DO YOU STILL NEED YOUR GYNECOLOGIST AFTER MENOPAUSE?

After menopause, women still need gynecological care. Annual exams, by a gynecologist, are key to avoiding and treating many health problems common in older women. Many women think going through menopause or having a hysterectomy gives them freedom to go without an annual exam. Some discover — often after they’ve developed problems — that they should have been going all along.

Women need gynecological care at every stage of life. After menopause, they should still see a doctor annually — and make sure the doctor gives them an annual pelvic exam. “I recommend that a woman see a physician once a year, whether she needs a Pap smear or not.,”

A woman might not need an annual Pap smear, but she still needs an exam to check the vagina, the bladder, the rectum, the external genitals — and, of course, the uterus and ovaries, if they haven’t been removed.

Cervical cancer is linked to the sexually transmitted human papilloma virus (HPV). There is no age limit to have cervical cancer. Many of my patients in their senior years remain sexually active, or start new sexual relationships after being widowed or divorced. But if it’s been awhile since they’ve had intercourse, they need to be aware of both sexually transmitted diseases and the changes in their body following menopause.

Women who have not had a hysterectomy or who have had only a partial hysterectomy — meaning they still have their ovaries — still need an annual pelvic exam.
While a Pap smear will screen for cervical cancer, ovarian cancer remains difficult to detect early. The symptoms — bloating, fullness, a change in bowel habits — are also common with other disorders, but should always be evaluated by a doctor.

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