see-the-obThe American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends an annual gynecological exam for all women.

Maintaining your sexual and reproductive health should be a priority for any adult woman. An OB/GYN can detect and treat problems and help prevent future health issues.

Annual Exams Save Lives

The truth is, certain diseases such as breast cancer, cervical cancer, and ovarian cancer may not have obvious symptoms. As a result, many problems of this kind are first discovered through annual exams. Experts say that avoiding these exams increases risk factors for unintended pregnancy, pelvic infections, and delays diagnosis of other health problems. And early detection of issues increases a woman’s chance for survival. It’s recommended that all women start having gynecological exams starting around age 21 or earlier if you are sexually active. .

Other Benefits of GYN Exams

Your gynecologist can help you make informed birth control choices, deal with issues in menstruation or unexplained pelvic or breast pain, and check your thyroid and cholesterol. Visiting your OB/GYN yearly will promote prevention, help you recognize risk factors, and assists in fostering a relationship with your OB/GYN – an important aspect for many women, especially if pregnancy will be a factor.

What Can I Expect from My Exam?

Your doctor will take a comprehensive medical history, do a physical exam, and perform a Pap smear. She may also do an internal examination of the uterus and ovaries. If you are between the ages of 35-40, she will order a screening mammogram, and you will be instructed on how to perform breast exams on yourself. You can discuss birth control, sex, managing the symptoms of menopause, osteoporosis, periods, nutrition, vaccines, and pregnancy.

How Often Should I Have a Pap Smear?

Pap smears are recommended every three years for women over age 21. Pap smears are just one component of an exam, however, and your doctor may recommend a different schedule. The Pap smear tests for cervical cancer in women, and involves taking cells from your cervix. This exam can detect changes in your cells that suggest the future development of cancer, and early detection can increase your chances of being cured.

But regardless of whether or not you’re due for a Pap smear, you should have a routine gynecological exam each year. This will help evaluate your risk for health problems, provide early detection for serious problems, and provide guidance on your health and well-being for the future.