Perhaps you have been to an obstetrician/gynecologist or even OB/GYN for a pelvic exam and Pap test? If your response is”no” and you’re 21 or older, pick up your phone today and make a consultation with your health care provider or a family planning clinic in your area. On the other hand, if your answer is”yes,” then just how long has it been since your last Pap smear and pelvic exam?
All women should have a Pap smear every three years between the ages of 21 and 29, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Women aged 30 to 64 should have a pap smear alone every 3 years, or pap smear and an HPV test every five decades.
When Do Women Need Pelvic Exams?
Teenage girls should see an OB/GYN between the ages of 13 to 15. While pelvic exams are seldom required during this first trip, this trip can help to establish a relationship with the doctor of your choice and to discuss your medical and sexual history (even in the event that you haven’t had sexual intercourse.) This is a great time to ask questions about sexually transmitted diseases and contraceptives.
You should always watch your gynecologist if you experience:
- Any uncommon or persistent vaginal discharge
- Bleeding between periods
- Bleeding after sexual intercourse
Even though a yearly Pap smear is not, generally, necessary after age 30, all girls still require an annual rectal examination to check for any other adjustments or illnesses.
If you have experienced an HPV test that was negative that does not mean you don’t have to have a yearly pelvic exam. The ACOG established these guidelines together with full knowledge that HPV causes cervical cancer.
Were you aware that with every new sexual partner your risk of getting HPV increases by 15 percent? This implies that having multiple sexual partners raises your risk of HPV substantially.
According to the ACOG guidelines for Pap testing women diagnosed with HIV or other diseases or conditions that lower immunity ought to continue with annual Pap smears after age 30.
The best single reason for the incidence of cervical cancer is not having Pap smears according to recommended guidelines. The majority of women diagnosed with cervical cancer haven’t had a Pap smear in five or more years. Regrettably, these women are often in an advanced stage of cancer when they receive a diagnosis.
Other Times to See Your Gynecologist
Now, several circumstances may happen during the remaining part of the year. Consult your Ob/ Gyn whenever you encounter abnormal signs and symptoms. These symptoms and signs include:
- Pelvic pain or menstrual cramps severe enough to interrupt your daily routine for even a few days a month
- If unexpected bleeding occurs you must change sanitary napkins, tampons, or other menstrual products more frequently than once every 2-3 hours.
- Bleeding between periods
- Any unusual discharge, pain, swelling, or itching of your vagina or lower stomach
Any of these symptoms can indicate a vaginal infection or sexually transmitted disease or STD that could affect your future fertility. They may also indicate other ailments such as:
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Or a number of other reproductive disorders
Of course, if you think you are pregnant, visit your health care provider as soon as possible to help ensure a wholesome pregnancy and healthy baby.
Also, see your gynecologist More Frequently if:
- You plan on getting pregnant
- You think You Might Have a sexually transmitted disease or have a spouse with STI
- You have a history of sexually related illness
- You have a mother or sister who developed breast cancer before menopause
Seek advice from your healthcare physician, if you notice any changes in your breasts such as puckering, dimpling, or other changes to the skin of your breasts; have newly straightened nipples, or discharge from the nipples, not associated with breastfeeding; if there’s any change in your breast size or shape; or even if you experience an increase in breast pain, discomfort or emotional difficulties before your period.
How to Get Ready for Your Pap Test and Pelvic Examination
The very best time to schedule your annual pelvic exam and to obtain the most accurate results from your gynecological examination and yearly Pap smear is one or two weeks after your period.
Vaginal Douching is never a good idea, because of the risk of infection it poses. It is particularly important not to douche for at least 2 or three days before you visit your gynecologist. Additionally you should refrain from sexual intercourse for at least 24 hours before your examination.
Be sure that you drain your bladder just before your examination to get a more comfy evaluation. You may also want to maintain a health diary that it is possible to talk about with your physician during your consultation. It is possible to use a calendar to keep track of your periods, any pain free, discharges, or other ailments which occur during the entire month.
If your annual pelvic exam is the only doctor you see on a regular basis, as it is for 24 percent of women, your gynecologist may dictate routine evaluations, such as urinalysis, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels, as well as others.
