How Often Should I Go to the Ob-Gyn? Here’s What Experts Say

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How Often Should I Go to the Ob-Gyn? Here’s What Experts Say

Another day, another reason to put off making that appointment. But for every reason you can think of not to go, there’s a better reason to book it, experts say. After all, the more time that lapses between visits, the more changes in your life occur. You may need to get that Pap test you’ve been putting off, reassess your thoughts regarding hormonal birth control and other forms of contraception, or have a general checkup with your doctor.

But how often should you actually be seeing your ob-gyn or your general health care provider to talk about your reproductive health-care options? That all depends on a few things.

How often should I go to the ob-gyn?

It’s good practice to make an annual visit to see either your ob-gyn or your general health-care practitioner for an exam, according to all the experts Allure spoke to for this story. However, you may not need a Pap test every year. “The annual exam needs to be really thought of as a health screening exam of both the breasts and the pelvis,” says Taraneh Shirazian, M.D., a board-certified ob-gyn and gynecological surgeon at NYU Langone Health. “You may not get a Pap smear at your annual; it depends on your history.” Dr. Shirazian explains that many only need a Pap test every three to five years, the exception being those who have HPV, for whom a yearly is still recommended.

As far as when these annual exams should start, Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Yale School of Medicine, says age 21, though she emphasizes the importance of STI [sexually transmitted infection] testing for those who are sexually active at any age, as well as contraception for anyone who isn’t trying to get pregnant. For those who aren’t using another form of birth control and aren’t in a mutually monogamous relationship, “the key thing is using condoms 100 percent of the time and, if having sex with different partners, you definitely want to be getting STD-checked or STI-checked at least once a year,” advises Dr. Minkin.

However, if you’re experiencing certain conditions, you may want to schedule a visit in between your annual exam. “There are many reasons why patients may see an ob-gyn more frequently, including uterine fibroids, ovarian cysts, infertility, pregnancy, irregular bleeding, breast concerns,” explains Leena S. Nathan, M.D., ob-gyn at UCLA Health Westlake Village in California. If this sounds like you, don’t wait until it’s time for your next yearly visit — make an appointment to see your ob-gyn or general health care provider.

What can I expect during a visit?

During a routine visit with your ob-gyn (or your general health-care provider), they’ll take a comprehensive history of your medical health. Dr. Nathan tells Allure that a breast and pelvic exam will be performed during a visit, as well as a Pap test, if deemed necessary. “After the history and examination, we counsel patients on any issues or needs they may have,” she says.

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