In light of recent changes to annual Pap smear guidelines, many women believe there’s no need for a yearly visit to a Jacksonville OBGYN. However, these visits are more important than many women think. They can help patients and doctors build a relationship and they’re an important way to assess other aspects of a woman’s health. Below are several reasons to visit a gynecologist once per year.
Ideally, a woman should first visit her OBGYN at 13-15, or when sexual activity starts, whichever is first. The first visits help young women become more familiar with the doctor and their own bodies. Unless signs are seen, pelvic and abdominal exams typically begin around the age of 19, and Pap testing starts at age 21. OBGYNs use these yearly exams to keep in touch with patients and offer comprehensive health information.
Once women reach age 21, they undergo initial Pap testing. Unless the results are irregular, or the patient demonstrates symptoms, they are advised to get a Pap test biyearly. Starting at the age of 39, HPV testing is implemented, which may decrease Pap test requirements to every three to five years. During the test, the doctor will take a sample of cervical cells to analyze for certain abnormalities. The sooner problems are found, the easier conditions are to treat.
During an annual in-person or telemedicine visit, the patient has the chance to learn about a variety of birth control choices. Every woman is unique, and contraceptives aren’t a one-size-fits-all proposition. By discussing their concerns with a doctor, women can find the right birth control method for themselves.
Testing for STDs
If a woman has a sexually transmitted disease, she should take measures to prevent its spread. Sexually active women should be tested each year for gonorrhea and chlamydia until they reach the age of 25. Annual HIV tests are recommended for active women ages 19-65.
As a woman approaches menopause, her body changes almost daily. Annual gynecological exams are a chance to discuss those changes, learn about hormonal supplements, and ensure the good condition of the pelvic tissues and organs. When caught early enough with routine examinations, certain conditions can even be reversed.
Annual doctor visits can promote a woman’s general well-being and reproductive health. It’s important for every woman above a certain age to prioritize her health by making an OBGYN appointment as soon as possible.