The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that the first reproductive health visit happen between ages 13 and 15.
Annual breast and abdominal exams should begin at age 19, and routine annual pelvic exams and Pap Tests begin at age 21.
Women who are 30 and over and have had routine normal Pap results should have Pap tests every 2 years, but should still have an annual OB/GYN exam.
Frequency could vary for some woman who are at higher risk for certain diseases of the reproductive system.
What to Expect at Your Exam
No matter a woman's age, annual exams usually include:
Assessing your current health status with regard to:
Tobacco, alcohol, and drug use.
Height, weight, body mass index (BMI)
The exam can also include information on which vaccinations are recommended, by age and risk groups, including the flu shot, Hepatitis A and B, human papillomavirus (HPV), and measles.
Annual testing for chlamydia and gonorrhea is recommended for all sexually active adolescents and young women up to age 25. Routine HIV testing is recommended for all sexually active adolescents and women beginning at age 19 until age 64.
For women who are experiencing menopause and pre-menopausal symptoms, the annual exam is an important opportunity to talk about managing symptoms and hormone treatment options in addition to supplements and prevention of osteoporosis.
Now, About That Pap Test…
A Pap Test, sometimes called a Pap Smear, is a simple test that can detect abnormal cervical cells.
The Pap test allows early diagnosis and treatment so that the abnormal cells do not become cancer.
Routine Pap tests help decrease the chance that abnormal cells are missed.
If a Pap test misses abnormal cells during one visit, they may be found on your next annual Pap test.
The Pap test is just one part of staying healthy. Women ages 21 and older need an annual well-woman visit with their OB/GYN regardless of whether a Pap test is done. A Pap test is not the same as a pelvic exam.
MetroHealth is a leader in providing comprehensive care for women of all ages. Our OB/GYNs are available at 11 convenient locations throughout the community. To make an OB/GYN appointment at any MetroHealth location, call 216-778-5341.