The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends yearly appointments for a woman to maintain health and prevent disease. Depending on a patient’s age, medical history and sexual activity, the annual office visit may include a physical exam with breast screening, Pap smear, and discussion of family planning options.
The physical exam is both an external and internal exam that checks for any abnormalities in the reproductive system. These exams are often the first step in identifying problems in the breasts, uterus, cervix, ovaries, and other organs. Although it may be slightly uncomfortable, it is an important part of your preventative care.
The Pap smear is a common screening for cancer of the cervix. Including the Pap smear as a routine part of the gynecological exam has drastically reduced invasive cancers in the uterus.
The Pap test and pelvic exam can also indicate other cervical and vaginal abnormalities including dysplasia (precancerous cells) and inflammation/ infection, which may be caused by yeast or bacteria or medications. Dr. Brown will discuss how frequently you should have the test, based on a number of factors.
Your yearly visit is also a good time for Dr. Brown to assess how your overall health affects your reproductive system. Some appointments may include screenings for high blood pressure, thyroid issues, or other diseases, as well as appropriate vaccinations.
Talk to Dr. Brown or his staff if you have any questions about your annual exam.