You’re probably already familiar with the idea of an annual physical, but you may not be familiar with the ins and outs of a well-women care exam. Today, we’re here to answer common questions about well-women exams.
This annual checkup is like a regular physical but with an added emphasis on diseases and conditions that affect women only.
As a full-service family practice, our medical team at Dr. Bridget Bellingar DO & Associates offers well-women care exams so that we can meet your general health needs and gynecologic needs under one roof.
If you’re preparing for your first well-women exam, we’ve created this guide to answer some of the most common questions regarding well-women care exams.
What happens during a well-women care exam?
Annual physicals promote wellness by monitoring any underlying conditions you have and monitoring for any signs of potential issues. For this reason, you can expect to see several components of a standard physical during a well-women exam, including:
- Vital checks, such as blood pressure readings and weight checks
- A review of your medical history
- Discussion of any new symptoms or concerns
- A physical exam, including lung, heart, ear, nose, and throat check
In addition to the above, you can expect specific gynecologic services to address your unique health needs as a woman.
What gynecologic services are included in a well-women exam?
Part of what makes a well-women care exam different from an annual physical is the special attention that we pay to your reproductive organs and concerns that specifically women may have. You can expect the following during your appointment:
- Review of your gynecologic history
- Questions about your menstrual cycle (such as the date of your last period)
- A breast exam
- A review of suggested tests (e.g., Pap smear)
During the well-women care exam, we may suggest various gynecological tests based on your age and overall health.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that women ages 21-29 receive a Pap smear every three years, and women ages 30-65 receive an HIV test and Pap smear together every five years.
A Pap smear is a quick, painless test that we use to detect precancerous and abnormal cervical cells. We make sure you receive the tests you need on the schedule that’s right for you.
What other conditions can we talk about at a well-women exam?
During your appointment, you have the opportunity to ask any questions and address any concerns you have about your overall health and wellness. As you age, you may find that you have more questions, and that’s OK.
We’re prepared to care for you as a whole person, whether you’re concerned about skin laxity due to aging or even osteoporosis.
Women are more at risk for osteoporosis than men, especially once they reach menopause. We may suggest a bone density test to make sure your bones stay healthy.
Is family planning part of well-women care exams?
During your well-women care exam, we address all of your gynecologic concerns. If you’re interested in family planning, we can discuss your birth control options during your exam. There’s no need to make a separate appointment to discuss birth control options.
How do I prepare for a well-women care exam?
Preparing for a well-women care exam is no different than preparing for any other medical appointment or physical exam. To make the appointment as valuable as possible, here are a few tips:
- Bring a list of current medications and supplements
- Write down any questions you want to ask during your appointment
- Note any new or surprising symptoms that you want to discuss