By Kelly Woodward
As women, we know how essential it is to have our routine exams with our gynecologist. It has been pounded in our brains since we were in our pre-teen years. Still, a staggering number of women do not maintain their annual pelvic exam regimen, including pap smears, and choose only to see the doctor when or if something is wrong.
According to a survey conducted by the National Center for Health Sciences, “Sixty-five percent of women aged 15-44 years had received a pelvic examination in the past year when asked in 1988 as part of the National Survey of Family Growth, but the 3-year average for the 2015-2017 surveys was 53%, a significant decline,” said the NCHS in their report.
So why the massive drop in routine OB/GYN visits when we know the number of STD occurrences continue to rise, such as the Human Papillomavirus, also known as HPV? Maybe the HPV vaccination has calmed the fears of acquiring the virus. While the HPV vaccine is a helpful tool, there are many other reasons to make the annual exam a priority.
Although you may not exhibit any signs of any gynecological issues, a routine visit can help address questions about birth control, missed periods, late periods or heavy periods, as well as keeping up with breast exams. If you are sexually active, regular STD screenings and cervical exams can help catch any problems early on before they adversely affect your health. Outside of that, a visit to an OB/GYN clinic can address weight issues or concerns, acne and feelings of depression.
Now that you’ve been reminded how important these visits are, how should you go about finding the best gynecologist for you? Do your research and find out which OB/GYN‘s near you also accept your insurance. Some offices offer cash patient discounts, so if you don’t have health insurance make sure to ask the question when you make your initial calls. Getting referrals from friends and family members can be a great way to hear first-hand what you can expect to experience from your visits and the overall office environment of that specific doctor or clinic.
If you have never had a gynecological exam, you may be wondering what all is involved with a visit and what you might expect at the first appointment. The doctor will spend time asking questions about you, your family, your lifestyle and any history of illnesses or health concerns for you or that may run in your family. It’s important to be honest with the doctor about your current habits, whether you’re sexually active and if you’re experiencing any issues. Don’t be too embarrassed to share! Likely the doctor has heard it all and then some.
Beyond the Q&A portion, you will have your weight and blood pressure levels taken, and the pelvic exam will be conducted which may or may not include a Pap smear based on your age and sexual activity. Lastly, a breast exam will be initiated to make sure there are no abnormal lumps occurring.
After the initial appointment is over, while you’re there in the office, they will most likely ask you if you want to schedule your next visit. What better time is there to make sure to get it on the calendar? Keep up the annual appointments and make sure to reach out to your gynecologist if you notice any changes or experience gynecological problems that you have questions about.
At Newman Regional Health we have several board-certified physicians and a certified midwife who specializes in obstetrics and gynecology (OB/GYN) to take care of women through every stage of life. We handle all types of pregnancies with compassion and enthusiasm and treat a wide range of gynecological problems.
Your OB/GYN will handle every aspect of your reproductive health, such as:
Birth control counseling
Treatment of heavy periods
Cesarean section, High-risk pregnancy care
Premature labor and delivery
To find a provider that fits your needs, just click here.