Why women MUST pay attention to annual gynae screenings before it’s too late

You may think it isn’t required, but after puberty, women must continue to go for annual gynecological screenings, until they turn 65. Here’s why this is something you must do, without delay!
health screening for women
Don't forget your health screenings. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Dr Suhasini Inamdar Published: 8 Mar 2022, 10:30 am IST
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A gynecologist is a doctor who specialises in women’s and female reproductive organs that include the uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, breasts, vagina, and vulva. These specialists are trained to guide women from their adolescent years until old age, in order to understand their changing reproductive healthcare needs. Women should visit their gynecologists at least once a year to get a screening done to assess the state of their reproductive health. Remember these screenings help to detect any issues well in time, so do NOT delay!

The screening conducted by gynecologists includes pelvic exams, pap smear tests, chlamydia and gonorrhea, HIV testing, hepatitis C testing, clinical breast exam, mammography, bone density measurements, cancer screenings, and testing and treatment for vaginal infections.

Some conditions that can be detected with the help of gynecology screenings are:

Keep your guards up by taking annual health check-ups! Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Is it necessary to take an annual gynecology screening?

Annual gynecology screening tests are essential for all women, whether they are sexually active or not. It is always better to detect abnormalities in the body at earlier stages and treat them before they become too severe, resulting in further complications. With the help of a pap smear test and pelvic exams, the doctors examine cervix cells to check whether they are cancerous or not. This is indicative of cervical cancer or any other pre-cancerous indications.

Moreover, they also confirm whether all your reproductive parts are healthy and if your vaginal discharge is natural and healthy. Hence, it is necessary to take an annual gynecology screening examination, if you are of sound sexual and reproductive health.

There might be some doubts in your mind if you are planning to visit a gynecologist for the first time. We have all the answers:

Is there a proper age to start seeing a gynecologist?

It is recommended to visit a gynecologist for checkups every year if you’re above the age of 21 and should continue to do so until the age of 65. The frequency of visits to a gynecologist decreases after menopause if your previous results are healthy. It may also differ from woman to woman based on her age, personal risk factors, and family history. Even teenage girls who have hit puberty and have started menstruating can also visit a gynaecologist.

Keep your fears aside while meeting a gynaecologist. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

How can you prepare for a gynecological exam?

The most important thing is to find a professional, trustworthy gynecologist for yourself, whether a female or a male doctor, whoever you are comfortable with. Even after carefully choosing a doctor, you might feel insecure about opening up to them. You should never forget that these doctors have many patients like you, and there is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about.

Once you have chosen a doctor, it is better to understand the possible tests that might be conducted to be better prepared. The doctor will examine your breasts to check for any lumps or cysts. They’ll then review your vulva, vagina, and perineum to check for any problems. All these tests might sound scary for a first-timer, but do not be caught off guard when the doctor mentions them.

On the day of your visit to the gynecologist, remember to drink a lot of water if you have to get an ultrasound or give a urine sample. The doctor may also ask your family medical history, gynecology history, diet, sexual activity, immunity, birth control, STD, and lifestyle choices. It is also recommended to log all the symptoms you are experiencing for the convenience of your doctor.

annual check-up for women
Delaying a gynae visit can be dangerous. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Some of the signs to look out for and share with your gynecologist are:

  • Pelvic pain or sudden bloating
  • Irregular periods or lack of periods
  • Abnormal or heavy bleeding
  • Painful sexual intercourse
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge
  • Vulvar changes
  • Urinal infections
  • Menopausal symptoms
  • Sudden nipple discharge

Women often ignore their reproductive health and feel that visiting a gynecologist is not essential. What’s important is to diagnose underlying medical conditions that require immediate treatment. Depending on the diagnosis, you may be referred to another specialist, or your treatments may involve medication and surgery.

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About the Author

Dr Suhasini Inamdar is a consultant in obstetrics and gynaecology department at Motherhood Hospitals, Indiranagar, Bengaluru. She has nearly 30 years of experience in the field of obstetrics, gynaecology, laparoscopy and infertility. She is an expert in dealing with High-Risk Pregnancies; Bad Obstetrics History; Infertility Problems; Polycystic Ovarian Disease (PCOD) and Hysterectomy. She has experience in post graduate teaching for MRCOG and DNB. ...Read More

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