Annual gynecological exams for women in Cleveland are important to maintaining reproductive and sexual health. During these visits, a gynecologist will screen for issues early in their development to mitigate more serious problems. These yearly exams can also act as a form of preventative healthcare, as it allows our team to identify possible illnesses you may be at risk for. Our caring gynecologist could then help you develop a plan that prevents the onset of certain illnesses and targets your specific needs.
When Should a Woman Start Having Annual Gynecological Exams?
A woman’s first annual exam with a gynecologist in Cleveland should start in her teenage years, preferably between the ages of 13 and 15. An internal pelvic exam should start being performed at the age of 21. However, an internal pelvic exam may be done earlier, especially if a patient faces issues such as painful periods or abnormal discharge.
What Does a Yearly Gynecological Exam Look Like?
Usually, an exam starts with your gynecologist asking you a couple of questions about your past medical history. These questions can include information about:
- Periods, such as the date of your last period and possible abnormalities (if they are painful, heavy, or irregular)
- Sexual History, such as if you are sexually active, using birth control, using protection, and if there is a possibility of being pregnant
- Abnormalities with your vaginal area, including discharge, itchiness, dryness, discomfort
- Any medications you are currently taking
During this annual visit, our Cleveland gynecologist may also perform a number of physical exams. These may include:
- Measuring a patient’s heart rate, blood pressure, weight, height, etc.
- Conducting a breast exam to identify possible lumps as a form of screening for breast cancer
- STD testing
- Pap testing
The Ob/Gyn also may perform an external and internal pelvic exam. During this assessment, you will likely be asked to wear a gown and lie down with your feet in the stirrups. The gynecologist will then examine the external genitalia and insert a finger into the vagina as while placing a hand on your stomach area. This allows the gynecologist to examine your uterus.
What is a Pap test?
A Pap test (or Pap smear) is a procedure where your gynecologist will collect cervical cells. This is done by inserting a small instrument called a speculum into the upper part of your vagina. This test can identify if you have cervical cancer. By performing regular Pap tests, there is a higher chance that your gynecologist is able to diagnose you with cervical cancer in its earlier stages, and therefore work toward a cure. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that women start receiving Pap tests at the age of 21. For women over the age of 30, a Pap test can be done with an HPV test.
A Pap test may come back abnormal for a number of reasons. These include inflammation, infections (bacterial, Trichomonas, HPV), and precancerous cells. Often times to diagnose cervical cancer, a gynecologist will perform a colposcopy. A colposcopy is done by examining the cervix with a microscope and performing a biopsy of the tissue. The tissue is then examined further to identify the presence of cancerous cells. If cancerous cells are present, the gynecologist could work with you to develop a specific plan for treatment.
Contact Our Office in Cleveland to Schedule an Annual Gynecological Exam
Just like other annual physical exams performed by your physician, a gynecological exam should be done regularly. Annual gynecological exams for women in Cleveland can identify issues with your health early in their stages, so that treatment can be enacted in an efficient manner. By performing this form of screening, you can work with an experienced and knowledgeable gynecologist, who is ready to help address your concerns.