EXPECTATIONS FOR ANNUAL APPOINTMENTS
Women should start receiving annual gynecology exams between the ages of 18 and 21, or when they become sexually active.
An annual gynecologic appointment is a ROUTINE check up. This is different than scheduling a visit for a particular problem that you wish to address. If you are experiencing any gynecological symptoms, you should schedule an exam sooner. Such symptoms include irregularities in the menstrual cycle, unusual or severe vaginal or pelvic pain, abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge, swelling, tenderness, sores, lumps, or itching, or unusual changes in the breast.
There is not much you have to do to prepare for a pelvic exam. Do not douche, use vaginal creams or have sex for 24 hours prior to your well woman exam. Please note that it is acceptable to be lightly menstruating at the time of your appointment. You do not have to cancel your appointment unless you are bleeding heavily. As part of your exam, you will be asked questions about your family history, current health, and sexual activity. You can also expect to be asked questions about your menstrual cycle, sexual activity and partners, contraception, STD prevention, pregnancies, illnesses, surgeries, and drug and alcohol use.
Some of these questions will be quite personal in nature but it is important that you answer honestly. Do not let shyness be a health risk. You should have complete confidence that what you say is kept confidential.
Your annual gynecological exam is also a time for you to ask any questions that you may have. There are no wrong questions to ask when it comes to your personal health and the more knowledge you have about your body, the more confidence you can have about taking care of it.