The importance of your annual well woman exam

Prevention is the best medicine. No matter your age or health, it’s important to see your gynecologist annually for your well woman exam. A good health-care partnership between you and your doctor is a great way to keep you healthy and ahead of any problems that should arise. Read on to learn more about what to expect at your annual exam and why you should keep your appointment.

What should I expect at my well woman exam?

If you are 18 or older or sexually active, you need to have a well woman exam each year. During the pelvic exam and Pap smear, the doctor will examine your breasts and pelvic organs to check for any abnormalities or changes. During a Pap smear, the doctor removes cells from the cervix to send to a lab for examination. It serves as a screening for cervical cancer.

During your appointment, you will go over your medical history, including family history. If anything has changed over the past year with your medical history or family history, you need to share it with your doctor so that he or she has a better picture of your overall health and any concerns.

In addition to measuring your vital signs, including height, weight, heart rate and blood pressure, your doctor will ask you about your periods, pregnancies, sexual activity, contraception and any concerns you may have. Your doctor can provide ideas for lifestyle changes and recommend screening tests based on your age and health history.

What should I discuss with my doctor?

Your well woman exam is the perfect place to bring up any health concerns you may have or symptoms you are experiencing. If you’ve been experiencing pelvic pain or bloating, missed periods, abnormal or heavy bleeding, painful intercourse or pain after sex, unusual vaginal discharge, problems with bowels or urine, breast pain or lumps, or even menopausal symptoms, you should bring this to the attention of your doctor. Don’t be embarrassed or afraid to discuss any concerns with your doctor.

At what age should I start my well woman exams?

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that your first visit with a gynecologist happens between the ages of 13 and 15 years old. The ACOG recommends pelvic exams and Pap smears begin at age 21.

Your well woman exam consists of screenings depending on your age, risk factors and family history. Schedule an appointment today by calling 602-494-5050 (Paradise Valley) or 602-468-3912 (Biltmore).

Posted in: Well Woman Exam

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