Staying healthy as an adult woman is important. Husbands, children, friends, family, and coworkers all depend on and need your support and care throughout the year. However, to be able to provide the care that others need, women must remember to take care of themselves as well. An annual gynecology exam is a critical piece of overall women's health. These are the only annual appointments many that women, with or without children, keep. To that end, it's important to know what to expect from your annual exam.
Many women believe that the only purpose for the annual exam is the Pap smear to screen for cervical cancer. However, the appointment will also include several other procedures:
- Personal history review – Your doctor or nurse will ask you to establish or review your health and family health history. He or she may also ask questions about when you had your last period; if you're using birth control, taking medications, smoking and are sexually active; if your periods are regular; and if you have been pregnant in the past.
- Breast exam – During your appointment, you will also have a breast exam to identify any lumps that could be suspect. Additionally, you will be taught the correct way to perform a self-exam at home.
- Abdominal exam – Your doctor will gently press on your stomach to feel for any abnormalities.
- Pelvic exam – This part makes everyone tense up, but it's important to remain relaxed. The pelvic exam is generally quick and pain-free. Your doctor will make sure you're in the correct position and then begin the procedure, which includes an internal exam to feel for bumps, warts, or irritation. He or will also check the uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes. Next, he will use a speculum to open the vagina and use a cotton swab like device to collect fluid and cells to test for sexually transmitted diseases, infection, or cancer.
The annual gynecologic exam is important for all women. Keeping these appointments ensures that you and your doctor have an understanding of your reproductive and overall health and provides the opportunity to detect potential issues early.
If it's time to schedule your annual exam, call Dr. Taryll Jenkins at Jenkins Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Medicine in Katy, TX.
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