Most women who have annual gynecological exams do not consider it the highlight of their year. I bet there are plenty of women who would rather spend a whole day cleaning a cow barn than 10 minutes visiting the gynecologist.
Even if the best part of the experience is walking out the door, this is something women should make an unwavering commitment to do. Though it may seem to last an eternity, the pelvic exam is a brief part of the checkup, taking only a couple of minutes.
Two Minutes That Can Save Your Life
They are a couple of minutes that can protect your health, prevent infertility and even save your life. Cervical cancer, for instance, is curable if it is caught early, but can be deadly if it is not.
An annual exam with a Pap test greatly improves the chances of detecting cervical cancer early. The gynecologist will also look for signs of sexually transmitted diseases, some of which show no external symptoms, but can cause infertility if left untreated.
This also is a terrific opportunity to talk with your doctor or nurse about any health concerns: birth control, pregnancy, hormones, sexuality, etc. You may also find help or direction with personal problems that affect your health, such as drug or alcohol abuse.
Still Won’t Go?
Despite all the benefits, are you still unconvinced? Perhaps you are afraid the internal exam will hurt. It should not, and if it does, let the doctor know immediately. You may feel discomfort. But the more you learn about what is going on, and the more you have the exam, the less tension and discomfort you will feel.
Maybe you feel awkward and uncomfortable with the idea of lying naked and vulnerable on the table with your feet in the stirrups. Again, with knowledge and time, I promise it will get easier and easier. It helps if you have a provider you trust and see that person every year.
Finally, you may avoid the gynecologist because you are afraid she will find something wrong. This kind of fear is commonplace, but it is tough to beat because it defies logic. The truth is that having an exam every year raises the chances that if something does go wrong, it will be detected in the earliest stages, when most diseases can be treated successfully.
Talk About Your Fears
If you are still not persuaded, call the doctor’s office to set up a time to discuss your concerns. Just talking about it may ease your anxiety, and the doctor may make accommodations that make it easier for you to have that very important gynecological exam.