You know you should visit the dentist every six months and head in for a physical every year, but there’s a lot of conflicting information for women about how often you should see your gynecologist. At Darin Swainston MD. FACOG in Las Vegas, Nevada, our board-certified OB/GYNs want to set the record straight.
Routine gynecology visits
While it’s easy to think about your gynecologist as someone who you visit when you need birth control medication or if you’re pregnant or struggling to become pregnant, the truth is that your OB/GYN is a key member of your overall health team.
First OB/GYN visits
Generally, experts recommend that girls begin visiting a gynecologist during adolescence (between 13-15) for any concerns related to their reproductive system. These visits generally don’t include a pelvic exam unless medically needed. Instead, it’s a chance for the young woman to get to know her gynecologist and get answers to questions, such as:
- What’s normal and what’s not when it comes to menstruation
- What to expect during puberty and times of hormonal change
- Information on birth control and sexuality, including STDs
The goal of these visits is to get to know the OB/GYN provider by building trust and rapport.
Regular Pap smears
Full pelvic exams with a Pap smear aren’t typically recommended until age 21. Starting at 21, every woman should have a baseline Pap smear. Depending on your health history and the results of this first test, Dr. Richards may recommend retesting every 1-3 years.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends annual well-woman checkups with your gynecologist. At this time, your provider conducts an annual pelvic exam, which may or may not include a Pap smear, depending on your needs.
This visit also includes a breast exam to check for changes in your breast tissue. If you’re over 40, your OB/GYN will also help you schedule your annual mammogram screening.
Your well-woman checkup is also a great time to discuss any concerns you may have about birth control, fertility, irregular periods, conditions related to your reproductive organs, like fibroids or endometriosis, and menopause.
Other times to visit the OB/GYN
At Darin Swainston MD. FACOG, we know that different women have different needs. When considering your trips to our office, it’s important to keep in mind other factors that may influence how often you should schedule appointments. Here’s a closer look.
Different stages of your reproductive life
If you’re at the stage when you’re ready to begin your family and want to get pregnant, it’s important to discuss your reproductive health with your OB/GYN. Our team offers a full line of obstetrics services, from preconception counseling through postnatal care.
If you’re struggling with infertility, you should schedule additional OB/GYN appointments. Your provider at Darin Swainston MD. FACOG helps identify the underlying cause(s) and makes treatment recommendations.
Women who are approaching perimenopause and menopause may also seek help for troublesome symptoms, like hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and prolapse. Our team offers many solutions for women in this later stage of the reproductive cycle.
There’s no need to wait for your annual exam if you need help during any stage of your reproductive life. Our team can give you the answer you need with a variety of testing, medications, and robotic surgery options.
It’s also important to keep in mind that if you have any gynecological medical problems arise, you shouldn’t wait for your annual well-woman visit. Getting medical attention sooner rather than later is always best. Some concerns that may bring you in include:
- Painful intercourse or other issues related to sexual dysfunction
- Abnormal uterine bleeding, including heavy, painful periods or no periods
- Abdominal pain beyond normal menstrual cramps
- Vaginal infections and other vaginal issues, like unusual discharge
It’s also important to come in for confidential sexually transmitted disease (STD) testing if you have unprotected sex or sex with more than one partner. The team at Darin Swainston MD. FACOG follows the CDC guidelines for scheduling different STD tests.
Learn more about when to see your gynecologist by calling the office of Darin Swainston MD. FACOG in Las Vegas, Nevada, or booking a consultation online now.