The gynecological exam only takes a few minutes, but during this pelvic examination, a provider can evaluate a number of important factors about your reproductive health. While pelvic exams are quick and simple, they are not usually something most women look forward to every year due to the personal nature of the appointment. Therefore, a question that comes up a lot is, “Do I need a gynecological exam every year?” Below is a look at the typical pelvic exam, why this gynecological exam is important and how often you should visit your preferred gynecologist for an exam appointment.
Ensuring Your Reproductive Health with Pelvic Exams
Pelvic exams (also referred to as gynecological exams) are one of the most important ways an obstetrician, gynecologist or other health professional can evaluate the health of your reproductive system and organs. These exams are commonly done during a routine checkup, but the exam may also be recommended during pregnancy or if you are experiencing certain symptoms, such as pelvic pain, unusual discharge or abnormal uterine bleeding.
Pelvic exams are important because they allow the provider to do a physical assessment of your vagina, cervix, vulva, uterus, rectum, ovaries and pelvis to look for obvious abnormalities. During a pelvic exam, a Pap test may also be performed, which is a test that involves taking a sample of cervical cells to test for cervical cancer.
A thorough pelvic evaluation can also help the provider make an accurate diagnosis if you have certain symptoms or complaints. Conditions that may require a pelvic exam to make an accurate diagnosis include:
- Uterine fibroids
- Ovarian cysts
- Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
- Early-stage reproductive cancer
When to Consider a Pelvic Exam
Pelvic exams may be recommended for a number of reasons, some more routine than others. Your provider may recommend a pelvic exam if you are experiencing symptoms that could be related to a gynecological problem like pain during sex, abnormal bleeding or discharge or pelvic pain. The exam helps the provider gain a better understanding of abnormalities or internal signs that point to specific problems and their causes. More routine reasons to have a pelvic exam include:
- When an intrauterine device (IUD) is being placed
- When a diagnostic procedure is being performed, such as an endometrial biopsy
- When you are trying to conceive or already pregnant
- You have experienced gynecological conditions in the past
Dr. Coyle the other providers at Coyle Institute specializes in diagnosing and treating pelvic abnormalities. Schedule your pelvic exam at 850-637-8258.
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The Benefits of Exams for Women’s Wellness
Routine pelvic exams can be beneficial for a number of reasons, including:
- An exam may provide early detection of conditions that can be effectively treated when discovered before the condition has progressed, such as infections or cancer
- A routine exam may detect signs and characteristics of problems easy to overlook, such as skin changes, questionable nodules, or abnormalities of the reproductive organs
- A pelvic exam offers a more comprehensive understanding of your unique body and how it functions
- Routine gynecological exams offer reassurance if you are concerned about your ability to conceive or your sexual health
Do You Really Need An Exam If You Don’t Have Symptoms?
You may not need to have a Pap test annually. However, women who are 21 and over should have a pelvic exam every year as a routine part of their annual health exam. This allows the healthcare provider to screen for abnormalities and conditions related to your specific risk factors, age and medical history.
The best plan is to discuss your personal health situation with your provider. When deciding whether you need a gynecological exam every year, a provider will look at your medical history, as well as the benefits and risks to consider with routine pelvic exams.
Prioritizing Your Reproductive Health: Schedule a Pelvic Exam Today
Whether you have a history of gynecological conditions, are concerned about fertility, or simply want to keep your reproductive health in check, routine pelvic exams are important. Reach out to the team at Coyle Institute at 850-637-8258 to schedule an appointment with one of our providers.