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Whether you are going in for your first gynecological appointment or your 30th, there are many things women won’t even think about or are afraid to ask about. So many women think that going to their annual exam means they have been tested for everything and are of good health with no further actions being required.

well woman exam, which includes a pelvic exam with a pap smear, is recommended yearly, by age 21 unless the person is sexually active. It is well recommended for women to do the following:

  • A clinical exam is only once a year, but breast self exam is once a month, helping you detect abnormalities much sooner. A mammogram is a more thorough examination that can detect abnormalities that perhaps cannot be felt. 
  • It is up to you to address any questions or concerns regarding the contraceptives you use. If you have used one type for a long time, there may be something new or that better fits your lifestyle. Having your annual exam does not guarantee that anyone will offer you better or different alternatives. 

Maintaining good communication with your doctor is key to having your health concerns address and leading the healthy lifestyle you want to achieve. Don’t assume your physician knows what to ask you about. Make sure at your next exam you ask questions and bring up any health concerns you may have.

Pap smears and pelvic exams do not detect STDs, unless there is a visual symptom, but many of them may not be visible or may be asymptomatic.