Below is a list of common questions that our patients have asked over the years and answers from our professional staff. 

As always, should you have any questions that are not answered on this website, we are always available to assist you. You may also find answers to your questions on the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website.

What should I bring to my first appointment?

Prior to your first appointment with us, we recommend that you create a profile on our online portal and fill out the required paperwork. On the day of your appointment, we ask that all new patient papers be filled out online or printed and brought with you to our office. You also will need your health insurance identification card and valid driver's license or government approved identification. If you were referred by a physician outside of the Charles Street practice, we ask that you take care of any documentation forwarding prior to your appointment.

Do I need to reschedule if I am running late?

Please let our front desk know that you are running late as soon as possible. Please call our main number, 410-823-1120, to inform the staff of your estimated arrival. If you are going to arrive more than 15 minutes late, we may need to re-schedule your appointment depending upon your doctor’s schedule.

When should I have my first GYN exam?

It is recommended that women start having Pap smears at the age of 21. Gynecologic visits and pelvic exams may start earlier due to irregular cycles, heavy bleeding, or sexual activity.

Do I need to make a yearly appointment if I’ve been told that I do not need a yearly Pap smear?

Yes, you do. While woman’s risk of cervical cancer may decrease with age, the risk of breast, uterine, and ovarian cancers tend to increase. For these reasons, we recommend our patients book their physical exam on a yearly basis.

What is a Pap smear?

A Pap smear is a screening test for cervical cancer. The test mostly detects changes in cells on the lining of the cervix. During the pelvic exam, your doctor will insert a speculum into your vagina and gently open it so the cervix can be seen. A thin brush is used to collect a sample of cells from the cervix. These cells are then sent to the lab to be viewed and read by a cytotechnologist. Changes in these cells will demonstrate any need for concern caused by inflammation, or potentially cancerous and pre-cancerous cells.

What is Gardasil 9?

Gardasil 9 is an FDA approved vaccine used to fight HPV infections. Gardasil protects against 9 different strains of HPV including HPV 16 and 18, two strains that are responsible for 70% of cervical cancers. Gardasil also protects against HPV 6 and 11 which cause genital warts. The vaccine is approved for males and females 9 through 26 years of age.

What are my birth control options?

Choosing the right birth control is a very personal decision. There are a variety of different options available to suit your unique lifestyle. We recommend you speak with your physician first to discuss your concerns, desire for a family, and long term commitment before choosing a particular method. Current options available include: oral contraceptives, NuvaRing, IUD devices (Mirena and Papraguard), Nexplanon, and surgical permanent sterilization methods.

Recently, I have been experiencing frequent hot flashes and night sweats; what should I do?

There’s no reason to be alarmed, hot flashes and night sweats can be caused by a variety of problems. Those associated with menopause are caused by a lack of estrogen in the body and can vary in severity depending upon your particular stage. To help curb your hot flashes, try wearing lightweight clothing and avoiding hot and spicy foods and beverages. Also try avoiding hot showers, caffeine, cigarettes and alcohol. If you are experiencing these symptoms, we recommend that you speak with your physician to discuss your options.

I have unusual vaginal discharge with a foul odor; do I need to come in?

Yes. Any unusual, foul smelling discharge could be caused by a vaginal infection. Your doctor will need to examine you in order to determine what is going on. Please call us immediately to book your appointment and notify our receptionist of your exact signs and symptoms.

I skipped one of my birth control pills; what should I do?

If you have only missed one pill, take it as soon as you remember. If you have missed two consecutive pills, you need to take two pills at a time for the next two days. If you have missed two or more pills, please call our office to speak with your physician and discuss what you will need to do next.

I'm in my 40s and I've noticed some changes to my cycle; is this normal?

Many women experience changes to their menstrual cycle, beginning in their late 30s and 40s. Talk to your doctor about these changes. To learn more about the hormonal changes women face and how to manage them, listen to the episode of the Best of Both Worlds podcast linked on the Menopause page, which features Dr. Erdman.