One of the most common questions gynecologists get is, “When should I see a gynecologist?” People are often unaware of what a gynecologist can do or how often they need to see one. The answer will depend on your age and general health. There are a few things you’ll need to consider when deciding how often you want to visit your gynecologist.
When Should You Start Going to the Gynecologist?
Age makes a big difference in answering how often should you go to the gynecologist. Children typically don’t need to make any gynecologist visits for the first several years of their life. It is recommended that a person’s first visit be at the age of 16. However, those who become sexually active before 16 can benefit from seeing a gynecologist earlier.
In the teen years, appointments are usually just a very brief gynecologist check up where the doctor answers a patient’s questions and discusses general reproductive health. As the patient gets older, they can benefit from more thorough examinations. Around the age of 21, gynecologists may start recommending pelvic exams or Pap smears.
How Often Should You Go to the Gynecologist for Regular Check-Ups?
From the time you start seeing your gynecologist, the general rule of thumb is that you should see your gynecologist once a year until you reach the age of 29. If you’re in good health, you can switch to seeing your gynecologist every other year after the age of 30.
Older women are less likely to ignore worrying symptoms and less likely to encounter certain gynecological conditions, so they don’t need quite as many visits. However, even after menopause, it’s still a good idea to go to the gynecologist at least once every other year. They can help diagnose and treat uterine prolapse, urinary incontinence, and other problems that may happen with age.
What Needs to Be Done at a Regular Gynecologist Check-Up?
When discussing how often you need to get a gynecologist check up, it is important to keep in mind that not all check ups are the same. The most basic and essential part of a check up is simply talking with your doctor about your health concerns and symptoms.
Most women can also benefit from a pelvic exam. How often should you get a pelvic exam? For those under the age of 29, yearly is recommended. Once you are 30, you can switch to every other year if you are in good health and aren’t trying to get pregnant. A final check up essential is the Pap smear, a screening test that can detect cervical cancer. This does not need to be done at every single check up. Instead, the recommendation is every three years until the age of 29 and then every five years after you are 30.
Gynecologists can also provide various screening tests for sexually transmitted diseases. How often you need this testing depends on your sexual history. Your doctor should be able to help you find a testing schedule that works for your needs. Some women may benefit from frequent testing while others may not need it for years. Regardless of your sexual status, your doctor may recommend a test for HPV every five years. This is an incredibly common STD that is mostly asymptomatic and very easy to spread. It may lead to cervical cancer and other issues if untreated.
When Should You Go to the Gynecologist for Other Reasons?
Keep in mind that these guidelines are only for women who are in good health with no underlying conditions. In addition to providing regular preventative screenings, gynecologists can also assist with any potential health conditions you have noticed lately. If you have any unusual symptoms, your doctor can examine you, perform any necessary tests, and recommend potential treatments.
A gynecologist can also help in the early stages of pregnancy. Though they don’t specialize in prenatal care, they have plenty of experience with reproductive matters. You can discuss potential concerns with them and get assistance with having a healthy pregnancy.
Here are a few reasons you may want to go ahead and schedule an appointment even if it’s not time for your regular gynecologist check up:
- You would like to get pregnant soon and could benefit from advice on reproductive health.
- You suspect you’re pregnant and would like a confirmation and recommendations for obstetric care.
- You don’t have a general primary care physician but want to make sure you’re not dealing with any major gynecological health problems.
- You have recently had unprotected sex with a nonmonogamous partner and require STD screenings.
- Intercourse is uncomfortable or you experience bleeding following intercourse.
- Your menstrual cycle is irregular or unusually heavy.
- You experience unusual pelvic, stomach, or vaginal pain both during or between periods.
- You have noticed growths or other unusual visual changes on or around your vagina.
- There have been strange odors or unusual discharge coming from your vagina.
If any of these apply to you, it may be a good idea to consider an appointment regardless of when your next check up is scheduled. An experienced gynecologist can carefully examine you and discuss health problems that may be causing your condition.
Pick a Boca Raton Gynecologist You Can Trust
Take charge of your personal health by finding a reputable gynecologist near you. Dr. Robin Ellman of Women’s Healthcare of Boca Raton is a highly qualified OB/GYN with over 30 years of experience. We’re happy to provide assistance for adolescents, menstrual, perimenopausal, and menopausal patients. In our peaceful and relaxing office, our team assists with Pap smears, in-office hysteroscopies, and more. To get sensitive, personal care, give us a call today.