Make Your Annual Exam a Top Priority
There are times in your life when you see your Ob/Gyn quite often – during pregnancy, when you are trying to get pregnant, or if you are having health issues. During the other seasons of your life it is just as important to see your doctor at least once a year. Most women do not have a family doctor outside of their Ob/Gyn – so your annual exam is essential for everyday wellness as well as preventative measures. You deserve attention, care, and concern – so make your annual exam a priority.
Your annual visit to your gynecologist is the key to prevention of so many conditions that target women – cancer of the reproductive organs, tumors, cysts, menopause, you name it. Your doctor is here to help you monitor and understand the changes in your body year to year.
All women over the age of 18 – or younger if they are sexually active – should have annual exams. Even after age 65, women should still have their regular check ups to continue to detect signs of ovarian, cervical and vulvar cancers.
What can I expect during my annual exam?
The best time to see your doctor is one to two weeks after your period. The tests and results will be more accurate and it is more comfortable for you, the patient. At your annual exam, a nurse will first check your weight, blood pressure, pulse, and sometimes urine. This is a good time to bring up any concerns you have or any questions you would like to ask your doctor. Next, you will slip into something a little less comfortable – like a gown – and wait for your doctor.
Your doctor will perform a physical exam – checking your heart, lungs, ears, eyes, etc. During the breast exam, your doctor will feel for lumps or changes in your breasts. They will also talk to you about breast self exams – how often you do them and advice on how and when they should be done. If you are 35 or older, your doctor will recommend a mammogram in addition to your annual exam. All of these screening tests and tools saves lives – and it helps to have an annual reminder.
An external exam of your abdomen will involve a little pushing and tapping to check for any noticeable irregularities. Next will be the pap test and pelvic exam. The pap test is done to take specimens of your cervix – which will be checked for signs of cancer or other problems. A pelvic exam is a physical exam of the reproductive organs – the vulva, vagina, cervix, uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes. It is a thorough examination – including the size and shape of your uterus and for signs of uterine problems – like endometriosis or fibroid tumors. Your doctor will look for any abnormalities and check your ovaries for cysts during your annual exam.
If you are over 40, your doctor might perform a colorectal and a fecal blood occult test to check for polyps and any other signs or symptoms of colorectal cancer.
Be prepared with any questions or concerns you have about your body, your periods, aches or pains. You will have your doctor’s undivided attention at your annual exam, so take advantage of this time. Dr. Hessel is knowledgeable and has years of experience working with women at all stages in their lives. Take time to take care of yourself, call Dr. Hessel and schedule your annual exam today.