What is an Annual GYN Exam?
An annual GYN exam is also referred to as a “check-up” or “well-woman visit” with your gynecologist. This appointment serves to ensure your gynecologic health and screen for any potential issues, including breast or cervical cancer. Since early intervention can improve outcomes for many gynecologic health concerns, it’s important to see your gynecologist regularly.
The Annual GYN Exam Procedure
Most patients associate the annual GYN appointment with a Pap smear only, but there are many other steps to an annual exam.
First, your gynecologist will confirm your medical history and other relevant information. They will also discuss your gynecologic concerns and any issues regarding your sexual health, menstrual cycle, plans for preventing or achieving pregnancy, and many other important topics.
Next, your gynecologist will perform a physical exam, which usually includes a breast and pelvic exam. The pelvic exam often provokes some anxiety but most women find that it is usually quick and painless. A Pap smear may also be completed at this time, in which cells are gently collected from the cervix in order to screen for cervical cancer. Pap smears are generally performed every 3 years for women in their twenties or every 3-5 years for women between 30 and 65, though the frequency of testing depends on your individual history. Finally, any testing for vaginal or vulvar infections can be performed at this time if you are symptomatic or simply request the screening.
After completion of the exam, you will have the opportunity to discuss any health or lifestyle subjects with your gynecologist, including birth control options, fertility issues, or social concerns. No topic is off limits!
When Do Women Need Annual GYN Exams?
It is recommended that girls begin seeing a gynecologist between the ages of 13-15. These early appointments typically do not involve a pelvic exam. Instead, they serve to educate the patient about topics such as sexuality, relationships, STDs/STIs, development, and other gynecologic health subjects. It is then recommended that patients see a gynecologist annually for the duration of their lifetime. Your annual well-woman visit with your gynecologist should be covered by your insurance.
Benefits of an Annual GYN Exam
One of the major benefits of an annual exam is prevention of significant medical problems. An annual exam can detect early stages of breast cancer, osteoporosis, sexually transmitted diseases, and more. Additionally, the annual exam helps to determine if you are at risk for certain conditions, which may be prevented by early action such as supplemental vitamins, exercise, increased screening, or regular lab evaluation.
An annual visit also provides the resources to regularly evaluate and maintain your contraceptive plan, if applicable. Your gynecologist can discuss any side effects, renew prescriptions, replace IUDs or implants, and offer alternative contraceptive options if necessary or desired.
Finally, your gynecologist can answer any age-specific questions you may have. Whether a patient is in their teens or experiencing menopause, your gynecologist is prepared to discuss your health or relationships.
Schedule an Appointment
To schedule your annual exam, call Carnegie Women’s Health in New York City at (315) 628-7063 or request an appointment online.