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I Made it Through Menopause — Should I Keep Up My Annual Gynecology Checkups?

I Made it Through Menopause — Should I Keep Up My Annual Gynecology Checkups?

Most women dread the thought of menopause; years of night sweats, mood swings, and vaginal dryness aren't something anyone looks forward to. However, when you finally get through the struggles of menopause, you may think you're in the clear for OB/GYN exams.

Although menopause marks a significant milestone, it doesn't mean you should slack on your health and necessary exams. You may still need to see your gynecologist yearly for essential health screenings.

Dr. Darin L. Weyhrich and our team provide obstetrics and gynecology services to women in Boise, Idaho. Dr. Weyhrich is a board-certified OB/GYN who specializes in menopause, gynecology, and other women’s health issues throughout life.

Signs you’ve made it through menopause

Menopause is the time in a woman’s life when she can no longer bear children. During this time, your hormones drastically change and fluctuate, leading to various uncomfortable symptoms, including:

The symptoms of menopause may start several years before you reach menopause, a time known as perimenopause. You don’t reach menopause until you've gone 12 consecutive months without a menstrual period.

We may also draw a blood sample to check your hormone levels to ensure you’ve made it through menopause – but the precise diagnosis comes from a lack of a period for over a year.

Why are annual gynecology exams important?

Yearly OB/GYN exams, including cancer screening and detection, are essential.

During a pelvic exam, Dr. Weyhrich evaluates several aspects of your health, including your vulva, or the external part of the vagina, the cervix, and your ovaries, through an internal manual exam.

The pelvic exam allows Dr. Weyhrich to detect abnormalities in your external or internal reproductive organs. If he finds anything unusual, he offers further testing.

Another essential reason for yearly pelvic exams is to check for breast lumps and cervical cancer. Although you should check for lumps monthly with a breast self-exam, Dr. Weyhrich looks closer to ensure you haven’t missed anything.

He also does a PAP smear to check for cervical cancer if you’re between the ages of 21 and 65 or if you have abnormal symptoms. Dr. Weyhrich may also do an HPV test if you’re at risk or have symptoms. These tests are necessary to find cancer early on when it’s treatable.

Do I still need an exam annually after menopause?

After menopause, you may think you no longer need a yearly OB/GYN visit, but that’s not true. It’s best to continue having a gynecology exam until Dr. Weyhrich determines you no longer need one.

Women should continue to have PAP tests and HPV screenings until the age of 65 to look for cervical cancer. After 65, you may be able to discontinue testing if you haven’t had any moderate to severe abnormal PAP results or you’ve had three consecutive negative PAP smears, two negative HPV tests, or two negative co-tests in a row within the last three to five years.

However, you still need to have an annual gynecology exam for several reasons, even after you’ve conquered menopause. Issues can arise years after menopause, including vaginal irritation from lower estrogen levels and incontinence.

Another problem that could happen after menopause is pelvic organ prolapse, when your uterus or bladder drops into your vaginal canal, causing various issues. It’s the result of weakening muscles and ligaments over time.

It’s essential to continue your yearly exams with Dr. Weyhrich even after menopause to prevent serious health problems and to keep your reproductive system healthy throughout your life.

If you need a gynecology exam, no matter your age, call our office today in Boise, Idaho, to schedule an appointment with Dr. Weyhrich or request a consultation on this website.

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