Be prepared for your next visit to the gynecologist with this checklist:
Next: Dentist Checklist
Ask whether you're using the right form for you. For example, the pill might not be the best option if you smoke, are physically inactive, and are over 35.
- Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
Testing for STDs is not part of the Pap smear; ask your doctor which STDs (HIV, chlamydia, or gonorrhea, for example) you should be screened for.
You should get one annually, starting at age 40 (earlier if you have a family history of breast cancer).
- Pap Smear
Ask for the new ThinPrep test, which more accurately shows cell abnormalities. Your doctor takes the sample the usual way, then dips it into a solution that breaks down the mucus, blood and inflammation that can make it hard to see the cervical cells.
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
New guidelines suggest that if your results are inconclusively abnormal (called ASC-US), you should be tested for HPV strains that can cause cervical cancer.
Tell your doctor if you've had heavier or more-painful-than-usual periods, which may be a sign of fibroids.
- The Rest of the Exam
Your visit should include a pelvic and rectal exam to check for signs of vaginal infections, uterine fibroids, STDs or ovarian cysts.