Women – from teens to seniors – need an annual visit with their OB/GYN. Just as women’s healthcare needs change as they age, their annual OB/GYN exams change too. During your annual OB/GYN exam, you may have any number of GYN exam procedures that could include a Pap smear, breast examination, and blood tests. Your annual GYN exam plays a vital role in your overall well-being.


An OB/GYN is both an obstetrician (a doctor who specializes in pregnancy and childbirth) and a gynecologist (a doctor who specializes in a woman’s reproductive system). An annual OB/GYN exam is a necessary part of being a woman. This is your chance to be screened for cancer, STDs, and problems or infections with your reproductive organs, urinary tract, or breasts.

Here’s a breakdown of what to expect during your next annual visit with your OB/GYN based on your age:

The early years: Ages 15 to 21

We recommend that young women start having an annual visit with an OB/GYN around age 15. Some parents don’t think it is necessary to bring their daughter to the OB/GYN and some young girls are nervous about the visit. We think that these years are important for a young woman to get comfortable with an OB/GYN they can trust. At this age, the visit is usually more of a conversation about their overall health, birth control, and avoiding sexually transmitted diseases, than an exam. In most cases, a pelvic exam is not necessary.

Reproductive years: early 20s to mid 40s

Starting at this stage in life, the annual exam includes a pelvic exam and a breast exam. We will check for abnormalities, such as lumps or painful areas, uterine fibroids, and talk with you about any concern you might have (like benign but annoying conditions, such as UTIs, bacterial vaginosis, yeast infections, etc).

We will also check your blood pressure and body mass index (BMI), talk about nutrition, exercise, and weight management to help reduce your risk for Type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers down the line. The large number of patients in this age group are interested in or becoming pregnant.

During the visit we will talk about birth control, fertility options, preconception counseling, and what may work best for you, your lifestyle, and stage of life.

Perimenopause and menopause: mid 40s to 50s

The average age of menopause is 50 to 52. At this stage in life, many women are having irregular or heavy periods. Their hormones may be fluctuating, leading to typical menopause symptoms, such as night sweats, mood swings, and hot flashes.

This is also the age when most women need to start getting mammograms. The 2015 American Cancer Society (ACS) guidelines suggest that women start getting annual mammograms at age 45 instead of age 40. This change is controversial among doctors and patients. The American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) recommends that women start mammograms at age 40. Your Forest Hills OB/GYN will make a recommendation based on your specific circumstances, like family history, the age any of your close female relatives were diagnosed, etc.

Age 55 and onward

In this age range, women often encounter more issues with hormone changes. Vaginal dryness and decreased sexual desire often become problems, so we discuss the treatment for these issues, including counseling, if needed. As you age, your doctor may reduce your exams to every two years. But once a year is still the gold standard. You should prepare a list of any and all questions you have for your OB/GYN in advance. This helps you to be better prepared and more comfortable.

OB/GYN visits should start well before family planning and should not end after the reproductive years. It’s vital for women to pay attention to their health needs to promote wellness through all stages of life.

Before Your Visit

Try to schedule your annual OB/GYN exam between your menstrual cycles because menstruation can actually interfere with your exam or any tests that are conducted. Do not have intercourse or insert anything — douches, tampons, etc. — into your vagina for at least 24 hours prior to your visit. These activities and products may irritate your vaginal tissue and increase the likelihood of incorrect Pap smear or lab results.

Also, be aware of the dates of your menstruation because your doctor is sure to inquire about when your last period was and how long it lasted. He may also ask questions about your sexual activity and any previous pregnancies. These questions aren’t meant to make you feel uncomfortable or invade your privacy, but to provide you with the best care for your individual needs.

No Reason to Be Uncomfortable

The GYN exam procedure is nothing to be afraid of. During your pelvic exam, your doctor inspects your internal and external genitalia. Using the bathroom prior to your exam can make you more comfortable. Remember that any anxiety you experience is normal. But you can be confident that your Forest Hills OB/GYN will do everything he or she can to instill confidence and make you feel as comfortable as possible.

For this part of your exam, you lie back on the exam table with your knees apart. Relaxation is important. The more relaxed you are, the faster the exam can be completed. Typically, your pelvic exam takes just a few minutes.

The purpose of your breast exam is to check your breast tissue for any lumps or irregularities. Your doctor makes gentle motions on your breast that almost feel like a massage. This also only takes about a minute per breast. If you experience pain or discomfort during your breast exam, be sure to let your OB/GYN know immediately. Your doctor also provides instructions for you to conduct self-exams between your annual OB/GYN exams.

Too Important to Ignore

Despite warnings from medical professionals, some women dread their annual GYN exam but medical appointments are not just important when you are sick. Regular visits and check-ups enable your doctor to catch potential problems before you actually begin experiencing symptoms. Early detection drastically increases your chances of dealing with serious medical conditions successfully.

During a thorough examination and a conversation with your OB/GYN, your doctor may find early signs of conditions such as:

By relying on your trusted OB/GYN to recommend the best treatments for any conditions that come to light during your annual exam, you know that you are doing everything you can to maintain your health and well-being.

Forest Hills Medical Services is a comprehensive clinical practice. In our office we believe that how you are treated is just as important as the medical care we provide. We are dedicated to providing the highest quality obstetrics and gynecology with warmth and compassion. Our physicians are easy to talk to and our entire staff is friendly and attentive to your needs.

The best gynecologists in Queens who are part of the Forest Hills Medical Services team are renowned for their extensive skills in performing colposcopy, colposcopy biopsy and recommending the right course of treatment.

We will listen to all your concerns and together we will come up with the treatment plan that works for you and your unique circumstances.

Call FHMS to meet our staff in our state-of-the-art offices and be heard.

Gynecologists Dr. James Gohar (OBGYN Doctor), Dr Nithya Gopal and Maris Huffman, NP

Forest Hills Medical Services
108-16 63rd Rd
Forest Hills, NY 11375
☎ (718) 897-5331