Dr Olga Sambolska*
Perhaps the most well-known reason for a GYN visit is to undergo a Pap smear. The Pap smear is a screening test used to help detect pre-cancerous and cancerous cervical cells.
The value of the annual gynaecology exam extends beyond just the Pap smear. In the past, people only used to visit the doctor if they were sick or had an ailment.
Now, preventive healthcare is becoming more important as everyone is more educated about their health.
Annual gynecologic exams are among the most important ways for women to receive preventive health screening and education that is specific for women.
Questions for discussion with the ob-gyn
- Vaginal and STD infections: screening and prevention
- Birth control and preconception counselling
- Menstrual cycle and abnormal uterine bleeding
- Premenstrual syndrome and breasts problems
- Menopause, urine incontinence, osteoporosis
- Metabolic syndrome, obesity, infertility problems
A pelvic exam is recommended, including:
1. Pap smear starting at age 21 whether or not a woman has become sexually active. Due to new recommendations, every woman from age 21 should obtain her Pap test every three years or Co-test (Pap and HPV) every five years.
There is not a set age for discontinuing Gyn exams, although Pap smears may be stopped for low-risk women ages 66 and older. A woman's decision to stop having Gyn exams should be made after a discussion with her provider.
Preparing for Gyn check-up
Ideally, this should occur in the time beyond the period. It's helpful to avoid any kind of douching, vaginal creams and intercourse for 48 hours prior to the test.
2. Regular STD tests - screening tests are designed to detect hidden diseases. The type and frequency of recommended tests vary depending on a woman's age, personal risk factors and family history.
Chlamydia and gonorrhoea - this kind of infection can lead to pelvic inflammatory diseases and untreated can cause pelvic pain and infertility. Annual testing is recommended for sexually active women under the age of 25. Women aged 25 and older should be tested if they have multiple partners, a new partner with exposure concerns or have recently been diagnosed with another STD.
Hepatitis C testing is recommended once in the lifetime of all adults and all pregnant women during every pregnancy
HIV testing should be done at least once during a lifetime.
Screening for other STDs like syphilis, trichomonas, HSV and hepatitis is based on risk factors.
3. A clinical breast exam is recommended annually.
For women, age 40 is time to begin annual screening for breast cancer- Mammography.
4. Bone density testing - osteoporosis screening is recommended for all women 65 years and older or women younger 65 years old in menopause who have risk factors for a bone fracture.
5. Colorectal cancer screening colonoscopy is advised at age 50 to 75, every five years.
6. Some laboratories test at age 45 for things women should begin to check like cholesterol level (lipid panels) and blood sugar in case of family history of diabetes or heart diseases - earlier.
Prevention always is better than a cure. – Family Medical Practice
* Dr Olga Sambolska graduated from the Lviv National Medical University in 1996 and commenced her medical career at the Volyn Regional Maternity Hospital, Ukraine. Since 1998 she has been a registered Obstetric and Gynaecology doctor providing care to women with gynaecological health matters as well as managing low-risk and complex obstetric cases throughout pregnancy, labour and the postpartum period. Her main focus has been intrapartum care (during labour) and she is competent in all types of delivery: vaginal, instrumental and operative (Caesarean Section).
Family Medical Practice was the first foreign-owned primary healthcare provider in Việt Nam, and has consistently remained at the forefront of international-standard medicine since 1995. It offers extensive healthcare and emergency medical services nationwide to Vietnamese, expatriate and corporate customers.
For more advice on any medical topics, visit Family Medical Practice Hanoi at: 298 I Kim Mã, Ba Đình. Tel: (024) 3843 0748. E: email@example.com.
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