Well-Woman Care and Adolescent Gynecology
The Well-Woman Care and Adolescent Gynecology Program, a division of The Gynecology Center at Mercy, provides expertise in routine gynecologic care, minimally invasive treatment options and traditional surgical techniques. Our physicians treat a wide variety of gynecologic issues that may occur from the early years of adolescence through the post-menopausal years.
Christine E. O'Connor, Director of Mercy's Well Woman and Adolescent Gynecology Program, is known for developing strong physician-patient rapport and building the necessary relationship to compassionately address each patient's health care needs.
The Adolescent Gynecology Program provides young women, beginning at age 12, access to routine gynecologic care and health education. Patients can address issues such as dysmennorhea, endometriosis, chronic pelvic pain, polycystic ovarian disease and the most difficult of gynecologic conditions. The physicians of the Well-Woman Careand Adolescent Gynecology Program at Mercy encourage proper health practices by offering health screenings and counseling for women facing obesity, drug use, tobacco use, alcohol abuse and clinical depression.
This first GYN visit for an adolescent may not necessitate a pelvic exam, but is an important time in a young woman's life to establish a comfortable relationship with her physician. Annual examinations are tailored to fit each woman's individual needs based on age, family and personal health history.
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The Gynecology Center offers the FDA approved HPV vaccine to girls ages 9-26 which can prevent cervical cancer, genital warts, and abnormal cervical cells caused by some types of HPV. The HPV vaccine is currently recommended as a part of routine vaccinations for all girls at age 11-12. Vaccination protects against four types of Human Papillomavirus, a virus known to cause most cervical cancers and genital warts. The vaccine is most effective when given prior to any exposure to HPV and does not protect against all types, so it is important to continue screening with annual PAP tests after vaccination. The HPV vaccine is given as three shots over a six month period, and is recommended by the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. If you or someone you know would like more information regarding this vaccination series, please contact our office, 410-332-9200.
For more information about the HPV vaccination click here.
Abnormal Pap Tests
Abnormal Pap tests occur when abnormal cells are detected on cervical cytology. The Pap test is a screening test for cervical cancer. In younger women, abnormal cells are often an indication of changes caused by an infection by Human Papillomavirus, or HPV. HPV is an extremely common sexually transmitted infection which has no symptoms and often goes undetected.
Abnormal Pap tests usually require a detailed examination of the cervix called a colposcopy. This examination is similar to a regular pelvic examination, except a special microscope is used to examine the cervix closely. Often, small biopsies are taken. These biopsies lead to the diagnosis of small lesions which may be treated with minor surgical procedures. In healthy young women, the abnormal changes often resolve. Until the abnormalities disappear, close follow-up is required. If the abnormal changes don’t resolve, treatment is necessary to reduce the risk of developing cervical cancer.
Endometriosis is a non-cancerous condition that affects millions of women worldwide. The tissue that forms the lining of the uterus, the endometrial lining, normally grows inside the uterine cavity. For some unexplained reason, in endometriosis, this tissue grows in other areas of the pelvis. Certain diagnosis of endometriosis requires a diagnostic laparoscopy, a minor surgical procedure done under anesthesia.
Endometriosis is one of the most common causes of pelvic pain and infertility in women but it is a mysterious disease. No clinical studies have provided a definitive answer as to the cause. Hence, there are varied opinions concerning appropriate treatment options. Studies have shown, however, that the only truly effective treatment for endometriosis is surgery to remove all endometriosis lesions, cysts, and adhesions.
The type and intensity of symptoms can vary from mild discomfort to severe. Common symptoms of endometriosis include:
- Pain before and during periods
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Abdominal tenderness
- Severe cramping
- Excessive menstrual bleeding
- Diarrhea, constipation, and/or nausea
- Intestinal pain
- Painful pelvic exams
Learn more about endometriosis and The Endometriosis Center at Mercy, a division of The Gynecology Center at Mercy.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
This disorder is characterized by changes to the ovaries such that multiple cysts develop from ovarian follicles and then accumulate in the ovaries without ovulation. It is one of the most common hormonal disorders among women. It is estimated that 5-10 percent of women of childbearing age have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. In a woman with PCOS, the ovaries continue to produce estrogen, which causes the lining of the uterus to grow. However, the high androgen levels prevent ovulation and consequently reduce the production of progesterone. Because of this, the endometrium (uterine lining) is not shed, raising the risk of endometrial cancer.
There is no single test to diagnose PCOS. Your gynecologist will need to thoroughly check your medical history, perform a physical exam and run a series of diagnostic tests, including blood work to determine hormone levels and glucose or sugar levels. It is important to have a well-qualified physician to diagnose this debilitating disease.
Common symptoms of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome may include:
- Infrequent menstrual periods, no periods, and/or irregular bleeding
- Infertility due to inability to ovulate
- Excess body hair
- Acne, oily skin, or dandruff
- Weight gain or obesity
- Male-pattern baldness
- Dark velvety patches on the skin
- Possibly no symptoms at all
Treatment for PCOS is based on a woman’s symptoms. There is no cure for PCOS but symptoms need to be treated since women with the condition are at an increased risk for developing other serious health conditions. Please call The Gynecology Center for an appointment, 410-332-9200.
The menstrual cycle is the process in which the lining of the uterus is shed. The lining then passes through the cervix and vagina and appears on the outside of the body as menstrual blood. The average length of the menstrual cycle is 28 days, but can normally occur any where between 21 and 35 days. Normal periods last between 3-7 days, and women often have small clots during the days that the heaviest bleeding occurs.
It is not normal for a woman of child-bearing age to have:
- No period (amenorrhrea)
- Extremely heavy bleeding
- Irregular periods
- Painful periods or menstrual cramps not relieved by over the counter medications
- Symptoms including bloating, severe headaches, mood swings and depression just before your period
The conditions above need to be treated to improve your quality of life. There is hope available. Call The Gynecology Center for an appointment,
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