Menopause can be a cause for celebration in some ways, as many women look forward to stopping birth control and not worrying about accidental pregnancy anymore. But, it’s important to know that you still need women's wellness care, and in fact you may have new health needs during this time in your life.
Through well-woman exams at Trusted Women’s Health Center in Kendall and Miami, Florida, compassionate OB-GYN Sidiq Aldabbagh, MD, and our dedicated team provide gynecology tailored to your phase in life. In today’s blog, we cover how often to schedule well-woman exams during menopause, and also discuss what you can expect from the exams.
The general rule of thumb for well-woman exams is to schedule them once a year. That applies throughout your life, starting from age 13-15 and continuing through your childbearing years and menopause.
Well-woman exams are important at every age because our team adapts exams to your needs and stage in life. Some people think of well-woman exams as being focused only on reproduction — but in fact, well-woman exams are truly about the whole woman at Trusted Women’s Health Center.
Well-woman exams are an evaluation of your general health and wellness, with a special focus on your female organs. Your well-woman exam may include:
Did you know that pelvic exams aren’t necessary during many well-woman exams today? The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends pelvic exams only in certain situations. Mainly, if you have new symptoms that need investigation or if you have a specific medical issue in your history that requires monitoring.
So, only some of your menopause well-woman visits may require a pelvic exam. Our team discusses your needs and symptoms (if any) with you at each visit to determine whether you’d benefit from a pelvic exam.
A Pap test (smear) involves a quick collection of cells from your cervix (the opening to the uterus) to screen for cervical cancer. Our team recommends a Pap test schedule for you. In general, during menopause you can have a Pap test every three years or a combined Pap test and human papillomavirus (HPV) test every five years.
You should continue Pap tests until age 65, at which point you may be able to discontinue them based on your past results and our individualized recommendations. Of course, if you had a hysterectomy, you don’t have a cervix and won’t need a Pap test.
Mammograms — X-ray exams of your breast tissue to check for signs of breast cancer — are recommended starting at age 40. We will recommend a mammogram schedule for your particular situation, but in general most women need mammograms every one to two years throughout menopause.
You should continue regular mammograms until at least age 75, at which point we may recommend discontinuing them.
Your general health evaluation includes checking on your overall health and wellness, both physical and mental. We also recommend health screenings based on your age and individual needs. For example, as you lose estrogen during menopause, your bone density decreases, so we recommend osteoporosis screenings starting at age 65.
Your general health evaluation also includes recommendations for vaccinations, such as the shingles and pneumonia vaccine, based on your age and needs.
Beyond all these basics, your annual well-woman exams are a good time to discuss symptoms or concerns you have about menopause. For example, if you’re experiencing common menopause issues such as hot flashes and mood swings, we can help with treatment options like bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT).
Menopause can be a comfortable and enjoyable period in your life, and regular well-woman exams are the best way to achieve that. If you’re due for an annual exam, call our office or book an appointment online today.