An important part of staying healthy is to have regular gynecological exams beginning at age 21, or within three years of becoming sexually active. Preventive care includes:
- Discussion of health topics based on your age and risk factors
- Exams and screening tests
What to Expect During Your Annual Women’s Health Exams
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, Dr. Chuck will perform the following exams and tests.
Breast Exam: During your breast exam, the doctor will check your breasts for signs of any potential problems, such as a lump. He will examine each breast by moving his fingers around your breast in a pattern. You may also be shown how to perform monthly self-examinations.
Pelvic Exam: 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.
Pap Smear: 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. It is advised for women to begin receiving regular Pap smears starting at 21 years of age. These tests usually occur every 3 years, but some individuals will likely be asked to perform Pap smears more often based on certain risk factors. These include those with a weakened immune system, usually due to chemotherapy, or frequent use of corticosteroids.
When To Schedule a Women’s Health Exam
There are certain age markers when a woman should seek out a health exam from a gynecologist. At 20 years old, you should have your first pap test if you haven’t already and have a sexually transmitted infection screening if necessary. At 30 years old, talk with your ob-gyn if you are planning on getting pregnant. Continue to get an annual well-woman visit during your 30s. At 40 Years old, decide with your ob-gyn 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.
At 50 years old, 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. At 60 years old, continue to get regular mammograms and osteoporosis screenings during your 60s. At 70 years old, get a seasonal flu shot, shingles shot, and a pneumonia shot, as well as others your doctor may recommend. Finally, at 80 years old, discuss with your doctor ways to prevent falls, and if you have any problems with your visions or hearing.
Women’s Health Screenings at Centerville Medical Center
Want to find out more about our comprehensive women’s health exam? Need to schedule an appointment? Contact our medical professionals today to get started. We help women between their 20s and 80s maintain their optimal health.