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What To Expect at Your Annual GYN Exam 

Annual women's GYN exam

The best gift you can give yourself is a proactive approach to your health. Annual gynecologic (GYN) exams go beyond a routine check-up; they involve in-depth conversations about your overall health. 

A GYN exam or wellness exam, is an opportunity for you to speak one-on-one with a healthcare professional who understands the nuances of women’s health throughout every stage of life. Let’s take a look at what you can expect during your annual GYN exam and how Women’s Health Arizona can help.

What Is the Annual GYN Exam?

Annual women’s GYN visits are a necessary part of a woman’s healthcare. As a woman, your healthcare and needs will change as you age. Your provider, typically a gynecologist, is specially trained to care for women of adolescent age and throughout their life. A GYN exam checks for any issues, changes, or concerns you may be experiencing.

At Women’s Health Arizona, your physician can address:

  • Birth control options
  • Vaginal infections
  • Menstrual issues
  • Sexual function
  • Fertility concerns
  • Pelvic pain
  • Sexually transmitted infection (STI)
  • Menopause
  • Bone health
  • Urinary changes
  • Breast concerns

When To Start Annual GYN Exams

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends a first GYN visit for adolescents between the ages of 13 and 15. Pelvic exams, including a Pap smear, are recommended to start at the age of 21, regardless of sexual activity. 

There’s no recommended age to stop getting wellness exams; however, women 68 and older are at a much lower risk of developing cervical cancer.

What Happens During a GYN Exam?

The majority of your exams will cover Pap results and cancer-related exams. Keep in mind that a GYN exam will look different for you depending on your age. Here’s what you can expect from your annual well-woman exam based on your age range.

Ages 21 to 24

At this age, you have the option to start Pap tests as part of your healthcare. Even though Pap tests are optional at this age range, it’s always a good idea to get proactive about your reproductive health early.

Ages 25 to 39

A clinical breast exam is recommended every one to three for those aged between 25 and 39. During a clinical breast exam, your provider will look for any lumps, bumps, or irregularities within your breasts.

Ages 25 to 65

This is a broad age range, but an important phase in your healthcare journey. We recommend HPV tests or a combination of Pap and HPV tests every five years for women between 25 and 65.

Ages 40 to 50

Women between the ages of 40 and 50 are recommended to get a clinical breast exam once every year, including a mammogram every one to two years. Mammograms take an X-ray of your breasts to screen for cancer.

What Tests Are Performed During a GYN Exam?

At Women’s Health Arizona, we perform a range of exams and screenings tailored to address your health needs. Here’s a breakdown of what you can anticipate during your well-woman visit:

A Health Assessment

Your provider will assess your medical history, your period cycles, pregnancy history, and current or past sexual activity. You can also expect a physical exam and a discussion of overall health concerns or comments.

A Pelvic Exam

We understand that a pelvic exam isn’t the most fun thing to do. That’s why we promise to make you feel as comfortable as possible during your pelvic exam. During a pelvic exam, we’ll check for any indications of cysts, STIs, abnormal discharge, and any other potential issues. This exam will only last a couple of minutes.

A Pap Smear

Your provider will take a swab of your cervix to check for precancerous or cancerous cells. This is an internal test and will only last a few minutes.

Clinical Breast Examination

Your provider will examine your breasts and check for any irregularities, such as lumps, bumps, or abrupt size differences. He or she will also check for any skin issues, such as redness or rashes.

Sexual Health and Birth Control Counseling

It’s important to talk about your sexual health. If you’re sexually active or planning to be, talk to your gynecologist about contraception options and STI screenings.

Menopause and Midlife Counseling

Women over the age of 45 may begin to experience perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms. Talk to your provider about the changes you’re experiencing so they can help improve your lifestyle and well-being.

Women's annual wellness exam

Why It’s Important To Schedule an Annual GYN Women’s Exam 

Annual GYN exams are a crucial part of your healthcare journey. These visits can help you make informed decisions about your health, family planning, and general well-being. Taking care of yourself is the best gift you can give, so make sure you honor your body by scheduling an appointment at one of our Women’s health locations.

How To Prepare For Your Annual GYN Visit

It’s normal to feel nervous before your annual GYN visit. However, preparing for your wellness exam is a great way to ease your nerves.

If you’re planning on scheduling a Pap smear, try to schedule it outside of your menstrual cycle. We also advise against douching, intercourse, or the use of vaginal creams at least 48 hours before your exam. 

Since your provider will be reviewing your health history, it’s recommended to bring a list of current medications and any allergies you may have. Be prepared to talk about any vaginal concerns, such as pelvic pain and abnormal discharge or bleeding.

Questions To Ask During Your GYN Visit

It’s always a good idea to ask questions during your GYN visit. Grab a pencil and paper and jot down any questions you may have about your health. Questions can include:

  • Any abnormalities, such as bleeding between periods or after sex.
  • Any pelvic pain or abnormal bloating.
  • Pain during intercourse.
  • Issues passing urine or bowels.
  • Any breast concerns.
  • Missed periods.

Schedule Your Well-Woman Visit at Women’s Health Arizona

Make your health a priority and schedule your next well-woman visit with Women’s Health Arizona. Get quality and compassionate healthcare from providers who care. Take control of your health and get started by finding a Women’s Health provider near you.

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