Importance of Annual Gynecologic Exam

By | Exams, Lifestyle

Your annual gynecologic exam could save your life.

A yearly exam from a gynecologist should be part of your preventative healthcare routine. Many times we think we only need to see a doctor when there is a problem, but that is not the case.

Oftentimes serious problems don’t present obvious symptoms at first, but your gynecologist knows what to look out for during your annual physical. Early detection is the best defense. Diseases like breast cancer, ovarian cancer and cervical cancer can be detected, even at early stages, during an annual gyn exam.

This type of listening is particularly required in instances of gynecological and hormonal issues. There could be a variety of symptoms present, such as weight gain, weight loss, fatigue, anxiety and low libido.

At The Balanced Woman, Dr. Maria-Lisa Lambert is a certified gynecologist. She specializes in women’s wellness by taking a holistic approach to medicine and overall health. It is important to Dr. Lambert that you feel comfortable and well-cared for in her office.

It is recommended that women get a yearly gyn exam starting at age 15. A pelvic exam may not be required at this age, but it is a good time to start to build the patient/doctor relationship. The young patient can ask Dr. Lambert any questions they may have regarding their development, menstrual cycle, sexuality, birth control, sexually transmitted diseases and general wellbeing.

When most women hear “annual exam” they think pap smear. But a pap smear is only one part of a gynecologic exam. This cervical cancer screening should be performed every 3 years in women ages 21 to 29. In women who are 30 and older, a pap smear is recommended every 5 years.

Other recommended screenings you may receive during your annual gyno exam include:

  • STI/STD testing: If left untreated, STIs like chlamydia and gonorrhea can lead to serious complications like pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, and chronic pain. Annual testing is recommended for sexually active women under the age of 25. Women age 25 and older may benefit from testing if they have multiple partners, a new partner, exposure concerns, or have recently been diagnosed with another STI. Screening for other STIs like syphilis, trichomonas, herpes simplex virus, and hepatitis should be based on risk factors.

  • HIV testing: This test should be done at least once during your lifetime. However, your provider should check for risk factors annually that could warrant repeat testing.

  • Hepatitis C testing: This one-time test is recommended for women who were born anytime from 1945 through 1965 and who are unaware of their infection status.

  • Clinical breast exam: A breast exam by a health care provider is recommended every 1 to 3 years, beginning at age 20.

  • Mammography: This diagnostic imaging test is used to identify abnormalities in the breast that may indicate breast cancer. The exam is less sensitive in younger women and is more likely to report false positives or over-diagnosis in younger women. It is recommended that women ages 40 to 49 years discuss the benefits and risks with their provider before deciding whether to start mammogram screening. By age 50, all women should receive mammograms every 1 to 2 years.

  • Bone density testing: This exam is recommended for all women age 65 years and older or in postmenopausal women who are younger than 65, but at risk for bone fractures.

  • Diabetes testing and lipid (cholesterol) profile assessment: A blood test can determine if your blood sugar and cholesterol are within normal limits or if they need to be addressed. This should be recommended periodically by your provider.

It is important for women to get an annual gynecologic exam because it is during these preventative healthcare visits that we learn how to improve our health and learn of any potential issues. This exam serves to detect current health problems and evaluate risk factors for new problems that can develop. Early detection and learning ways to reduce your risks of cancer is every woman’s best defense. The annual gynecological exam helps provide guidance and testing that will promote wellness and good health habits for all women.

Contact The Balanced Woman today to schedule an appointment for your annual exam.

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By | Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy, Diets, Lifestyle, Our Practice, Sex, Vitamins

Real listening is the art of hearing between the spoken words.

At The Balanced Woman in Ardmore, PA we feel that actual listening involves using one’s eyes, knowledge and intuition as well as one’s ears. When a patient describes their discomfort and malaise, the staff at The Balanced Woman assesses the overall appearance of the patient, as well as hears their description of symptoms. By getting the whole picture of the patient’s condition, our physicians can intuitively evaluate the problem and apply their years of experience and knowledge to offer a treatment.

This type of listening is particularly required in instances of gynecological and hormonal issues. There could be a variety of symptoms present, such as weight gain, weight loss, fatigue, anxiety and low libido.

Physicians are trained to get results. In emergency situations a physician is trained to move quickly and decisively to help and, in many cases, save a patient. Staying calm under pressure while making the correct split-second decisions, based upon years of training, can often be a matter of life and death. The physician needs to assess the patient’s condition and take the appropriate measures to gain control of the problem. This leaves very little time or room for any type of discussion. Physicians are trained to act. If there is a problem the doctor does their best to find a solution.

