Your Well-Woman Annual Physical Exam visit is about protecting your health. Well Woman Physical Exams are also called gynecological exams, pelvic exams, annual exams, or well woman exams. These visits are an important part of taking care of your reproductive health and your overall wellbeing.
The Well-Woman Physical Exam often makes women feel nervous or uncomfortable, especially if it’s your first one. If it’s time to schedule your first Well Woman Physical Exam, it can help to know exactly what to expect to help you feel prepared and at ease during your appointment.
It’s completely understandable to feel anxious before your first Well Woman Annual Physical Exam, but it’s important not to delay scheduling your appointment. You should schedule your first Well Woman Physical Exam when you become sexually active or when you turn 21. You should also schedule an exam if you experience any menstrual irregularities or pelvic pain.
A Well Woman Physical Exam is the best way to detect the early stages of cervical cancer, and it’s the first line of defense against diseases of the female reproductive system. That’s why it’s so important to be diligent with scheduling your annual exam.
A Well Woman Physical Exam will start like any other doctor’s appointment. You will be asked to fill out paperwork with questions about your family medical history, any medications you’re taking, general demographic information, your menstrual cycle, whether or not you’re sexually active, and if you’ve been pregnant before. A nurse will take your height, weight, and blood pressure and may ask follow-up questions about your intake forms. They will then give you a dressing gown and leave the room so you can change.
There are four parts of the Well Woman Annual Physical Exam: The physical exam, breast exam, pelvic exam, and pap smear.
The physical exam is much like what your general practitioner would do during an annual physical, but it can be more convenient to get your physical done at the same time as your Well Woman Annual Physical Exam. Your gynecologist will review your medical history and ask about any current issues. They will check your vital signs, heartbeat, lungs, head, neck, abdomen and reflexes. Sometimes they will ask for blood work or a urine sample.
Breast exams help detect early signs of breast cancer. During the breast exam, your gynecologist will look for lumps or irregularities in your breasts. They will also teach you how to perform a self-examination, which you should do once every month.
The dreaded pelvic exam helps detect early stages of cancer, sexually transmitted diseases, and any causes of inflammation. During the pelvic exam, your doctor will ask you to lie down with your feet elevated on leg rests. Your gynecologist will examine the outside of your vagina for redness, irritation, discharge, and any signs of other conditions.
A pap smear helps to detect early forms of cervical cancer. Your gynecologist will insert a small brush or spatula to gently scrape a tissue sample from the cervix while the speculum is in place. A pap smear shouldn’t be painful, but you will likely feel a brief pinching sensation. If you are 21 or older, or are sexually active, you should have a pap smear test done every other year.
A Well Woman Physical Exam is the best way to identify potential health issues. The sooner we know something is wrong, the sooner we can treat you. We can also track things like your fertility in case you plan on getting pregnant, or recommend birth control if you don’t want to get pregnant.
It’s safe to say that most women don’t necessarily look forward to visiting their gynecologist or receiving a Well Woman Annual Physical Exam from their family doctor every year. It’s very personal and can be uncomfortable. It may not be your favorite thing to do, but your Well Woman Physical Exam is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Early intervention can mean the difference between catching cancer early and having to manage it once it has progressed.
Your Well Woman Physical Exam may be a bit more in depth than the typical physical and the process can be a little uncomfortable, but you owe it to yourself to get this very important exam done every year to screen for possible life-threatening conditions. If you are due for your Well Woman Physical Exam or if it’s been awhile since your last one, it’s time to contact us and come in.
We know that many women feel anxious about their Well Woman Physical Exam, especially if it’s your first. At All Inclusive Preventive Care, we try to make your first well woman exam comfortable and easy, so we can detect irregularities and concerns as early as possible. Contact us today at +1(305) 200-3141 to schedule your Well Woman Physical Exam.