The importance of annual exams and regular gynecology care for women in Chicago
Do you visit the gynecologist every year for an annual wellness visit? Life can be busy, and fitting in doctor appointments can sometimes get overlooked during the daily hustle and bustle. However, regular gynecology care is important for your health, and postponing them can increase the risk of discovering late-stage illnesses. There are many benefits to annual well woman exams, including the early detection, treatment, and management of many preventable illnesses. Women of all ages can experience the benefits of prioritizing their health. At Northwestern Women’s Health Associates in Chicago, we offer comprehensive women’s health care to patients of all ages.
What is a gynecologist?
A gynecologist is a doctor who specializes in the health of the female reproductive system. An obstetrician is a gynecologist who specializes in pregnancy and childbirth. Most women see a gynecologist for the first time during the teen years and will continue with annual check-ups from that point forward. Many women also opt to visit their gynecologist for general health issues or other concerning symptoms as well.
Why it’s important to seek regular gynecology care
There are many reasons to maintain annual exams with your gynecologist. The biggest is illness screening and prevention. Many women’s health issues can be highly preventable with proper routine care. When illnesses are discovered, early diagnosis plays an important role in treatment and management of the condition.
Another reason to continue attending your yearly exams is for information and education on a variety of topics that are important to women’s lives including birth control, family planning and pregnancy, self-care, breast health, sexual health, and general health recommendations.
In addition to yearly exams, women should schedule a visit with their gynecologist any time there are concerning symptoms such as abnormal bleeding or vaginal or pelvic pain.
Conditions treated by a gynecologist
A gynecologist is responsible for the detection and treatment of a wide range of women’s health conditions or concerns including:
- Issues with menstruation, fertility, or pregnancy
- Family planning
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Urinary incontinence
- Non-cancerous conditions such as cysts, fibroids, or ulcers
- Breast cancer and cancer of the reproductive tract
- Pelvic inflammatory diseases
- Sexuality or sexual dysfunction
- Perimenopause and menopause
Additionally, many gynecologists play a role in diagnosing and treating general health care issues such as thyroid disease, depression, asthma, heart disease, chronic headaches, mood changes, diabetes, osteoporosis, and more.
What to expect at a gynecology exam
For every patient, a comprehensive family and medical history is taken to assess any familial cancer risks. A physical exam including blood pressure, height, and weight will be performed along with a pelvic and breast exam.
The pelvic exam
During the pelvic exam the doctor may perform a pap smear, which takes a sampling of cells from the cervix. It is done to check for the presence of cervical cancer. The doctor will also conduct an internal exam of the ovaries and uterus, because cancers in these areas are more difficult to detect. When discovered early, the chances for survival greatly increase.
The breast exam
Breast exams are done to look for any changes in tissue that could signal a potential risk for breast cancer. We will recommend a screening mammogram for patients between the ages of 40 and 50 and an annual mammogram for women over the age of 50. We’ll also go over guidelines for proper self-breast exams which can help detect early signs of breast cancer.
In addition to a breast or pelvic exam, your gynecologist is there to discuss any other issues or concerns that you may have. Some topics that might be discussed include birth control methods, STD protection, smoking cessation, nutritional counseling, and more.
At Northwestern Women’s Health Associates, we believe that annual gynecological exams play a vital role in a woman’s overall health. We provide patients in Chicago, with private, compassionate care that promotes wellness. Our team has decades of experience in providing care that can detect common health concerns and promote healthy habits for women of all ages. When you prioritize your health, you are ensuring that you can be your best for yourself and your family. We invite you to call us today at 312-440-9400 to schedule an appointment and find out more about the services that we provide.