Have you been to your OB/GYN for your annual exam? While receiving an annual exam may not always be pleasant, they are key to ensuring your good health as you age.
The Importance of Annual Exams
Annual gynecological exams serve a number of purposes. The most important is to diagnose any abnormalities as quickly as possible. The sooner you begin treatment, the better your chances of managing or recovering from a condition will be. By going in for annual exams, you may catch a potentially dangerous disease before it’s too late.
At What Age Should Women Begin Getting Annual Exams
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that girls begin seeing for annual exams as early as thirteen years old, though these checkups won't be as comprehensive as later exams. Pelvic exams and Pap tests generally begin around age 21. Of course, women are always encouraged to see their doctors sooner if there is any cause for concern.
What Happens at an Annual Exam?
At your annual exam, the nurse and doctor will check you over to ensure you are in good health. They will start by taking your health history if they don't have it on file already. Then the nurse will take your measurements and vital signs, including your height, weight, blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate and temperature.
The doctor will examine your body to see that everything is in order. Depending on the type of exam, your doctor may also check your breasts and pelvis, either manually or by performing a Pap test.
Because annual tests can be a little invasive, and because you should plan to have one every year, it is important to find a knowledgeable OB/GYN that you trust. If you have any nervousness about the exam, talk to your doctor. They can address any of your questions or concerns.