Well-woman checkups are a critical way to maintain our overall health and wellness as women. As part of our gynecology services, Mirabile M.D. provides well-woman care for women of all ages. However, not all women know what a proper well-woman checkup entails. For these patients, we want to offer information on what to expect during a well-woman visit.
What Are Well-Woman Checkups?
Well-woman checkups are also referred to as wellness exams or gynecological exams. During a well-woman checkup, you’ll meet with a physician or nurse practitioner. These exams are a part of preventative care for women, and there can be a lot more that is covered in a well-woman checkup than gynecological exams.
Screenings, tests, and physical exams are all things that you can expect during your well-woman appointment. Each of these things ensures your reproductive, sexual, and overall health. Your provider will also give you information to keep you educated on best practices for your health and wellbeing.
The types of tests and screenings a patient requires depend on their age and family medical history. Some tests are conducted yearly, while others, such as the Pap smear, are typically done every three or so years.
Women should get annual wellness exams starting at 21 years old. Teens can also schedule their first visit between 15 and 19 years old, which is recommended, especially if they are sexually active.
What Happens During a Well-Woman Checkup?
Many women who are going for well-woman checkups for the first time get nervous because they don’t know what to expect. For this reason, we want to give you an overview of what will happen during your well-woman checkup to ease any apprehension leading up to your appointment.
First, the nurse will take your vitals, including your weight and height, blood pressure, and body temperature. They will then leave you to change into a medical gown. When the provider comes into your room, they start by documenting your medical history and health habits, including:
- Activity levels
- Diet and nutrition
- Smoking history
- Alcohol consumption
- Sexual practices
- Menstrual cycles
Your provider will also ask you about your family’s medical history, pre-existing conditions, past surgeries, allergies, and current medications.
After going over your medical history and health habits, your provider will perform a series of exams. The exams you need will depend on what you received last year, your age, and your sexual activity.
- Physical exam: Access your overall physical health by checking your heart rate, pulse, oxygen levels, and more.
- Breast exam: Performed on women of all ages to check for abnormalities or skin tone or texture changes on the breasts.
- Mammogram: Women over the age of 40 should receive mammograms (x-rays of the breast) yearly because they are at the highest risk of developing breast cancer. Women 55 years and older can switch to screenings every two years. Your provider will send orders to the diagnostic center of your choice.
- Pelvic exam: Checks for any abnormalities in the reproductive organs, such as ovarian cysts or irregular discharge. Women are recommended to receive pelvic exams once per year.
- Pap Smear: Women receive Pap smears to screen for signs of cervical cancer by collecting cells from the cervix. These tests should be done every two to three years, between 21 and 65 years old.
- STD and STI screening: Tests for sexually transmitted diseases or sexually transmitted infections are important for all patients, especially for sexually active patients and those with multiple partners.
- Dexa Scan: This test is a type of x-ray that measures bone density and is recommended for older patients who may be at risk for osteoporosis.
These exams’ purpose is to screen for breast and gynecologic cancers and ensure your reproductive system’s overall health. During your well-woman checkup, you can also talk with your provider about contraceptive options.
A concern that many women have is that they will experience pain during their exams. While it is common to experience some discomfort during Pap smears or mammograms, you should not experience any pain, so it is important to communicate any pain you experience with your provider.
Well-Woman Checkups at Mirabile M.D.
Mirabile M.D. offers gynecology services and well-woman checkups to women in Johnson County, Kansas. James Mirabile, M.D., FACOG is a board-certified gynecologist and has practiced gynecology in the Kansas City area for over 25 years. In addition to annual well-woman checkups, our team can help patients when specific problems arise. Call us at 913-888-7546 to schedule an appointment today.