2. Go for an annual exam
If you are over 21 you should go to a gynaecologist for an annual exam. This exam consists of a pelvic exam, breast exam and a pap smear. The first pap smear is performed at 21 or within three years of the onset of physical activity. Thereafter, you should have one every three years.
During the pelvic exam, your gender organs are checked for any signs of problems. The gynecologist will first inspect externally and then insert a speculum down inside to examine the cervix and vagina. The uterus will also be checked by placing a finger in your hymen and pressing on your stomach. The whole breast will be gently palpated to identify any lumps or masses.
A pap smear is quick and does not cause much pain. A small sample of cells is taken to screen for cancer of the cervix, usually when the speculum is inserted during the pelvic exam. These cells are scraped from the surface of the cervix are sent to a laboratory for testing. Pap smears are able to detect pre-cancerous cells as well as cancerous ones and they can be treated to prevent further growth.
It has been suggested by some researchers that an annual pelvic exam is unnecessary if you do not have any problems or are not pregnant. However, an annual exam offers you an opportunity to talk about any physical health problems you may be experiencing and to ask questions. It’s not just about checking for STDs. It is a valuable opportunity to get expert advice and address any concerns.