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The gynecologist can monitor a woman's stage in life and administer tests to determine whether her reproductive organs are healthy. Removing, staining, and studying cells from the vagina and cervix each year can help to detect cancer early, when it is curable. This test, commonly called the Pap test, is named after the physician who developed it in the mid-twentieth century-George Papanicolaou. He learned that by scraping cells from the vaginal walls at a certain stage in the woman's cycle and staining the cells for viewing under a microscope, he could determine whether any abnormal cells were present that could be forerunners of cancer.

Gynecologists can also investigate why a woman is unable to become pregnant. She may have obstructed fallopian tubes or a hormonal imbalance that prevents maturity and release of the ovum or prevents implantation of the fertilized ovum onto the uterine wall. In each case, steps can be taken to correct or bypass the problem so the woman can bear children.

Gynecology has advanced to the point that the physician can force the ovaries to produce eggs, which can then be removed and fertilized in a dish (called in-vitro fertilization) and then implanted in the uterus. This technique is not guaranteed to produce an infant, but in many cases the implanted ovum will mature into the desired offspring—often into more than one baby. The science of gynecology continues to make advances against the pathology that may deny a woman the ability to have babies.

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Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Glucagon to HabitatGynecology - The Menstrual Cycle, Testing - History