Go on a day outside of the menstrual cycle. Blood can skew the results of a Pap smear and the patient may need to return. If the concern is heavy bleeding, going during the cycle may be fine, but women should check with the healthcare provider.
2. Come with a list of questions
Write down a list of any questions. A lot of information can be discussed during a well-woman exam. For some, the visit can be a bit anxiety-inducing. Writing things down ahead of time can make sure any questions are not forgotten.
3. Bring someone for support
Bring a friend or family member. The person does not have to come into the exam room but having a support system in the waiting room can ease anxiety.
4. Keep a list of all medications
Know all medications. Knowing all medications and dosages is important to paint a clear picture of full-body health. If undesirable symptoms are the reasons for the visit, the doctor will be able to determine if medication is to blame.
5. Brush up on family medical history
Women should have a knowledge of family medical history. Family medical history can say a lot about a patient’s current and future health. Some conditions have a genetic component. Knowing family history will give the doctor a better idea of what testing needs to be performed.
What is a well-woman exam?
A well-woman exam also referred to as an annual exam, is a check on female reproductive and gynecological health. Women do not need well-woman exams until the age of 13 or the start of the first menstrual cycle. The doctor will check height, weight, blood pressure, and menstrual cycle symptoms. Irregular periods are to be expected during the first couple of years. Heavy bleeding or intense pain could be a sign of further medical issues. Women generally do not need pelvic exams and Pap tests before the age of 21, unless sexually active. Sexually active females, at any age, will undergo STD testing. Breast exams are part of normal testing. Mammograms are typically not needed until a female reaches age 40.
What to expect during the appointment?
The procedures performed during a well-woman exam depend on age, sexual history, and medical history. The exams will start with a review of the patient’s menstrual and sexual history or health. Reviewing family medical history is part of every well-woman exam. The doctor will also go over any current medications and surgical history. Pelvic exams, Pap smears, breast exams, and STD tests are standard. Mammograms are generally not needed until after the age of 40. After 40, women will likely also undergo bone density and cholesterol tests.
How to prepare
Not much is needed to prepare for annual well-woman exams. Arriving at the appointment 15 minutes ahead of time will allow for the completion of any insurance paperwork. The doctors and nurses will answer all questions. The goal is to have the patient as comfortable and calm as possible. Preparing for a well-woman exam can be done in as little as 5 steps.
Staying on top of female health
Prevention of disease is a major goal of annual wellness visits. Well-woman exams help women stay on top of health and live higher-quality lives. Contact a healthcare provider specializing in women’s health to schedule an annual exam.