Healthy patients should have a complete gynecological examination every year. At this appointment, it is important for patients to ask questions about health concerns and any new symptoms that have arisen since the last annual examination. Usually, gynecologists interview patients and discuss lifestyle habits, weight loss or gain, changes in menstruation and other reproductive and female health concerns. Depending on a patient’s age, symptoms and family health history, annual exams may also include a pelvic exam, lab work and/or mammogram.
Annual exams are useful for detecting certain diseases and cancers in their earliest stages. Early detection improves overall prognosis and may make treatment easier. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that the first gynecological appointment occur during the teen years, although pap smears and other screenings may not be necessary during this time.