Well Woman Exams
Annual wellness exams provide women with an excellent opportunity to take charge of their own health. Routine visits with one of our medical providers can help diagnose a problem early or prevent problems before they occur.
What is a well woman exam?
Well women exams typically include:
- Discussion of age relevant topics and risk factors
- Physical exam and screening tests
- Counseling/discussion of clinical recommendations for ongoing care
- Referral service for follow-up care or specialist care as needed
Who can have a well woman exam?
Usually, it's recommended that you schedule your first well woman exam when you become sexually active or when you turn 21. However, younger women with menstrual irregularities, pelvic pain or other conditions can benefit from a well woman exam.
Your well woman exam is your time to discuss any health concerns you may have. Well women exams are about your whole-body health, including your emotional health as well as your physical and reproductive health.
What does a well woman exam diagnose?
A well woman exam is customized to the individual, so not every exam will follow the exact same formula. The most common aspects of a well woman exam include:
- A physical evaluation to assess your overall health
- A breast exam and/or mammogram to screen for breast cancer
- A pelvic exam and/or Pap smear to check your gynecological health and screen for cervical cancer
Based on your specific concerns or questions, your doctor may recommend additional testing or exams as well.
What are the risks of a well woman exam?
There are no risks associated with an annual wellness exam, and the benefits of identifying any health concerns early are significant.
Before your well woman exam
Your doctor may give you special instructions before your well woman exam, depending on which exams or tests you need. For example, if you're getting a Pap smear, then it's recommended to abstain from intercourse for 48 hours beforehand.
Before your exam, it's also a good idea to write down any questions you have ahead of time so you have a chance to discuss all your health concerns with your doctor during your visit.
What to expect during your well woman exam?
A well woman exam usually begins just like any other visit to the doctor. Your healthcare provider will ask you questions about your medical history and any symptoms you've noticed. You may also need to answer questions about your menstrual cycle, sexual history and pregnancy history.
Typically, well women exams include 4 aspects:
During the physical exam, your doctor will check your overall health, such as listening to your heart and lungs, measuring reflexes and checking your vital signs. In some cases, your doctor may also want a urine sample or blood test.
Your doctor can manually check your breasts for lumps that could indicate breast cancer. Additionally, you may need a breast mammogram as part of your well woman exam, which can show abnormalities that can't be identified during a manual breast exam.
During the pelvic exam, you'll be asked to lie back on the exam table with your feet elevated. First, your doctor will look for any visual abnormalities in your vulva and vagina. Next, they will check the shape and position of your reproductive organs by pressing down on your abdomen while inserting fingers into your vagina. A pelvic exam can help your doctor identify the presence of cysts, uterine fibroids or other irregularities.
Recovery and results for your well woman exam
You should be able to return to your normal daily routine immediately after your well woman exam. If you had specific tests done during your exam, your doctor will contact you with the results as soon as they're available and let you know about any next steps you need to take.
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