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Annual gynecological exams are preventative visits to help women identify and treat changes in their body that could pose a threat to their health. By getting annual exams, women – from teens to seniors – can also learn to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Depending on your stage of life, Dr. Hanna will discuss topics that are meaningful to you.  

Ages 15-21

Dr. Hanna recommends young women have their first visit at around age 15 regardless of sexual activity. From ages 15 to 21, the annual visit is usually more of a conversation than an exam. A pelvic exam is not necessary unless there is a need to screen for sexually transmitted disease.  She will discuss periods, contraception, how to prevent sexually transmitted infections and HPV. She feels it is important to introduce young women to their gynecologist in a comforting and non-invasive manner. Then at age 21 when a young woman has their first pap test, there is no fear of the visit.

Ages 22-44

The annual exam at this stage of life includes a breast, abdominal exam and pelvic exam.   Dr. Hanna will review your family medical history, nutrition, exercise and weight to begin the discussion of preventing diabetes and heart disease. She will discuss topics related to each woman’s stage of life including contraception options, fertility options and preconception counseling.

Age 21-29, cervical cancer screening with pap testing is recommended every 3 years according to current guidelines from the American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG). If there are any abnormalities with your pap test, Dr. Hanna will determine when you should repeat testing.

Starting at age 30, it’s recommended that women begin testing for the human papillomavirus (HPV) along with their pap. There are over 100 different strains of the human papillomavirus. Some strains can cause cervical cancer, genital warts, and oral and neck cancer if left untreated. Under current ACOG guidelines, it is preferred to perform a pap and HPV every five years as long as the Pap test is normal and HPV is not present. If there are any abnormalities with the Pap test or HPV is present, Dr. Hanna will determine how often you will need to come back for testing.

ACOG recommends that women begin mammograms at age 40.  

Dr. Hanna will review your family history and determine if your breast cancer screening should begin earlier. If there’s a strong family history of breast cancer, the recommendation is to start mammograms roughly 10 years prior to the age the immediate relative had breast cancer.

Age 45-55- The menopause transition!

The average age of menopause in the United States is 52. At this stage in life, many women begin having irregular or heavy periods. Your hormones may be fluctuating.  You may begin to experience menopause symptoms such as night sweats, mood swings and hot flashes.

At your annual visit, we will discuss these issues and determine how to improve your quality of life.   We will also discuss colon cancer screening, your risk for osteoporosis, diabetes and heart disease.  If you are dating at mid-life, we will review sexually transmitted disease screening and prevention.

Age 55 and onward

At your annual visit, Dr. Hanna will continue to review your medical and family history and suggest disease prevention methods.   Pap and HPV testing for cervical cancer screening will continue in most women until age 65.

Genital symptoms of menopause (vaginal dryness, painful intercourse, urinary frequency/urgency) are very common in this age group. Lichen sclerosis, a disease that causes skin changes to the vulva with symptoms of itching and irritation is more frequent.

Dr. Hanna will closely examine your vulva to determine prevention and treatment of skin conditions common in this age group. If you are not having any symptoms, an internal pelvic exam is not necessary.

The content is meant for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Please seek the advice of your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Barbra S. Hanna, DO, FACOG, NCMP
1604 North Main Street  •  Wheaton, Illinois 60187  •  630-260-1818