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What is a gyno exam?

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A gyno exam is a shortened name for a gynecological examination. KidsHealth explains that this is an examination of the female reproductive organs that takes place regularly after the onset of puberty. A gyno exam screens for cancer and other emerging problems that interfere with reproductive health.

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According to WebMD, girls have their first gyno exam by age 15. It is a good idea for the patient's mother to go along for support and to answer questions about her health history. It is important for a girl going for her first gyno exam to know when her last menstrual period started, when the one before that started, and how long her periods generally last.

WebMD further explains that a first gyno exam usually only involves talking, a breast examination and an external examination of the vulva. An internal examination is only done during a first visit if the girl has been experiencing problems such as irregular or painful periods. The internal examinations typically begin after the teenager becomes sexually active or at age 21, whichever comes first. Subsequent gyno exams involve an internal examination, both by looking through a speculum and feeling internally for the size and location of the pelvic organs.

According to KidsHealth, a Pap smear is done as part of a gyno exam every three to five years. This is a test for cervical cancer. For this test, a small sample is taken from the cervix and sent to a lab for testing. The testing also sometimes includes screening for sexually transmitted diseases if the girl is sexually active.

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