Ideally, women should visit their gynecologist every year for a checkup and well woman visit. Having regular gynecologic exams is the best way to make sure you receive the most appropriate care at every stage of life, and routine visits also help ensure the most appropriate medical screenings and tests are prescribed to help identify serious medical conditions, sexually-transmitted diseases, and other issues in their earliest stages. Plus, seeing the gynecologist every year provides women with an opportunity to ask questions or discuss concerns about their health and wellness.
Office visits begin with a patient history to help identify any potential risk factors for disease, as well as a review of any concerns or symptoms that may be occurring. Blood pressure and weight will both be measured and recorded, and a urine sample may be taken. A pelvic exam may also be performed along with a Pap test or HPV test, and the doctor will also perform a clinical breast exam. Other tests like blood tests, minimally-invasive exams or ultrasounds may be ordered based on the patient’s medical history and the results of the evaluation. Finally, patients will receive guidance that can help them lead a healthier and more confident life, including information about birth control, STDs, menopause and other topics geared toward the individual patient’s needs.
A Pap test should be performed at least every three years for women between the ages of 21 and 64 years of age. Alternatively, a Pap test and an HPV test can be performed every five years for women between 30 and 64 years of age. Women who are 65 years of age or older may not need a Pap test depending on their risk factors and the results of previous tests, but it’s still important to see the gynecologist every year to help manage issues that occur or become more common during menopause.
The American Cancer Society advises women to have annual mammograms beginning at age 45. For women with a history of breast cancer, women may be advised to begin having mammograms at an earlier age.