Why do you need an annual well-woman exam?
By regularly going to your provider, they will be able to notice any changes in your health, medical, or sexual history and will be able to provide preventative treatment options to ensure you stay healthy throughout your life.
Many women feel more comfortable discussing their health and intimate matters with their Gyn providers rather than with a primary care physician. This is likely because Ob-Gyns, Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNM), and Women’s Health Nurse Practitioners (WHNP) are specifically trained to assess and provide care for all aspects of women’s health, whereas a primary care physician is trained in a much broader field.
Checkups are critical because they help with early detection. This is necessary for discovering and treating conditions such as endometriosis, osteoporosis, and breast and cervical cancer. Our team’s goal is to ensure you are in-tune with your body and feel empowered to make health care decisions.
What will be discussed with you?
Visiting with your health provider should be a regular habit that you begin at a young age and continue throughout your life. Regardless of your age, sexual history, sexual orientation, or gender identity, if you have female reproductive organs then it is important to get regular checkups.
If you have never been to a health care provider before, it is important to go as soon as you are able to. Most insurances will provide at least one free well-woman exam per year. Don’t feel discouraged if you have never been before! Your provider will make you feel at ease and will make sure that they have an accurate health history and sexual history for you.
Your provider will measure your height, weight, and body mass index (BMI) and take your blood pressure and temperature. If you have concerns about your diet or exercise, your provider will be able to help you develop a healthy exercise and nutrition plan. From there, your visit will be slightly different depending on your age.
In Your Teens
Ideally, your first well-woman exam will be between the ages of 13-15. This will allow your provider to make sure that you are growing correctly and that everything is going well with your menstruation cycles.
If you have any concerns about painful or irregular periods, discuss them with your provider. In addition, they may recommend the HPV vaccine before the age of 18 to protect you from contracting HPV in the future.
If you become sexually active, your provider will be able to offer you birth control options and screen you for STDs. You will be equipped with the information you need to make the best decisions for your body and lifestyle.
In Your 20’s
At the age of 21, you will begin receiving regular pelvic exams and pap smears once a year to ensure your reproductive health. From the age of 25 on your provider will begin performing clinical breast exams to check for any lumps or abnormalities that need to be addressed.
Around this time your provider will also begin discussing your reproductive plan if you have one, or your options if you choose not to have children.
In Your 30’s
Throughout your 30’s you will continue to have regular pap smears, pelvic exams, and breast exams every 1-3 years. Your provider may also discuss family planning and fertility treatment options with you at this age if you choose.
In Your 40’s
Beginning at age 40, or sooner if you have a family history of cancer, your provider will recommend that you start having mammograms every 1-2 years.
At this age, some women begin to undergo menopause. Your provider will let you know what to expect from this change and will be able to provide treatment options and medication to help relieve the symptoms.
In Your 50’s and Beyond
At this stage of your life, the focus will shift from your reproductive health to overall health. Your provider will ensure that menopause goes smoothly, and they will continue to provide breast examinations and mammograms from here on. Pelvic exams may still be recommended every 1-3 years depending on your sexual activity and risk factors.
Your provider will also begin to test you for any urinary tract issues, weakening of the pelvic floor, and osteoporosis. In addition, your provider may recommend hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to help with hot flashes, and vaginal dryness or discomfort with sexual activity as you age.
Gynecology for seniors is still extremely important, especially if you are sexually active. It is still necessary to get regular check-ups to ensure your overall health. Your provider will be able to offer overall health care for you as well as ensuring that you remain sexually healthy and active for as long as you choose.
Make the most of your well-woman visit
Be sure to address any questions or concerns that you may have about your body, sexual activity, or family history with your provider. There is no reason to be embarrassed about any questions that you may have. Your provider is there to help you and to ensure that you are happy and healthy.
If you are experiencing domestic violence or relationship violence of any kind, alert your provider. They are trained to provide help and options for getting you help and getting you out of dangerous situations. Many providers will discreetly ask if you need help or assistance and will help you if you need it.
It is important to find a provider that you like, respect, and trust. You should be comfortable enough to tell them about any questions or concerns that you may have. They are there to ensure not only your reproductive health, but they can also address mental health concerns, nutrition and exercise, and bodily changes throughout your life.
If you have never had a well-woman exam before, there is no time like the present! We will ensure that you have a positive experience and that you feel comfortable throughout your visit.