What Happens During a Women’s Health Visit?
Annual women’s health visits promote your general well-being, as well as your reproductive health. An annual well-woman visit includes an exam that covers a woman’s overall health and wellness with a focus on preventative treatments, including Pap smear tests and breast exams.
This visit is an opportunity for you and the doctor to review your health and discuss any concerns or changes in your health. You can expect the following during your annual women’s health visit:
- Physical exam
- Breast exam
- Pap smear and/or pelvic exam
- Update and review of medical history
- Update of work and life activities
- Update on medications, immunizations, and supplements
- Evaluation of required screening tests, such as blood pressure, cholesterol, and other standard tests
How Often Do I Need to Have a Women’s Health Visit?
According to recommendations from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), women should have an annual women’s health visit. Women should have annual pelvic exams including Pap smear tests as part of these visits to check for signs of STDs and cancers, starting at age 21 or at the onset of becoming sexually active. Pap tests may be performed less frequently depending on each woman's age and other risk factors. In addition, ACOG recommends that teens between the ages of 13 and 15 see a gynecologist for a routine exam without a pelvic exam to receive important information about their health as well as information about STDs, safe sex, and other health topics specific to adolescent women.
What Happens if the Exam or Tests Reveal an Abnormality?
If a medical illness or condition is found during the exam or through any of the routine medical screenings, the physician will suggest an appropriate treatment to resolve the issue. If the issue is of greater concern, treatment might start that day or it could be a continuing process. Some illnesses are only found during a Pap smear, and if the results are returned as irregular, the physician will discuss the findings and any necessary care with the patient.