What is a Well Women exam? Do I need one?
A well women exam is a periodic office visit in which we provide preventative care. What does that mean? We try to look for early signs of new diseases, make sure your current conditions are well controlled and educate in how you can prevent other diseases in the future usually within a specific amount of time. Some people still call these visits “annual” exams or “pap smears”; but it is all the same thing.
So what happens during a Well Women exam?
During this visit first we talk. We go over any conditions you may have and make sure that they are well controlled. For example, if you have high blood pressure, do you take medication? has it been under control?
We go over any symptoms you may be having, like weight gain or loss; loss of energy, irregular periods, mood swings.
We talk about your future and your plans for family planning, if you need birth control or you’re having trouble getting pregnant.
We then go over healthy lifestyle choices, like a balanced diet, regular exercise, using seatbelts, etc.
Then comes the examination and possible tests we may need to obtain depending on your age, your medical history among other things. Sometimes, this is when we do a speculum exam (“the clamp” that looks like a duck). We don’t always need to do that during a visit and we will let you know if it is recommended to do that year.
How often should I have a Well Women exam?
We typically say that you should have a WW exam every year. It depends if you have a primary care physician or not. If you have a Well Women exam with them every year and only see a gynecologist for your Pap smear, then you can come in to see us every 3-5 years as long as you have no history of abnormal pap smears. (For more information of Pap smears click here)