While an annual gynecological exam or pelvic exam may be one of the last things you want to do, making that yearly appointment is essential to your health and well being.
In this post, find out what you can expect during the exam, the reasons why the exam is so important, and how you can schedule your annual appointment. Additionally, this post will help you understand that your annual checkup is nothing to be afraid of or embarrassed about.
What can I expect?
When you schedule your yearly gynecologist appointment, your mind is probably spinning with plenty of questions of what the exam will be like, what will happen, and how you’ll feel in the appointment. While it’s perfectly normal to be a bit anxious about the unknown, rest assured that there’s nothing to be afraid of.
First of all, your full medical history will be taken to assess any particular risk for hereditary cancer and any other possible genetic health issues. The beginning of your appointment is also a great time to bring up any questions, concerns, or issues you might have about your overall gynecological health.
Depending on your age, you’ll then have a pelvic exam. Rest assured that our team of gynecologists are top-level professionals that will take extra care to make sure you’re feeling relaxed and comfortable.
Every three to five years, you’ll also undergo a pap smear test to check for cervical cancer. While lots of women think that their gynecological exam is just for this pap smear test, there’s plenty of other things your gynecologist will be looking out for. If you’re sexually active, the gynecologist may test for common sexually transmitted diseases like HIV, chlamydia, and gonorrhea.
Your blood pressure, height, and weight will be recorded, and depending on your age, a breast exam may take place. As the risk for cervical cancer decreases with age, the risk for other cancers also increases. As you age, your provider will be increasingly on the lookout for uterine, ovarian, and breast cancer.
While you might feel uncomfortable or embarrassed telling your provider such personal information, it’s key to be as honest as possible with your provider so that they can help you with any issues or concerns. Be prepared to answer questions about sexual activity, contraceptives, periods, pregnancy, menopause symptoms, STDS, and urinary symptoms. Remember that your gynecologist is there to help you and keep you as healthy as possible, as that is the only reason that they ask you these questions.
When should I start having annual gynecological exams?
Most women will head to the gynecologist for the first time between the ages of 13 and 15. These appointments don’t generally include a pelvic exam and are more closely aimed at ensuring young women feel comfortable during their visit to the clinic.
At the age of 19, most annual exams will incorporate a pelvic exam, as well as a check for any breast concerns. At 21, women will begin pap smear testing.
Why is my annual gynecological exam so important?
1. Build a relationship with your provider
Scheduling an annual exam allows you to get into the regular habit of seeing your gynecologist and build a patient-provider relationship based on trust and comfort. Going to your regular exam will help you feel comfortable talking about general gynecological topics like contraception, periods, pregnancy, and prenatal care.
2. Prevent possible health issues
Preventative screenings save thousands of lives every year. Attending your annual exam will allow your provider to check thoroughly for symptoms like bleeding, unusual discharge, or anything else that could be symptoms of a serious problem. Going to your annual exam will give you that all-important peace of mind that comes with being in control of your health and taking action when needed.
3. Easy transition
As you go through life, you’ll need different care from your provider. Going every year will allow you to shift easily from preventing pregnancy, to prenatal care, to pregnancy — dealing with any other gynecological health issues along the way.
Seeing your gynecologist regularly will give you the confidence you need to feel healthy and well cared for at each stage of your life.
4. Make changes
Having a regular one-on-one with your gynecologist will make it easier for you to make any changes you might need to your health routine. If you find you’re unhappy with your current form of birth control, for example, your annual appointment is a great time to explore other options with the expertise of your provider.
Your gynecologist will also be aware of any new birth control methods or other developments that may be useful for you to know about.
Schedule your annual exam with Voyage Healthcare
While it’s tempting to skip your annual exam, particularly if you don’t have any obvious gynecological issues, do make sure that you schedule your appointment. Though perfectly understandable, there’s no need to feel worried, anxious, or embarrassed about your annual appointment. Your gynecologist is there to help you and offer you top-level care.
Talk with your provider about any worries you might have, and feel reassured that you’re in a safe and confidential space where your health is the top priority.
Not sure where to schedule your yearly appointment? Our professional and understanding gynecologists are available to schedule an appointment with you! You can even schedule an appointment online through our appointment scheduler!