A Well-Woman exam is one of the most important steps that women of all ages can take to protect their health. By being proactive and going every year, patients can rest assured that they have taken appropriate steps to detect any potential health issues and prevent future conditions. An annual wellness visit is a preventive visit to look for signs of breast and gynecological conditions that might require further testing or treatment, and to assess overall health and well being.
During your visit, the doctor will discuss your health and lifestyle behaviors and will perform a physical exam of your pelvis and breasts. You will have a urine test to check for infection and a blood test to check for anemia.
During your pelvic exam, your doctor will assess your outer sex organs. A special instrument called a speculum may be inserted into your vagina, to allow your physician to view your cervix and check for any abnormal signs.
A Pap smear is a screening tool that aids in the detection of abnormal cervical cells and cancer. This involves a gentle scraping of your cervix using a plastic scraping tool and a tiny brush. The cells in the scraped sample are then fixed in a preservative solution and deposited in a special cytology liquid and sent for examination. The procedure is quite painless and brief. You can also be tested for sexually transmitted diseases in the same way.
For women over 40, an annual mammogram is advisable. Your doctor may also perform a hemoccult test which is a colon cancer screening test after age 50.
Your annual exam will include:
- An overall assessment of your health, including your medical history.
- A breast exam to check for lumps and changes to your breast tissue or skin.
- A blood pressure check
- Height and weight measurement
- Urinalysis to check for any infections in your urine.
- Hemoglobin fingerstick to check for anemia
- A pelvic exam to check the health of pelvic, vagina, vulva, uterus, cervix, ovaries, and rectum.
- A pap test to check for cervical cancer.
Additionally, annual exams may include gonorrhea, chlamydia, and HIV tests for sexually active women from ages 19-64. Please note that not all insurances consider these tests “preventative” and you may receive a bill for these tests.