Women's Health

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Through the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program, Illinois residents may qualify for the following services:


WomanA mammogram is a low dose X-ray that shows the inside of your breasts. Women 40 years of age and older should have a test every year. Do not wear deodorant, perfume, lotion or powder on the morning of your mammogram. You will be asked to remove your clothes from the waist up and put on a gown, so wear a blouse or sweater that you can take off easily.

During a mammogram, two smooth, flat plastic plates are placed around one of your breasts to flatten your breast tissue. Flattening your breast provides the best exam using the lowest dose X-ray. Two or more X-rays will be taken of each breast. The pressure of the plates on your breasts may cause discomfort. Any discomfort should disappear shortly. If you have menstrual periods, have your
mammogram during the week after your period when your breasts are less tender.

The doctor who reads your mammogram will want to compare this test to previous mammograms and you may be asked to bring your X-rays with you. Additional views of your breasts may be needed to look more closely at a certain area of your breast. This additional test is called a diagnostic mammogram.

If your health care provider orders additional tests, such as a breast ultrasound or breast biopsy, ask for information about these tests. Remember, if you have a lump in your breast, a normal mammogram is not enough testing to make sure the lump is not cancer.

When you receive your results or a call to have more testing done, be sure to ask questions if you do not understand your health care provider’s plan for your care. To find out if you’re eligible for free mammograms, click here

Pap Tests

Woman and DaughterA Pap test is used to examine cells collected from the cervix. The cervix is the lower, narrow end of the uterus or womb and opens into the vagina or birth canal. This test is performed as part of a pelvic exam using a speculum placed in your vagina while you lie on an exam table. This instrument gently opens the vagina so the cervix can be seen. A sample of cells is taken from in and around the cervix and placed on a slide for later viewing in a lab. Collecting cells from your cervix is not painful.

Women should have regular checkups, including a pelvic exam and a Pap test. Pap tests should begin within three years after becoming sexually active or at 21 years of age, whichever happens first. If a woman has had three consecutive, negative pap tests within a five-year period, she may get screened every three years. Those who are at increased risk of developing cancer of the cervix should follow their doctor’s advice about checkups.

The best time of the month to have a Pap test is between 10 and 20 days after your last period started. If you no longer have periods, the Pap test can be done anytime.

To prepare for your Pap test -

  • Do not have sexual intercourse for 48 hours (two days) before the test.
  • Do not put anything in your vagina for 48 hours (2 days) before the test. (for example, tampons, douches, cervical caps, diaphragms, creams or foams)
  • If you are having your period when your test is planned, call your health care provider for advice.

The Pap test results can show infection, inflammation, abnormal cells or cancer. When you receive your results or a call to have more testing done, be sure to ask questions if you do not understand your health care provider’s plan for your care. To see if you are eligible for a free Pap test, click here

Clinical Breast Exams

A clinical breast exam (CBE) is an examination of your breasts by a health professional such as a doctor, nurse practitioner, nurse, or physician assistant. For this exam, you undress from the waist up. The health professional will first look at your breasts for abnormalities in size or shape, or changes in the skin of the breasts or nipple. Then, using the pads of the fingers, the examiner will gently examine your breasts. Special attention will be given to the shape and texture of the breasts, location of any lumps, and whether such lumps are attached to the skin or to deeper tissues. The area under both arms also will be examined.

Diagnostic Services

A woman may receive breast diagnostic services if a medical provider finds an abnormality during the clinical breast exam or cervical diagnostic services if a medical provider finds an abnormality in Pap test results. The types of diagnostic services are determined by the provider.

Pelvic Exams

A pelvic exam is an examination in which the health professional will look at and feel your reproductive organs. This exam is often done before the Pap test in the same office visit.

In addition, the OWH offers the following:

Women's Health-Line

The Office of Women’s Health offers a toll-free Women’s Health-Line to provide women with information and referral. The Health-Line also allows you to order a variety of brochures on women’s health issues. For more information, click here.

Health Exhibits

Small ExhibitThe Office of Women’s Health has two displays that staff can take to conferences, health fairs, meetings - anywhere the women’s health message needs to be shared. For most occasions, the tabletop model is appropriate. Approximately 5 feet wide and 5 feet tall, it is attractively displayed on a skirted table with racks of materials to share with meeting participants.

ExhibitThe floor model is an impressive 10 feet wide and 8 feet high. Vertical banners for the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program, grant opportunities and Health-Line flank the exhibit and give more information to participants. At least one staff person accompanies the exhibit to answer questions.

To invite the OWH to exhibit at your next event, complete an Event/Outreach Request Form at http://app.idph.state.il.us/events/eventform.asp.


535 W. Jefferson St., First Floor, Springfield, IL 62761-0001
217-524-6088, Fax 217-557-3326
Women's Health-Line: Toll-free: 888-522-1282
TTY: 800-547-0466