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Well Woman Exams

Gynecologic Wellness Visit

Sometimes called a well-woman exam, a routine visit with an obstetrician-gynecologist (OB-GYN), provides an excellent opportunity for patients to take charge of their own health. At The University of Kansas Health System, your care team may recommend a routine visit to discuss preventive health screenings, minimize health risks and improve quality of life.

What is the purpose of a gynecologic wellness visit?

The gynecologic wellness visit is focused on preventive care, risk assessment and, depending on your phase of life, reproductive planning, perimenopause or menopause care. This is also a time to discuss reproductive health concerns you may have, although additional visits or labs may be required.

These visits are typically conducted once a year, but recommendations may vary based on your health situation. Usually, it's recommended that you schedule your first gynecologic-focused visit when you become sexually active or when you turn 21, whichever comes first. However, younger people with menstrual irregularities, pelvic pain or other reproductive concerns can benefit from a visit with an OB-GYN earlier.

Who will I see for a gynecologic wellness visit?

Many healthcare professionals can provide routine gynecologic care, including OB-GYN specialists, midwives, and family medicine and internal medicine physicians. The physicians at The University of Kansas Health System may partner with an advanced practice nurse practitioner to provide this important preventive care.

We offer a variety of appointment types. Learn more or call 913-588-1227 to schedule now.

What happens at a gynecologic wellness visit?

Each visit will look slightly different based on your age, medical history and current health concerns. However, it will always include a comprehensive history.

This includes information about your medications and allergies, how much you smoke, drink or use drugs, your diet and activity levels, and your medical, surgical, family, social and gynecologic history. You will also discuss your sexual and mental health.

The information you provide in this comprehensive history will help determine if certain parts of a physical exam, including a breast examination, pelvic examination or a Pap smear, are needed during your visit. You and your doctor will decide together whether these examinations are necessary. However, breast and pelvic exams are generally only done when indicated by medical history or symptoms.

Here’s more information about what may be covered during a gynecologic wellness visit:

  • Depending on your specific health situation, your OB/GYN specialist may recommend some of the following:

    • Breast health – Your doctor can manually examine your breasts for changes that could indicate breast cancer. A breast mammogram may be recommended, which can show abnormalities that can't be identified during a manual breast exam.
    • Bone health – Osteoporosis is a concern for many women. Discuss preventative measures to protect your bone health with your doctor.
    • Cancer screening – Discuss your family history and learn about genetic screening for cancer risk.
    • Health maintenance – Your doctor will use your vital signs and may recommend laboratory evaluation to screen for high blood pressure, diabetes and other chronic diseases.
    • Lifestyle – Discuss healthy eating, exercise and other lifestyle factors that can influence your overall health.
    • Vaccinations – Talk about what shots are recommended for you, and get vaccines for the flu, HPV and more.
  • Patients often report anxiety about the pelvic exam. You may not need a pelvic exam at every gynecology appointment, but if a pelvic exam is recommended, here is what to expect. You'll be asked to lie back on the exam table with your feet elevated. First, your doctor will look for any visual abnormalities on your vulva. Next, they may gently insert a speculum, a medical device used to separate the walls of the vagina so that the vagina and cervix can be examined. Finally, your doctor may check the shape and position of your reproductive organs by pressing down on your abdomen while inserting 1 or 2 fingers into your vagina. A pelvic exam can help your doctor identify problems and recommend treatment specific to your concerns.

  • The Pap smear is a screening test for cervical cancer and can be performed at the time of a pelvic exam if indicated by your medical history. A Pap smear involves collecting cells from the cervix, the narrow end of the uterus that can be seen at the top of the vagina. Early detection of cervical cancer with a Pap smear gives you the best chance at a cure. A Pap smear can also detect changes in the cells of the cervix that put you at greater risk of developing cancer in the future. Depending on your situation, your specialist may recommend doing Pap smears every 1, 3 or 5 years, usually until age 65.

  • You can talk about anxiety, depression, stress, changes in sex drive and other feelings that affect your quality of life. Your OB-GYN is a safe person to discuss concerns about your safety or about intimate partner violence.

  • A variety of topics fall under reproductive care. They include:

    • Birth control - If you’re trying to prevent pregnancy, talk to your clinician about the best method for you.
    • Menstrual concerns – Get help for painful or heavy periods; learn how to manage PMS symptoms.
    • Sexually transmitted infections – Discuss safe sex practices and get tested for STIs and HIV if needed.
    • Prepregnancy counseling – If you’re thinking about a future pregnancy, talk about ways to prepare for a healthy pregnancy.
    • Pregnancy care – Learn how to have a healthy pregnancy and safe delivery.
    • Infertility counseling – If you have been trying for pregnancy without success, your care team can begin an infertility evaluation.
    • Vulvar and vaginal concerns – Get help for yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, itching, irritation and abnormal discharge. You may be referred to one of our experts in vulvar and vaginal care.
    • Menopause care – Learn about the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause, including vaginal dryness, hot flashes and painful sex. Discuss options for managing these symptoms and the risks/benefits of hormone therapy.
    • Urinary incontinence – If you feel like you’re leaking urine or having frequency or urgency issues, bring this up with your doctor. You could also be referred to urogynecology and reconstructive pelvic surgery specialists for additional treatment.

What should I do to prepare for a gynecologic wellness visit?

To prepare for a visit with a gynecologic expert, write down any questions you have ahead of time so you can discuss your health concerns during your visit. A gynecologic wellness visit is a great place to start the discussion about health concerns you may have, but some problems may require additional visits to thoroughly work up. If an exam is recommended, there is no special preparation you need to do. It does not usually affect your exam or any testing whether you are menstruating or not at the time of your exam.

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