Your OB/GYN knows you. They understand your health needs, your concerns and your medical history. And, if you’ve been through a pregnancy and birth with your OB/GYN, they know your family, too.
You rely on your OB/GYN for your reproductive care, including your annual exams and if applicable, your birth control prescription. So why not trust your OB/GYN with your other healthcare needs?
There’s no reason why your OB/GYN can’t be your primary care provider — after all, their specialty is women’s health.
YOUR ANNUAL EXAMS
Primary Care Provider
Each year, it’s important that you have a complete physical exam and a gynecologic exam.
A standard gynecologic exam will include a pelvic exam and if necessary, a Pap smear. Note that while a general practitioner can perform a routine Pap smear, if the results are irregular and require additional testing or review, the practitioner would need to refer the patient to an OB/GYN. We can take care of all of your health needs at Women’s Healthcare of Morgantown from start to finish.
It’s also your opportunity to discuss:
- Birth control options
- Fertility and pregnancy
- Cancer prevention
- Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
Gynecologic exams typically begin at age 18 or when a woman starts being sexually active. There is an advantage to seeing an OB/GYN at a younger age — teens are more likely to open up about sexual activity to a doctor if they know the visit is confidential, allowing them to get the information they need about preventing pregnancy and STIs. It also helps build a relationship with the OB/GYN, making it easier to ask uncomfortable questions and request advice.
The visit is protected by privacy laws, so it’s encouraged that young women be completely honest with their doctor. Honest information is the only way the OB/GYN can provide complete care and address all issues.
At Women’s Healthcare of Morgantown, we routinely perform physical exams for personal reasons, school and college, sports, camps and employment.
Your annual physical exam will assess your overall health — family medical history, vital signs, respiratory health, etc. You may also have blood work done to check for anemia, diabetes, cholesterol levels and other conditions that need to be treated early. It’s important to note that you absolutely can see a different doctor for your physical exam — and some people do. However, you can ask your OB/GYN if they’re comfortable performing your physical exam at the same time as your gynecologic exam. One appointment, one doctor and a full health screening.
We recommend letting your OB/GYN know if they are the only doctor you see on a regular basis. This will let them know if they should refer you to a specialist if an issue should arise, for example, showing symptoms and signs of diabetes.
The are several benefits of seeing your OB/GYN for both appointments. It’s convenient, and it allows you to be screened for multiple things at once — for example, if you are having blood drawn to test for cholesterol, it can also be tested for STIs.
OTHER WAYS YOUR OB/GYN CAN HELP
You can actually get some vaccinations at your OB/GYN’s office — like the flu shot, TDAP vaccine and the HPV vaccines. Your OB/GYN can also help you get on the right track if your cholesterol is high, giving you basic dietary guidelines to follow. Although, you’ll likely get a referral to a specialist if a specific issue arises during your appointment.
Our physicians are also able to see you for acute conditions including sinusitis, ear infections, sore throat, headache, tendonitis, skin rashes and more.
SEEING OTHER SPECIALISTS
So, if you’re seeing your OB/GYN every year for a gynecologic and a physical exam, do you need to see any other specialists? If you’re healthy and don’t have a history of any major health issues, it’s unlikely.
We do think it’s important to get routine skin checks to check for irregular moles; however, this can be done at your annual exam. If something abnormal is found, you’ll be referred to a dermatologist for a biopsy.
If you have a diagnosed condition such as asthma or diabetes, Women’s Healthcare of Morgantown can help you with the management of your condition. We also help patients manage:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- High cholesterol
- Chronic lung disease
If your physician thinks the condition is worsening or needs more intense monitoring, you may be referred to a specialist.
PREPARING FOR YOUR VISIT
There’s not much you need to do to prepare for your visit. If you know you’re getting a Pap smear, and your period starts, we recommend rescheduling your appointment. The procedure is generally more uncomfortable on your period, and the blood can affect the results of the Pap smear, which we don’t want to happen.
As you think of questions that you need to ask your doctor, we encourage you to write them down — or keep a note in your phone. That way, you won’t forget to ask anything, and you’ll get the answers you need.
We also suggest keeping track of the day each period starts and stops — your doctor will ask for the date of your last period, but getting in the habit of tracking them can help your doctor identify potential issues. For example, if your periods are further apart than normal, it may be a symptom of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) — or it may be nothing. Having this information can help your doctor ensure you are completely healthy.
FINDING A PRIMARY CARE PHYSICIAN IN MORGANTOWN
If you’ve just moved to a new town for college or work, finding a new doctor can feel frustrating. We find that many students wait to visit home to see their primary care physician or OB/GYN — but this can be problematic if an issue needs attention. You need a doctor in your area, so that you can get the care you need, when you need it.
At Women’s Healthcare of Morgantown, many of our patients are college students. We find that our patients enjoy the confidentiality of seeing a different doctor from their parents. You can even use your parent’s insurance, and they won’t find out what your visit was for.
We see many young women who want to start birth control in college for various reasons — predictable periods, pregnancy prevention and even to help with mild acne. It’s also the time that you’ll need to start having an annual exam, whether you’re sexually active or not. (Note that your first exam isn’t always internal and may not always require a Pap smear.)
How Women’s Healthcare of Morgantown Can Help
Women’s Healthcare of Morgantown is a convenient option — our office is accessible on the Mountain Line, Morgantown’s local bus service. You’d simply take the bus to the Suncrest Towne Center. With so many great restaurants and shops, you can take time to relax after your appointment.
We’re also flexible with your class schedule, and we understand that if you only have two hours between classes, you need your appointment to start on time. We’re prompt with our appointment times and don’t keep you waiting.
If you’re unsure about what to expect at your annual gynecologic exam, you can download our free ebook below. It will tell you what to expect and what questions your should ask your caregiver.
Ready to make an appointment? Give us a call: 304.599.6353.