Women's Health (GYN) Examination
What is a routine gyn examination?
A routine gynecologic (gyn) exam, sometimes called a "well woman exam" or "annual exam" assesses a woman's general health with a focus on the breasts and pelvic reproductive organs (uterus and ovaries). You will be asked questions about your past and current health history and have a physical exam.
In women who are under 21 with no symptoms that might be related to the uterus or ovaries, the exam would be conducted "from the waist up" and does not need to include a pelvic exam. Many women come for their first gyn exam when they are thinking about starting a birth control method other than condoms.
The annual exam is also an opportunity to ask questions about a variety of women's health concerns. You may have questions about your periods, your body, your sex life, birth control, etc. All questions are welcome and your information is completely confidential.
The exam includes:
- Weight, height & waist measurement
- Blood pressure check
- Breast exam and review of breast self-exam
- Examination of the heart, lungs, thyroid gland, and abdomen
- If you are 21 or older, the exam includes a pelvic exam and Pap test.
What is a "pelvic exam"?
A pelvic examination includes:
- An examination of the external genitalia (labia, clitoris, vaginal opening)
- A speculum exam. The speculum helps hold the vaginal walls open so the examiner can visualize the vagina and cervix.
- A bimanual (two hands) exam to check the uterus and ovaries.
A pelvic exam is done to:
- Check the health of your vagina, cervix, uterus and ovaries.
- Screen for cervical cancer with a test called a Pap test (starting at age 21)
- Check for sexually transmitted infections (STI's)
For more information see Planned Parenthood
What is a Pap test?
- The Pap test is a screening test for signs of cervical cancer, or abnormal cells that have the potential to turn into cancer in the future.
- To do the test the clinician (physician, nurse practitioner or physician assistant) gently swabs a sample of cells from the cervix, places them in a liquid medium and then sends this to an outside laboratory for microscopic review.
- The clinician will notify you of your results and any necessary follow-up.
- A Pap test is recommended for most women every 2-3 years starting at age 21. Your provider will inform you if yours should be done at different intervals.
When should I have a pelvic exam?
The American College of Obstetrics & Gynecology recommends the first Pap test at age 21.
Besides routine checkups, you should have a pelvic exam if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Vaginal itching, irritation or pain
- Changes in normal vaginal discharge—such as a change in color, odor or amount
- Unusual vaginal bleeding during your period, bleeding between periods or bleeding during or after sex
- Pain with sexual activity
- Menstrual cramps that cause you to miss work or school
How do I schedule an exam?
- Call the SHC (585) 475-2255 or come in person to schedule a gyn examination.
- Let the scheduler know if you are making the appointment for a problem that requires an urgent or same day appointment (for ex. unusual vaginal bleeding, symptoms of a vaginal infection, pelvic or abdominal pain) or a "routine exam" (for ex. to discuss starting birth control or have a routine Pap test).
- The scheduler may ask some questions to help make sure your appointment is with the right clinician for the right amount of time. If you feel uncomfortable discussing details, you can say it is "personal".
- If scheduling a routine exam in person, you will be given a Women's Health History form to complete and bring with you to your appointment.
- If you schedule via phone, please come into the SHC 15 minutes prior to your appointment to complete the form.
- If you will be having a routine pelvic exam, schedule the exam for a day you will not be having your period.
- Know your personal health history—any medical conditions, surgeries, hospitalizations and allergies
- Know your family health history such as a history of breast, uterine or ovarian cancer or a history of stroke or blood clotting disorder.
- Know what medications and supplements you take regularly—the names and the doses
- Know the date of your most recent menstrual period (the first day it started), how long it lasted and whether it was a "normal" period for you.
- Write down any questions you have so you won't forget to ask them
- Don't have sexual intercourse, douche or use vaginal preparations for 24-48 hours before your exam. These can interfere with testing.
Is there a cost involved?
The gyn exam is covered by the Student Health Fee. There is a charge for tests sent to an outside laboratory (Pap test, some STI tests). You may opt to be billed directly or have the bill sent to your insurance company. Please bring your insurance card with you to your visit.
Questions? Call the SHC (585) 475-2255.
Also see: Planned Parenthood