6 Things You Should Know About Your Annual Gyno Visit

Illustrated by Jasmin Valcourt.
By Chelsey Delaney

If someone asked me a month ago what a “well-woman visit” is, I would have posited that it’s the magical time of year when you visit your gynecologist and he or she pokes around in your vagina. (Then, I would have followed with the story of the time my gynecologist joked that she couldn’t find my cervix and that it probably fell out somewhere. Gullible was written all over my uterus that day.)

Unfortunately, my explanation wouldn’t have been completely accurate. In fact, for many women, the poking I’m referring to — the pap smear — isn’t required annually. For a woman like me, in the age range of 21 to 29, Paps are recommended every three years as long as there are no other factors that make more frequent Paps necessary. Also, you don’t have to see a gynecologist for a well-woman visit — you can see your primary care doctor, nurse practitioner, etc.

So, what is a well-woman visit? Well, woman, it depends. Here are six basics you should know: