Time to Contact Your Ob-Gyn

Teenagers

Okay, girls, it’s time for some basic info.

Let’s start with you youngsters.  Are you between the ages of 13 and 15?  Ah, God bless ya if you are!   I remember those days well.  I can remember cute little Tommy Kosky who sat in front of me in Algebra class.  To this day, I can still smell that cheap cologne that probably cost him $2.00 a gallon.  I remember asking him dumb questions just to get him to notice me…uh, I’m sorry, I’m digressing here.

Okay, earth to Pat.

As I was saying, if you are between the ages of 13 and 15, it’s time you picked up the phone and made your first appointment with an Obstetrician-Gynecologist, otherwise known as an Ob-Gyn.  Don’t know who to call?  Well, ask around, talk to your friends.  Don’t rely on the Google-meister.

The important thing is that this first visit will help you establish a relationship with the doctor of your choice and you’ll be able to talk candidly about your medical and sexual history (even if you have not had sexual intercourse.) This is a good time to ask questions about sexually transmitted diseases and contraceptives.   In many cases, this can become a life-long relationship.

If you are 21 years or older and have not yet had a pelvic exam or a Pap test, what the frig are you waiting for?   Get on your cell phone right now!

Ob-Gyn First Visit

If you have had these tests, then the question is how long has it been since your last Pap smear and pelvic exam? According to the American College of Ob-Gyns, women 21 to 29 should get a Pap smear every year, then every other year (or as often as your doctor recommends) from ages 30 to 64.

Meanwhile you should always see your gynecologist if you experience any bleeding between periods, bleeding after sexual intercourse or an unusual or constant vaginal discharge.

If you are over 30 years old, it is not necessary to get an annual Pap smear but you still should get an annual pelvic exam to check for any other changes or infections. If you’ve had an HPV test that was negative that doesn’t mean you don’t need to have a yearly pelvic exam. And remember that with each new sexual partner your risk of getting HPV increases by 15 percent. According to the ACOG guidelines for Pap testing women diagnosed with HIV or other diseases or conditions that lower immunity should continue having annual Pap smears after age 30.  Indeed, the greatest single reason for the occurrence of cervical cancer is not having Pap smears according to recommended guidelines.

Get with the program.  Don’t be a silly girl.  After all, it’s only your life.

8 thoughts on “Time to Contact Your Ob-Gyn

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  1. I remember my first visit. Not the most comfortable experience but certainly a valid one and important one.

  2. You might want to amend the “HPV causes cervical CANCER” line. Multiple strains of the virus exist, most humans are carriers, and the relationship between the few strains of the virus implicated in tumorigenesis and cancer progression is far more nuanced than a simple causal link.

  3. Jezabel….I am sure that is true…but I think (or at least it reads like that to me!) that this article was aimed towards young girls that are contemplating their 1st pelvic exam….all that type of in depth talk turns kids off!!!

    If they want to look at the HPV virus and all that it “might or might not do” I think they will research it…some!! But mainly they need to know that it can cause some serious things….and they need to protect themselves with the vaccine and also with pap smears to see if they are (+) for the virus…

  4. My GP told me that women who have never been sexually active do not need to get pap smears… so it is not necessarily automatically required for women over 21.

    1. Lulu: This is from the website WebMD:

      Cervical cancer screening is recommended yearly starting when women are aged 18 years, or when they become sexually active if younger than 18 years. Physicians may screen a woman less frequently if she had negative Pap smear results 3 years in a row or is not sexually active.

  5. I don’t agree with this advice and nor would doctors from many countries – routine pelvic exams are not recommended at any age in symptom-free women, they’re of poor clinical value and expose you to risk – more unnecessary procedures and even surgery. Many US doctors are questioning the need for this exam – it is not an evidence based exam. I’m 53 and have never had one and never will….
    Some believe these exams are partly responsible for the high number of hysterectomies performed in the States every year – 600,000 – 1 in 3 women will have one by age 60…also you have very high cervical biopsy rates. (95% referred at some stage to cover a 0.65% lifetime risk of cervical cancer!)

    Young girls don’t need to see gynaecologists – there is no clinical need and it would certainly risk their health. Where is the evidence supporting the need for these visits? It doesn’t exist…this “recommendation” arose at roughly the same time pap test guidelines were finally reduced – sounds like a desperate attempt to make up lost income to me.

    Pap tests are of no benefit before age 30 and women not yet sexually active are excluded from programs around the world – testing would expose them to risk for no benefit. (false positives and over-treatment) Young women produce lots of false positives – it is unethical to test women under 25 and many countries don’t test before 30. (it doesn’t help)
    Never overdo pap tests – it’s a rare cancer that was in decline before testing started – lifetime risk of cc is 0.65%…but thanks to over-screening 95% of your women will be referred for colposcopy/biopsies – huge over-detection – almost all referrals are false positives. If you want testing, adopt a schedule that provides some protection from false positives and potentially harmful over-treatment (which can damage your cervix leading to cervical stenosis, infertility, cervical incompetence – miscarriages, high risk pregnancy, premature babies, more c-sections etc)
    Finland has the lowest rates of cc in the world and sends the fewest women for colposcopy/biopsies – they offer 5 yearly testing from age 30 – 5 to 7 tests in total.
    As a low risk woman, my risk of cc is near zero, I have always declined pap tests – the risks are too high for me.
    Always make informed decisions about cancer screening – guidelines are made for populations, not the individual – yet we’re all different…cancer screening is an option, nothing more, for men AND women.
    I prefer to deal with facts and do what’s right for my body and not simply follow guidelines.
    I’d be very careful with this advice…do your reading and make up your own mind.
    See: “Questioning the value of the routine pelvic exam” and comments by your Dr Carolyn Westhoff and “Women after birth control get unneeded pelvic exams – WSJ
    Dr Joel Sherman’s patient privacy forum under women’s privacy concerns has some great references in the side bar – see research by Dr Raffle and Prof Baum.
    Mammograms – I recently rejected them as well due to concerns about over-diagnosis. It really is quite disgusting that the medical profession conceals risk from women and provides misleading information plus there is no respect for informed consent…an ethical and legal requirement for all cancer screening, not just tests aimed at men!
    Get to the facts and protect your healthy body from harm.

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