Disclosure :: this post is sponsored by West Jefferson Medical Center.
Why women need yearly gynecological exams
As all moms know, life changes dramatically after starting a family, especially when it comes to taking care of yourself. Your needs get put on hold as priorities change, including your healthcare needs. Last year, more women than men ignored yearly exams, but it had nothing to do with family obligations; it had everything to do with the pandemic.
Reasons why women should not ignore their yearly exam
The Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit research organization that focuses on national health issues, released a study that showed during the coronavirus pandemic, women were more likely to have foregone health care when compared to men, especially when it came to preventative care. When questioned, 26 percent of men said they skipped a routine check-up, while 38 percent of women said they did not have a regular exam or yearly routine test. For many women, this included overlooking their annual gynecological check-up, and there are many reasons why that is not a good idea:
- While your exam will focus on reproductive organs, your doctor can access your overall health and potentially find underlying health issues you were not aware of. Your doctor is also trained to spot mental health issues, and for many women, it’s their gynecologist who provides guidance on dealing with concerns such as depression or anxiety.
- A yearly exam includes a breast exam, which is vital for catching cancer in the early stages, especially here in Louisiana where breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosis.
- A routine visit also includes a thorough pelvic assessment, including a Pap Smear, which can detect cervical cancer or precancerous cell. In addition, your doctor will check your reproductive organs for potential abnormalities, such as growths or masses.
- Birth control is another reason women see a gynecologist. These specially trained physicians guide women to the best type of birth control, and a yearly check-up is needed to ensure the control method is working correctly.
It’s said that the average life expectancy for women in the United States is 81 years. However, if serious medical issues are ignored, that could dramatically impact your overall health. The first step to healthy aging is to schedule a yearly exam as problems can be caught and treated early.
Finding care for every phase of your life
Gynecologists at West Jefferson Medical Center Women’s Health note that females are encouraged to begin yearly gynecological visits when reproductive organs mature. Typically, that age is between 13-15 years old. Annual health exams should continue well into your 60s, and at that age, you and your doctor can discuss the best health plan moving forward. Regardless of age, women can face many health issues, and that’s why preventative medicine is essential, and a yearly exam is how potential health problems can be detected, issues such as:
- Menstrual irregularities
- STD screening
- Urinary Incontinence
- Vaginal infections
Finding the right physician early on, someone you are comfortable talking to, can lead to a lifetime of care. If you are among the women who overlooked your yearly exam, now is the time to make that appointment and get back on track with taking care of yourself. Doctor’s offices are taking all steps to keep everyone safe as the community continues to manage the impacts of COVID-19. That includes additional cleaning of all public areas and exam rooms, social distancing protocols in waiting rooms, and strict mask requirements of all staff and patients. Don’t put off this essential visit; your family needs you as healthy as possible!
About Dr. Rachel Spears:
Dr. Spears attended Xavier University and received her Doctorate of Medicine from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas. She completed her residency at Louisiana State University in New Orleans. After completion of residency, Dr. Spears practiced in Pennsylvania and joined the Medical Staff at West Jefferson Medical Center in 2015.
Dr. Spears is board certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecologist. She enjoys providing a continuum of care as women go through the various stages of life. Her practice also includes, but is not limited to, providing preventative care, performing minimally invasive procedures, treatment of female diseases and providing quality prenatal care.