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matter if a woman is single, married, straight, lesbian, bisexual,
sexually active, asexual, or abstinent, having an annual exam is an important part of health and well-being. During this
type of exam, a health care provider can check for abnormalities,
infections, discuss normal findings, explain symptoms or changes in the
body, and help educate about birth control and safe sex options that are
It is very normal to be nervous about your visit, particularly if you have never had an exam before. You may feel embarrassed to have a provider examine you, scared the exam will hurt, or you might be worried that something is wrong or you have a problem. Our goal is to give you information to help you be more prepared for the exam to hopefully ease any anxiety you might be feeling.
The type of annual exam you have is based upon your age. Student Health Services follows the 2012 guidelines endorsed by both the American Cancer Society, and the United States Preventative Services Task Force, when providing care to women. Pap testing (cervical cancer screening) is no longer routinely recommended for women under 21, nor is it recommended annually for women over 21.
- Women 20 years of age and younger, who have never had an abnormal Pap test:
Annual exam consists of a breast exam, general physical exam from the waist up, urine testing for chlamydia/gonorrhea, and blood testing for HIV and syphilis. A pelvic (gynecological) exam is only necessary if there are symptoms of vaginal discharge, abdominal pain, irregular vaginal bleeding, genital sores or bumps, or other reproductive system concerns.
- Women 21 and over who have never had an abnormal Pap test: Annual exam consists of a breast exam, general physical exam from the waist up, urine testing for chlamydia/gonorrhea, and blood testing for HIV and syphilis. Pap testing is performed every 3 years. A pelvic (gynecological) exam is only necessary when Pap testing is performed, or if there are symptoms of vaginal discharge, abdominal pain, irregular vaginal bleeding, genital sores or bumps, or other reproductive system concerns.
- Women currently being treated for, or followed, due to an abnormal Pap result:
Annual exams, as well as repeat Pap testing, will be at the recommendation of your health care provider.
Preparing for your annual appointment
Preparation for your appointment is very important to ensure an accurate exam and lab results. If you will need a pelvic (gynecological) exam and/or Pap testing, do not have sexual intercourse, use vaginal creams, douches, or tampons for 24 hours prior to your appointment. If your period begins or you are experiencing vaginal bleeding on the day of your appointment, you should reschedule.
Do not urinate for at least 1 hour prior to your appointment to enable an accurate urine sample to be collected.
It is important for you to understand what type of exam you are having, and what tests are being performed. Make sure to ask your nurse or provider any questions about your care that you may feel unsure about, and be sure to mention any symptoms you are having, any problems, or any concerns related to your health. Our goal is for you to have a positive experience, but also to learn about your own personal health care.
***If you have never been on birth control but would like for a SHS provider to prescribe it for you, you must also view the Health Issues Class presentation prior to your appointment and submit your name/Banner ID at the end of the presentation. This is a one time only requirement, and viewing it is not necessary if you have been on birth control in the past.***
Have a general question about Pap tests or gynecological exams? Feel free to ask! E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want more information about the Pap test? Check out this fact sheet with frequently asked questions.