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What to Expect at Your Gynecology Exam

Gynecology visits are an important part of health care for all women. At MetroHealth, our highly qualified gynecologists and nurse practitioners are committed to providing vital care, no matter where a woman is in her life, from preventive care to family planning.

We see women in their early teens, older adult women and everyone in between. Our caring team provides well-woman exams, Pap tests and birth control. We test for STDs and HIV. We treat menstrual disorders and also offer general health care, nutrition education and illness-related care.

Call 216-778-4444 to make an appointment with a MetroHealth gynecologist. 

Keeping You Well Year By Year

A well-woman checkup, sometimes called an annual exam, is designed to help your doctor focus on prevention and detection of common gynecological conditions.

For example, your well-woman exam gives your doctor an opportunity to help you prevent cervical cancer. Your doctor might perform a Pap test, in which samples of tissue are collected and sent to a lab. At the lab, those samples are examined for cancerous changes.

It's an important test, but your routine exam involves more than a Pap test. Your gynecologist might also take the time to talk with you about other issues, such as:

  • Nutrition 
  • Exercise 
  • Weight control 
  • Breast cancer 
  • Mental health 
  • Safe sex 
  • Timing of and preparation for pregnancy 
  • Vaccinations

It is important that you feel comfortable sharing information with your doctor so that he or she can provide you with the best care possible. At MetroHealth, our doctors take the time to listen. You can share freely, and you can ask questions about anything. We're here for you.

From the Teen Years On

Most girls should begin an annual exam habit between ages 13 and 15, says the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Those early appointments help girls to build a relationship with a physician they may see throughout life.

The first visit generally doesn't call for an internal exam. Because the risk of cervical cancer is so low at this age, Pap tests aren't part of the exam until women are 21. (And even then, Pap tests aren't always needed every year.) Typically, the doctor performs a breast exam and an external exam during the first visit.

The initial visit is really about education. Young women have the opportunity to learn about how their bodies are changing. They can learn about health issues that might impact them as they age. And they can learn more about how to stay healthy as they grow.

At MetroHealth, these appointments provide plenty of time, so young women can ask questions and learn more. Our doctors will never push or rush.

Doctors might also use a first visit to provide the vaccine to prevent human papillomavirus, or HPV. The vaccine prevents the most common types of HPV, which cause cervical cancer and genital warts. It's given as a series of three shots over a 6-month period. See HPV Vaccine Awareness.

It's a vital vaccine, as our research suggests that young women who get the HPV vaccine series are much less likely to have cervical cancer and genital warts, when compared to women who don't get the vaccine.

At MetroHealth, we want to keep women safe. And we make getting the vaccine easy. For example, we can call with reminders so no doses are missed.

There are many parents who think their kids don't need this vaccine because they aren't sexually active yet. However, it's important to know that the vaccine should be given before a girl is sexually active. That means early shots might be more effective than later shots.

Continuing Your Gynecology Care

By the time women reach adulthood, their gynecological needs might change. For example, if you are 30 or older and have had normal Pap results, you can speak with your provider about having Pap tests less often and combining them with an HPV test. Our doctors can help you with a screening schedule that's right for you.

If you don't need a Pap test, you'll still need an annual exam. During a routine well-woman exam, your doctor can take care of all sorts of issues, including screening for sexually transmitted infections, even if you do not have any symptoms. This screening is important because without treatment, infections may harm your reproductive health.

Gynecologists can also evaluate and treat conditions such as fibroids or endometriosis.

You might also see your MetroHealth gynecologist when you're dealing with:

  • Abnormal periods 
  • Pelvic pain 
  • Frequent urination 
  • Birth control questions 
  • Pregnancy planning 
  • Another health issue

What About Menopause?

By now, periods and pregnancy are no longer front and center. But for many women, menopause brings a new set of concerns—from hot flashes to discomfort during sex to thinning bones. A gynecologist can help you to address all of this during an exam.

Also, as your risk of cervical cancer generally decreases and the Pap test becomes less important, the odds of having breast, uterine or endometrial cancers rise. So during this part of your life, your gynecologic exams will focus more on these and other issues and conditions.

At the same time, you'll continue to receive all of your other excellent preventive care, as well as help with any gynecologic or other conditions, such as urinary incontinence.

Call 216-778-4444 to make an appointment with a MetroHealth gynecologist.