From contraception to STD prevention and prenatal care, Bergen Medical Associates’ Ena Marsan, DO, shares how gynecologists help position young women for a lifetime of good health.
Though establishing a relationship with a gynecologist may be one of the last things some women in their teens and twenties have on their minds, it’s actually one of the best and most important moves they can make for their health and mental well-being.
“Young women may not fully understand where to go or why they should see a gynecologist, and/or they may be uncomfortable opening up about such private matters,” said Ena Marsan, DO, MPH, gynecologist at Bergen Medical Associates, which has six convenient offices throughout Bergen County. “However, when the need for a gynecologist arises, they might not have one readily available. So it’s an important opportunity for them to find a suitable GYN for their specific needs.”
From advising on contraceptive methods and gynecological issues to administering age-appropriate screenings for a variety of conditions and educating women on how to live a healthy life at all ages, “gynecologists should be part of a woman’s armamentarium of health care providers, and establishing a relationship with a gynecologist will give young women peace of mind.” Dr. Marsan said.
Just as women establish relationships with hairstylists, manicurists, fitness trainers and other health and lifestyle providers, Dr. Marsan shares five reasons why it behooves young women to include a gynecologist on their list of providers to promote a positive and healthy lifestyle:
- Contraception Support — “Contraception is available in many different forms, and everyone is unique,” said Dr. Marsan, who noted that progesterone-only IUDs, birth control pills and subdermal implants inserted under the skin of the upper arm are currently among the most popular options for young women. “There are many non-hormonal options as well, such as condoms, copper IUD and Phexxi gel, options many young women didn’t know was available. Women may also not be aware of the proper use of the different birth control methods, their side effects or other underlying conditions that would preclude their use of different methods.” Overall, Dr. Marsan said, “A gynecologist can clear up any misinformation/misperceptions and help young women determine their optimal form of contraception based on their preferences, lifestyle and any medical conditions they may have to help ensure their safest and best option.”
- HPV — “Young women should know their HPV vaccine status. Abnormal cervical cells are caused by the presence of high-risk strains of human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV can lead to cervical, anal/rectal, and head/neck cancer down the road,” Dr. Marsan said. “The risk of contracting HPV increases with the number of sexual partners you have, whether you use a condom or not,” she noted. “As young women (and men) become sexually active, the HPV vaccine is the best thing we have to prevent against developing higher-risk forms of HPV.
- Treatment of Gynecological Issues — “Among younger women, we treat a lot of cases of irregular periods, sexually-transmitted infections (such as gonorrhea, chlamydia and herpes) and urinary tract infections,” said Dr. Marsan, who added that many of these can be conveniently assessed at the same visit. “While issues can get missed at urgent care centers, we take a comprehensive look at each patient holistically and determine the root cause of certain conditions,” she said. “For example, an irregular period can be caused by polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a common hormonal dysfunction. In addition, irregular menses can be caused by a thyroid disorder – another condition that can be easily tested for.
- Preparation for Pregnancy — “With so many young women approaching the time in their life where they’re thinking about starting a family, we can discuss pregnancy and reproductive plans and refer patients to an infertility specialist if necessary,” Dr. Marsan said. For newly pregnant women, “we can confirm the pregnancy, establish its location, and ensure the pregnancy isn’t in danger as many issues can arise in the early stages of pregnancy,” she said. “We can also educate women on prenatal vitamins, dietary issues while pregnant, potential risk factors during pregnancy, and ways to help ensure that they have the healthiest pregnancy possible.”
- Routine Health Exams — “By reviewing their general health, performing clinical physical breast exams, and providing referrals for other important screenings, such as those for breast cancer, cholesterol, weight management, diabetes and colon cancer, we help young women take ownership of their gynecological and overall health,” Dr. Marsan said. “We may even perform a genetic screening in women with a positive family history for breast cancer by screening for the BRCA gene mutation to advise them of their risk for breast, and/or ovarian cancer.”
An Investment in Good Health
“It never fails to amaze me how many women are misinformed about gynecological topics or haven’t had access to quality gynecological care, which is disempowering,” Dr. Marsan said. “This can cause further anxiety for women and make the discussion surrounding these issues uncomfortable. I have found that when patients open up and have these conversations with a gynecologist and get the necessary testing, they have a surprisingly pleasant experience. Patients feel so much better and enjoy greater confidence and peace of mind.”
Given the intimate nature of their exchanges, “The relationship between a patient and a gynecologist can be incredibly strong and many women end up staying with their gynecologist for years and even decades. Their gynecologist knows their medical history and helps them move forward in a positive way,” Dr. Marsan confirmed. “Women will ultimately need to see a gynecologist for preventative or reactive support at some point in time. It’s great for them to get ahead of that in their younger years by taking ownership of their health and establishing a relationship with a gynecologist for a life of good health.”
For More Information
With offices in Emerson, Paramus (two), Ridgewood, Northvale and Montvale, Bergen Medical Associates offers primary care and 12 areas of specialized care. Patients enjoy the “one-stop shopping” approach where so many medical services are provided under one umbrella. The multispecialty group fosters an environment of collaboration among the physicians, which results in a seamless continuum of care for patients. For more information, visit bergenmed.com or call 201-967-8221.