18 Apr What Is A Well Woman Exam And When Do You Need It?
Has the notification marking the date for your yearly exam brought feelings of anxiety and dread along with it? Maybe you’re heading into your very first Well Woman Exam and aren’t sure what to expect. Let’s take a closer look at the Well Woman Exam and why it’s important for you.
What is a well woman exam?
A well woman exam is a yearly preventative check up with your doctor to screen for health risks that can affect women specifically. Generally speaking, every year should include an appointment to discuss your physical, mental, sexual, and reproductive health and wellbeing. Addressing these aspects of your well-being can help keep you healthy throughout the year. These are general health exams for women of all ages with a focus on screening for gynecological and breast diseases.
This annual exam gives your doctor a chance to check on your medical well being and an opportunity for you to speak to them about any health concerns or issues you may have observed in the prior months. A well woman exam can act as both a detailed conversation with your doctor or nurse practitioner as well as a physical exam.
This exam is a prime opportunity for you to address any questions or concerns you may have about STDs, your menstrual cycle, birth control, menopause, vaccinations, or any unusual symptoms you may have noticed. Taking a moment in the days prior to your exam to notate any specific issues you want to discuss with your doctor or nurse is a recommended practice.
Topics you may want to discuss with your doctor or nurse practitioner may include:
- Diet and nutrition
- Pregnancy counseling
- Symptoms of Menopause
- Cholesterol and Blood Pressure issues
What services are included?
The well woman exam allows your doctor or nurse practitioner an opportunity to scan for warning signs of potential health risks and problems. Your exam begins with a thorough medical history and a general physical. Specific services offered can differ depending on your provider, but most well woman exams will include a health screening and general medical history.
A well woman exam does not consist entirely of a pelvic or breast exam; instead, these visits are a chance for women to have an open conversation with their physician and learn vital information about their bodies and anatomy.
These discussions and the exam that follows can play an important part in leading to early detection of issues ranging from conditions such as:
- Pelvic support and pain
- Sexually transmitted infections
- Vaginal, ovarian, cervical, breast and skin cancers
- And more
These exams typically begin with a general overview of your medical history with a focus on the last twelve months. This discussion centers on current and past health troubles, active medications, as well as health issues that may run in your family. Your vital signs will be observed with a check on blood pressure, heart rate, weight, and body mass index, which is then followed up with a pelvic exam, breast exam, pap smear, as well as a screen for diabetes.
Well woman exams may also include:
- Pelvic ultrasound
- Urinary health tests
- STD Screening
- Fertility counseling and testing
- Referrals for Bone Density screenings, Colonoscopy and Mammogram
Why do you need a well woman exam?
One of the most important aspects of medical care is preventative medical care, and your Well Woman Exam is firmly focused on prevention. Taking proactive measures to halt diseases early, while they are easier to treat, is a crucial part of remaining healthy which is precisely why your annual Well Woman Exam is so important. If we can prioritize our health now, we can steer clear of illness later in life, which is the key to unlocking lifelong health and wellness.
While a breast and/or pelvic exam may be reasonably uncomfortable or even mildly embarrassing for some, its immense possible health benefits make a Well Woman Exam an essential appointment each year for every woman. While research is still ongoing, it should be mentioned that a painful exam may not be entirely normal. If you are experiencing pain and mild to moderate discomfort during your pelvic exam, please inform your physician.
How often should you get one?
It is recommended that women have their first well woman exam at age 21 as a preventative measure or three years after becoming sexually active, whichever comes first. After you’ve had your first visit, it is good medical practice to schedule a well woman exam annually. Depending on your screening and other potential services you may need, more than one visit may be required. For example, your physician may request a follow-up visit to discuss the results of those initial screenings, or to schedule an appointment for an additional test or procedure.
Your annual visit is an excellent opportunity for you and your doctor to set achievable health goals for the year ahead. They can also act as an ongoing course of action allowing for early disease detection that can promote a healthy lifestyle throughout the year. You should be proactive about scheduling more frequent appointments and screenings if you have a family history of uterine and/or breast cancer, have previously had abnormal test results from a Pap smear, or experience any sudden changes in health such as pain, infection, or bleeding.
What is the difference between a well woman exam and an annual physical?
Most of us know how important a yearly health checkup can be, but are you in tune and up to date on which preventative women’s services are needed each year? Unfortunately, there is much uncertainty around what your annual checkup should include. The difference between a standard physical and a well woman’s exam is essentially the difference between your doctor looking at what’s wrong versus what’s right.
A physical allows your doctor to determine the problem and find a solution when you’re feeling ill and are looking to get better.
A Well Woman’s Exam is an opportunity for your doctor or nurse practitioner to survey what’s working for you and how to best reinforce your continued health and well-being. You and your physician will discuss the next steps in helping you stay healthy while developing a plan tailored directly for you.
The benefits of getting a well woman exam at home
There have been no truer words spoken than ‘There is no place like home.’ Now, these words ring true in regard to preventative healthcare and how we receive it. Having your Well Woman’s Exam within the comfort of your own home allows for complete privacy and circumvents some of the uncomfortable and possibly alienating aspects of a doctor’s office.
Many patients have found themselves more open and receptive to a frank discussion with their doctor or nurse within the home environment that may not be as easy going and open if conducted inside an office or hospital setting.
While it is perfectly understandable to feel anxious before your annual Well Woman Exam, it is imperative to not delay in scheduling your appointment as soon as possible.
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In-Home Well Woman Exams With Concierge MD
Whether it’s your visit or just your next, your annual Well Woman Exam gives you a chance to focus on your body and allows your doctor to form a gameplan with which to reach your health goals. Our exams place the priority on making sure your body is healthy and can put your mind at ease as your journey forth on your path towards a life of health and happiness. Give Concierge MD a call today to schedule a private and discreet appointment in the comfort of your home!