Have you had your well-woman exam this year? If not, now’s the time to schedule your next appointment with your gynecologist.

No matter your age, taking care of your health is important — and your health needs change as you move through life. It’s easy to take your health for granted when you’re feeling good, but routine checkups are the best way to ensure you keep feeling that way.

Samuel D. Van Kirk, MD, and our team specialize in comprehensive gynecology care. If you’re wondering whether scheduling yet another doctor’s appointment is really worthwhile, here’s why every woman should have a gynecologist.

Preventive care is the best medicine

You’ve heard the old saying that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and it’s true. The best way to protect your health is by getting regular screenings and checkups.

Annual well-woman exams are the best way to identify potential health issues before they advance. Many common gynecologic conditions don’t have noticeable symptoms at first — sexually-transmitted diseases, cervical cancer, and more can be detected only with routine gynecologic care.

Along with your annual exams, schedule an appointment any time you have concerns about your health. Abdominal pain, abnormal vaginal bleeding, and chronic pelvic pain are common symptoms that shouldn’t be ignored, and your gynecologist can help you understand what’s wrong.

Your gynecologist partners with you throughout life

Having a gynecologist means having a doctor who partners with you as your health needs change. Young women in their teens and 20s have different reproductive health care needs than women transitioning to menopause.

Your well-woman exams evolve based on your lifestyle, age, and goals in life. Dr. Van Kirk and our team work with you to ensure you’re enjoying your best possible health at every age.

Teen years

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that girls have their first gynecologist visit around age 15. At this first visit, the doctor performs a general physical and focuses on education.

Dr. Van Kirk offers human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccinations for children between the ages of 9-14.

Establishing gynecology care early on helps build trust between the patient and the doctor. It’s particularly important for teenagers who are sexually active or who have abnormal menstrual symptoms like heavy periods or severe menstrual cramps.

Reproductive years

Once you’re sexually active or when you turn 21, you have your first internal pelvic exam. Your gynecologist educates you about family planning and contraceptive care, so you can choose how and when you want to start your family.

Dr. Van Kirk and our team provide prenatal care for pregnant women, including high-risk obstetrics. Maintaining a relationship with your gynecologist throughout your pregnancy helps you maintain your health and your baby’s.

Whether or not you want to have children, gynecology care during your reproductive years is crucial. We also manage gynecologic concerns including endometriosis, ovarian cysts, and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

Menopause and beyond

On average, menopause starts between the ages of 45-55. It begins when your menstrual periods end, and it brings with it a new stage of health care.

Menopausal symptoms, like hot flashes and mood swings, can disrupt your quality of life, but your gynecologist can help you find ways to manage those symptoms. Dr. Van Kirk specializes in bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) to reduce the symptoms of menopause.

If you’re done having children or you have a serious reproductive health condition like cancer, Dr. Van Kirk may recommend a hysterectomy. Hysterectomy is a customizable surgical procedure to remove your uterus, and it could be an option to avoid health complications.

Your health is your greatest asset, and your gynecologist partners with you throughout your life. Learn more about our gynecology services with a consultation. Contact our Redding, California, office by phone or online today.

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