The purpose of your annual well-woman visit is to help you stay healthy and prevent health problems at all stages of life.
At this exam we will focus on your sexual, reproductive and overall health. Your visit will include age appropriate screening. Well-woman visits are an important part of your health care and provide an opportunity to talk about sex, birth control, planning for pregnancy, changes in your periods, menopausal symptoms, difficulty with your bladder, emotional ups and downs and more.
What happens at an annual well-woman exam?
You will have a general physical exam and your height, weight, and blood pressure will be checked. Generally at the time of an annual well-woman exam a breast exam and a pelvic exam will be performed which may be dependent upon your age and your health history. For women under the age of 21, breast and pelvic examination may not be necessary. In addition to your exam we will also discuss and offer appropriate screening tests.
What is a pelvic exam?
A pelvic exam involves first a visual inspection of the vulva and then a speculum is used to examine the vagina and the cervix. If a pap smear is to be collected that will be performed at this time by taking a sample of cells from your cervix with a small brush. After the speculum is removed a bimanual exam will be performed. For this exam the doctor will place one or two gloved, lubricated fingers into the vagina and up to the cervix (if present). The other hand will press on the abdomen from the outside in order to feel the size and shape of the uterus and ovaries (if present).
What is a pap smear?
A pap smear is a screening test for cervical cancer. Screening includes cervical cytology (a microscopic evaluation of cells taken from the cervix using a brush) and, for some women, testing for human papilloma virus (HPV).