Women’s Health and Annual Exam
Women who take control of their health empower themselves to live longer, disease-free lives. A lifetime of good health starts with prevention, including annual wellness exams and screenings. A women’s health doctor can be your greatest partner in prevention, offering you advice for healthy living and providing important screenings designed to identify complications and illnesses during their earliest stages. From adolescence to post-menopause, a woman’s health demands care and attention at all stages of life.
Did you know…
that periodic screening can identify cancer at its earliest stages, vastly improving long-term prognosis and 5-year survival rates for breast, cervical, ovarian and colon cancers.
Exams for women often screen for sexually transmitted infections and include the administration of vaccinations for common diseases like HPV, hepatitis, and the flu. As women age, annual exams may also include discussions about using hormone supplementation to manage the symptoms of hormone imbalances. Screening for and prevention of bone loss and osteoporosis are also addressed.
Did you know…
that your annual gynecological exam is an excellent opportunity to discuss family planning with your doctor? Your gynecologist can offer fertility counseling, as well as education about ovulation and improving your chances of conception. If you are not yet ready to start a family or are finished having children, you can speak with your gynecologist about your options for birth control.
Frequently Asked Questions
I consider myself healthy. Should I be seeing a doctor who specializes in women’s health?
Yes. Women’s healthcare is for all females of reproductive age or older. If you are healthy and symptom-free, your doctor can help keep you that way with periodic screenings, immunizations, and advice for healthy living. Keep in mind that underlying health problems may present with no symptoms at all; so it is important to see your practitioner each year for a routine wellness exam.
What should I expect during a visit to a gynecologist?
Young women require annual pap smears, pelvic exams, breast exams, and possible immunization against HPV. Women over the age of 40 will also begin mammogram screenings. Your doctor will also speak with you about your health concerns, risk for certain diseases, and contraception needs.
Should I get an annual gynecological exam?
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that you begin getting breast health exams at age 19 and annual pelvic exams with pap smears at age 21. Once your reach age 30, you will still need breast and pelvic exams each year but may space pap smears every two years so long as all previous pap smears have been normal.
What should I expect during my annual exam?
Your annual exam will begin with an assessment of your weight and blood pressure, as well as a discussion of any symptoms or health changes you may have experienced since your last visit. Your gynecologist will examine your breasts to check for lumps or unusual changes. The pelvic exam will also include a manual and visual examination of the cervix, uterus, and vagina. If you are getting a pap test, your doctor will swab your cervix to check for the presence of abnormal cells.