Why You Need an Annual Well-Woman Exam
Your annual well-woman exam is your opportunity to connect with your provider about your health. This visit is for you to take time to discuss any current concerns or questions you may have with your Women’s Health Connecticut provider. However, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), women who are 21 to 65 should have a Pap test, also called a Pap smear, every 3 years to screen for cervical cancer. So, you may be wondering why you need an annual visit to the ObGyn? Simply, a routine visit to your ob-gyn is crucial for your overall health, and cervical cancer screening is just one part of that.
An annual well-woman exam is so much more than just a Pap test and is very important to your overall health and wellness. According to ACOG, you should still visit your women’s health provider at least once a year. Your routine visit is a good time for you and your provider to talk about any number of common concerns, such as:
- Problems with sex, birth control, pelvic pain, or abnormal bleeding
- Testing for STIs (sexually transmitted infections)
- Getting the vaccines you need, having your blood pressure checked, and other general medical issues
- Having a breast exam and pelvic exam
What is the difference between a Pap smear and a pelvic exam?
It is important to note that pelvic exams and Pap tests are different. During your routine pelvic exam, your provider will help you feel as comfortable as possible as they perform both an external and internal examination of your vagina, uterus, cervix, rectum, ovaries and fallopian tubes. These examinations will last no longer than a few minutes as your provider checks for signs of cysts, irritation, abnormal discharge, enlarged ovaries, STIs, certain cancers, and other possible problems.
A Pap smear may be offered as part of an annual exam if you are due for one. A Pap test is an internal test that involves scraping loose cells from the cervix. After that, it is packed up and sent to the lab for testing.
At Women’s Health Connecticut, we try to make your well-woman exam comfortable and easy, so we can detect irregularities and concerns as early as possible. If you are overdue for your annual well-woman’s visit, schedule one today.