Many gynecologic conditions such as HPV and cervical cancer do not present signs or symptoms. An annual well woman exam is essential not only for assessing your overall health but for screening for conditions such as cancer so that they can be diagnosed when they are most treatable.
Here’s what to know about the well woman exam.
What is a Well Woman Exam?
Well Woman exams are preventive examinations that focus on women’s reproductive health. They are typically performed annually and include a pelvic exam. Your doctor might also perform a pap smear or breast exam. Additional screening tests and optional preventive care (such as the cervical cancer vaccine) may also form part of the visit.
During the exam, you’ll also have an opportunity to speak with your doctor about:
- Changes to your body
- Your menstrual cycle
- Concerns you might have about your sexual, reproductive, or gynecologic health
- Family planning and contraceptives
- Your sexuality
- Your relationship
- Surgery or post-surgical concerns
- Any other related issues or stressors
If you have insurance, your insurance is required to cover an annual well woman visit. Other low-cost local options may exist for those without insurance.
How to Prepare for Your Well Woman Visit
While there’s no “homework” involved with a well woman visit, you can help your doctor by knowing your family health history so that you can share any important information, for example, a history of gynecologic cancer, with them.
You can also prepare a list of questions for your doctor beforehand. Your questions might relate to:
- Birth control options or concerns
- Sexually transmitted infections
- Sexual health and safety
- Menopause or hormonal changes
- Menstrual problems or changes
- Emotional health and wellbeing
Thinking about these topics ahead of time will help you provide the information your doctor needs to help you.
After Your Visit
It’s always a good idea to book next year’s well woman appointment before you leave the office. This will ensure that your appointment is on record and prevent breaks or delays in your care.
Your doctor will typically follow up with you regarding the results of any screens or diagnostic tests. If you don’t receive a follow-up call, get in touch with your doctor to confirm you haven’t missed any important information.
Additionally, develop a plan to take on board any health or wellbeing advice your doctor has provided you. This might include being more active, eating better, or quitting smoking.
Need to book your well woman exam or find a doctor to assist with gynecologic screening results or a diagnosis? Contact SWWO today.