What is the purpose of a gynecological check-up?
Every woman should perform a gynecological check-up every 2-3 years. It consists in the evaluation of the general health of the woman, performing the relevant controls according to the different ages of the woman. Each woman represents a different reality and, therefore, requires special attention for each particular situation. The basis of the gynecological check-up is:
• The prevention and early detection of pre-malignant lesions, as well as gynecological cancer
• Planning and check-up of pregnancy
• Provide information for responsible sexual and reproductive health
• Detect and treat menstrual disorders, and alterations related to menopause
• Prevention and treatment of osteoporosis
• Treatment of specific diseases such as endometriosis, uterine fibroids and ovarian cysts
What does the gynecological visit consist of?
When a woman comes to the first visit with her gynecologist, he/she will make a detailed clinical history, ascertaining personal and family history, gynecological and obstetric history to better understand the patient. Then, if necessary, a physical examination is carried out with the subsequent complementary tests to complete the visit:
1- Physical examination: a visual examination of the vulva will be performed. Next, a bimanual vaginal examination is performed to assess the elasticity of the vulva, the surface and consistency of the cervix as well as the palpation of the uterus and ovaries watching out for any relevant alterations to these organs.
2- Cervical cytology: this test is the screening test that is performed by obtaining cells from the cervix and vagina with a spatula, after placing a vaginal speculum. It is a test that must be performed routinely since it helps detect premalignant vaginal and cervical lesions, as well as early detection of cervical and vaginal cancer. The sample obtained is sent to the pathologist who will, in turn, send the results to the gynecologist.
3- Gynecological ultrasound: it is done through a vaginal probe. In some cases, the ultrasound will be performed abdominally. It is a test that allows to assess the internal genital organs, such as the uterus and ovaries, with the aim of detecting pathologies that can affect the uterus, endometrium or ovaries.
4- Mammography / breast ultrasound
5- Densitometry: is a study that assesses the level of bone ossification that can be variable between an osteopenia or osteoporosis. Generally, it is requested 10 years after the onset of menopause, but different risk factors must be assessed and, if they are verified, they must be done before.
How often should a gynecological check-up be performed?
Ideally, asymptomatic women should visit the gynecologist every 2-3 years to assess different parameters that may change over time. In any case, the individual situation of each woman needs a unique approach to assess her particular state of health.
When should I start making the visits?
There is no specific age to begin with the gynecologic check-up. Each stage of a woman’s life can have different and specific problems that require specialized attention, from adolescence to menopause. Ideally, unless there is a particular situation that requires a diagnosis or specific treatment at an early age, the first contact with the gynecologist is in adolescence. This period is usually very important to give correct information about changes in a woman’s body, the menstrual cycle and alterations in bleeding patterns, as well as to educate adolescent women about responsible sexual and reproductive health, and different contraceptive methods.
The ideal would be to make an annual visit to assess different parameters that may change over time. Each woman needs a unique approach to assess her health.
There is no age to begin visits with the gynecologist, as we can receive pediatric patients, adolescents, women of childbearing age and women in menopause. Each age is presented with different problems that often can not be solved by other specialists such as pediatricians or clinical / family doctors. Ideally, unless there is a particular situation that requires a diagnosis or treatment at an early age, the first contact with the gynecologist is in adolescence. This period is often crucial to give correct information about changes in a woman’s body, the menstrual cycle and alterations in bleeding patterns, as well as educating adolescent women about responsible sexual and reproductive health. (LINK)
Always remember that prevention is the best weapon we have to take care of our health.