Annual gynecologic exams should be a part of every woman's health routine. Yearly exams are essential to ensure your reproductive health and can also provide early detection for certain cancers. Preventive care includes:
The most important thing to do before your gynecological exam is research. Women should be prepared to discuss their family medical history and be ready for questions about their menstrual cycle. Some of the most commonly asked questions your provider may ask include:
In addition to checking your height, weight, and blood pressure, your doctor will ask you questions about your general health, menstrual period and sexual activities. During your exam, your doctor will perform the following exams and tests. If the doctor is male, a female nurse remains in the room during your exam.
During your breast exam, your doctor will check your breasts for signs of any potential problems, such as a lump. He or she will examine each breast by moving his or her fingers around your breast in a pattern. You may also be shown how to perform monthly self-examinations.
During your pelvic exam, your doctor will examine your vagina, cervix and reproductive organs. Once you place your feet against footrests at the end of the examining table and slide forward, your doctor will then insert an instrument called a speculum into your vagina to gently spread the walls apart to examine the area. Your doctor then places one or two gloved, lubricated fingers into your vagina and the other hand presses on your abdomen from the outside to check the size, position, and shape of your internal pelvic organs. The pelvic exam may feel a bit uncomfortable, but should not hurt.
A Pap smear checks for abnormal cells in the cervix that could lead to cancer. The doctor will insert a small cotton-tipped swab through the vagina into the cervix. Cells are removed from the cervix and sent to a laboratory to be checked for any abnormalities. The Pap smear is painless.
These assessments should include screening, evaluation and counseling, and immunizations based on age and risk factors.
You should have your first pap test if you haven't already and have a sexually transmitted infection screening if necessary.
Be sure to talk with your obgyn if you are planning on getting pregnant. Continue to get an annual well-woman visit during your 30s.
Decide with your obgyn when you should have a mammogram, especially if you have certain risk factors. If you're having perimenopause symptoms, there may be ways to manage these symptoms.
During your 50s, it is good to get a lung cancer screening if you are a current or past smoker. It is also time to have a preventative screening for colorectal cancer.
Continue to get regular mammograms and osteoporosis screenings during your 60s.
Be sure to get a seasonal flu shot, a shingles shot, and a pneumonia shot, as well as others your doctor may recommend.
Discuss with your doctor ways to prevent falls, and if you have any problems with your vision or hearing.