Based on scientific advancements and new knowledge about cancer, most women don’t need to have a Pap test every year. The new guidelines depend on a woman’s age, risk factors, and individual Pap test history. (Just ask, and we can review this in detail).
However, this does not mean that women can skip their yearly visit to the GYN office. A Pap test is merely a test to screen for pre-cancerous changes of the cervix or vagina. The yearly preventive exam is about much more than just the Pap test. Women need their clinical breast exams, mammogram orders, a skin exam, an examination of the uterus and ovaries, and a discussion/exploration of all of their health risks and concerns — not just a Pap test!
Why you need an annual GYN exam
What you describe is very common in the teen years. Young women begin to feel uncomfortable in the pediatric setting, even though they may be fond of their pediatrician.
For teenage patients, the new Pap test guidelines stipulate that we can now wait to begin Pap tests until age 21. For an otherwise healthy young woman, with regular periods and no concerns for STDs or other GYN problems, a GYN examination is unnecessary before this time.
At Serenity Women’s Care, we can be the Primary Care Provider (PCP) for women of all ages. The focus for teens is on building healthy habits, reducing risky behaviors, and beginning to take ownership of their health as young women.
That’s a great question. The reason we need you to come in for a visit is so that we can send a specimen for culture and sensitivity. This way, we can find out if you whether you have a bladder infection (UTI) or not.
The test will identify the specific bacteria causing it, and show us which medications will work the best. Also, we can review the signs of a worsening UTI, which may ascend up to the kidneys and become quite serious. In other situations, the symptoms of a bladder infection could be another problem entirely.
A woman may have a UTI develop when she is traveling or otherwise unable to come to the office. In this situation, we will always call in medication to a local pharmacy nearby for you.
If a woman is having vaginal symptoms which are bothering her, especially if they keep coming back, she needs an examination.
There are many kinds of vaginal problems, and we typically perform tests in the office to identify the “usual suspects.” In addition, we may collect specimens and send them off to identify more obscure types of vaginitis, which are more challenging to treat.
At Serenity Women’s Care, we really avoid just giving medication to see if it will work. We want to establish the correct diagnosis and treat appropriately. Unfortunately, this can’t be done over the phone.
At Serenity Women’s Care, we are careful to order only the lab tests or other studies which are truly necessary for your care. We don’t approach symptoms with a “million dollar work-up” right out of the gate.
I am always happy to provide every patient with a copy of her lab results, after we have reviewed them. I like to sit down with each patient and go over the results one by one, and explain what they mean to her within the context of her symptoms, even if the results are “within the normal range.”
Occasionally, we are able to call the results by phone if just one or two simple tests are done. Our goal is always to give you the best care possible, but to be prudent with your time and resources also.