What to Expect During Your Checkup
Your gynecologist helps you listen to your body more carefully. Establishing a relationship with your gynecologist is an important priority for your health. With regular gynecological appointments, you can ensure your physical, sexual, and reproductive well-being.
Understand what’s normal and recognize when there’s a problem. Get answers to your questions about menstruation. Be advised about menopause and hormone replacement therapy.
When should you go to the gynecologist? Schedule your annual appointments with your gynecologist, starting at age 13 to 15 or when you’re first sexually active.
Here are some things to expect during your annual appointment.
- General health check: Your nurse weighs you and takes your blood pressure. You may also have blood and urine tests.
- Physical exam: You’re asked general questions about your personal and family health history. Your nurse takes you into the exam room and asks you to undress. You’re given a gown that opens to the front and a sheet that covers your lap.
- Pelvic exam: Your doctor examines the outside of your vagina (vulva and vaginal opening), then examines your reproductive organs, while you lie on your back with your knees bent and feet in stirrups. Your gynecologist examines inside your vagina and cervix (the opening to your uterus) using a speculum, a device that holds the vagina open. You might feel some pressure during this exam, but it shouldn't be painful.
- Pap smear: A Pap test is done during your pelvic exam. Your doctor removes cell samples from your cervix using a small brush. These cells are sent to a lab and checked for cervical cancer and other abnormalities.
- Internal bimanual exam: Your doctor places one or two gloved fingers in your vagina and the other hand on top of your lower abdomen, to feel your cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries.
- Breast exam: Your doctor checks for any lumps or other abnormalities with your breasts.
- STD tests: If you’re sexually active, you may be tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, and HIV. To test for STDs, your doctor takes a swab of tissue during your pelvic exam or orders blood tests.
In between your annual visits, let your doctor know about any new problems, such as irregular bleeding, or any discomfort.
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