A well woman exam is an important medical appointment that should be routinely attended by those of the female sex. The examination helps to check for early signs of different issues or illnesses, and it as a safe place where you can seek advice and help for a variety of women’s issues.
You can also access additional healthcare checks. These may include STI tests and reproductive health checks, mammograms, breast examinations, and more. Advice varies on when you should start attending these exams, but you can start as soon as you start puberty and your periods.
If you are unsure about whether to book a well woman exam or don’t know what to expect, read on for some information and advice that will help answer these questions.
What Services Are Offered in a Well Woman Exam?
A well woman exam can offer a range of services, varying depending on your personal needs, sexual activity, or age. The topics discussed also vary according to your personal needs, for example, you can talk about different aspects of healthy or unhealthy relationships.
The key services provided are:
- General Health Examination – height, weight, BMI calculation, and lifestyle assessment
- Cardiovascular Examination – blood pressure, heart sound and health
- Breast Examination – a physical examination of the breasts looking for potential issues
- Pelvic Examination – looking for issues in the pelvic region, often starting around the age of 21
- Smear Tests – offered to those who are sexually active to check for any STIs
- Urinalysis – a urine sample taken to test for any issues
- Necessary Blood Tests – offered if they are seen to be required by a healthcare professional
- Mammogram – if determined to be required, or if you are considered to be at risk
If you are younger, for example, a young teenager, you will not necessarily need all of these procedures. What is offered depends on what you personally require.
You can discuss issues or doubts about your periods, and can also be offered services such as HPV vaccinations. If you are sexually active you can access advice on contraception and STI testing. Once you reach the age of 21, it is advised to start attending regular pelvic exams – these can be accessed via annual well woman appointments. If you are over 40 years of age, it is advised that you also receive a mammogram either annually or every 2 years.
How Can You Prepare For Your Well Woman Exam?
If you are feeling unsure of what to expect during your well woman exam, it may help to carry out some preparation for the appointment.
This can be as small as thinking through your answers to some common questions that are asked, to writing out answers to questions on paper and planning the questions you would ask yourself.
Reading about what the appointment may include could also help settle pre-appointment nerves as you will have a better understanding of the purposes behind the exams.
What Questions Might I Be Asked?
If you are nervous about your well woman appointment, it might help if you feel more prepared for the potential questions you may be asked. All of the questions will be relevant for your examination and will help them to uncover any issues or conditions. Below is a list of questions that are commonly asked.
- When was your last period, and are they regular? How long do your periods last?
- Do you ever have irregular bleeds between your periods?
- Are you experiencing any abnormal pain or irritation around your vagina or vulva?
- Have you noticed any irregular discharge?
- What is the medical history of you and your family?
- Are you currently sexually active?
- Do you experience bleeding during or after sex?
You will likely also be asked basic health questions such as whether you regularly drink or smoke, and if you have a healthy diet and exercise regularly. These questions are asked to identify any areas where your health can be improved, or where your lifestyle is affecting your health.
You can also bring your own questions to the appointment. For example, if you have specific concerns about birth control, irregular periods, STIs, etc. you can ask your doctor, gynecologist, or obstetrician.
Why Is Your Well Woman Exam So Important?
Even if you still feel overwhelmed about your well woman exam, or you are apprehensive and considering canceling, it is important to remember how important it is for your personal health.
These well woman exams help identify issues early so they can be treated more effectively, give you the opportunity to have STI screenings, allow you to ask about female-specific healthcare questions, and give you a safe space to discuss any other issues you may have.
These appointments are here to help you and provide the health services you need.
Contact us at LifeCircle Women’s Healthcare today to schedule your appointment! You can also learn more about our amazing staff here!