Annual Gynecology Visit
Even if you don't need a Pap test every year, it's still a good idea to schedule an annual gynecology visit! Sometimes referred to as a well-woman exam, this appointment gives you the opportunity to connect with your provider, to talk about your overall health, and have necessary screenings based on your age and lifestyle.
Here are some of the benefits of a regular preventative care visit:
Overall Health Assessment
Your provider will conduct a physical exam which may include checking your blood pressure and your weight, and asking about your mental health. Feel free to discuss any health concerns that are affecting your life or wellbeing with your provider.
The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) recommends an annual pelvic exam starting at age 21 for most women. A pelvic exam helps your provider detect certain cancers in their early stages and check for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or other problems.
Cervical Cancer Screening
The best way to prevent cervical cancer is to follow ACOG guidelines for pap tests and HPV testing. Though many women do not need these tests annually, if you’ve had irregular pap tests in the past, you may still need them annually or more frequently. If you have not had abnormal results in the past, you should be tested every three to five years.
Sexual Health and Birth Control Counseling
If you are sexually active, your doctor will offer counseling on sexually transmitted infections (STIs). This may include necessary blood or urine tests to screen for STIs. If you use birth control, your provider will discuss which contraceptive methods will best fit your lifestyle.
Clinical Breast Exam
ACOG and the American Cancer Society recommend clinical breast exams every one to three years for women ages 20–39.
ACOG also recommends annual clinical breast exams and annual mammograms for women age 40 and older.
Menopause and Midlife Counseling
If you are over age 45 or are having perimenopausal symptoms, your health care provider will provide information on different therapies. They will also discuss lifestyle habits that affect perimenopause and menopause symptoms.