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Five Things You Can Do For Your Reproductive Health

Dr. Hope Ricciotti, Clinical Director of Obstetrics & Gynecology at Dimock Community Health Center in Roxbury, gives us five things every woman can do for her reproductive health:

1. Get an HPV vaccine (if you're under 27)

The vaccine, Gardasil®, prevents the types of genital human papillomavirus (HPV) that cause most cases of cervical cancer and genital warts. The vaccine is recommended for 11 and 12 year old girls and for girls and women age 13 through 26 who have not yet been vaccinated or completed the vaccine series. About 30% of cervical cancers will not be prevented by the vaccine, so it is important for women to continue getting screened for cervical cancer by getting regular Pap tests.

2. Get screened for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) regularly

According to the NIH, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) affect more than 13 million people each year. The only way to ensure that you won't get infected is to avoid all types of intimate sexual contact. If you are sexually active, having regular medical check ups can help reduce your risk.

3. Get Pap tests according to the recommended schedule

Most cancers of the cervix can be prevented if women have Pap tests regularly. The current guidelines recommend that women have a Pap test every other year, starting at age 21. After age 30, in consultation with a doctor, low risk women can reduce this interval to three years.

4. Use safe and effective contraception

Nearly half of all US women will experience an unintended pregnancy at some point in their lives, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. While even the most effective birth control methods can fail, your chances of getting pregnant are lowest if the method you choose is used correctly and every time you have sex. Talk to your doctor about which birth control option is best for you.

5. Diet and exercise

Diet and exercise affect almost every aspect of your reproductive health, from fertility to menopause. Eat a balanced diet and do at least thirty minutes of moderate exercise on most days of the week. If you are overweight or obese, talk to your doctor about how you can safely and effectively lose weight.

Above content provided by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.

Posted July 2010

Contact Information

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
East Campus
330 Brookline Avenue
Boston, MA 02215