Fortunately, not all interactions with a physician are in emergency situations. Most trips to the doctor are fairly routine checkups. Regardless of how ordinary the visit may be, physicians are still trained to identify problems and deliver a result. Most of the time these are easy fixes to such standard symptoms as high blood pressure, excessive weight gain or high cholesterol. Pharmaceuticals can be prescribed to remedy the problem and maybe a quick chat between doctor and patient about diet and foods to avoid. The visit is brief; a resolution is attained and the doctor can move on to the next patient.

To be fair, the doctor doesn’t necessarily lack compassion for the patient. Many hospitals and big medical practices try to discourage lengthy visits since most insurance companies pay for procedures and result oriented visits, but not consultations. This approach leaves very little time for doctor/patient dialogue, which makes it difficult to get to the root of the problem rather than just treating the obvious symptom. Treating a patient and bringing them relief is a good thing, but it’s only a part of the equation. With an integrative or holistic approach to healthcare it’s possible to not only treat the symptom, but to also understand and eradicate the underlying cause of the symptom. This approach involves listening to the patient and really hearing them.

Many patients come to me at my medical practice in Ardmore, PA for relief of symptoms due to menopause and hormonal imbalance. One of the most common complaints that I receive from them is that their previous doctor didn’t hear them or was dismissive of their complaints, while offering stress relieving medication. My patients have reported how their other doctors would wave off their complaints as being, “that time of life” while telling them “they just have to live with it.” Fortunately, woman don’t have to suffer symptoms due to menopause and hormone imbalance and there are ways to relieve the symptoms, but there is not a one size fits all solution or pill.

Many of The Balanced Woman’s patients express great relief that they have finally found a practice and a doctor who is really hears them and addresses their complaints. While menopause and hormone related issues do not require emergency medicine, hormonal imbalance can be the cause of great stress and anxiety as well as physical discomfort. In some cases, the symptoms might be a sign of more serious issues which need to be addressed. Therefore, as important as it is to be able to offer fast relief for symptoms, it is vital to have a conversation with the patient and that the patient is properly heard.

We realize that truly hearing the patient often takes more time and at The Balanced Woman the patients not only get the required time, but often receive follow up calls from the doctor as well. We understand that having and maintaining good health is complicated and we take our patients’ gynecological and hormonal issues seriously. As stated, The Balanced Woman is committed to treating the whole patient and not just the individual symptoms that are expressed.

By properly hearing the patient we try to evaluate and focus in on the underlying problem, rather than just prescribing a quick fix or by ordering unnecessary tests. We feel that caring for patients correctly starts with properly hearing them. Call us, we’re listening and we hear you.

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Let Talk About Sex #1

By | Lifestyle, Sex

Sex has always been a hot topic.

Fortunately, with each passing generation we have become more knowledgeable and forthright in our on-going discussions regarding the subject. Unfortunately, in our society, sex is often portrayed through a singularly youthful lens. When we think about sexual health in a medical sense, we often focus our attention on safe-sex practices for teenagers and young adults or on women’s fertility matters, which often revolve around the ovulation cycle. However, an important age group that largely gets overlooked in this topic are older adults including pre- or post-menopausal women.

One of the more disconcerting aspects of aging is the loss of libido and, regardless of one’s proclivity, our sexual health and activity is a very important part of our physical and emotional lives. Libido has been described as the life force, but is most often regarded as our sex drive. One of the main things we learn to recognize as we grow and age is our sexual feelings and needs. As we mature these feelings and needs change, but regardless of our age sexual activity is understood to be a health benefit in quite few ways.

Not only does sex burn calories and count as exercise It has been found that sexually active people have improved immune systems, lower blood pressure, lower risk of heart attack, better-quality sleep, relief of stress and yes, improved libido or one’s desire for more sex. Other benefits include a smoothing of the skin due to the estrogen released during sex and for women sexual activity lowers the risk of incontinence by strengthening the pelvic floor. Sex has been shown to ease menstrual cramps and boost self-esteem and, due to the physical work out one gets from sexual activity, it causes the brain to release chemicals that boost one’s serotonin levels which elevates mood.

Sex also strengthens the emotional and physical bond between one’s partner and themselves and therefore the loss of libido not only affects us, but also impacts our partner as well. Age is not the only factor in the loss of libido and throughout the years our libido may fluctuate due to external changes as well as the internal changes that affect us. From observation and experience we all know that hormones are raging in our teenage years and while this may be true there are some studies that have shown that a woman’s libido actually peaks between age of 27-45. Unfortunately, there is no way to put libido into a neat little group package since everyone’s health, emotional life and external surroundings are not all the same.

