Take time to take care of yourself and come in every year for your annual gyn exam.
The Importance of Annual Exams
Annual gynecological exams serve a number of purposes. The most important is to diagnose any abnormalities as quickly as possible. The sooner you begin treatment, the better your chances of managing or recovering from a condition will be. The most important part of your annual exam at the gynecologist is to address concerns that you have. We check your blood pressure and weight, key indicators of the state of your health. We will ask about gynecologic concerns relevant for your age and stage of life. Breast and pelvic exams are also important parts of the annual gynecologic exam. Sometimes, we may recommend that you have blood tests. Depending on your concerns, problems and physical exam, we may advise that you have additional testing, such as an ultrasound, mammogram or colonoscopy.
At What Age Should Women Begin Getting Annual Exams
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that girls begin seeing for annual exams as early as thirteen years old, though most young women under 16 who need gyn care should see a pediatric gynecologist. Pediatricians generally manage most issues for women under 16. Pelvic exams and Pap tests generally begin around age 21. Of course, women are always encouraged to see their doctors sooner if there is any cause for concern. We see many adolescents to discuss and manage issues related to their periods as well as sexual choices and contraception.
What Happens at an Annual Exam?
An annual exam general begins with you leaving a urine sample. We are checking for evidence of a urinary tract infection, which may or may not have symptoms, sugar in the urine and protein in the urine. The next step is often to talk with you and find out your health history and concerns that you have about your gynecologic health, such as frequency of your periods, length of your periods, heaviness of your periods, lack of periods, or how you are doing since the end of your periods. We will remind you of what screening tests, if any, you need. We will also make sure you are up to date on your HPV vaccine. The HPV vaccine guideline have changed recently and we want to make sure you are up to date with the latest recommendations. Then the nurse will take your measurements and vital signs, including your height, weight and blood pressure.
At Ideal Gynecology, for your physical exam, you will be given a soft, cloth gown and an additional sheet to drape over your lap. All of our practitioners are specialists in women’ health and your breast and pelvic exam will be as gentle as possible and with respect for your privacy.
If you have any anxiety about the exam, talk to your provider. The exam can be difficult for a number of reasons, physical and/or emotional and we are here to work with you.