Four reasons not to miss your annual gynecological exam

From important health screenings to beneficial health-related conversations and more, women should prioritize their annual appointments to the gynecologist. Below, gynecologist Ena Marsan, DO, MPH at Bergen Medical Associates, explains why:

Dr. Ena Marsan

Ena Marsan, DO, MPH, a member of the gynecological team at Bergen Medical Associates, which has six offices throughout Bergen County.

  1. Important Screenings Occur at Gynecological Visits — “Among other exams, pap smears help detect the possibility of cervical cancer and are conducted during the annual visit beginning at age 21,” Dr. Marsan said. “Pap smears are performed every three to five years for patients of average risk; if there are abnormalities with the pap smear results, frequency to repeat the pap will increase. Additionally, we start screening for human papillomavirus (HPV) for women at the age of 30. Abnormal cells on the cervix can be caused by the presence of high-risk strains of HPV, which can lead to cervical, anal/rectal, and head/neck carcinoma; for this reason, HPV screening is an important test to have, and it coincides with the timing of pap smears,” she said. “During the visit, we also perform basic breast exams, and can provide referrals for annual mammograms as well as bone density scans, which screen for osteoporosis in menopausal women.”
  2. Important Conversations Occur at Gynecological Visits — According to Dr. Marsan, “Annual visits to the gynecologist provide the platform for an open and honest dialogue between patients and physicians as well as the opportunity for women to ask questions about their overall gynecological health and ways to remain proactive in terms of prevention.” In addition to discussing the importance of pap smears and HPV testing, topics covered during an annual visit can also address any specific conditions a woman might be experiencing and/or answer questions she may have about menstruation, menopause/perimenopause, hormone therapy, contraception, pregnancy/reproductive plans, infertility and more.Bergen County.
  3. Gynecological Visits Can Connect Women to Other Important Screenings — In addition to pap smears and HPV testing, gynecologists can provide referrals to primary care physicians for other critical non-gynecological screenings, such as those for cholesterol, weight management, diabetes and colon cancer. “Overall, these visits help establish comfortable, friendly and judgment-free exchanges to help ensure a woman’s gynecological health and safety as well as her connection to other beneficial health care screenings that could lead to an important finding,” Dr. Marsan said.
  4. Annual Gynecological Visits Create Strong Physician-Patient Relationships — Studies show that women tend to forge strong bonds with their gynecologist, often staying with them for years, following them to other medical practices, etc. For that reason, women can benefit from initiating a relationship with a gynecologist as soon as they’re of appropriate age. “In concert with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), we usually recommend annual visits to start by age 21; however, gynecologists are willing to see young women as early as they’re comfortable being inside of the office,” said Dr. Marsan, who noted that not all of the “annual visit” necessarily involves a physical exam. “Sometimes patients have questions, and what better source of information than your own gynecologist?” she said. Ultimately, “We want teens and other young adults to be having these conversations with a physician rather than having them on social media or with their friends and to establish a baseline foundation for a trusting, long-term relationship with their gynecologist.”

A Positive and Safe Experience

Though some women are fearful of or apprehensive about seeing their gynecologist for an annual visit, Dr. Marsan said that Bergen Medical Associates ensures a comfortable, positive and productive experience. “We’re extremely welcoming, and thanks to our many specialties in-house, Bergen Medical Associates makes visits and any necessary follow-ups convenient for patients; we truly make it happen!” she said.

“I love to help patients address their needs in a timely fashion and dispel any fears or misconceptions about annual gynecological visits,” Dr. Marsan confirmed. “We can help women take charge of their health and stay on track!”

Bergen Medical Associates has six convenient offices throughout northern Jersey (located in Emerson, Paramus (2), Ridgewood, Northvale and Montvale). For more information or to make an appointment, visit bergenmed.com or call 201-967-8221.