What can a Gynecologist do for me?
Gynecologists specialize in caring for the reproductive health of women from the time they get their first period all the way to post-menopause. This specialty is central to knowing our bodies and knowing ourselves. Any concerns related to our cervix, uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, or vagina, are diagnosed, and treated by a gynecologist. You can also access breast exams, pap smears, and pelvic exams through these doctors. As these are such intimate procedures, particularly in mid-life, we must validate the complexity of our bodies and communicate this to professionals.
A gynecologist can also provide human papillomavirus (HPV) shots to protect against cancer-causing HPV. Reproductive health is connected to other specialties in our guides, a reminder that wellness must be comprehensive.
A 2021 survey found that among 34% of 40–65-year-old women, 1 in 5 said it took over a year before an HCP assessed their symptoms as perimenopause, menopause, or post menopause – Bonafide (The State of Menopause)
What can I do to maintain my gynecological health?
Many of the conditions that affect women’s health, including the human papillomavirus (HPV), cervical cancer, and breast cancer, can exist without any signs or symptoms. However, regular screening with GYN exams and tests can detect these conditions at earlier stages when they can be treated most effectively. Early engagement with medical professionals can dispel any myths and prevent misconceptions that we may have just accepted as truth.
What should I ask my doctor?
- Set up mammogram and breast ultrasound appointments
- Blood tests
- Am I in perimenopause?
- What can you tell me about perimenopause and what I can expect?
- Are there any natural remedies you can suggest?
- What are my risks of breast or ovarian cancer?
- Screening for cervical cancer
- How much are tests and how can I be sure my insurance covers the cost?
Are there any guidelines? Can I avoid the problem?
Pap and HPV Screening Guidelines
Women who are between the ages of 30-65 have three options for testing:
- They can have a Pap test and a HPV test (co-testing) every 5 years,
- They can have a Pap test alone every 3 years, or,
- They can have HPV testing alone every 5 years.
Cervical Cancer Screening Guidelines
Cervical cancer screening is an important part of women’s holistic health care. To build a routine and remain in the know, you should start having a screening at age 21, regardless of when you first start having sex.
Supporting Source: acog.org