Whether you have your teeth checked at the dentist's office or have regular eye exams, it is essential to stay on top of your health. The same goes for gynecology exams. These exams allow you to make sure your body is in good physical condition. According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, a woman’s first reproductive health visit should occur for adolescents between ages 13-15, annual and pelvic exams should begin at age 19, and pap tests should begin at age 21.
What Happens at an Annual Gynecology Exam?
First, your provider will ask you about your medical history. They will also measure your vital signs, including your blood pressure, height, weight, and heart rate. Your provider may also ask you several questions about your periods, sexual activity, and the like. This is a good time to bring up any irregularities in your menstrual cycle, abnormal bleeding, pain, swelling, irritation, tenderness, lumps or unusual changes in the breasts. Your provider may recommend vaccinations based on your age and risks. Annual testing for sexually transmitted infections such as HIV, chlamydia, and gonorrhea may be recommended for sexually active individuals.
Once your provider has a good idea of your medical history, they will perform a breast and pelvic exam to check for any abnormalities. They may also recommend a mammogram for women around the age of 40 or earlier if the woman has a personal or family history of breast cancer. When due, the provider will also perform a pap test to screen for cervical cancer.
If anything is out of the ordinary, they will discuss with you the best course of action. Your provider will also talk to you about how to improve your health and possible risk factors you may have.
Why Is an Annual Gynecology Exam Important?
Without an annual gynecology exam, you risk developing gynecological and pelvic-related health issues. Visiting your gynecologist allows you to address health problems you may or may not know you have before they grow to become more serious. It is also a good time for women experiencing menopause to talk about osteoporosis and managing menopausal symptoms. Here are a few reasons why you should visit your provider every year:
1. Easy Shift In Care
Visiting your gynecologist allows you to form a bond with them. With that bond, it becomes easier for you to shift from preventive care to prenatal care and family planning if needed. After all, you are already familiar with your provider and you already know you are in good hands.
2. Promote Patient-Provider Relations
Connecting to the previous point, annually visiting your gynecologist helps promote patient-provider relations. You may not feel comfortable discussing reproductive development and menstrual cycles with someone you have just met. So, it is essential to feel comfortable discussing things with your gynecologist.
3. Update Your Health
You can ask your provider to conduct additional screenings for various health conditions. If you have noticed something out of the ordinary with your body, you can consult with your gynecologist during this time. Even though there might not be any serious issue, you will have peace of mind knowing you are healthy.
4. Prevent Future Issues
Last but not least, annual exams can prevent future issues. Preventative screenings may catch problems early enough for your gynecologist to stop them from worsening.
Make an Appointment With Your Gynecologist
You should not skip your annual gynecology exam. As you have seen, visiting your gynecologist at least once a year provides you with a whole host of benefits.
If you have not had a gynecological check-up in a while, there is no better time than now. If you are in the Richland, Washington area, contact Complete Healthcare for Women today. Richard Lorenzo, D.O. and Kortney Jones, ARNP can provide the service you need.
Remember, prevention is always better than cure.
Harvard Health Publishing. (n.d.). Do you need to see your gynecologist every year? Retrieved August 20, 2020, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/womens-health/do-you-need-to-see-your-gynecologist-every-year
The Importance of Annual GYN Exams. (n.d.). Retrieved August 20, 2020, from https://www.lifespan.org/centers-services/obstetrics-and-gynecology-services/importance-annual-gyn-exams