Women should begin annual gynecological exams when they become sexually active even if they are feeling well and have not noticed any problems.
Despite the warnings from all leading medical organizations, almost half of all women fail to have an annual gynecological check up. Failure to receive this examination costs thousands of women their lives each year.
According to research, reasons cited by women for not having an annual gynecological exam include embarrassment, lack of money. However, the most common reason cited is the idea that an exam is not necessary unless one is experiencing some type of problem.
According to Alhayah Fertility & Women Care Dr. Ashraf Sabry, “It is sad to see that women think they don’t need to see their doctor except if they are having a problem, while it is often during a routine examination that a problem is first detected. Early stages of breast, cervical and ovarian cancer have some obvious symptoms which can show up in an annual exam. Early detection is every woman’s best defense against all types of cancer; by finding abnormalities at the onset you increase your chances of a full recovery. Don’t take a chance; see your doctor for a checkup every year– whether you feel sick or not.
To begin, your doctor will review your medical history, sexual history, menstrual history and contraceptive history then discuss any health concerns you might have before the test. Your doctor will discuss exercise and nutrition plans with you then he will proceed by explaining how the test is performed and its benefits.
The doctor will start the test by doing a brief general physical exam where he will feel your neck (thyroid), listen to your heart and chest; take your blood pressure, pulse, temperature, height and weight. After that your doctor will ask you to leave a urine sample and then proceed with blood testing to check for anemia and cholesterol levels.
A breast exam will follow where your doctor will inspect your breasts for lumps or unusual soreness and then he will teach you how to do a monthly self breast exam yourself.
After the breast exam, the pelvic exam follows. Your doctor will examine your outer genitals for any changes or abnormalities, and he will insert a speculum into your vagina to see your cervix. Next your doctor will use a small brush to take a sample of cells from both inside and outside the cervix. The sample is called a Pap smear and it will be sent to a laboratory to be examined for any abnormal cell growth which can be caused by precancerous or cancerous cells on the cervix.
After the speculum is removed, your doctor will insert gloved fingers into your vagina and place his other hand on your abdomen, applying slight pressure. This examination is done to determine the size, shape, and position of your uterus and ovaries.
- A Breast mammogram can be added to the annual test if seen beneficial by the doctor, It is an x-ray test that produces an image of the inner breast tissue on film. It shows normal and abnormal structures in the breasts.
- A Bone densitometry can be added to the annual test of seen beneficial by the doctor, it is done using DEXA machines or sometimes using ultrasound measuring of the bones of the heel as a screening method.