Last updated on June 10, 2019
Women should start seeing an OB/Gyn yearly once they turn 18, or when they become sexually active. But have you ever wondered if there’s a cut-off age? When should you stop seeing an OB/Gyn?
In short, the answer is you shouldn’t stop seeing an OB/Gyn, but it’s important to understand what you should see them for as you age.
As a senior, your health needs are different than those of a younger woman. The above-60 crowd has different needs, desires, and concerns.
Read on to find out if you should schedule an OB/Gyn appointment as a senior.
Do Seniors Need to Visit an OB/Gyn?
Yes. As women, visits to the OB/Gyn are extremely important for keeping your body healthy and boosting your reproductive health.
OB/Gyns can help you get contraception, provide pelvic exams, STD testing, help you navigate issues with intimacy, help you regulate your menstrual cycle, assist with pregnancy and birth, and so much more.
But as you age, your needs and desires will change.
A woman at 22 is very different than a woman at 65. At these different life stages, your healthcare should reflect where you’re at.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) sections a woman’s life cycle into timeframes: teenage years, reproductive years, perimenopausal years, and over 65 years of age. This is precisely because each period requires different approaches.
How am I different as a senior?
Menopause leads to a huge amount of changes within the female body, often including:
- a drop in estrogen levels
- hot flashes
- vaginal dryness
- urinary leakage
The focus changes from your reproductive health to other issues, post-menopause. Your OB/Gyn can help you deal with painful intercourse, vaginal dryness, discomfort, and itching.
You’ll need to schedule an annual mammogram to protect against breast cancer.
You may also want to look into hormone replacement therapy to help with these symptoms. Procedures like The Monalisa Touch can help, too.
Do I need a pelvic exam?
The most common reason for an OB/Gyn visit is a woman’s annual pap smear. This essential test screens for cervical cancer. While it typically affects women ages 35-44, cervical cancer can still happen if you’re older than that. In fact:
Over 15% of new cervical cancer cases are diagnosed in women over 65 years old.
Harvard Women’s Health Watch states that you don’t need to get an annual pap smear once you reach 65, as long as you haven’t had pre-cancerous cells in the past.
While, yes, the chances of getting cervical cancer decrease with age, that doesn’t mean you should forget about other cancer risks:
- Breast Cancer
- Ovarian Cancer
- Uterine Cancer
All of these should be screened for by your OB/Gyn. The sooner you detect something, the easier it usually is to treat.
In other words, as a senior, you should still be visiting your OB/Gyn. This is especially true if you’re still sexually active and over 65. In that case, you should definitely be getting a pelvic exam at least once a year.