An important part of your preventative healthcare is having a yearly gynecological exam. It can be easy to put off scheduling it, however, especially if you aren’t having any health issues. But it is important to know that many gynecologic issues, such as cervical, breast or ovarian cancers, don’t have obvious symptoms right away and generally are first detected during these annual exams. Additionally, for some women, routine exams may also detect other issues, such as pelvic infections or an unintended pregnancy.
What You Can Expect
Prior to performing any physical exams, a member of our clinical staff will meet with you to take your blood pressure, record your weight and ask you about the date of the start of your most recent menstrual period. Also, if it is not already part of your medical record, we may ask you some questions about your family health history.
Below are descriptions of some of the exams and tests your physician may perform as part of your annual exam. Your specific exam will be tailored to your age, general health, sexual activity and other factors unique to you.
- Breast Exam: Your gynecologist will to observe your breasts for any abnormalities in shape, color and skin characteristics, then palpitate each breast to detect any lumps or abnormalities. You will not have a mammogram (imaging test of the breasts) during your examination, but your gynecologist may request that you schedule one if more testing is necessary.
- Pelvic Exam: During the pelvic exam, you will lie down on the examination table so the gynecologist can check internally to examine your uterus and ovaries.
- Pap Smear: A pap smear involves the gynecologist using a long cotton swab or brush to take a tissue sample from your cervix in order to test it for abnormal cells.
Answering Your Questions, Counseling
In addition to physical exams, your appointment also offers an opportunity for you to discuss issues you have or questions related to your health with your physician. Whether they are about your hormones, menstrual cycle, pregnancy, infertility, menopause or something else, our physicians can counsel you on your options and help you decide what is best for you.
- Contraception: If you are sexually active or plan to become so, your physician can discuss birth control options and counsel you on preventative healthcare related to sexual activity, including protection from STDs.
- Menopause: If you are experiencing menopause symptoms that are impacting your quality of life, your physician can counsel you on options that can help you feel better.
- Vaccines: Your physician may suggest a vaccine for you during your annual visit, such as human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, a tetanus booster or Hepatitis B vaccine.
- General Health: Your physician will also talk to you about other important health issues that may impact you and may recommend other screenings based on your unique circumstances.