What is Integrative Gynecology?
Integrative gynecology applies the philosophies and approaches of integrative medicine to the practice of gynecology. Viewing gynecological concerns through the lens of whole-person healing, we help our patients understand and address the systems of influences and imbalances that can create their conditions or complaints.
We are healthcare providers trained to provide all of the exams, tests, and procedures that you would expect to receive during any gynecological appointment. In addition to traditional training, we are also knowledgeable about integrative approaches that can be used to augment Western treatments or therapies prescribed; for example, we might recommend an herbal remedy to help regulate your cycles before we suggest a synthetic approach. Integrative gynecology provides patients with natural, gentle, and non-invasive treatments to support the healthy functioning of a woman’s reproductive system. A holistic approach to gynecological care combines lifestyle management (nutrition, exercise, stress management skills), herbal remedies, and hormonal balance.
A visit to the integrative gynecologist at LifeStream Health Centre affords you all of the benefits of a traditional gynecologist, plus the added value of having the option to explore holistic treatments for common health issues. Integrative gynecology is appropriate for any woman who is interested in discovering more natural ways to maintain wellness, alleviate discomfort, or treat conditions associated with reproductive health.
- Interstitial cystitis
- Annual Well Woman Exams
- Uterine fibroids
- Ovarian cancer screening
- Uterine cancer screening
- Urinary incontinence
- Vaginal infections
- Painful sex
- Pain during menstrual periods
- Absent menstrual periods
- Urinary tract infections
- PMS and hormone imbalance
- Adolescent gynecology
- Birth control and family planning
- Preventive testing
Periods typically work on a set schedule, starting and stopping at nearly the same time each month. Some women get through their monthly periods easily, however some women may experience hostile physical or emotional symptoms before and during menstruation. Common issues may include heavy bleeding, missed periods, and/or unmanageable mood swings; making it hard to go about daily activities.
Many menstrual cycle difficulties have a definite explanation and several treatment options to relieve symptoms.
IF YOU EXPERIENCE ONE OR MORE OF THESE SYMPTOMS BEFORE OR DURING YOUR PERIOD, YOU MAY HAVE A MENSTRUAL CYCLE DISORDER:
- Abnormal uterine bleeding (Excessive or heavy bleeding, also called AUB)
- Amenorrhea (no menstrual bleeding present)
- Dysmenorrhea (Painful menstrual cramps)
- Premenstrual Syndrome
- Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
Women should visit an OB/GYN within three years of becoming sexually active; young women who are not sexually active should visit a gynecologist by the age of 21. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends yearly Pap smear testing until the age of 30; after that, your gynecologist may suggest you visit every two or three years based on the results of your last 3 tests. This is also a good time to discuss sexually transmitted diseases and contraceptives.
You should always see your OB/GYN if you are having these symptoms:
- Bleeding between periods
- Unusual or persistent vaginal discharge
- Pelvic pain or severe menstrual cramps
- Abnormal bleeding (at any time while not on your period)
- Bleeding after sexual intercourse
Any of these symptoms may indicate a vaginal infection or an STD, but may also be a sign of endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease or something else. If you think you are pregnant, you should schedule an appointment with your healthcare doctor as soon as possible to ensure a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.
What is a Pap smear?
A pap smear is a procedure where a sample of cells from a woman’s cervix is collected and spread on a microscopic slide and then examined to look for pre-malignant cancer changes. The procedure is simple, quick and relatively painless. In the majority of cases, a Pap smear identifies minor cellular abnormalities before they have a chance to become malignant and are easily treatable. The test is not intended to detect other forms of cancer such as those of the ovary, vagina, or the uterus. If these forms of cancer are present, they will usually be detected in the course of the gynecologic exam, which is generally conducted at the same time as the Pap smear.
Easy Tips for Better Pap Smear Results
Follow these simple guidelines to receive the most accurate results at your annual visit to the gynecologist:
- Schedule the appointment about two weeks after the first day of your period
- Don’t have sexual intercourse two days before your Pap smear
- Don’t use a vaginal douche during the three days before your Pap smear
- Take showers instead of baths during the two days before your Pap smear
- Vaginal creams, tampons, medications or contraceptive foams or jellies are not advised during the 48 hours prior to your exam
Screen tests are the greatest way for women to lower the risk of dying from breast cancer; these tests can find breast cancer early—when it is treatable.
Breast cancer is an uncharacteristic expansion of breast cells and can increase as a result of mutations, or irregular changes in the genes responsible for regulating the growth of cells and keeping them healthy. Breast cancer generally refers to a malignant tumor that may have developed from the cells in the breast. Generally, breast cancer begins to develop in the lobules, which are the passages that drain milk from the lobules to the nipple, but on occasion it may form in the stromal tissues, which include the fatty, fibrous connective tissues of the breast. Breast cancer is a genetic abnormality, often inherited, making it important for those with a family history to make testing a priority.
Steps a person may take to help the body stay healthy such as:
- Eating a balanced diet
- Regular exercise
- Not smoking
- Limiting alcohol
We have several options to help screen for breast cancer. If you are unable to schedule an appointment, you can also do self exams. Questions we can help answer include:
- What do my tests show?
- What kind of personality can breast cancer have?
- How will this information help in deciding what type of treatment or further tests is necessary?
- What did the hormone receptor test show?