17 Jan How Often Should You See Your Gynecologist?
It feels good to know that you’re staying on top of your health. Whether that’s going to see your doctor for a check-up, getting regular eye exams, or having your teeth cleaned twice a year.
Many of us have come to rely on our yearly gynecological appointment as a time to check on our health and make sure that our female organs are in good shape.
But do you really have to see your gynecologist every year for a check-up? The answer to that question used to be a resounding yes. Mostly because you wanted to make sure that you received regular Pap tests to check for cervical cancer.
However, there are new guidelines for cervical cancer screenings that suggest less frequent Pap tests for younger women, as well as no Pap tests for many older women. This might mean that many women out there no longer have to get a check-up every year.
Are you interested in learning more? If so, then keep on reading and we’ll take you through everything you need to know.
Pelvic Exams and Pap Smears
Two of the most common things that will happen when you visit your gynecologist are your pelvic exam and Pap smear. The Pap smear test is done to check for cancer cells in the cervix. And the pelvic exam is performed to look for anything out of the ordinary.
A Pap smear is extremely important. Testing can help your doctor detect cancer in its early stages. They can then initiate life-saving early intervention treatment.
Nearly 14,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year. And more than 4,000 women die from it.
Doctors agree that one of the best ways to beat cervical cancer is to use early intervention treatment. The earlier you can detect the cancer, the better your odds of overcoming it.
The pelvic exam is performed to identify problems with the vulva, STIs, and other health issues. These two exams can help ensure that your reproductive system is healthy and in good order.
When to Start Seeing a Gynecologist
A female between the ages of 11 and 18 could potentially see a family practice provider, a pediatrician, or a gynecologist. While most issues can be handled by pediatric or family medicine providers, there are some instances where it’s appropriate for a younger patient to visit a gynecology provider.
These issues include:
- Any sexual health concerns or contraceptive needs
- Unable to wear a tampon
- Painful menstrual cycles
- Delayed puberty
It’s also recommended that females start Pap smear screenings at the age of 21, regardless of birth control needs or sexual activity.
The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination is also suggested during the teen years to help prevent getting cervical cancer later in life.
How Often Should You Be Seeing Your Gynecologist?
Your health and your age will mostly influence how often you need care. Women between 21 and 29 years old should visit their gynecologist at least once a year for a regular exam. They should also visit their provider between visits if any issues come up.
If you become sexually active before turning 21, you should also go to your gynecologist every year. Young women who are under the age of 21 and aren’t sexually active can usually see a gynecologist every other year.
The ideal time to schedule your first appointment is around the age of 16. If you’re not someone who’s sexually active, then a pelvic exam usually won’t be needed. However, a pelvic exam might be performed if you have concerns or problems.
How Often Should I See My Gynecologist After Age 30?
If you’re in good health and not pregnant or being treated for any illnesses, then you can see your gynecologist every other year after you turn 30. At each visit, you’ll have a Pap smear and a pelvic exam.
Official recommendations have actually reduced the number of Pap smears that women should get if they don’t have any history of pre-cancerous cells in prior exams. These changes were made based on new findings of the development of cervical cancer progression.
Most cervical cancers are caused by certain types of HPV, a sexually transmitted virus. Doing a yearly Pap test is now considered to be redundant.
How Often Should I See My Gynecologist After Age 65?
Women who are aged 65 or older don’t need to get Pap tests as long as they don’t have any history of cervical cancer or precancerous cells.
If you’ve had three consecutive negative Pap test results within the previous ten years, then you likely no longer need to get anymore Pap tests.
Women who no longer have a cervix or have had a hysterectomy also don’t need Pap tests, unless they’ve had reproductive cancer in the past or precancerous cells in the cervix.
While you might not need to visit your gynecologist regularly every year, they still might be better suited than your primary care provider to address certain issues. These include concerns related to the female reproductive system, sexual function, and hormone therapy. The experienced gynecologists at 67th Street OB/GYN offer a variety of useful services beyond Pap tests and pelvic exams.
The Importance of Knowing How Often You Should See Your Gynecologist
Hopefully, after reading the above article, you now have a better idea of how often you should see your gynecologist. This can help you more appropriately schedule your gynecology appointments and keep your female organs in optimal health.
Are you looking for experienced and reputable gynecologists in Manhattan? If so, then contact us today and see how we can help you!