How Often Should You See the Gynecologist?
In a poll of 200 women about their sexual health, 40% of participants reported having not seen a gynecology or obstetrics specialist in the past year. One reason for this was a lack of knowledge about OB/GYN care.
For example, many women don’t know that experts suggest that women see a gynecologist every one to two years. The exact frequency depends on the individual and an OB/GYN’s recommendations.
If you want to learn more about when to schedule regular gyno appointments, keep reading this guide. We will also explain symptoms that may require a trip to your local OB/GYN ASAP.
How Often Should You Visit the Gynecologist?
How often you should see a gynecologist depends on multiple factors, such as age, sexual activity, and health conditions. Below, we will explain the general guidelines around when to see an OB/GYN by age group.
When Should You See a Gynecologist for the First Time?
You should ideally see a gynecologist for the first time around age 16. From then on, consider scheduling an appointment every other year if you are not sexually active or on birth control.
Girls between the ages of 16 and 21 who are sexually active and/or on birth control should consider seeing an OB/GYN more frequently. The only exception to this rule is if your provider recommends otherwise.
How Often to See a Gynecologist in Your 20s
Between the ages of 21 to 29, women should ideally see their gynecologist once a year. There are a number of reasons for this recommendation.
First of all, attending an annual gynecologist appointment can help women in their 20s set positive habits to last a lifetime.
Secondly, some studies have found that women between the ages are the most sexually active between the ages of 18 and 29.
Third, younger women often overlook the symptoms of breast and cervical cancer. Attending annual gynecology appointments can help detect early signs.
How Often to See a Gynecologist After 30
Women over the age of 30 should determine how often they should see a gyno based on the following factors:
- Gynecological health
- Gynecological disease diagnoses
If you are between the ages of 30 and 65 and do not experience any of the above factors, you can see your gynecologist every other year. Some OB/GYNs may want to see you more often if you take birth control.
If you are between the ages of 30 and 65 and do experience one or more of the above factors, talk to your gynecologist about how often to come in for a checkup.
How Often Should You Go to a Gynecologist After Menopause?
You should go to your gynecologist once per year after menopause. This recommendation may surprise you, considering that you no longer have a period. However, annual appointments can help with other areas of care.
For instance, post-menopausal women still need an annual pelvic exam. Experts also recommend getting a pap smear at least every three years unless your provider recommends otherwise.
How Often to See a Gynecologist After 65
After age 65, the recommendations around how often you should see an OB/GYN become much looser. Most older women no longer need pap smears to screen for cervical cancer.
The exception to this is if you have had abnormal cervical cells or cervical cancer previously. Older women who are HIV positive, have immune system deficiencies, or have had a hysterectomy may also need continued screenings.
When in doubt, it is always best to consult with your gynecologist. They can help you understand the factors impacting whether you should or should not continue to schedule visits after age 65.
Reasons to Visit the OB/GYN Between Appointments
The above guidelines are good rules of thumb to follow. However, don’t think you need to wait for your regular appointment to see a gyno. Some symptoms require prompt medical care.
If you experience any of the following symptoms, you should schedule a visit between regular checkups.
Unusual Changes in Menstruation
Some changes in menstruation are normal. For example, missing a period could be a sign of early pregnancy or perimenopause. It could also be a symptom of stress, weight loss or gain, or excess exercise.
However, unusual changes in menstruation can also be symptomatic of certain medical conditions, such as:
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Primary ovarian insufficiency
- Hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism
- Bleeding and blood clotting disorders
- Uterine or ovarian cancers
If you experience unusual changes to your menstrual cycle, schedule a visit to your gyno ASAP.
Pain in the Pelvis or Vagina
Pelvic or vaginal pain is often a sign of a simple urinary tract infection (GI) or gastrointestinal issue. These conditions may not require a trip to your gyno. Seeing a general practitioner should suffice.
However, pain in the pelvis or vagina can also be symptomatic of more serious gynecological disorders. For that reason, it is a good idea to visit your gynecologist ASAP if you experience this symptom.
Unusual Discharge from Vagina
Unusual discharge from the vagina may be thick and abnormal in color. Abnormal discharge colors include white and grey, greenish and yellowish, or pink and brown. It may irritate your vaginal area or cause itching.
Abnormal discharge is almost always a reason to schedule a visit with your gyno ASAP. Conditions with this symptom include:
- Yeast infections
- Bacterial vaginosis
- Untreated sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
Not getting prompt treatment for these conditions may result in complications, so it is always better to be safe than sorry.
Discharge With a Strong Odor
Normal discharge doesn’t necessarily smell pleasant. Most people would describe a healthy discharge as having a tangy, fermented, or sour smell. It may smell different after sweating or having sex and due to poor hygiene.
However, vaginal odors that are unpleasant or strong may indicate something else. Bacterial vaginosis, trichomoniasis (an STI), and, rarely, cervical or vaginal cancer can also cause this symptom.
Obstetrics and Gynecology Services in Augusta
Women should generally schedule a gynecology appointment every year or every other year starting at age 16. Talk to your provider about the best times to visit based on your age and unique health factors.
Are you searching for an OB/GYN in Augusta, GA? Women’s Health of Augusta’s state-of-the-art facility offers comprehensive services for patients. Contact us to schedule your first appointment.