Let’s be honest, visiting an OBGYN is no one’s favorite thing to do. It’s an easy appointment to skip, especially if you are feeling well and healthy. Add to that the stay-at-home orders, closure, and extra precautions due to COVID-19, prioritizing your annual exam last year was a challenge.
While the world slowed down in 2020, breast and cervical cancer did not. An annual exam is an essential part of your preventative health care, it is your first weapon against these and many other diseases and must be prioritized.
WHY IS AN ANNUAL EXAM IMPORTANT?
You may be wondering why an annual exam is even necessary, especially if you are young, healthy, and not planning to have babies any time soon. An OB/GYN is a doctor who practices in obstetrics (delivery of babies) and gynecology (health of reproductive organs) and is uniquely qualified to address several areas related to women’s health. A variety of items are addressed in an annual exam that concern women of all ages. Two important ones are preventive care and primary care. Routine tests, discussions of lifestyle and family history, and exams can help stop problems before they start. A gynecologist is often the only regular physician women see in the early part of their lives, so this is where mental and physical health concerns are often discovered first.
There are other issues that women may need assistance with at a young age. Things like birth control and sexually transmitted disease (STD) testing is important for young women who are sexually active. A gynecologist will be able to help determine which type of birth control is best, answer questions, and discuss safe practices all within an impartial environment. No matter your age, if you are using a prescription form of birth control, it is important to have it checked annually to review its effectiveness and make sure it isn’t causing unnecessary side effects. Vaccinations is another topic that is important to talk to an OB/GYN about because there are some specifically for women and others that are recommended for pregnant women.
WHAT HAPPENS AT THE VISIT?
During an annual visit, your OB/GYN will perform a pelvic exam by checking the vulva, vagina, cervix, and internal organs. A pap test is a routine part of an annual exam and is done about every three years (unless you have an abnormal one, in which case, it is done more often). A pap smear involves taking a sample of cells from the cervix with a small brush to test for abnormalities. A pelvic exam is not necessary until age 21 as long as there are no presenting problems like abnormal bleeding or pain.
Your Genealogist will help you:
- Determine the best type of birth control for you and when the time comes can help you take the steps needed to grow your family.
- Be prepared for menopause and other issues women encounter as we age.
- Track your important numbers – blood pressure, cholesterol, etc.
- Be up to date on important immunizations.
- Be aware of the importance of breast health, perform breast exams (and teach you how to examine yourself on a monthly basis), and when the time comes track your breast health with yearly mammograms.
DO I HAVE TO PAY FOR MY ANNUAL EXAM?
The Affordable Care Act entitles all women to a yearly free well-woman exam. Meaning the cost is covered-in-full as a preventive benefit and free even if you have not met your deductible yet.
THE WOMAN’S CLINIC IS HERE FOR YOU!
The old saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” has probably never been more relevant as it is today. Proactively taking care of yourself saves time and money – so no matter how busy you are, don’t put off your yearly annual exam. You can make an appointment with your Woman’s Clinic physician here. Once that is booked, learn more about preparing for your exam.
Not a patient yet? We welcome new patients – check out our doctors’ biographies. We are proud of the quality of care we provide our patients and we think you will feel at home at The Woman’s Clinic.