Get Your Well-Woman Visit Every Year
A woman’s health is never best left to chance. Scheduling an annual well-woman exam is an important health decision a woman can make, and while many women think of the appointment as a time to focus only on gynecological services, a well-woman exam actually involves much more than a breast exam and pap smear. When you schedule your yearly physical, expect a a comprehensive appointment that includes:
- General physical exam and lab work
- Breast exam
- Pelvic exam (pap smear)
- Updates of life and work situations impacting stress levels
- Update of family health history
- Review of your health history
- Update of current medications, herbs, and supplements
- Discussion of any troubling symptoms
- Evaluation of age/lifestyle-related screenings such as mammogram, tests for sexually transmitted diseases, and colon cancer screening
- Schedule needed immunizations
During the visit, your doctor will discuss your health and lifestyle. It’s a good idea to come to the exam with a list of questions or concerns you have. Jot them down beforehand so you use your time with the doctor to your best advantage. Many patients leave the exam room only to remember, too late, that mysterious ache or pain they’ve been worried about. Have you been dealing with insomnia? Suspect peri-menopause symptoms? Battling back pain related to stress? During your annual exam is the ideal time to discuss these concerns with your doctor, while you have his or her undivided attention.
When you schedule your annual well woman exam, it’s a good time to think beyond gynecological services and consider what your short and long range health goals are. Do you want to lose weight, eat healthier or quit smoking? These are great goals that can improve your quality of life, and having a discussion with your doctor or nurse practitioner about them can get you access to the resources or medical referrals you need to accomplish them. Having your medical team provide support and encouragement for your health goals can help you achieve them quicker.
Health experts agree that women of all ages should schedule an annual well-woman exam and see their gynecologist on a yearly basis. Routine gynecological care can help prevent disease and is useful in the early detection of both breast and cervical cancer. For the sexually active, it can also help you determine the best form of contraception, and help guide you with family planning should you desire to become pregnant. If it’s been more than 12 months since your last check-up, consider contacting your doctor and scheduling a well-woman exam today.