An OB/GYN is a physician who specializes in two different areas: obstetrics and gynecology. As a result, they’re able to cover the full spectrum of women’s health. From PAP smears to pregnancy, PMS to menopause, and everything in between, an OB/GYN can play an important role in a woman’s health throughout the course of her life.
Some of the routine tests done by an OB/GYN can feel a bit uncomfortable, which is why it’s so important to establish a relationship with a provider that puts you at ease. These tests are crucial when it comes to preventative screening, so when it comes to female health, these aren’t tests that you want to skip out on. Let’s take a look at three of the common exams you can expect your OB/GYN to perform.
The Pap Test
The pap test really does have an unfair reputation as this can be a lifesaver. Literally. The primary purpose of a pap is to screen for cervical cancer or any abnormalities that could lead to cancer. Your physician will evaluate the vulva and cervix with a speculum, in addition to collecting a small sample of cells that will be sent to a lab and analyzed for cancerous or pre-cancerous changes. In fact, WebMD states that women whose cervical cancers were found by a pap test had a 92% cure rate. Frequency of testing depends on a variety of factors (age, history, etc.) and is ultimately determined by your healthcare provider.
The Pelvic Exam
The pelvic exam involves an evaluation of the uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes, ovaries, and bladder. Whereas the pap is screening for cervical cancer, the pelvic exam is checking for a wider range of concerns like skin cancer and ovarian cysts or fibroid tumors of the uterus. For this reason, it’s important that you have a pelvic exam on a regular basis, as determined by you and your OB/GYN.
Women’s Wellness Exam
A wellness exam is a broader check-in with your OB/GYN that looks at the bigger picture. It will most likely include a breast and pelvic exam (and possibly a pap), but it’s also a time at which you can discuss any other concerns relevant to women’s health (sexuality, family planning, hormones etc.). It’s important to schedule this annually so that you and your doctor can make sure that you’re on a path to overall wellness.
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