Have you been to your OB/GYN for your annual exam? While receiving an annual exam may not always be pleasant, it is key to ensuring your good health as you age.
The Importance of Annual Exams
Annual gynecological exams serve a number of purposes. The most important is to diagnose any abnormalities as quickly as possible. The sooner you begin treatment, the better your chances of managing or recovering from a condition will be. By going in for annual exams, you may catch a potentially dangerous disease before it’s too late.
At What Age Should Women Begin Getting Annual Exams
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that girls begin seeing for annual exams as early as thirteen years old, though these checkups won't be as comprehensive as later exams. Pelvic exams and Pap tests generally begin around age 21. Of course, women are always encouraged to see their doctors sooner if there is any cause for concern.
What Happens at an Annual Exam?
At your annual exam, the nurse and doctor will examine you over to ensure you are in good health. They will start by taking your health history, or updating your medical history. Then the nurse will take your vital signs, including your height, weight, blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory rate.
The doctor will perform a physical exam to determine if everything is in order. Depending on the type of exam, your doctor may also check your breasts and pelvis, either manually or by performing a Pap test. At the conclusion of the encounter, the clinician will review your vital signs, interval history changes and the results of your physical exam and may make recommendation to assist you in optimizing your health. Questions are typically answered and when appropriate, therapeutics are recommended and follow up, if needed, made.