Boulder Gynecology Well Woman Care & Screening
Making sure you receive the best gynecological care possible.
For most women, an annual gynecologic exam is all they need from their women’s health provider. At Boulder Gynecology, we work to make this routine visit pleasant, effective, and comprehensive.
The focus of the screening exam changes according to life stage. For adolescents, educating and creating early positive health care encounters is often the most important aspect of gynecological health. Women in their 20s to 40s often need effective contraceptive that fits their lifestyle, and at times, preconception counseling. As women enter midlife, healthy aging becomes the major focus, and receiving accurate information on menopause and options is often a primary concern. Avoiding or controlling chronic diseases is central in later life gynecological health. We tailor the well woman exam to each woman’s individual needs.
We follow accepted scientific guidelines for Pap smear screening. The following screening intervals are currently advised: Pap smear screening should start at the age of 21, regardless of the age of initiation of sexual activity with a partner. Pap smears are then performed every three years throughout the 20s. Sexually active adolescents and young women should receive screening for gonorrhea and Chlamydia on an annual basis. Starting at 30, women are routinely offered testing for high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) in conjunction with their Pap. High-risk HPV infection is very common and most infections resolve on their own. It is the persistence of HPV that increases a woman’s risk of developing cervical cancer. Conversely, the absence of high-risk HPV almost guarantees that a woman will not develop cervical cancer. Therefore, addition of the HPV test increases the sensitivity of cervical screening. Women over 30 who test negative on both their Pap and HPV tests can safely extend the interval for cervical screening to once every five years. Nonetheless, we still advise other components of health screening be done annually. Women who have been adequately screened can discontinue Pap smear screening at the age of 65.
We recommend mammograms be done every one to two years starting at 40 for average risk women. After 50, an annual mammogram becomes even more important since a woman’s risk of breast cancer increases with age. Most imaging centers now offer digital mammography which has been found to be particularly helpful for younger women and those with dense breasts.
The need for other screening tests depends on your age, as well as your personal and family history. Boulder Gynecology can work with your primary care practitioner to help coordinate any additional screening that may be needed. When you initiate care through our office, you will be asked to sign a document, Boulder Gynecology Policies on Preventive Screening Tests.