Gynecologists specialize in women's health. They perform pelvic exams and offer counseling and treatment for reproductive health. All women of reproductive age should see a gynecologist on a regular basis. Here are five reasons why it's important for women to schedule annual gynecological exams:
1. Have a general wellness exam.
Gynecologists can perform annual wellness exams for women. These typically include a pelvic exam, which allows your gynecologist to ensure that your vagina, cervix, uterus, and ovaries are healthy. Wellness exams are a good time to broach any questions you have about reproductive health with your gynecologist.
2. Receive prenatal counseling.
Gynecologists can also help women who are thinking about becoming pregnant. Pregnant women have different nutritional needs than women who are not pregnant, so your gynecologist can recommend a vitamin regimen that you can start if you're planning a pregnancy. Prenatal counseling can help women understand what they should expect throughout their pregnancies so they can be adequately prepared for the changes their bodies will undergo.
3. Get screened for cervical cancer.
Cervical cancer is a concern for all women of reproductive age. Fortunately, early detection of cervical cancer can greatly improve patient outcomes. Most women should have cervical cancer screenings performed every three years. Gynecologists use pap smears to check for cancerous and precancerous cervical cells. During a pap smear, your gynecologist will collect a sample of tissue from the opening of your cervix using a cotton swab. The lab results obtained from culturing this tissue sample will detect any abnormal cells.
4. Obtain birth control.
Birth control can help women take control of their fertility by preventing unwanted pregnancies. If you're interested in birth control, you can obtain a prescription during your gynecologist appointment. Your gynecologist will help you figure out what type of birth control is right for you based on your desires and sexual habits. You can choose between birth control pills, vaginal rings, intrauterine devices, birth control shots, and more.
5. Get screened for STDs.
STDs are a concern for anyone who is sexually active. Although practicing safer sex can lower your risk of contracting an STD, people who are sexually active should still get tested for STDs periodically. Your gynecologist can perform an STD exam by taking a swab of your vaginal secretions and performing a blood test. Prompt diagnosis of STDs will allow you to manage or cure them as soon as possible.