A well-woman visit is an annual physical exam and wellness check designed specifically to assess women’s health. It includes standard health screenings as well as reproductive health checks like breast exams, pelvic exams, and Pap smears.
Like annual physicals, your doctor checks your height, weight, blood pressure, and other physical vital signs.
The benefits of having an annual well-woman visit are twofold. First, with every visit, your relationship with your doctor improves. You get more comfortable with your doctor and are more likely to ask questions about your health concerns or bring up symptoms or changes you’ve noticed.
At the same time, your doctor gets to know you and your health better, so if there are any changes in your well-being, the doctor notices and runs tests to diagnose your health issue and provide expert treatments.
Your well-woman exam is also an excellent opportunity to have health screenings for conditions that don’t cause symptoms in their early stages, things like high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, cancer, and sexually transmitted diseases.
Your doctor can provide customized advice on how frequently you should have a Pap smear, depending on your age and medical history. For example, if you have a low risk of cervical cancer and are 21-30 years old, you should have a Pap smear and HPV test every three years.
You can have these tests every five years between the ages of 30-64 if your risk is low. However, if you’ve had abnormal test results in the past or if you or a member of your family have had cervical or breast cancer, your doctor recommends more frequent screenings.
In addition to reproductive health screenings including Pap smears, breast exams, and STD testing, women should also have their blood pressure and cholesterol levels checked annually. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women, and high blood pressure and cholesterol are early warning signs of cardiovascular health issues.
You should also have your glucose checked annually. After you reach the age of 45, you should have colorectal cancer screenings and bone density tests.
If you’re due for a well-woman visit, call to schedule your appointment today.