All Medical Procedures

Oophorectomy (oh-of-uh-REK-tuh-me) is a surgical procedure to remove one or both of your ovaries. Your ovaries are almond-shaped organs that sit on each side of the uterus in your pelvis. Your ovaries contain eggs and produce hormones that control your menstrual cycle.

When oophorectomy involves removing both ovaries, it's called bilateral oophorectomy. When the surgery involves removing only one ovary, it's called unilateral oophorectomy.

Ortho Evra is a contraceptive patch for women that contains the hormones estrogen and progestin. To use Ortho Evra, you apply the small patch to your skin once a week for three weeks. On the fourth week, you don't use a patch — which allows menstruation to occur.

Ortho Evra works similarly to combination birth control pills. Ortho Evra prevents pregnancy by releasing hormones into your bloodstream that suppress ovulation, keeping your ovaries from releasing an egg. Ortho Evra also thickens cervical mucus to keep sperm from reaching the egg.

Ortho Evra is the only contraceptive patch that's approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the U.S. To use Ortho Evra, you'll need a prescription from your health care provider.

Ortho Evra doesn't offer protection from sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

A Pap smear, also called a Pap test, is a procedure to test for cervical cancer in women. A Pap smear involves collecting cells from your cervix — the lower, narrow end of your uterus that's at the top of your vagina.

Detecting cervical cancer early with a Pap smear gives you a greater chance at a cure. A Pap smear can also detect changes in your cervical cells that suggest cancer may develop in the future. Detecting these abnormal cells early with a Pap smear is your first step in halting the possible development of cervical cancer.

ParaGard is an intrauterine device (IUD) that's inserted into the uterus for long-term birth control (contraception). The T-shaped plastic frame has copper wire coiled around the stem and two copper sleeves along the arms that continuously release copper to bathe the lining of the uterus. ParaGard produces an inflammatory reaction in the uterus that is toxic to sperm, which helps prevent fertilization.

ParaGard is the only copper IUD available in the U.S. ParaGard prevents pregnancy for up to 10 years after insertion.

During a pelvic exam, a doctor visually and manually assesses a woman's reproductive organs. You might have a pelvic exam as part of your regular checkup, or your doctor may recommend a pelvic exam if you have symptoms such as unusual vaginal discharge or pelvic pain.

A pelvic exam is a relatively short procedure, during which your doctor checks your vulva, vagina, cervix, uterus, rectum and pelvis, including your ovaries, for masses, growths or other abnormalities. A Pap test, which screens for cervical cancer, may be performed during a pelvic exam.

The quad screen — also known as the quadruple marker test or simply the quad test — is a prenatal test that measures levels of four substances in a pregnant woman's blood:

  • Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), a protein made by the developing baby
  • Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), a hormone made by the placenta
  • Estriol, a hormone made by the placenta and the baby's liver
  • Inhibin A, another hormone made by the placenta

Typically, the quad screen is done between weeks 15 and 20 of pregnancy — the second trimester.

Results of the quad screen indicate your risk of carrying a baby who has certain chromosomal conditions, such as Down syndrome. The alpha-fetoprotein part of the test can help detect neural tube defects, such as spina bifida.

If your risk level is low, the quad screen can offer reassurance of a healthy pregnancy.

If your risk level is moderate or high, you might choose to follow the quad screen with another test that's more definitive.

Rhesus (Rh) factor is an inherited trait that refers to a specific protein found on the surface of red blood cells. If your blood has the protein, you're Rh positive — the most common Rh factor. If your blood lacks the protein, you're Rh negative.

Although Rh factor doesn't affect your health, it can affect pregnancy. Your pregnancy needs special care if you're Rh negative and your baby's father is Rh positive.

If you're pregnant, your health care provider will recommend an Rh factor test during your first prenatal visit. The Rh factor test is a basic blood test that indicates whether you're Rh positive or Rh negative.

The rhythm method, also called the calendar method or the calendar rhythm method, is a form of natural family planning.

To use the rhythm method, you track your menstrual history to predict when you'll ovulate. This helps you determine when you're most likely to conceive.

If you're hoping to get pregnant, you can use the rhythm method to determine the best days to have sex. Similarly, if you're hoping to avoid pregnancy, you can use the rhythm method to determine which days to avoid unprotected sex.

Using the rhythm method for birth control requires careful record keeping and diligence. If you don't want to conceive, you and your partner must avoid having sex or use a barrier method of contraception during your fertile days each month.

Sperm donation is a procedure in which a man donates semen — the fluid released during ejaculation — to help an individual or a couple conceive a baby.

Donated sperm can be injected into a woman's reproductive organs (intrauterine insemination) or used to fertilize mature eggs in a lab (in vitro fertilization). The use of donated sperm is known as third party reproduction.

A man who makes a sperm donation can be known or anonymous to the recipient. Sperm donations made to a known recipient are called directed donations.

You must be screened for medical conditions and other risk factors before you can make a sperm donation. It's also important to understand the possible emotional, psychological and legal issues of sperm donation.

Spermicide is a substance that contains chemicals, such as nonoxynol-9, that immobilize or kill sperm. Spermicide is put into the vagina before sex to prevent sperm from entering the uterus. Spermicide is available without a prescription and comes in many forms, including cream, gel, foam, film, suppository and tablet.

Spermicide isn't a highly effective birth control method when used alone. However, spermicide can also be used with a barrier method — such as a condom, diaphragm or cervical cap — to prevent pregnancy. Spermicide doesn't offer protection from sexually transmitted infections.