For a High Desert woman, her annual exam is an important part of her overall preventative health care plan. Most women in Apple Valley will visit their OB/GYN in order to have a pap smear performed and to talk with the doctor about any questions and concerns that they may have at the time.

However, not everyone understands the importance or significance of this exam. We at Reza Ahmadinia OBGYN have found that many women may want to know the answers to these questions, but don’t always feel comfortable asking them.

Why is the Annual Exam So Important?

This annual exam is the one time each year that your OBGYN can do a complete exam on you and discuss any underlying health issues that you may be experiencing. In addition, it gives your doctor the opportunity to check for abnormalities in the breasts.

A pap smear is performed in order to see if you have HPV or cervical cancer cells developing in your body. These are important exams, for they give you the best shot at early detection and treatment options. A pelvic exam will also be performed in order to check for lesions or other signs of disease.

Finally, you should take the time each year to have a short conversation with your doctor about any health questions or concerns you may have. This is your chance to connect with your OB/GYN.

If I've Had the Gardasil Vaccine, Do I Still Need a Pap Smear Each Year?

Yes, we recommend that all patients have a pap smear performed, even if they have had this vaccine. The Gardasil vaccine protects against four strains of HPV, but there are more than 100 strains out there.

How Can I Better Prepare Myself for the Doctor?

You don’t have to do anything special other than taking a shower before the exam. Try to avoid scheduling the exam during your period, and also avoid intercourse for 24 hours prior to the exam.

Why Does the Exam Hurt Sometimes?

While the pap smear and pelvic exam may be uncomfortable for most, it can be downright painful for others. Vaginal dryness, as well as anxiety about the exam, can contribute to this.

The doctor will use a lubricant in order to make it as comfortable as possible, and it’s important for you to keep breathing and relaxed during the exam. It will only last a few minutes, and the doctor will keep you informed about what you will feel throughout the entire process.

Women should feel confident and comfortable when they come in for their yearly exam with the OB/GYN. Remember that the doctor is a highly trained individual who has been in a variety of different situations. The doctor will not make you feel uncomfortable or self-conscious during the exam, and he will do his best in order to explain to you everything that is going on at the time.

Most importantly, it’s important that women remember that they can ask the doctor any question during their appointment. Asking questions can help women feel more comfortable about their body as well as their health care and can provide them with better understanding after the annual exam is complete.