- Many women don't know how often they should go to the gynaecologist
- The gynaecologist's office is a safe space where you can discuss any female health issues
- It's advisable to go at least once a year, even after menopause
Going to the gynaecologist can be an uncomfortable experience, and do you really need to go once a year
Women should make their first appointment once they become sexually active, or after they turn 21.
It's also important to see a gynaecologist if you're having menstruation problems, suffering from any vaginal issues, trying to get pregnant, or if you're showing signs of menopause.
How often should you go after that?
For a long time, women have been advised to go for a checkup once a year, especially for the pap smear that screens for cancer.
But in 2011, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists announced that asymptomatic women don't need to undergo these tests as regularly, and clinical trial data showed that pelvic exams didn't necessarily lead to early detection of ovarian cancer.
According to Harvard Health, while a pelvic exam and pap smear might not be needed so frequently, your visit to the gynaecologist involves much more than these two procedures.
Gynaecologists are trained to look for female-related health issues that a general doctor might miss, and it also offers women a chance to discuss any questions they might have about their sex life, contraception, diet, mental health, menopausal symptoms as well as being a safe space to talk about issues like abuse.
How often you see your "gynae" should be determined by your medical history, and what you might feel comfortable with. If you're trying to get pregnant, you might also want to see your gynaecologist more regularly.
How often should you go if you're pregnant?
Once it is confirmed that you're pregnant, you need to discuss a visit schedule with your gynaecologist, which will vary depending on certain risk factors and other possible complications.
For "normal" pregnancies, however, you should see your gynaecologist at least once a month until 28 weeks, twice a month until 36 weeks and weekly thereafter.
READ | First gynae visit guide
What if you're going through menopause?
Perimenopause is when you start transitioning into menopause, which can be picked up in your annual gynaecologist appointment. Menopause involves many changes in the body that might seem daunting, and your gynaecologist is best equipped to help guide you through it.
Menopause differs widely from person to person, so you might have to see your gynaecologist more often if you're experiencing severe symptoms or need to go on hormone therapy.
Should you go after menopause?
The answer is a definite yes, especially as your chances of cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis increase after menopause.
The gynaecologist's office remains a safe space where you can discuss any issues you might find too embarrassing to talk about with anyone else.
READ MORE | Early periods tied to worse menopause symptoms
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