It is advisable to have regular gynaecological check-ups. Preventive medicine through simple and harmless examinations and tests.
A routine visit to the gynecologist is a common practice among most women, they realise that it is a good habit. But why is it so important? Because luckily, some of the gynecological organs are easily accessible, and we can carry out tests such as cytology that allows us to diagnose precancerous injuries on the cervix, or a mammogram that has proven to be a tremendously useful radiological test to diagnose breast cancer early. Both have a significant and very positive impact on the health of women who are checked regularly.
On the other hand, a gynaecological check-up is useful for assessing the patient's health condition, to discuss the different contraception alternatives with her, if necessary, or to promote healthy behaviour and avoid toxic habits. In any context, but especially when pregnancy is being planned, to raise awareness among young women about the prevention of unplanned pregnancies or sexually transmitted diseases.
There is some controversy about the frequency of these visits and the age from which the first visit should be made. In my opinion and that of most scientific societies, they should be done every year from the age at which sexual relations begin, and in its absence, from the age of 25.
- In a small interview with the gynaecologistwho will consider any personal and health history, frequency and intensity of menstrual cycles, you will be able to discuss aspects related to birth control or, on the other hand, the correct approach to becoming pregnant, as the case may be.
- Mammary exploration, during which mammary pathologies can be identified and to teach to the patient how to do a breast self-exam, and according to the patient's age, request complementary tests such as a mammogram or breast ultrasound. Each of them has an indication, and are complementary and not mutually exclusive.
- A mammogram is the test par excellence for the early diagnosis of breast cancer, but it has its limitations, as in younger women there is more presence of abundant fibrous material, which is specific to age, making it difficult to interpret the images, so it is often supplemented with a breast ultrasound, which is also indicated as the first option in very young women for the control of common benign pathologies such as breast cysts or fibroadenomas. The frequency with which it is necessary to carry it out is also variable according to the sources consulted, annually or biannually is the general rule, starting from 40-50 years old.
- A cervicovaginal smear test is another test that is done routinely during a gynaecological check-up. It consists of brushing one of the external areas of the opening to the womb and inside endocervical canal, which are easily accessed with a small appliance called a speculoscope, which separates the vaginal walls. It is a discreet, slightly uncomfortable procedure, but not painful or traumatic, that permits the obtention of a sample of cells from the cervix that are then sent to a laboratory to be reviewed by an expert technician, who will identify any precancerous changes and inform on any recommendable control or treatment in order to avoid developing cancer.
- A bimanual exam also forms part of the gynaecological examination: the gynaecologist, through double vagina and abdominal palpation, is able to assess the size of the uterus and ovaries, that in certain pathologies can become enlarged.
- The practice of transvaginal ultrasound is increasingly forming part of a routine gynaecological examination. We have to consider it as optional, but the fact that it is an innocuous, easy to perform test and of major informative value, which is increasingly used to assess the morphology of the uterus, the endometrium and the ovaries, according to data obtained during the medical investigation or exploration events, and even in cases of absolute normality according to the age of the patient.
- Similarly, in many cases a visit to the gynaecologist is the only health check that a patient has on a regular basis, which consequently, if appropriate according to the age or history, can also be used to have a blood test to assess the normality of parameters such as glucose, cholesterol… or a bone densitometry if the patient doesn't regularly visit the doctor.
On this note we would like to encourage all women to make a regular visit to the gynaecologist as "prevention is always better than cure."
Dr. Natalia García Montaner - Specialist in Obstetrics and Gynaecology - Advance Medical Collaborating doctor