November 12, 2012


Many women dread going to visit their gynecologists because of the invasive examinations that go on, but they are very important for your overall health.

Women over the age of 21 should have regular pelvic examinations and cervical smear, or Pap, tests. In the US women aged between 21 and 29 are recommended to undertake an annual Pap smear test, for women over 30 and under 64 the test may be taken bi-annually unless your gynecologist recommends otherwise. Since the idea of a pelvic exam and Pap smear test is somewhat overwhelming and uncomfortable for most women it is a sensible idea for teenage girls to begin to visit their chosen gynecologist from the age of around 13 in order to begin to build a comfortable relationship and rapport with them. It may also be that the teen wants to speak to someone about contraception and sexually transmitted disease – even if they are not yet sexually active.

Do I need to see my gynecologist?

Visiting your gynecologist is not just something to be done for your annual pelvic exam or Pap smear test. If you experience any unusual or persistent vaginal discharge; any bleeding between periods or after intercourse then you should make an appointment immediately in order to exclude the possibility of any underlying problems or a sexually transmitted disease.

Annual pelvic exam

The importance of an annual pelvic exam at the gynecologistÂ’s office cannot be underestimated. This annual test will check for any changes and infection in the cervical and pelvic area. The pelvic exam should also include an HPV test – even if you have previously had an HPV test resulting in a negative result you should continue to have a yearly pelvic exam. With each sexual partner the risk of contracting HPV increases by 15%; with this in mind current guidelines are that all women should have annual pelvic exams and women with a compromised immune system, for any reason, should also have an annual Pap smear test.

HPV and cancer

It is now clearly established that HPV is linked with cervical cancer, it is also firmly established that the greatest occurrences of cervical cancer are the result of not undergoing Pap smears in accordance with current medical guidelines. Cervical cancer is notoriously difficult to diagnose, this means that for many women they are often in an advanced stage of cancer when they do get diagnosed – and evidence shows that a majority of these women have not had a Pap smear for at least 5 years and often for longer.

Make an appointment

If you are one of the women who puts off having an annual pelvic exam and Pap smear test then you should make an appointment as soon as possible. Do not delay having that simple and potentially life-saving test.

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