An annual gynecological exam is an important aspect of maintaining good sexual and reproductive health for women. Annual exams serve to detect health problems early on, while also identifying risk factors for problems that may develop in the future. Our practice also works with women to help them develop habits that promote wellness and a healthy lifestyle. An annual exam may include:
- A general physical exam
- Breast and pelvic exams to check for abnormalities
- Screenings for sexually transmitted diseases
- A detailed medical history discussion to help identify any risk factors
- Vaccinations for common diseases like HPV and hepatitis
- A Pap test to screen for cervical cancer
An annual exam is also an excellent opportunity to discuss any aspect of health at all stages of life. Our care team can provide guidance when it comes to questions about menstruation and protection against STDs, options for family planning and preconception counseling for women trying to get pregnant. Our care team can also help manage changes that occur during menopause and discuss treatment options available for women who may need it.
A Pap test, or Pap smear, is a screening for cervical cancer that tests for the presence of precancerous cells in the cervix. During a Pap test, your physician will gently brush a sample of cells from the opening of the cervix, and then analyze them for any abnormalities, such as the presence of high-risk HPV. A Pap test is a quick procedure and is usually done during a routine pelvic exam. It is recommended that all women over 21 should have routine Pap smears every three to five years, depending on age and risk factors.
Abnormal Pap Tests
Abnormal pap tests are managed in the following ways:
- Colposcopy – The cervix is examined with special magnifying light and small biopsies are taken for evaluation to rule out cancer.
- LEEP (Loop Electrosurgical Excisional Procedure) –A small wire loop is used to remove abnormal cells from the cervix.