A well-woman exam includes a pelvic exam, breast check and chat with your provider about your health. It also may include a Pap smear and mammogram.
A well-woman exam includes a pelvic exam, breast check and chat with your provider about your health. Depending on the date of your last exam, you also may be due for a Pap smear. If you are age 40 or older, it may be time for a mammogram as well.
Having a yearly exam and yearly screenings can help you stay healthy and find health issues, such as cancer, early — when they are easier to treat.
If it’s been several years since your last well-woman exam, here are the things you can expect during your OB/GYN visit:
- General health check. Typically completed by a nurse or medical assistant before you meet the OB/GYN. This will include checking your weight and blood pressure, and giving blood or urine samples, if needed.
- Health history, current health and changes in your health. During your annual exam, be prepared to discuss your family health history, menstrual cycle and sexual activity, including contraception, STD prevention, pregnancies, illnesses and surgeries. Your annual well-woman exam also is the time to ask any questions about your health and your body. Building a personal health relationship with your OB/GYN is one benefit of an annual exam.
- Breast check. The breast exam is brief and painless. Your OB/GYN will manually feel for lumps, thickening or discharge. He or she also will teach you how to give yourself a breast exam.
- Pelvic exam. This gynecologic exam includes an external exam of the vagina, checking for abnormalities, along with an exam of your reproductive organs from the inside.
- Pap smear. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends women ages 21 to 65 get a Pap test once every three years. A Pap smear checks for precancerous or cancerous cells, and this quick procedure can help detect cervical cancer early.
- Mammogram. Women over age 40 should be offered a mammogram yearly. For women at higher risk for breast cancer, a mammogram may be recommended before age 40. During an annual well-woman exam, your health care provider will recommend the best option for you.
Remember, your OB/GYN is your partner in your reproductive health. Through annual exams, you are building a relationship for a lifetime of good health.