With new guidelines recommending certain low risk individuals reconsider the yearly pap screening, is an annual ob-gyn appointment necessary?
For most women, it continues to be important to have an annual visit with her gynecologist to have well-woman exams. The purpose of the annual ob-gyn visit is to detect and treat any new or ongoing health problems, as well as help prevent future ones from developing. Additionally, the gynecologist is the only physician many women see regularly, especially those in their 20s-40s.
At an annual exam, we do more than just a Pap smear. We evaluate general health in addition to gynecologic health. Areas that are typically reviewed at the annual exam include:
- Height, weight, blood pressure and body mass index
- Medication history
- Smoking and alcohol history and need for intervention
- Fitness and nutrition
- Menstrual history and problems
- Sexual problems
- Sexually transmitted disease risks/testing/prevention
- Breast health/exam
- Counseling and prevention for pregnancy
- Contraception counseling
- Screening for domestic violence
- Review risk factors for chronic disease
- Peri- or menopausal issues/concerns
- Need for screening tests such as mammogram, colonoscopy, DEXA scan (to measure bone density) a Pap smear, etc.
Many of the above issues are only addressed with the gynecologist.
Even if you have had all of your female organs removed (you have had a hysterectomy and removal of both ovaries), it is still important to continue to have regular gynecologic care so that all of the above issues can be addressed. The annual gynecologic visit is not just a Pap smear, and just because you don’t need an annual Pap smear doesn’t mean you should skip the ob-gyn visit.