Fact-Checked By : Dr. Tara Scott, OB-GYN
Have you been to see your gynecologist for a check-up this year?
It’s not the most enjoyable thing to check off your to-do list, so it’s tempting to keep putting it off. After all, why would you want someone poking, prodding, and examining you any more than is absolutely necessary?
While you should ideally have your first gynecologist visit between ages 18 and 21, don’t forget to get regular check-ups. Even though you don’t have to visit your OB-GYN every year, there are really no downsides to popping in for a visit more often than necessary.
Gynecologists help women with reproductive health concerns, and obstetricians deal with pre and post-natal concerns. So, an OB-GYN check-up can include anything from standard pelvic exams and birth control prescriptions to figuring out why you have painful periods and help you through menopause. Here are a few reasons it’s a good idea not to ignore your next appointment.
You could be due for a breast exam.
If you’re over 40, add mammograms to the list of tests you should get every year. The American Cancer Society recommends yearly exams for anyone over this age, but if you’re at high risk, consider getting one as early as 30.
If you’re not sure, a physical exam is an excellent way to see whether you need a mammogram or ultrasound. Self-exams are a good start, but your gynecologist can perform a more targeted physical examination to see whether you’re at risk.
It’s always a good idea to talk about birth control.
If you’re on birth control, it’s a good idea to discuss and reevaluate your options during your next OB-GYN check-up. Even if what you currently use works well enough, there may be new advancements or different methods that you haven’t considered.
Your body changes through the years as well, and things that work for you when you’re young can have other effects on your system as you age. It’s always a good idea to discuss every available option at your appointments to make sure you’re still on the best prescription for your needs.
You really need that pelvic exam.
It’s not the most comfortable part of your appointment, but it’s one of the most necessary! It’s essential to get a pelvic exam at least every few years, just to make sure everything is okay down there.
During your exam, your doctor will check to see whether there are any abnormalities with your uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes, ovaries, vagina… even your bladder health falls under this broad umbrella.
It’s a safe space to discuss your sexual health.
Do you have any discomfort during sex? Are you at risk of STDs? An OB-GYN check-up can help you figure out what’s causing that pain during sex and whether your painful period has any links to your sex life or other health issues.
It’s important to remember to be frank and honest with your doctor to get the best car. There’s no reason to be shy about your sexual health!
You can get a range of support.
Not sure what doctor to visit for that strange side cramp you’ve been having? Wondering whether you have healthy habits or if you need to change something about your routine? An OB-GYN is so much more than just a reproductive health doctor. They can address various health concerns, pinpoint issues, recommend specialists, and help you figure out what’s going on with your body.