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Vaginal Microscopic Exam
During your initial visit, you'll have an exam and possibly a few cultures done to screen for vaginal conditions or infections, such as trichomonasis, bacterial vaginosis or yeast. If any of these are evident, you and your health care provider will work out a plan to manage these conditions. This plan may not include oral antibiotics for trichomonasis or bacterial vaginosis, depending on your particular condition and the philosophy of your practitioner. Yeast may be treated if you're symptomatic. You may have heard that bacterial vaginosis increases the risk of preterm birth, uterine infection and premature rupture of membranes, but not all studies support these conclusions. Ask your practitioner to discuss this information with you.
Sexually Transmitted Infection Screening
Serum testing for syphilis is mandatory, due to the severity of the infection the syphilis spirochete cause the baby. In addition, you should be tested or at least offered testing for other sexually transmitted infections and diseases, including chlamydia, gonorrhea and HIV. Babies born through the birth canal of mothers infected with chlamydia or gonorrhea may be at risk for eye and throat infection. Some of us were wild women before we settled down and decided to become moms. Only you know your history, and you'll need to be honest with yourself and your care provider when assessing your need for STD testing.
Screening for Cervical Change and Cervical Cancer
A Pap smear should be collected at each initial obstetric visit unless results are available for one collected within the past year, probably from your annual GYN visit. Pap smears help detect cervical changes early, before they turn into something more invasive, like cervical cancer. The process involves two sampling devices: a spatula that samples the external surface of the cervix and a brush that collects cells from the area where two types of cells meet within the cervical canal. While this test can be performed at any point in the pregnancy, it's usually done early on, because the cervix is more likely to bleed as pregnancy progresses.
Genetic Carrier Screening (Cystic Fibrosis and Tay-Sachs)
Because your baby is a mix of your genes and your partner's genes, faulty genes that don't affect either of you can team up to affect your baby. One such genetic disease is cystic fibrosis (CF), which affects vital organs in the body, especially the lungs and digestive system, clogging them with sticky mucus and making it difficult to breathe and digest food. If both parents are carriers of the faulty gene, there is a one-in-four chance with every pregnancy that their child will have cystic fibrosis. Because CF is most common in Caucasians, offering a CF carrier test is the norm for this group '- mothers and fathers included '- as well as for those with a family history. If you're not pregnant yet and just reading ahead a little, you and your partner may want to consider having the CF carrier tests prior to conception so that you know your risks and can educate yourselves about the medical problems that CF can cause.