How to Get the Most Out of Your Annual Exam

Checking in with your gynecologist is one of the most important things you can do for your overall health as a woman. Your Women’s Health Specialists clinician is an expert in your reproductive care and can help make sure you’re living a healthy, protected, and comfortable lifestyle. You know this appointment is essential, but between finding the time to meet with your doctor on a busy schedule and making sure insurance covers most of the cost of your yearly check-up, it’s essential to get as much taken care of at one time as possible.

If you’re wondering how to get the most out of your annual exam, you’re in the right place. At Women’s Health Specialists, we want you to feel like family, so we’re giving you the inside scoop on your upcoming appointment.

Frequently asked questions

For patients of all ages, there can be many unknowns when visiting our Germantown office for your annual appointment. Before we get started sharing tips for your next appointment, let’s answer a few of the most common questions we hear from patients scheduling their annual.

When should I start getting annual exams? 

Visiting a gynecologist’s office for the first time can be a little intimidating, but our team is here to ensure you feel comfortable during your appointment. We typically recommend that women schedule their first check-up in their later teen years, around age 16, if they are experiencing any causes for concern, like delayed puberty or painful menstrual cycles. 

By age 21, however, you should begin seeing your Women’s Health Specialists clinician yearly. That’s because we recommend getting regular Pap smears at this age to ensure your total health and wellness. 

How often should I book appointments?

The answer to this question depends on your age. For younger women, you should begin seeing your gynecologist yearly from the age you first become sexually active until you turn 29. Women 30 and up can reduce this frequency to every other year. That being said, it is extremely important to listen to your body and plan your visits accordingly. 

What happens during my annual exam? 

We’ll conduct multiple exams during your annual exam to check for abnormalities. After check-in, we’ll collect a urine sample before leading you to the exam room. Next, we’ll perform a breast exam, a pelvic exam, and a Pap smear (depending on your age). We also recommend that all sexually active women test for chlamydia and gonorrhea and take the HPV vaccine if they have not done so already. 

These exams are probably not your favorite part of the year, but we encourage all of our patients to voice their concerns and discomforts with their clinician so we can put your mind at ease. 

Tips for Getting the Most from Your Annual Exam

If you’re booked for your next appointment, follow these tips below to ensure you get the most from your next check-up with our Germantown team.

Come With Questions and Concerns

No one knows more about your reproductive experience than you, so when visiting your WHS provider, take the time to write down or voice all your questions and concerns with your doctor. It’s been a year since we last checked in on you, and it will likely be another year until we see you again, so making sure you have all your questions answered is crucial to getting the most from your annual exam. 

You should tell your doctor during your annual appointment if you’re experiencing any issues, such as heavy or painful periods, changes in vaginal odor or discharge, or cramping between periods. However, don’t neglect symptoms that aren’t related to your reproductive health. If you’re experiencing problems with anxiety or depression or have trouble sleeping, be sure to tell your doctor. This helps our team take the holistic approach to your care that you deserve. 

Ask About Additional Services

Your team at Women’s Health Specialists is here to help you find answers to all your concerns. In addition to your annual Pap smear to assess your risk for cervical cancer, we can also test for sexually transmitted infections or osteoporosis and provide pelvic health physical therapy and urogynecology. Just ask your doctor, and we’ll be happy to help you. 

The 24-Hour Rule

To prepare for a successful annual exam at Women’s Health Specialists, we recommend that you abstain from sex 24 hours before your appointment. This helps your doctor collect an accurate specimen for your Pap smear. 

Ask About Family Planning Options

Let your doctor know if you’re interested in becoming pregnant or beginning birth control. If you want to start a family, one of our WHS obstetricians can advise you on how to prepare your body for the experience of pregnancy and childbirth. This may include advice on nutrition, exercise, and strategies for remaining healthy throughout your pregnancy. 

On the other hand, you may also be looking for ways to prevent pregnancy. Ask your doctor about birth control options, their side effects, and which method they would recommend for you. There is a wide range of birth control options on the market, from the pill to IUDs, but we can help guide you to the one that works best for your lifestyle. 

Ask About Menopause

Menopause is a fact of life, and it’s important to stay on top of the symptoms as you age. The average age of menopause is 51, but everyone is different, and it can be extremely comforting to have your WHS team by your side while you prepare for the transition. Your doctor can help you find ways to ease your symptoms and answer questions that can settle your mind. 

How to Get the Most Out of Your Annual ExamChoose Women’s Health Specialists for Your Next Annual

The way to get the most out of your annual Women’s Health Specialists exam is to communicate with your doctor openly and honestly. Although you may feel embarrassed to discuss these topics, remember that our team of trained professionals is committed to your comfort, and we’ll help guide you every step. 

If it’s been a year or more since your last exam, schedule your next annual with a Women’s Health Specialists provider in Germantown.