Annual Gynecological Exam
The annual gynecological exam, also known as a gynecological well-visit, is a yearly preventative and diagnostic examination which serves to maintain the wellness of female patients, as well as monitor any ongoing physical and hormonal conditions. This annual visit is an opportunity for doctors to counsel patients about maintaining a healthy lifestyle and minimizing health risks. The annual gynecological exam includes a routine breast and pelvic exam, and may include a screening for sexually transmitted diseases, such as chlamydia or gonorrhea. A Pap test may also be performed depending on the age and sexual history of the patient. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that women begin annual pelvic exams at the age of 21.
During the annual well-visit, a physical examination will be performed to assess the patient’s overall health. The examination may vary based on the patient’s age and sexual history, but most annual gynecological examinations may include the following:
- Pelvic exam
- Breast exam
- Pap smear
- HPV screening
- Blood pressure check
- Height and weight measurement
- Urine screening
- Cholesterol screening every 3 to 5 years
- Complete blood count
- Thyroid screening
- Screening for blood in stool
In addition, there are several other tests that may be recommended for patients. These may include monthly self examination of the breasts, mammograms, bone density screenings, skin and mole examinations, blood sugar tests and others, based on age, individual medical history, family history, and lifestyle habits.
An ultrasound is an imaging technique that uses sound waves to produce images of the uterus that can be viewed on a monitor in the doctor’s office. A gel is spread on the lower abdominal area and a handpiece is moved across the gelled area to produce the images. An ultrasound is most effective when performed on a full bladder. The procedure usually takes 30 to 60 minutes to perform.
This procedure is performed regularly throughout pregnancy in order to monitor the growth and development of the fetus, and can also identify the sex of the child and detect any birth defects or other major problems.