Visiting a gynecologist for your first annual exam (also known as a well woman exam) and pap smear may seem daunting or uncomfortable. However, these routine check-ups are essential for maintaining good reproductive health and preventing future issues. Here is a step-by-step guide to what happens during an annual exam and pap smear.
Checking Your Vital Signs
The first step of the exam typically involves checking your vital signs, including blood pressure, heart rate, and temperature. This helps the healthcare provider understand your overall health and identify any potential issues.
Medical History Review
Your healthcare provider will review your medical history, including any current medications or health concerns. It's important to be honest and open about your health history and any symptoms you may be experiencing.
Your healthcare provider will perform a breast exam, checking for any lumps or abnormalities. They will also demonstrate proper self-breast exam techniques for you to perform at home.
During the pelvic exam, your healthcare provider will check your external genitalia for any abnormalities. The provider will then perform a speculum exam to visualize your cervix. This allows them to take a sample of cells from your cervix for a pap smear, which screens for abnormal cervical cells that may indicate precancerous or cancerous changes.
Your healthcare provider may also perform STD testing, including a urine test or swab of the cervix, to screen for sexually transmitted infections.
Discussion and Education
After the exam, your healthcare provider will discuss any findings or concerns with you and answer any questions you may have. They may also provide education on reproductive health, contraception options, and how to maintain good health and prevent future issues.
Remember, an annual exam and pap smear are essential for maintaining good reproductive health. Don't be afraid to ask questions and be open with your healthcare provider about any concerns or symptoms you may be experiencing.
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