Every woman knows the importance of this annual visit, but, frequently, taking care of ourselves falls to the end of the “to-do” list. The Living Wellness doctors’ expertise in Women’s Medicine gives them insight into the conditions and the anxiety that can be associated with gynecological visits. They apply their knowledge in a way that can make this essential and necessary visit comfortable and insightful.
Preventative Medicine: Annual Wellness Exam
What Does a Well Woman Exam Include?
- Annual Clinical Breast Exam: Although it is important to perform your own monthly self-breast exam, it is also important to get a clinical breast exam (done by a physician) once a year. During your exam, you will be taught how to do your monthly self breast exam and answer any questions about timing and technique.
- Annual Pap Smear: This is done for two reasons:
- Pap Smear: A sample is taken to assure the cells of the cervix are healthy.
- HPV test: The sample is tested for the high-risk strains of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). The high-risk strains of this virus are associated with cellular changes, cervical dysplasia, and cervical cancer. “HPV positive” does not mean there are cancer cells, but it does mean you have an “abnormal pap.” Knowing your HPV status will indicate if and how aggressively you need to treat it. The Pap Smear and HPV test together are part of your annual preventative wellness exam.
Additional Exams and Tests May Be Indicated Depending on Any Current Symptoms, the Age of the Patient, and Family History, Such As:
- Urine test: This will show if there is any blood, infection, protein, or sugar in your urine.
- Abdominal Exam: Your doctor will examine the intestines, liver, spleen, and digestive function.
- Thyroid exam: An assessment will be conducted for any thyroid enlargement or nodules.
- Cardiovascular and Respiratory exam: This exam checks for proper heart and lung health.
- DEXA: This procedure checks bone density for osteoporosis or osteopenia.
Topics Discussed During the Well Woman Exam:
- Contraception options
- Fertility awareness and conception planning
- Natural hormone replacement options (for peri and post-menopausal women)
- Other preventative health measures
How Often Should a Woman Get a Pap?
See the guidelines at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (updated 2013). Remember, how frequently you need a pap will depend on your medical history, any symptoms you might have, and any known STD exposures. Be sure to discuss with your physician how frequently you need your pap done. Here are my general recommendations:
“Dr. Turner is insightful and compassionate. She heard my concerns and addressed each one with real solutions. During the wellness exam, she provided a soft fuzzy blanket, which was warm over the usual cloth gown, and also comforting. As a result, it’s the most relaxed I’ve ever felt during a wellness exam in the last 20 years. I recommend every woman to go see her for truly exceptional care.” ~RV