• Make the Most of Your Annual Gynecologic Wellness Visit (at Any Age)

    The typical rule of thumb is that you should see a doctor at least once a year. These routine and preventative visits are designed to help keep an eye on your overall health and, often, catch new problems early in the process. While many people schedule these annual visits with their primary care providers, it’s a good idea to schedule an annual wellness visit with your OBGYN or Midwife too.

    It’s important to note that these annual gynecologic wellness visits are for anyone who was assigned-female-at-birth or who has a uterus. If you have any doubts or questions about these annual exams, talk to your OBGYN or Midwife to get personalized information.

    Making the most of an annual exam may take a little preparation on your part—but that preparation can pay off in better healthcare and improved outcomes.

    What Happens During an Annual Gynecologic Wellness Visit

    These annual wellness visits are appropriate for people from their early teens to late in life. What occurs during these visits will vary based on your age, your medical history, and your general health. However, most wellness visits with your OBGYN or Midwife will include the following:

    How Do You Make the Most of Your Gynecologic Visit?

    Any relationship with a provider is a two-way street. Good healthcare depends on strong communication—both from your provider and from the patient. As a result, there are several things you can do to make the most out of your visit.

    Among them are the following.

    Be ready to discuss your health history

    A critical part of your annual gynecologic visit, especially but not only during the intake process, is the taking of your medical history. This can include any new prescriptions or new aches and pains. But it can also include some things patients may be used to treating a bit more delicately: your sexual history, for example. It’s important to include these details, too, when you’re talking with your provider. 

    In general, you should be ready to discuss the following with your OBGYN or Midwife:

    Keep a Health Journal

    If you have symptoms that you are worried about or are not sure if they are normal, it is a good idea to keep track of them. Sometimes symptoms come and go with regularity. In other cases, they’re intermittent and don’t follow any sort of pattern. Your health can change daily—and patterns can be difficult to see at first. That’s why many providers recommend that you keep a health journal. This will help you ensure that you’re noticing when things feel normal—and when they don’t.

    When everything is written down, patterns can be easier to detect. 

    Take Notes During Your Visit

    Sometimes your OBGYN or Midwife can throw a lot of information at you. Because of its medical nature, this information can be a little hard to remember! That’s why it’s a great idea to bring a little notebook with you to your appointment. 

    As you talk over your visit with your OBGYN or Midwife, take notes. This will make it a lot easier to remember all the details. Because it’s often hard to predict when you might need this little notebook, it’s a good idea to bring it with you to every appointment. You can also use a note-taking app on your phone, if that’s more convenient!

    Write Your Questions Out Before Your Visit

    Going to the office for a visit can sometimes feel like a stressful situation. Which means that it’s sometimes easy to forget what you wanted to talk to your provider about in the first place! That’s why our OBGYNs and Midwives recommend that you write your concerns down ahead of time. That way, when the time comes for your visit, you won’t forget your most pressing concerns.

    Know What to Avoid

    Annual gynecologic visits will often include (but not always) a routine pelvic exam. To get the clearest results possible, it’s generally recommended that people avoid intercourse, douching (always avoid), or vaginal insertion of medication for the day before your appointment. You should always check with your provider before you stop taking any medications.

    Your Annual Gynecologic Visit Changes Over Time

    Annual Visit In Adolescence

    People can begin seeing their OBGYN as early as their teens. During these adolescent years, your OBGYN or Midwife can help you with the following:

    This list is not exhaustive. Every person’s screenings may be different, depending on their overall health and needs. 

    Annual Visit in Adult Years

    In your adult years, your annual gynecologic visit will focus more on your overall health and your reproductive health. For example, a gynecologic visit in your adult years may also include:

    These visits will often emphasize your long term wellness, giving you the counseling you need to build healthy habits.

    Annual Visits in Your Older Years

    In your middle age and older years, your visits may change focus again. As you go through perimenopause, your care may change to emphasize managing symptoms. Cancer screenings will also continue, depending on your risk profile. You should always talk to your OBGYN or Midwife about what screenings are appropriate for your age.

    Annual Gynecologic Wellness Visits Help You Check in With Your OBGYN Provider

    An annual gynecologic wellness visit is your chance to check in on your reproductive care and overall wellness. As a result, it’s important to schedule these visits annually. This allows your OBGYN or Midwife to keep track of your health. You’ll be able to notice problems earlier—and get the care you need.

    To schedule an annual gynecologic wellness visit, contact our Wilmette or Glenview offices today!