Well woman exams are recommended annually to screen for gynecologic and breast health conditions. During a well woman exam, a doctor or physician assistant specializing in women’s health will take a detailed health history and perform a complete gynecologic exam which can include a breast exam, pap smear, and pelvic exam. In addition, your provider will discuss preventative health and healthy lifestyle choices.
Did You Know?
Annual well woman exams have reduced the number of deaths from women’s diseases, such as cervical cancer, by providing periodic screenings. These annual screenings allow potential diseases to be diagnosed in the early stages, which vastly improves treatment outcomes.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Do I need a well woman exam?
It is recommended that any woman who is sexually active or over the age of 21 receive an annual well woman exam. Even if you are currently healthy, there are medical conditions that may not produce symptoms in the early stages and can only be noticed through screenings. To get your well woman exam, schedule an appointment with Bucks County Women’s Wellness today.
What can I expect during a well woman exam?
Discussion of Medical History
First, you can expect to discuss your personal medical/gynecologic history, as well as your family medical history with your gynecologist. This helps them to identify if you are at an increased risk for certain conditions. Your gynecologist will also ask you questions about your reproductive and sexual health that focus on your menstrual periods, sexual activity, birth control, and any abnormal symptoms.
A breast exam is also performed during a well woman exam. Breast exams are used to screen for any breast related problems, such as discharge, lumps, or pain, as well as breast cancer. While your provider performs your exam, she will also provide you with information on how to perform self breast exams.
During a breast exam, your gynecologist will palpate your breasts to check for abnormal bumps or tissues. They will also perform a visual exam of the size, shape, and skin texture of your breasts to look for abnormalities. While they perform your exam, they will also provide you with information on how to perform self breast exams.
Pelvic exam is necessary in any woman who is sexually active and/or over the age of 21. Pelvic exams are performed annually, however they may be performed more often if you have a history of abnormal Pap smears, sexual health problems, a family history of cancer, or have been exposed to an STI.
Your pelvic exam begins with your gynecologist evaluating the external anatomy for signs of cysts, warts, irritation, discharge, or other abnormalities. Next, she will examine the internal structures by placing a speculum inside your vagina. During a speculum exam, your gynecologist may take a Pap smear, which is a swab of cells from your cervix to screen for cervical cancer.
To examine your uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes, your gynecologist will place 1 or 2 fingers in your vagina and use their other hand to gently apply pressure to your abdomen. This allows her to feel the size, shape, and position of these organs, as well as determine if any tenderness, cysts, tumors, or enlarged structures are present.
Will I need to follow any special instructions between visits?
Since every woman is unique, your gynecologist may or may not give you special instructions to follow between visits. In some cases, they may recommend certain dietary or lifestyle changes to improve your overall health. They may also provide you with contraceptives or other prescriptions to manage certain conditions. During your appointment, your gynecologist will discuss any special instructions with you and answer any questions you may have.