It’s not uncommon for an eighteen-year-old woman who has just delivered a baby to share the same lack of enthusiasm for sex as the thirty-year-old woman in the same situation. Stress, depression and lack of sleep can be some of the culprits interfering with one’s libido while medications and lack of exercise can also adversely affect one’s sex life. A woman who is breast feeding may suffer a loss of libido due to the combination of the increase of prolactin and oxytocin hormones which can bring a woman great pleasure from nursing her child. Since her emotional and physical intimacy needs may be met by the activity there may be a decrease in libido as she may not feel the need or desire to seek physical attention from her partner.

Hormonal imbalance or change affects a woman’s libido and quite often is the cause of decreased sexual desire. A postpartum woman may lose her desire due to a sharp drop in estrogen, the hormone that makes a woman feel sexually motivated. Other reasons for loss of sex drive could also be due to a medical condition such as hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism is when the thyroid produces too much of the hormone thyroxine with some of the symptoms being irritability, fatigue, irregular heartbeat and loss of libido.

While there are various drugs such as sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis) and vardenafil (Levitra) successfully offered to men regarding erectile dysfunction, there are relatively few comparable drugs for woman when it comes to a lack of sexual desire or arousal. Since Viagra improves blood flow to the male genitals, allowing for sustained erections, it had been thought that the drug would have a similar effect for woman. Unfortunately, this theory didn’t hold up in the few studies that were done, but recently the FDA did approve two drugs for treating low libido in premenopausal women. Flibanserin (Addyis) and bremelanotide (Vyleesi) are the two FDA approved drugs for premenopausal woman who are experiencing low libido. Unfortunately, they both come with warnings about adverse side effects such as dizziness and nausea and, just to set the mood, Vyleesi needs to be injected into the abdomen about forty-five minutes prior to sexual activity. Both drugs have only about a 10% effectiveness and come with a list a of possible side effects ranging from nausea to vertigo, none of which does anything to enhance a woman’s sexual desire.

As we age our bodies change and we become more vigilant about taking care of our health. Women take prophylactic measures for early warning signs of cancer by getting yearly mammograms. Diets are observed to keep weight in check and to avoid unhealthy eating habits that can lead to various health concerns. In many cases medications are required to lower cholesterol and blood pressure and vitamin intake is boosted to ward off osteoporosis. After the age of fifty regularly scheduled colonoscopies are performed to detect abnormalities in the large intestine. Dermatologists require a visit to ensure the health of our skin, as well as providing a way to cosmetically enhance one’s natural beauty. A visit to the cardiologist helps to guarantee that the heart will stay healthy and an appointment with a gynecologist is important in safeguarding a woman’s sexual health.

Any gynecologist is perfectly capable of testing for and treating a disease, but when it comes to receiving information regarding a woman’s sexuality it is often difficult to get clear answers. This is especially true regarding women who have gone through menopause and, while sexual problems are common in about half the women between the age of 45 and up, only about 10%-15% actually discuss these issues with their doctor. Often shame and embarrassment hinders a forthright conversation regarding sexuality and a reported common complaint has been that the doctor does not take the complaints seriously; explaining them as “that time of life.” It’s frustrating and disheartening to be disregarded and it’s understandable that a woman would get depressed upon hearing that nothing can be done to mitigate the lack of desire, arousal and orgasm.

Menopause marks the end of a woman’s menstrual cycle and while it can occur in a woman’s 40’s or 50’s the average age is 51 years old. This is a time when a woman’s ovaries stop producing high levels of the hormone estrogen, progesterone and testosterone and with these hormonal changes come mood swings and vaginal dryness accompanied by painful sex. If a woman who has reached the age of menopause has a partner it’s probable that the partner would be approximately the same age, if not older. All of which compounds the sexual problems since the partner would probably be experiencing the same lack of libido. Embarrassment and lack of response can keep a couple from having an emotionally and physically satisfying sex life.

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) can help both men and woman regain their loss of libido and help restore intimacy to the relationship. There are both estrogen and testosterone creams and pills that can be utilized to restore one’s lost libido, as well as compounds containing Oxytocin and Arginine. One of the better methods for delivering the hormones Estrogen and Testosterone is through the use of subcutaneous bio-identical hormone pellets. These pellets are painlessly inserted in the hip, under the skin. They last for three to four months and release the hormones as naturally needed, helping to lift one’s mood, charging one’s libido and restoring intimacy in a relationship.

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New Year, New You. Bring Balance Back!

By | Diets, Lifestyle

New Year, New You.
Bring Balance Back!

The dreaded month of January has finally hit.

The start of the New Year is always a sluggish one – bringing with the all-loving holiday hangover. After several months of celebrations, we tend to feel overly tired and full. With all the alcohol and food consumption, the stress of gift buying, late nights of partying and long periods of family socialization, all we really want to do is stay in bed and recover. Yet, January tends to be one of the busier months of the year when it comes to work! Why is this? Well, to start, the past few months seem to be filled with fun and play – so as soon as January 2nd hits, along with the looming guilt we’ve ignored all December, we try to make up for lost time by getting back into a routine as quickly as possible. It’s the classic case of bouncing back from a binge.

