Annual Exam

What is an Annual Exam?

An annual exam is an important yearly check-up to make sure that your body is in good health! You may have also heard annual exams called gynecological exams, pelvic exams or well woman exams. If you have a vulva, breasts or a uterus, this yearly exam is an important part of taking care of your health (no matter what your gender identity is). During an annual exam, a doctor or nurse will check your blood pressure, heart rate, and weight. Additionally, they may perform a physical exam, which includes checking your breasts and abdomen for any abnormalities. Depending on your age and risk factors, the doctor may also perform a pelvic exam, during which they will use a speculum to check the inside of your vagina and cervix. They may also take a Pap smear to check for abnormal cells on your cervix that could lead to cancer. If you are sexually active, your doctor or nurse will talk to you about birth control options or STI testing.

When should I get my annual exam?

It's a good idea to have your first annual exam around the age of 13-15. A pelvic exam is usually not part of this visit. At this age, you may talk about your period, birth control, STIs and safe sex practices if you are sexually active or thinking of becoming sexually active. It's just a great opportunity to check in on your health and ask questions!

During a wellness visit, you get some specific cancer-related tests and exams. The type of tests and exams depend on your age, medical history, and when you had your last test:

Ages 21 to 24: You may choose to start getting Pap tests at this age if you want
Ages 25 to 65: HPV test (or a Pap and HPV test together) every 5 years
Ages 25 to 39: Clinical breast exam every 1 to 3 years
Ages 40 to 50: Clinical breast exam every year and start getting a mammogram every 1 to 2 years.

Do nonbinary or transgender persons need annual exams?

The answer is yes!
If you have a vulva, breasts or a uterus, a yearly exam is an important part of taking care of your health (no matter what your gender identity is).

Your provider will use a gender affirming approach to your exam, including asking your name and pronouns and what terminology you would like to refer to your body parts. You can even have a support person in the room with you!

What to expect at your
first GYNO visit!

What to Expect During a Wellness Exam | Planned Parenthood Video

We know that an annual exam can feel kind of scary, embarrassing, or uncomfortable,
but our Title X providers will walk you through it every step of the way. Your health matters to you and it matters to us.