Your annual go to to the gynecologist isn’t one thing you’re more likely to get enthusiastic about. However, it’s one of the most necessary occasions in your calendar with reference to your well being.
“One of the things that we need to dispel is the myth that the annual visit is just the pap smear,” stated Dr. Abike James, lead doctor at Penn OBGYN Associates. “While the pap smear is no longer done every year, the annual visit is a critical appointment that can make sure your health needs are being met, as well as pick up conditions such as fibroids or ovarian cysts that you didn’t know you have.”
To higher put together you in your annual gynecologic appointment, we requested Dr. James for recommendation on how one can make the most of it — at all phases of your life.
Preparing During Adolescence
When teenagers and younger ladies — youthful than 21 — go to Dr. James, she thinks they need to be ready to deal with their menstrual cycles and their sexual well being wants.
“Sometimes for a young woman, when she first starts having [menstrual] cycles, they are very irregular, and/or they are very heavy and painful,” Dr. James stated. “She might not know what’s too irregular or too heavy. We can help her manage her cycle and intervene if we need to.”
Dr. James additionally encourages a dialogue about the younger lady’s wishes concerning sexual exercise.
“Even if they come with a parent, we will request alone time with them,” Dr. James stated. “That’s their opportunity to talk about their sexual health, sexually transmitted disease prevention, and their contraceptive needs (if any).”
What to Address During Young Adulthood
In addition to your sexual well being historical past and menstrual cycle, one of the main matters of dialog throughout annual appointments in your 20s, 30s and early 40s is being pregnant.
Dr. James asks ladies if they’re thinking about being pregnant. “If they are not, I will discuss contraceptive options with them,” she stated. “If they are, we will discuss optimizing their health before conception, taking into account their specific health issues. There may be labs that need to be done and vitamins to start.”
And in case you are thinking about being pregnant however are having difficulties conceiving or don’t have a companion, your gynecologist can focus on reproductive and fertility providers, together with preconception planning, in vitro fertilization, administration of PCOS and endometriosis, egg donation and extra.
What to Talk About During Perimenopause and Beyond
Women of their 40s and 50s who’re in perimenopause – the transition section proper earlier than menopause throughout which some of the signs generally related to menopause happen — must be ready to deal with their menstrual cycles in addition to bodily modifications and intercourse drive.
“As their cycles are changing, they may start experiencing symptoms such as hot-flashes, vaginal dryness and mood changes,” Dr. James stated. “They should discuss these symptoms with their provider who may be able to offer treatment.”
Sometimes, other-potentially embarrassing matters also needs to be reviewed throughout your annual go to.
“They might also have questions about libido that they don’t like to bring up,” Dr. James stated. “Other things like incontinence — urinary leakage — or prolapse, when their reproductive organs are beginning to come out” ought to all be addressed.
If you might be post-menopausal, be ready to debate well being upkeep and most cancers screening, together with timing of mammograms, pap smears and bone density scans.
What to Note Throughout Your Lifetime
“The one thing we address with everyone is their menstrual cycle – whether there are problems with it, or it’s going fine,” Dr. James stated, noting that many occasions ladies aren’t ready to debate the dates of their final interval, its regularity and different primary details about their our bodies.
“These days there’s an app for everything, including period tracking,” she stated. “Wherever you are in your reproductive cycle – be prepared to discuss your period.”
You additionally ought to really feel snug discussing something associated to your sexual well being and wellbeing along with your gynecologist.
“Your gynecologist’s office should be a safe space,” Dr. James stated. “You can discuss anything with regards to your sexual history and your sexual identity. And certainly if there are any concerns of abuse, bring that up with your gynecologist.”
While some of what you’ll focus on throughout your annual go to can appear embarrassing, attempt to overcome any bashfulness. Chances are your gynecologist has seen and heard what you’re going to inform them earlier than.
Remaining silent or withholding info could possibly be detrimental to your well being.
And bear in mind, your physician is not there to guage you and your selections — she’s there to assist maintain you protected.