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Thank you for subscribing to Women's Health, an Avera eNewsletter that provides you with information to help you live a healthy lifestyle.  To learn more about what Avera can do to partner with you to improve your health, visit www.Avera.org.

To your health,

The Avera Staff


Giving you the best diagnosis and treatment for your health is a goal of Avera health care providers. Knowing as much as possible about your symptoms, medical history and health habits can help Avera health care providers to have you feeling better sooner.

Here are some tips for making the most out of your next doctor's appointment.

Write down questions ahead of time. Valid concerns can be forgotten during an appointment. If it helps you remember, make a list of symptoms you've been having and the questions you'd like to ask your doctor.

Don't be shy. Tell your doctor what medicines or drugs you are on. Be honest about your eating habits and alcohol use. This could affect your diagnosis, prescriptions or your doctor's instructions. Also, don't wait until the end of an appointment to bring up serious concerns about your health that you may find difficult to discuss. It's best to address these concerns right away.

Ask a lot of questions. If you don't understand your doctor's instructions, ask for clarification. Don't be afraid to ask more questions about your symptoms, diagnosis, prescription or anything else your doctor tells you.

Bring a trusted friend or family member. If you are nervous about your appointment, it might be helpful to have another person to listen to the doctor's instructions or take notes.

Remember: your health is important. When you go for your doctor's appointments, do you ask as many questions as you would if the appointment were for your children, husband or other loved ones? Be sure not to downplay your symptoms.

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Regular gynecological exams are important for your reproductive and pelvic health. They can detect changes to your body that may require follow-up care. If results of your pap smear come back as abnormal, what's the next step?

During a Pap test, your health care provider takes a sampling of cells from your cervix. Those cells are sent to a lab to be examined. If the results show abnormalities in the cells, your health care provider will schedule a follow-up exam that depends on your medical history. One follow-up exam a doctor might recommend is a colposcopy, which is a procedure that further examines abnormal tissues. For minor abnormalities in the initial Pap smear, your health care provider might recommend another pap smear in six months.

How often you need to have a Pap test depends on several factors, including your age and past Pap smear results. Your doctor can recommend the frequency of your exams depending on your medical history.

To learn more about the test and results, click here.

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In Great Health online archive.