How Often Should You Go to the Gynaecologist

Do you know 70% of women’s health issues are preventable? Do you put off visiting your gynaecologist and put everyone else’s health before yours? Read this TODAY
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The phobia of visiting a gynaecologist is for real. And the idea of going to the hospital only when something is wrong is preposterous.

Do you know 70% of women’s health issues are preventable?

But women being women tend to put their families and children before their own health. In all the chaos they neglect their own health and reach the hospital when it’s too late. It is so disheartening though, the woman who is taking care of everyone there is no one to take responsibility for her health.

There is an old adage “ God helps those who help themselves”. It’s time that every woman takes charge of her own health and starts understanding the importance of preventive health. Your gynaecologist should be your confidant. She needs to know everything from your medical history to family history to sexual history so that she can plan your screenings accordingly.

Gynaecological screenings are not just about pelvic examinations. It is a continuous education about your own body. That’s why gynaecological examinations and screening should start as early as in the adolescent age group when the girl gets her first periods.

The first visit with the gynaecologist at this time doesn’t involve pelvic examination but is the best time to learn about the normal development of the body, period education, vaccination against cervical cancer, sex education, education about diet, prevention of sexually transmitted infections and contraception, body image and high-risk behaviour.

Not only that but it also involves an examination of the vulva, breast and staging of secondary sexual characters to make sure of normal development of the body.

These first few years of annual examinations are important to build a strong bond between gynaecologists and women. 

Pelvic examinations usually start either after 1 year of onset of sexual activity or 21 years whichever is later. This gives us the opportunity to screen for one of the most common cancers in India i.e cervical cancer. For this, we check the cells on the mouth of the uterus by doing a test called PAP Smear.

According to the recent guidelines, a Pap smear should be done every 3 years till the age of 29 years and every 5 years with co-testing of HPV virus till the age of 60 years. This screening stops if 3 consecutive samples are negative. This screening reduces your chances of having cervical cancer to almost 0.01%.

At the same time, breast examination by the gynaecologist should start and should be done every 1-3 years till the age of 50 years. After 50 years it is recommended to undergo mammography every 1-2 years depending upon the risk factors.

Also, self-breast examinations are taught during annual health check-ups, which help the individual to know and understand their breast better so that any minute changes can be picked up at the earliest. If there is a family history of breast cancer or a history of dense breast your gynaecologist might offer you screening for BRCA gene mutation.

Annual pelvic examinations during the reproductive age group are absolutely necessary to screen for sexually transmitted diseases. Along with pelvic examination, tests for syphilis, HIV, hepatitis B and C are also done. Most of these infections are asymptomatic and present with symptoms only when 70% of the damage is done. That’s why even if you are asymptomatic, go for these annual screening tests.

As the reproductive life gets over and the menopause starts women get laxer and stop seeing their gynaecologist but you need to understand menopause is a new and very different change in women’s body so it needs to be addressed with compassion.

The importance of annual examinations increases all the more as

  • Bone health starts deteriorating
  • Reproductive organs start withering away
  • Hormones decline the effect on the full body starts to appear slowly

So then comes the importance of yearly bone density checkups, liver and kidney function tests and screening for diabetes and hypertension, annual ultrasounds for screening cancers of the uterus and ovaries along with pelvic examinations.

Talk to your gynaecologist, don’t be afraid, ask as many questions as possible, build a healthy relationship with them. Annual gynaecological screenings are much beyond just the pelvic examination. The journey towards a healthy you is a long term plan put in place by you and your gynaecologist. So keep visiting your gynaecologist every year even if you don’t have any symptoms to kick off this partnership towards a healthy you.

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