7 Reasons to Schedule a Well-Woman Visit
The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) recommends an annual well-woman exam even though most women no longer need an annual Pap test. Because the Pap test was part of the annual exam for so many years, a lot of women are confused as to why they still need to see their Ob/Gyn yearly. There are many other reasons why the well-woman exam is still a critical part of women’s preventative care.
- Overall Health Assessment: A physical exam is conducted to assess you overall health which include blood pressure, weight, and body mass index, palpation of the abdomen and lymph nodes, and an assessment of the patient’s overall mental health . This assessment is important to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and minimizing health risks.
- Pelvic Exam: ACOG recommends an annual pelvic exam starting at age 21 for asymptomatic women. A pelvic exam helps your provider evaluate the size and position of the vagina, cervix, uterus, and ovaries. A pelvic exam is done to help detect certain cancers in their early stages, infections, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), or other reproductive system problems.
- Clinical Breast Exam: ACOG and the American Cancer Society and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, recommend CBEs every one to three years for women ages 20–39. ACOG also recommends annual clinical breast exams and annual mammograms for women age 40 and older. Early detection is the best way to prevent cancer.
- Contraceptive Counseling: Your provider will discuss what, if any, contraceptives you wish to use. This discussion will include different ways to prevent pregnancy, how contraceptives work, and how it fits your lifestyle.
- Menopause and Midlife Counseling: If you are over age 45 or having perimenopausal symptoms, your health care provider will provide information on risks and benefits of different therapies. He/ she will also discuss lifestyle habits that affect perimenopause/menopause symptoms.
- STI counseling: Sexually active women may receive annual counseling on sexually transmitted infections (STIs). This may include necessary blood or urine tests to screen for STIs.
- Cervical Cancer Screening: The best way to prevent cervical cancer is to follow ACOG guidelines for pap tests and HPV testing. Though many women do not need these tests annually, if you’ve had irregular pap tests in the past, you may still need them annually or more frequently. If you have not had abnormal results in the past, you still need to be tested every three to five years.
Under the Affordable Care Act, the annual well-woman exam is preventative care covered, with no co-pay, if you have insurance. So whether or not you need a Pap test, it is critical to your health to schedule your well-woman exam for this year and every year. If you do not have an Ob/gyn, call 1-855-OBGYNCT or email firstname.lastname@example.org to find a provider.