Most women dread that annual visit to their gynecologist, but resident physician Breanna Pond said that there is no reason to be afraid.
[gyno] Pond, a graduate from Michigan State’s College of Human Medicine, said that it is one of the most vital things a young woman can do for herself. “We test for STDs and cancer, and give consultations on pregnancy, contraception and any other concerns a woman might have,” Pond said.
The typical exam takes about 15 minutes and includes thyroid, breast and pelvic examinations, as well as a Pap smear. A Pap smear, or a Pap test, checks for changes in the cells of a woman’s cervix. The cervix is the lower part of the uterus that opens into the vagina and a Pap smear can detect infections, abnormal cells or cervical cancer. “Pap smears reduce the risk of cervical cancer astronomically,” said Pond. “It’s very important for women to come in.”
Pap smears are quick and easy, and only take a few minutes. The doctor first asks the patient to lie down on an exam table and put their feet in holders called stirrups. Next, the doctor inserts an instrument called a speculum into the vagina, opening the cervix to do the Pap test. The doctor will then use a special stick or brush to take a few cells from inside and around the cervix. These cells will later be placed on a glass slide and checked by a lab to make sure that theye are healthy and there is no sign of cervical cancer. A Pap smear does not test for STD’s.
Journalism senior Julia Seeley also said there is no need to be afraid of visiting the gynecologist. “I don’t think there’s any reason to be embarrassed,” said Seeley. “It’s all a necessary part of being a woman.”
Animal science senior Lauren Rebrovich agreed and said that women need to realize that going to their gynecologist is an extremely important thing to do for their health. Seeley said she thinks part of the reason many young women are uncomfortable going to the gynecologist is because people do not talk about it enough.
“I don’t think there’s enough education,” Seeley said. “It’s the most intimate situation many young women have ever been in with a doctor, but nobody talks to them about it before they go see them.”
Rebrovich said she felt uncomfortable before her first visit because no one had told her what to expect. “I didn’t know what they were going to do,” Rebrovich said. “It doesn’t scare me to go now because it’s easy and I’m in and out in 20 minutes.”
Seeley said it is a necessity to talk to your gynecologist and not be afraid to ask questions if you have any. “It’s important to be honest and express any discomforts or concerns you have to your doctor,” Seeley said. “They’re a friend and a resource.”
Pond suggests that women start going to the gynecologist when they turn 21 or within a year of having sex. She recommends going in once a year, but said that women can go up to three years between visits.
Pond said it is essential for women to always use protection during sex, monitor their periods and perform monthly breast exams, or BSE’s, on themselves. Breast self-exams are usually done by placing three fingers on the breast and making dime size circles around it. It is important to check the whole breast, including the armpit to the breastbone and the collarbone to the bra line because you are feeling for a firm lump or an area of thickening that is different from the rest of your breast.
“It’s best to do them while you’re in the shower just after your period ends,” Pond said. “Make it a routine.”
“I don’t do them, but I know I should,” Seeley said of self-examination. “It’s important to start sooner rather than later because women should become familiar and comfortable with their bodies.”
Pond said that annual visits and regular self-examinations are the best forms of preventive healthcare a woman can receive. Also, Seeley said women should know that a gynecology visit is really not as bad as many people make it out to be.
“No woman enjoys going to the gynecologist,” Seeley said. “However, if you’re educated about it and understand why it’s important, then some of the discomfort goes away and you end up making the experience a positive one.”
Students can make an appointment to meet with a gynecologist at Olin Health Center by calling (517)353-4660.

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