Another day, another reason to postpone this appointment. But for every reason there is a better reason to book it, experts say. Because the more time that passes between visits, the more changes will occur in your life. You may need to take the Pap test that you put on hold, reconsider your thoughts about hormonal birth control and other contraceptives, or get a general exam with your doctor.
But how often should you see your gynecologist or family doctor to discuss your reproductive health options? It all depends on a couple of things.
How often should I go to the gynecologist?
According to all experts, it is good practice to make an annual visit to see either your gynecologist or your general practitioner for an examination Beckon spoke for this story. However, you may not need a Pap test every year. “The annual checkup really needs to be viewed as a preventative exam for both breasts and pelvis,” said Taraneh Shirazian, MD, a federally recognized gynecologist and gynecologist at NYU Langone Health. “You may not get a Pap smear at your annual; it depends on your history. ”Dr. Shirazian explains that many only need a Pap test every three to five years, with the exception of those who have HPV, for whom an annual test is still recommended.
When these annual exams should begin, says Mary Jane Minkin, MD, clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Yale School of Medicine, at age 21, but emphasizes the importance of STIs [sexually transmitted infection] Tests for people who are sexually active at any age, as well as contraception for anyone who is not trying to get pregnant. For those who are not using any other form of contraception and are not in a mutually monogamous relationship: “The most important thing is that you are 100 percent using condoms and if you have sex with different partners you definitely want to get an STD – checked or STI-checked at least once a year, ”advises Dr. Minkin.
However, if you have certain conditions, you may want to schedule a visit in between your annual exam. “There are many reasons patients see a gynecologist more often, including uterine fibroids, ovarian cysts, infertility, pregnancy, irregular bleeding, breast problems,” said Leena S. Nathan, MD, a gynecologist at UCLA Health Westlake Village, California. If that sounds like you, don’t wait until it’s time for your next annual visit – make an appointment with your gynecologist or family doctor.
What can I expect when I visit?
A routine visit to your gynecologist (or general practitioner) will take a comprehensive history of your medical health. Dr. Nathan tells Beckon a visit to have a breast and pelvic exam and, if necessary, a Pap test. “After taking the anamnesis and examination, we advise the patient on all questions and needs,” she says.