Often, we want to make our New Year comeback and be strong about it, but we’re still not feeling 100 percent in our ability to successfully do so. There’s nothing to fret about though, we do this every year and many of us usually manage to get back to where we want to be. However, the key to do this in the most effective and efficient manner, is by staying balanced. Below are several tips on how to bring balance back into your life and restore, rejuvenate, and reinvent your best self:


Getting the Best use out of your gym time:

The gym seems to be one of the most popularly visited destinations during the months of January to March. While any gym-goer will recognize the increase in local gym-foot-traffic, it is important that those heading to the gym after a long break understand that long-lasting benefits have to be attainable. If you return back to the gym in an intense manner, you’ll likely burn yourself out within the first month. Rather than creating intense regimens for yourself, such as two-a-day spin classes, try easing your way back into a steadily growing routine. Start by taking a yoga class or focusing on soft core exercises while incorporating a form of light cardio into your daily workout. Slowly, you can build up your stamina and increase these cardio workouts, but it is important to ease your way back into training. In fact, overexerting yourself in exercise at any time can cause a variety of health issues down the line. According to a Business Inside article published last year, women who participated in daily strenuous workouts were at increased risk for heart attack or stroke.

For those who have a hard time getting back into an exercise regimen, or if working out was never really your thing in the first place, try taking several long walks throughout the week. Whether it be outside, in a mall or on a treadmill, walking between 10,000 –14,000 steps a day can greatly enhance your mind, body and overall health and wellbeing. Even a brisk walk for a mile or two just a couple days a week will yield benefits.

Finding sustainability in a diet:


We can’t stress this enough: Do not crash diet! This form of dieting is never the right solution to losing weight and maintaining long-term results. Along with being unhealthy and sending your body into unexpected shock – it doesn’t last! We know that sometimes you need to see fast results and get in shape for a special event, but this method is rarely an effective one if you’re looking for lasting effects. After the holidays, many people want to lose the packed-on pounds instantaneously. However, one month of eating poorly will not set you so far behind that there is no comeback in sight. Start with simple and achievable dieting goals. Cut processed sugars and limit your starch intake. You should make sure you are still eating at least three meals a day. Some people prefer eating small meals throughout the day and see their best results when eating light portions in intervals of every few hours. Regardless, eating healthy, whole foods will get you back on track quicker than you think. One of biggest problems with crash dieting is the mental component. We all want to feel good, but we can’t feel good if our body is not getting the proper nutrients it needs. In order to perform our best, physically and mentally, our bodies need to be fed – and fed the right things. A few simple examples of healthy meals, and what we like to recommend after the holidays can include:

Steal cut oatmeal with fresh blueberries and a splash of almond milk or a tablespoon of peanut butter

Mixed green salad seasoned with balsamic vinegar and light olive oil and topped with two hardboiled eggs or a piece of grilled chicken.

Grilled salmon sautéed with cocoaminos with a baked yam and a boiled artichoke, roasted cauliflower for the side.

Be sure to incorporate regular light snacks in between. Nuts, fruits, or carrots with hummus are all great options.

Mental health first:

Along with the rush of getting back to work, and the various other pressures we put on ourselves this time of year, it’s important to remember that in order to reach our maximum potential in productivity, we must be in a sound state of mind. Make time in your day to practice meditation or destressing techniques. While we may have high energy in our eagerness to make our biggest and best comebacks, it is essential to slow down and take a breather in between efforts. All it takes is 5-10 minutes out of your day. Whether it’s waking up early to sit in a still, quiet space; taking a midday break to write down how you’re feeling; or clearing room in the evening to read a chapter of a book – peaceful contemplation and reflection will enhance the turnout of your day. You can find some more mental health balancing tricks here.

There are many small routines we can incorporate into our daily schedules which will offer long-lasting solutions to our overall health. Often, we put too much energy into one area of life and forget the benefits of having the presence of balance. As the saying goes, “Everything in moderation”. These words apply to both your labor and productivity as well, determining the quality of your results. Take your time getting back into your groove and make sure you are paying attention to all elements of your life. If you are feeling more down than usual at the start of this year, consider your nutritional health and whether you are receiving the proper treatment and support. It is important to consult with your doctor to make sure your daily vitamin regimen is up to date and to examine any other internal factors that may be causing fatigue or moodiness. Hormonal imbalances, lack of sleep, stress, diet, and underlying medical issues can all contribute to changes in your body. The Balanced Woman has specialists available to talk and help you with all your health needs. If you need assistance in balancing your health this New Year, call us today or schedule an appointment here.

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