Checking in with your gynecologist is one of the most important things you can do for your overall health as a woman. Your MOGA clinician is an expert in your reproductive care and can help make sure you’re living a healthy, protected, and comfortable lifestyle. You know this appointment is important, but between finding the time to meet with your doctor on a busy schedule and making sure insurance covers most of the cost of your yearly check-up, it’s essential to get as much taken care of at one time as possible.
If you’re wondering how to get the most out of your annual exam, you’ve come to the right place. At Memphis Obstetrics and Gynecological Association, P.C., we want you to feel like family, and as family, we’re here to give you the inside scoop on your upcoming appointment.
For patients of all ages, there are probably a lot of unknowns when it comes to visiting MOGA for your upcoming appointment. Before we get started sharing tips for your next appointment, let’s answer a few of the most common questions we hear from patients scheduling their annual.
When should I start getting annual exams?
Visiting the MOGA office for the first time can be a little intimidating, but our team is here to make sure you feel totally comfortable throughout the appointment. Typically, we recommend that women schedule their first check-up in their later teen years, around age 16, especially if they are experiencing any causes for concern, like delayed puberty or painful menstrual cycles.
By age 21, however, you should definitely begin seeing your MOGA clinician yearly. That’s because we recommend patients start getting regular Pap smears at this age to ensure your total health and wellness.
How often should I book appointments?
The answer to this question depends on your age. For younger women, you should begin seeing your gynecologist yearly from the age you first become sexually active until you turn 29. Women 30 and up can reduce this frequency to every other year. That being said, it is extremely important to listen to your body and plan your visits accordingly.
What happens during my annual exam?
During your annual exam, we’ll conduct multiple exams to check for abnormalities. After you check in, we’ll collect a urine sample before leading you to the exam room. Then, we’ll perform a breast exam, a pelvic exam, and a Pap smear (depending on your age). We also recommend all sexually active women test for chlamydia and gonorrhea, as well as take the HPV vaccine if they have not done so already.
These exams are probably not your favorite part of the year, but we encourage all of our patients to voice their concerns and discomforts with their clinician so we can put your mind at ease.
Tips for Getting the Most from Your Annual Exam
If you’re booked for your next appointment, follow these tips below to make sure you get the most from your next check-up.
Come With Questions…and Concerns
No one knows more about your reproductive experience than you, so when you’re visiting your MOGA clinician, take the time to write down or voice all of your questions and concerns with your doctor. It’s been a year since we last checked in on you, and it will likely be another year until we see you again, so making sure you have all of your questions answered is a key part of getting the most from your annual exam.
If you’re experiencing any issues such as heavy or painful periods, changes in vaginal odor or discharge, or cramping between periods, you should tell your doctor during this appointment. However, don’t neglect symptoms that aren’t related to your reproductive health. If you’re experiencing problems with anxiety or depression, or even trouble sleeping, be sure to tell your doctor. This helps our team take the holistic approach to your care that you deserve.
Ask About Additional Screenings
Your team at Memphis Obstetrics and Gynecological Association, P.C. is here to help you find answers to all your concerns. In addition to your annual Pap smear to assess your risk for cervical cancer, we can also test for sexually transmitted infections or osteoporosis. Just ask your doctor, and we’ll be happy to help you.
The 24-Hour Rule
To prepare for a successful annual exam at MOGA, we recommend that you abstain from sex for 24 hours before your appointment time. This helps your doctor collect an accurate reading from your Pap smear.
Ask About Family Planning Options
Let your doctor know if you’re interested in becoming pregnant or beginning birth control. For patients looking to start a family, one of our MOGA obstetricians can advise you on how to get your body ready for the experience of pregnancy and childbirth. This may include advice on nutrition, exercise, and strategies for remaining healthy throughout your pregnancy.
On the other hand, you may also be looking for ways to prevent pregnancy. Ask your doctor about birth control options, their side effects, and which method they would recommend for you. There is a wide range of birth control options on the market, from the pill to IUDs, but we can help guide you to the one that works best for your lifestyle.
Ask About Menopause
Menopause is a fact of life, and it’s important to stay on top of the symptoms as you get older. The average age of menopause is 51, but every body is different, and it can be extremely comforting to have your MOGA team by your side while you prepare for the transition. Your doctor can help you find ways to ease your symptoms, as well as answer questions that can settle your mind.
Choose MOGA for Your Next Annual
All in all, the way to get the most out of your annual exam at MOGA is to communicate with your doctor as openly as possible. Although you may feel embarrassed to discuss these topics, remember that our team of trained professionals is committed to your comfort, and we’ll help guide you every step of the way.