnancy, your OB will:

  • Monitor your health and also your developing baby’s health by performing routine ultrasounds, measurements and tests
  • Check for health conditions that could cause problems during your pregnancy or affect your baby’s health, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, infections and genetic disorders
  • Advise you about diet, exercise, medications and staying healthy
  • Help you cope with morning sickness, back and leg pain, heartburn and other common pregnancy complaints
  • Answer your questions about pregnancy and your growing baby
  • Explain what will happen during labor and delivery
  • Often recommend that you and your partner attend childbirth classes led by nurses or childbirth educators.

During labor and delivery, your OB will:

  • Deliver your baby
  • Monitor your health while you recuperate

If you’re pregnant, we recommend these 3 vaccines

Pregnant women should not get live virus vaccines, such as the combined measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine (MMR), because there's a slight chance these will harm the unborn baby. However, vaccines made from dead viruses, such as the flu shot, and toxoid vaccines, such as tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis (Tdap), are safe.

At Westchester Health, we recommend these 3 vaccines to our pregnant patients:

1. Hepatitis B: Pregnant women who are at high risk for this disease and have tested negative for the virus can receive this vaccine. It is used to protect the mother and baby against infection both before and after delivery. A series of three doses is required to have immunity. The 2nd and 3rd doses are given 1 and 6 months after the first dose.

2. The flu shot: This vaccine is recommended for women who are pregnant during flu season—typically November through March—no matter the trimester.

3. Tetanus/Diphtheria/Pertussis (Tdap): Tdap is recommended during pregnancy, preferably between 27-36 weeks, to protect the baby from whooping cough. If not administered during pregnancy, Tdap should be given immediately after the birth of the baby.

For the highest quality of personalized health and wellness care, please come see us

At Westchester Health, we’re committed to delivering the very highest level of OB/GYN health and wellness care, centered around you. Whenever, wherever you need us, we’re here for you. For more information about our wide range of OB/GYN services to help you reach your optimal health, click here.