The Importance of Routine Gynecological Exams

Did you know that you should have a comprehensive well-woman exam each year? It’s true. Even if you’re generally healthy and feeling good, you should check in annually with your doctor.

Routine exams might seem like just another item to add to your long to-do list, but these appointments are one of the best ways to protect your health. 

Conditions like cervical cancer, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and more may not have noticeable symptoms, but they can be detected with routine gynecological care.

Getting regular exams puts you in control of your health. A. Michael Coppa, MD, and our gynecology team are here to help. We offer top-quality care for women of all ages, including comprehensive gynecological exams.

The benefits of proactive gynecology care

As a woman, your health needs are unique. Women are at risk for health conditions affecting their reproductive organs, and up to 15% of women in the United States suffer from chronic pelvic pain.

Common conditions like uterine fibroids, ovarian cysts, and endometriosis can cause pain, abnormal vaginal bleeding, and other symptoms, but it’s impossible to know what’s causing your discomfort without visiting a doctor.

Some conditions, like endometriosis, cause pain and other noticeable symptoms, but other gynecological issues may go undetected without routine exams. Cervical cancer doesn’t exhibit warning signs in its early stages, but a Pap smear can detect it early and set you up for more effective treatment. 

Sexually transmitted diseases usually don’t present symptoms, but they can lead to cancer, infertility, and other issues if left untreated. Getting routine STD testing is the only way to know if you have one and to get the treatment you need.

Regular care is proactive. It allows you the chance to better understand your body and get your questions answered, and it helps us monitor changes in your health before they become advanced conditions. Together, we can find a treatment plan that protects and improves your health.

What to expect at your gynecological exam

Your health needs changes as you move through life. Routine well-woman exams help ensure that your body is working as it should at every age. Dr. Coppa tailors your appointment to meet your needs based on your health, age, and lifestyle.

Pelvic exam

During your exam, Dr. Coppa evaluates your pelvic organs. He examines your vulva, vagina, and cervix using a tool called a speculum to open your vaginal walls. He palpates your abdomen and pelvis to check the size and shape of your uterus and ovaries.

Dr. Coppa looks for any abnormalities in appearance, shape, or size of your reproductive organs. He checks for unusual tenderness and talks with you to better understand how you’re feeling.

Pelvic exams typically take just a few minutes. Your exam shouldn’t hurt, but some women feel pressure or discomfort when the speculum is inserted and opened.

Pap smear

A Pap smear, or Pap test, is a cervical cancer screening. Most women need a Pap smear every three years, but Dr. Coppa may recommend more frequent screenings in some cases. 

If you need a Pap smear, it is often done at the same time as your pelvic exam. The test involves taking a small sample of cells from your cervix. We then send the sample to a lab for evaluation. 

STD testing

Depending on your age and your sexual history, Dr. Coppa may recommend STD testing. Most STDs don’t have obvious symptoms, so the only way to know if you have one is by getting an STD test. 

Your risk of STDs is higher if you’re younger, you recently started a new sexual relationship, or if you have multiple partners.

If Dr. Coppa notices anything unusual in your exam, he discusses the next steps with you. If all your results come back normal, we may recommend scheduling your next exam in a year or so.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to our team at any time if you experience pelvic pain, unusual bleeding, or other symptoms.

Is it time to schedule your next gynecological exam? Contact us for an appointment. Our offices are located in Cranston, Smithfield, and Providence, Rhode Island.

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