During pregnancy, many women develop a close relationship with their OB/GYN, asking intimate questions and going through the various phases of childbearing, often more than once. But as you make the transition from pregnancy and childbirth into the crazy period of motherhood, it’s easy to let your own healthcare fall by the wayside.

For this reason, it is crucial to maintain a foundation of good health by remaining up-to-date and consistent with wellness exams, preventative maintenance, and doctor’s visits — including your OB/GYN. Here are a few reasons why:

Your annual gynecologic exam matters.

An annual exam can help address issues before they become a problem. During a pelvic exam, your gynecologist will look at and feel the size and shape of all external and internal reproductive organs and may also conduct a breast exam — and can order mammograms for women over the age of 40 or who are at high risk of breast cancer.

You can discuss and address other issues and/or changes in sexual health.

Annual exams also give you the opportunity to discuss any concerns regarding bladder control, hormones, and sexual health, as some issues are more manageable than you might think. Many women suffer from sexual dysfunction at some point in their lifetime, but very few are comfortable discussing it. The truth is that female sexuality can be influenced by a variety of physical, psychological, and social factors, and having a conversation can be the first step in getting the help you need.

Your menstrual cycle continues.

Even after you’ve said bye-bye to your baby years, your reproductive system will still need maintenance, as the majority of women will continue to have their menstrual cycles well into their 40s or even 50s. It’s also important to discuss any changes to the menstrual cycle, such as differences in duration or a heavier flow, which may detect potential problems.

Birth control may be needed.

As we all know, your brain may be done having kids, but your body might feel otherwise! You could still be fertile, which means a form of birth control may be needed — this could mean a pill prescription, an IUD, or another method of birth control. You and your provider can determine the right option for you.

Medical screenings (such as the Pap test) are strongly recommended.

Pap tests screen for cervical cancer and are extremely important, especially if you have a history of abnormal test results. ACOG guidelines currently state that women aged 21–29 receive a Pap test every three years, and women aged 30–65 have a Pap test and an HPV test every five years. How often you go and which screenings you have done further depend on your age and health history — speak with your OBGYN provider to determine your best course of action.

You can more easily navigate the symptoms that come with menopause.

Women will likely start to experience menopause symptoms in their late 40s or early 50s, which could include hot flashes, sleep issues, mood swings, changes in libido, and weight gain. You and your provider can discuss ways to ease and manage any symptoms that may arise.

For more information, contact Beaches OBGYN at (904) 241-9775 to schedule an appointment with your provider.