Gynecological exams are recommended for anyone with a uterus age 21 and older. The exam allows a healthcare provider to assess normal development of reproductive organs and screen for certain health problems. Exams are also an opportunity to talk to a clinician about any sexual health or reproductive concerns and to discuss general women's health care.
Staying healthy is important.
Whether you identify as straight, lesbian, bisexual, trans, questioning, etc., good gynecological care is an important part of overall health. Many University of Chicago students come to the SHS for their annual exams because:
- they want to take charge of their health
- they want to be sure they're healthy inside and out
- the exam is recommended (by the SHS, as well as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Cancer Society) for all women 21 years of age or older
- they have been having unusual symptoms or discomfort in the pelvic/reproductive organ area.
Pap smear screening guidelines
SHS follows the national Pap smear screening guidelines as outlined in 2009 by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). The national recommendations are:
- Birth control consultations and refills do not require a pap smear, however a yearly in-office consultation is needed.
- Anyone with a uterus should have their first cervical cancer screening (Pap smear) at age 21.
- Anyone with a uterus ages 21-29 will be screened every 3 years if they have not had a previously abnormal Pap smear result.
Preparation for Gynecology Appointments
Please adhere to the following guidelines:
- Do not put anything in your vagina 48 hours prior to your appointment. This includes douches, vaginal creams, intercourse, or tampons.
- Typically, a Pap smear will not be performed if you are bleeding or spotting. If you are menstruating, please reschedule your appointment.
The above recommendations prevent interference with the interpretation of the Pap results.
If Pap results are abnormal, the patient is contacted as soon as possible and may be asked to make an appointment to review the results. It is essential that patients provide SHS with a current address and phone number to ensure prompt communication.
What to do if you have concerns about your care?
Talk with your clinician or one of our nurses. They want to answer your questions, address your concerns, and help make you comfortable. We encourage you to discuss your experience with us.