What Happens During an Yearly Pap Test and Pelvic Exam?
The very first thing that usually occurs during your yearly exam is getting tests of your blood pressure, heartbeat, and often urine. Be prepared to provide the nurse the date of your last period — this will be the date of the first day of your last period. Also, go over any concerns which you need to discuss with the physician.
Following your initial discussion with the nurse, you will be made to take all of your clothes off (you may leave your socks on.) Many gynecologists provide a brief examination gown and a newspaper sheet to cover yourself till your examination starts. When you’re finished and sitting on the exam table, your gynecologist comes in, accompanied by the nurse.
A female nurse should always be present throughout your yearly exam, particularly if your gynecologist is male. The existence of the nurse provides protection for both you and your gynecologist. Your doctor will listen to your heart and lungs, check your breasts for any changes or lumps, and palpitate your abdominal region for any irregularities. A trusted evaluation of your breasts takes about 30 minutes per breast.
Throughout your breast exam, your doctor should discuss monthly breast self- exam with you and also provide instructions if you’re not familiar with how to perform BSE. If you are 35 or older, your doctor should also discuss mammogram screening for breast cancer.
During the pelvic exam/ Pap smear part of your visit, you will need to lay down on the table and put your feet in the stirrups. You might want to scoot to the end of the table and spread your knees apart. After that, a speculum is inserted into your vagina to maintain your vaginal walls open so that your physician can see the interior of the vaginal walls and the cervix, and collect a sample of cervical tissue to your Pap test.
What Is the Procedure for Collecting a Pap Smear Sample?
Obtaining the Pap smear requires that your gynecologist insert a long cotton swab into your vagina. The cotton swab gently swabs from the cervix to ensure that a sample of cervical cells is recovered for evaluation by a pathologist. Labs normally require about five days for your evaluation results to go back to your gynecologist.
What Should My Pap Smear Is Abnormal?
In the unlikely event your Pap results are abnormal, the very first thing you shouldn’t do is jump to the conclusion that you’ve got cancer. In nearly all abnormal Pap smears, the cause is not cervical cancer, but among a variety of different causes which have inflammation, the presence of sperm or blood, or a disease like a vaginal yeast infection or bacterial disease, and sometimes the presence of esophageal sexually transmitted diseases.
Try to bear in mind that the Pap smear isn’t a diagnostic tool — it doesn’t diagnose cancer or any other disease. The Pap test is a screening tool that indicates whether additional evaluation is necessary. If you receive abnormal Pap results your gynecologist might recommend a follow-up Pap test in 3 to six months. Or other options for additional testing such as colposcopy or the LEEP may also be advocated.
What Is the Procedure for the Bimanual Exam?
Another component of your yearly pelvic exam is called a bimanual examination. To carry out this evaluation, gynecologist inserts two fingers into your vagina, then puts her other hand on top of your lower belly, then compresses the tissue between her two palms, feeling for any abnormalities that may have occurred since your last pelvic exam.
The bimanual exam allows your doctor to check the dimensions, shape, and mobility of your uterus, to look for any changes on your ovaries, such as ovarian cysts, and to feel for any additional abnormalities in your uterus or the surrounding tissues (like endometriosis, fibroid tumors, or other common uterine conditions).
The bimanual exam can be somewhat uncomfortable, but shouldn’t lead to overt pain. Fortunately, this part of the gynecological examination usually lasts for over 30 seconds. Since it may give your doctor important information, it’s worth a bit of temporary discomfort.
Aside From The Pelvic Exam Itself
In addition to the gynecological examination itself, your physician should take a careful medical history. It’s essential that you be as precise and complete as possible in answering her questions and describing any signs you might have.
This is when you need to tell your gynecologist about the time and frequency of any illness or other condition you might have experienced since your last appointment.
Also make certain that you include information about whether you have experienced irregular periods or painful periods, or any other menstruation menstrual problems, vaginal infections, or painful sexual intercourse.
Other health issues to talk about contain any dramatic weight change, hair loss or skin changes.
Ultimately, while not only a part of a gynecological evaluation it is important for women forty and older to be screened for colon cancer. This normally includes a colorectal exam, as well as a fecal blood occult test. If your GYN doesn’t do this, you should ask her about it.