You’re probably accustomed to going to the doctor when you’re sick or experiencing medical symptoms. Sick visits provide an opportunity for your care provider to diagnose and manage health conditions.
But it also makes sense to have medical checkups when you’re well. This is true with your overall health and with your reproductive health.
Having yearly well-woman exams helps you protect yourself by looking for gynecologic (GYN) health problems early, when they’re most treatable, and providing care that can help keep you healthy and prevent future medical problems.
Girls may have their first well-woman exam as early as ages 13 to 15, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
At Albany Obstetrics & Gynecology in Albany, New York, our care providers want you to feel comfortable during all of your gynecology exams, especially your first. Here’s what you can expect during your first well-woman exam.
During your first well-woman visit, you and your provider do a lot of talking. Some of the things you talk about include your health, your family’s health, and any medical problems you have now or have had in the past.
Your provider asks you about your menstrual periods. How often do they occur? Do they cause pain or other symptoms? How heavy is your menstrual bleeding? Do you have pelvic pain? The answers to these questions can help your provider decide whether you’re having any menstrual problems.
Some other things you and your provider may talk about include:
- Sexual activity and sexual health
- Sexuality and gender identity
- Birth control and pregnancy
- Protecting yourself from sexually transmitted diseases
- Mood concerns, such as depression or anxiety
- Breast pain or discomfort
If you have any other health-related topic that you’ve been wondering about, be sure to ask your questions.
Second, the physical exam
Your provider checks to make sure your height, weight, and blood pressure are within normal ranges. They also listen to your heart and lungs.
If needed, your provider gives you any necessary vaccinations.
During your GYN exam, your provider checks your breasts and your genitals. If needed, you may receive an internal pelvic exam, which is when your provider uses gloved fingers and a tool known as a speculum to check your internal reproductive organs.
If needed, your provider performs a test known as a Pap smear, which uses a swab to collect cells from your cervix. However, most don’t need a Pap smear during their first well-woman visit. Typically, an internal pelvic exam and Pap test aren’t performed until you’re 21, or you have symptoms that make it necessary.
Your provider asks you a lot of questions during your well-woman exam. But you should also feel free to ask whatever questions you may have. You can even write them down ahead of time and bring your notes with you to your checkup.
Your provider’s goal is not only to check your current health, but to make sure you know what steps you can take to stay healthy in the future.
Schedule your well-woman exam today
You can count on the specialists at Albany Obstetrics & Gynecology in Albany, New York, to provide you with the best well-woman care. To schedule an appointment with one of our providers, call our office at 518-516-6726 or use our contact form to reach us.