In the United States, women follow a variety of schedules for check-ups with their regular physicians. You may see your dentist every six months, your eye doctor once a year, and your primary care physician once a year for an check up. Is it important to see your OB-GYN/gynecologist every year for an annual well-woman visit? In the past, the answer to that question was a resounding “Yes!”. Now, with lots of news reports on changing guidelines, many patients are not sure whether an annual visit to the gynecologist is recommended.
Guidelines Have Changed
In the past, almost all women required yearly screening for cervical cancer with a Pap smear performed at their annual well-woman exam. Screening guidelines have changed over the last decade. Now, the recommended frequency for a Pap screening varies with your age, current medical issues, health history, and personal preferences.
The confusing new guidelines have led some patients to believe that they don’t need to see their OB-GYN or gynecologist every year. Let’s review the expert opinion.
Advice From the Experts
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) is the leading group of women’s health physicians in the U.S. ACOG still recommends an annual well-woman visit for virtually all adult women, period. So despite all the changing guidelines, the need to see your OB-GYN or gynecologist yearly has not changed. Here are some important reasons why an annual visit with your OB-GYN or gynecologist is still recommended:
To review and address a variety of health factors:
- Changes in your personal health
- Changes in your family medical history
- Eating habits
- Exercising habits
- Birth control methods/family planning
- Safe sex
- Issues with incontinence
- Bodily changes, including menopause and hormonal issues
To perform appropriate assessments, which may include:
- Clinical breast exam (for a baseline and future detection of potential abnormalities)
- Testing for STDs/STIs
- Thyroid functioning
- Screening for depression
- Imaging of the pelvic organs, as indicated by your history
The reasons above (and many others not listed) are certainly enough for most women to insist on an annual well-woman exam. After all, who wouldn’t want to stay on top of their health? And who is better suited to address your reproductive and intimate needs than your OB-GYN or gynecologist?
At The Woman’s Health Pavilion, our team of OB-GYN specialists focuses completely on the health needs of women. We encourage you to schedule an appointment for an annual exam, even if it’s been a while, or (especially) if you’ve never had one. We welcome reluctant patients with no judgment and no scolding. We’ll help to keep you healthy, but it’s up to you to take the first step: Schedule your annual well-woman exam today!