Your Yearly Gyno Exam: Why You Shouldn’t Skip It

In order for a woman to maintain excellent reproductive health, it’s necessary to undergo yearly examinations. Your personal gynecologist will perform the exam and be able to assess the results of the tests as well. It may seem like an extra doctor’s visit that you just don’t need if you’re in good physical health and have no problems with your menstrual cycle. However, the yearly exam performed by your gynecologist could detect some things that you might not have even realized. Today, we’re discussing what goes on during one of these exams and why it’s important not to skip.

How to Prepare

It is recommended that women try to schedule their exam in between menstrual cycles. Menstrual fluid may interfere with the exam as well as the exam  results. Vaginal intercourse as well as the insertion of anything into the vagina is discouraged for up to 24 hours prior to the exam as it could cause irritation and skew results of the pap test.

Before your exam, you should also prepare a list of issues you’ve had or questions you may have for your doctor. It helps to go in with a clear list of the things you’d like to discuss so you don’t forget any of them in the moment.

What to Expect

No matter your age, your annual gynecological exam will always include the following: an assessment of your current health, a breast examination, a pap test to check for cervical cancer, and a pelvic examination to check for abnormal lumps and growths. There are new guidelines set by the American Cancer Society for pap tests that recommend a pap test now every 3 years instead of annually (unless you have had an irregular test in the past). Based on your age, you could receive a number of shots and vaccinations to inoculate you against certain diseases. Routine HIV testing is suggested for all sexually active women beginning at age 19 until age 64. Annual testing for chlamydia and gonorrhea is also recommended for all sexually active women up to age 25.

Early Intervention

It’s not uncommon to read a story about how a routine exam ended up saving a woman’s life. Many cancers don’t show serious or noticeable symptoms until the later stages. Something as simple and painless as a pap smear could end up revealing a problem down to the cellular level. So, while you might appear and feel like you’re in perfect health, this routine exam could show otherwise and help you prevent something more serious.

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