An annual gynecologic (GYN) exam is a routine checkup to ensure that you’re healthy inside and out. It’s one of the most empowering things you can do for yourself because it can help detect certain health problems as well as prevent future ones from developing – building a foundation of health and wellness for all the stages of your life.
When Should a Woman Have Her First GYN Exam?
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends:
- A woman’s first reproductive health visit should take place between ages 13 and 15 (this first visit is often simply a discussion between patient and doctor)
- Annual breast and pelvic exams should begin at age 19
- Pap tests should begin at age 21
What to Expect at Your Annual Wellness Exam at Women’s Health of Central Massachusetts
Whatever your age, an annual GYN exam generally includes:
- An assessment of your current health status
- A breast exam to check for lumps, skin changes or nipple discharge
- A pelvic exam to check your vulva, vagina, cervix, uterus, rectum and pelvis, including your ovaries, for masses, growths or other abnormalities
- A Pap test to screen for cervical cancer
Your annual wellness exam may also include information on which vaccinations are recommended based on your age and risks. These can include the flu shot, Tdap, and human papillomavirus (HPV).
Your doctor may also refer you for your regular mammogram as part of your annual GYN exam.
And annual testing for chlamydia and gonorrhea is recommended for sexually active adolescents and young women up to age 25. Routine HIV testing is recommended for all sexually active women beginning at age 19 until 64.
What If I Don’t Need an Annual Pap Test?
Based on recommendations from leading medical groups, an annual Pap test is no longer recommended for most women (to learn more, please visit our Pap Test page). But that doesn’t mean you should go without an annual GYN exam.
That’s because the Pap test only screens for cervical cancer, not other conditions like sexually transmitted diseases, endometrial and ovarian cancer, or fibroids. Your doctor still needs to examine you to make sure there are no lumps, bumps or lesions that shouldn’t be there. And you should still have an annual breast exam.
Do I Still Need an Annual Exam if I’m Menopausal?
If you’re starting to go through menopause or are already there, the annual exam is an important opportunity to talk to your doctor about your options for managing symptoms and how to prevent osteoporosis.
Please visit our Menopausal Care page to learn more about the services we provide here at Women’s Healthcare of Central Massachusetts.
Is it Time to Schedule Your Annual Wellness Exam at Women’s Health of Central Massachusetts?
We have four convenient locations throughout Central Massachusetts to serve you. To make an appointment by phone or by emailing us, simply go to our Contact Us page.