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Guide to Gynecological Exams and Visits
A gynecological exam is a medical checkup of a woman’s pelvis and genitals. It includes looking at the reproductive organs and the surrounding area. The checkup looks for early signs of infection, cancer, STIs and other common problems. All adult sexually active women need regular gynecological exams to maintain their health.
What does a gynecological exam involve?
The checkup will require a visual and tactile examination of the patient’s private parts. Discomfort at this is entirely normal, so some psychological preparation is recommended. The exam itself is not painful. The doctor and nurses are there to help talk the patient through the entire procedure. The examination itself should take about 10 minutes.
The exam will involve the doctor looking at the vulva and external genitals. Then the OBGYN will examine the internal uterus and cervix. They will also check the fallopian tubes and ovaries. Tests may involve examining the bladder and rectum too. These checks will involve physical contacts, both external and internal. The patient will be required to lay back on a hospital bed, with their feet up, for the procedure.
During the gynecological exam, the doctor will take a cell sample, sometimes called a “Pap smear”. This sample will be tested for various common conditions and infections. The results may take some time to arrive. The patient may be asked to return to collect them. A Pap smear can provide early warnings of infection or illness, as well as various cancers. A Pap smear also detects sexually transmitted diseases.
How often are gynecological exams needed?
A gynecological exam can be part of an annual physical checkup. It is recommended that women begin getting gynecological exams from the age of 21. At the very least, gynecological checkups should be undergone every three years. Any pain or unusual discharge is also an indicator to get a checkup. The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) also recommends the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) test to coincide with gynecological exams.
During pregnancy, the health of both child and mother should be monitored regularly. Further checkups will also be needed after birth to monitor recovery. A gynecological exam may also be necessary in cases of infection. Or, if a patient needs checking for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs, also known as STIs). Pain in the pelvis or lower back may also indicate that a gynecological exam is necessary.
Preparing for a gynecological exam
For 48 hours prior to the exam, the patient should avoid having sex. They should also not use any topical birth control or other prophylactic. They should also not use any topical medications in the pelvic area. Gynecological exams should be scheduled so as not to coincide with the patient’s period. The patient should wash and observe normal hygiene. The patient should avoid using medicated products and internal douches.
How to schedule a gynecological exam
A gynecological exam can be arranged through your local medical healthcare center. Simply pick up the phone to book an appointment. Regular gynecological exams are important to a woman’s ongoing health. If it has been more than a year since the last checkup, book a gynecological exam without delay.
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