Yes! The best time to start visiting a gynecologist is from the puberty because it is the time where reproductive organs start maturing. It is recommended that all women should undergo the first gynecological test between the ages of 13 to 15 or after becoming sexually active.
Age 15 to 21
In most often, from age group 15 to 21, the annual visit to the gynecologist is usually involved in discussing on topics such as contraception, sexual transmission of disease and menstruation are discussed.
At age 21, every woman must undergo a first Pap smear test. After that, the Pap smear must get performed every 3 years between 21 and 30 years of age for testing cervical cancer.
Annual gynecological tests are helpful, these exams ensure the woman to maintain overall wellness, and the tests include:
Routine breast and pelvic exam
During this annual visit, the tests might vary based on the sexual history and age as well; some tests which are performed during annual gynecological examinations:
Complete blood picture
Blood pressure check
HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) screening
Measurement of basal metabolic index
Ages 22 to 44
This age group is categorized as family planning age, the annual exam includes a breast exam, an abdominal exam, and a pelvic exam. Any abnormalities such as lumps or painful areas are checked.
At the annual visit, the blood pressure (BP), body mass index (BMI), blood glucose levels are checked. Weight management, nutrition, and other health conditions such as Type 2 diabetes and cancer are also taken care of.
The patients in this age group are either be planning for pregnancy or preventing pregnancy. Therefore, the doctor discusses on contraceptive options, fertility options, and about preconception counseling.
At age 30, it is recommended to get tested for human papillomavirus (HPV) as this is the common viral infection that occurs in women who are in their 30’s.
Ages 45 to 54 (Menopause)
Tips to manage menopausal symptoms:
Lifestyle modifications (diet and exercise)
Hormone replacement therapy
An alternative, complementary approaches, like acupuncture
Bone density test
Age 55 and beyond
Women in 55 often encounter more health ailments related to hormonal changes. The common problems could be vaginal dryness or decreased sexual desire. Therefore, these issues are discussed.
Vulva examination: Woman in 60s and 70s are relatively more concerned about the vulva which is the outside of the vagina. Aging can cause irritation and painful symptoms because of the reduced levels of estrogen. The vulva will be examined closely during the visit, mainly after age 55, which is helpful in treating and managing the skin conditions and also in detecting early-stage cancers.
Hence, it is essential for a woman to visit the gynecologist well before family planning and must not end after the reproductive years. Being mindful of the health needs fosters wellness in all stages of life.