Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"At what age should I start getting annual OB/GYN exams?"
Hi. I'm 22 and have never been to an OB/GYN. My roommate thinks this is crazy. Is it time to start going?
I am really glad you asked this question, because it is really relevant to many people out there. The main purpose behind getting annual GYN exams to get annual PAP smears done, screens for STDs, and annual breast exams. Of these, we only have formal recommendations about the PAP smears. You are supposed to start getting these done at age 21, or 3 years after your first sexual encounter, which ever comes first. So at the age of 22, regardless if you have been sexually active, you should start getting yearly PAP tests. While you are there, you can get the gonorrhea and chlamydia tests done along with a physician breast exam. The good news is that you can have these tests done with either an OBGYN, or a primary care physician. If you already have a family doctor, you can schedule an appointment with him or her to have this exam done. If you do not have a primary care physician, then you can choose which of these two types of physicians you would like to see. It is important to get this done because the PAP smear has been shown to really help prevent cervical cancer. Good luck, and thank you for the question.