Do I really need an annual GYN exam
Don’t let price get in the way of your healthcare screening.
Women benefit from having access to both a primary care physician and a gynecologist (GYN). From pregnancy, infertility, and menstruation issues, to menopause, endometriosis, mammograms, and more, an annual GYN exam can help you address health and wellness issues as your body changes.
Complications from untreated reproductive health issues can lead to serious health problems, even death. The World Health Organization (WHO) lists the 10 top issues for women that contribute to health risks, from unsafe or unprotected sex, to chronic diseases, mental health concerns, and even violence.
Not all reproductive health issues have obvious symptoms, especially in the early, treatable stages. We’ve all heard stories about friends or family members with advanced ovarian or breast cancer cases with tragic outcomes because the disease was discovered too late. How you safeguard your reproductive health is vitally important to your overall health.
What are the guidelines?
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) promotes a yearly GYN exam for prevention and care once you are sexually active. The ACOG also recommends girls have their first visit with a gynecologist between the ages of 13 and 15 (or when a gynecological problem first appears).
Even if you’re not sexually active, your yearly GYN exam isn’t just about getting a Pap smear.
Your annual women’s exam is an opportunity for your doctor to uncover emerging problems like diabetes, thyroid problems, and high blood pressure. Your GYN can help you with contraception options, screen for infections, and check your breast health and bone density to keep you healthy and strong as you get older.
Do I really need a mammogram?
Mammograms are considered the best screening for breast cancer for those with an average risk of the disease. They can spot signs of early breast cancer to help improve your chances of surviving the disease before it can spread.
A mammogram is an image of your breasts used to screen for breast cancer. Your breasts are pressed between two firm surfaces to spread the breast tissue for a better image during a mammogram.
The American Cancer Society recommends women start yearly screening mammograms once they’re 45 (with some choosing to begin screening at 40, depending on patient and family history).
The Affordable Care Act requires health plans to cover the full price of a screening mammogram every one or two years for women over 40. For older patients, Medicare and Medicaid also cover mammograms.
Can I get a mammogram without a referral from my doctor?
The answer depends on where you live and access healthcare, as some states allow this, while others don’t.
Every major U.S. medical organization recommends meeting with your doctor to discuss the best time for you to get a mammogram, depending on what’s right for your specific situation.
During a well-woman visit, patients can discuss issues and concerns with their healthcare practitioner and get Pap smears, mammograms, and other appropriate reproductive healthcare screenings, depending on age, family history, and health status.
Talking to your healthcare practitioner is the best way to decide what you need based on your situation, medical history, family history, and individual breast cancer risk.
How can I get a mammogram?
Women can get high-quality mammograms in breast clinics, hospital radiology departments, mobile vans, private radiology offices, and doctors’ offices.
The average cost for a mammogram screening varies from $100 to $250 or more. If you need a diagnostic mammogram as a follow-up to a suspicious annual screening, it can be even more expensive, depending on what your healthcare practitioner orders.
However, if you aren’t insured or don’t meet the criteria for coverage, that doesn’t mean you have to skip mammograms or your annual women’s exam.
You still have options if you are currently uninsured or your health insurance doesn’t cover the cost of a mammogram or gynecological exam.
You can find information about free or low-cost mammography screening programs from the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Information Service at 1–800–4–CANCER (1–800–422–6237). Local hospitals, health departments, women’s centers, or other community groups in your area usually offer free or significantly reduced mammograms.
How can I save money on my annual women’s exam and mammogram?
Even with insurance, out-of-pocket costs can sink a budget fast, especially if you can’t compare the costs of annual GYN exams and mammograms in an easy, upfront way.
The price tag shouldn’t stop you from having a mammogram or annual reproductive health GYN exam. There are resources to help you find affordable women’s healthcare.
Whether you have insurance or not, LASO Health can help you find the healthcare professional you need who’s closest to you at the best price for your budget.
Whether you need to book an appointment for an issue right away or are looking for a doctor to have that all-important talk about your reproductive health, try the free LASO app to see healthcare service prices in your area before you step into the doctor’s office.
The featured image is of a woman receiving her annual GYN exam. Image courtesy of LASO Health.