Do I Need To Get My Well Women’s Exam Every Year?

Do I Really Need To Get My Well Women’s Exam Every Year?

A woman’s body is incredibly strong and resilient. Several unique organ systems make a woman capable of giving birth to another human being and providing him with vital nourishment. But these complex organ systems are also vulnerable to a number of disorders and diseases.

While both men and women can greatly benefit from annual health checkups, the presence of a woman’s complex reproductive system makes it even more important to have a regular well-woman exam. In this blog post, we will explore the following topics:

  • What is a well-woman exam?
  • Why is a well-woman exam important?
  • What procedures are included in a well woman exam?
  • How to prepare for a well-woman exam?
Do I Really Need To Get My Well Women’s Exam Every Year?

VNA Health Care is committed to providing access to quality, affordable health care services to women in the Chicago suburbs. Our services include annual wellness exams for women of all ages. In this post, we will also explain in detail the different procedures that you can use at little or no cost as part of your VNA Health Care well-woman exam.

What Is A Well Woman Exam?

A well-woman exam is also called a wellness visit, gynecologic exam, or annual exam. The wellness exam is performed by a licensed physician who is a gynecologic physician, primary care physician, or nurse practitioner. These are professionals who have trained in women’s health and understand the changing health care needs of the female body over the years.

A well woman visit examines the different parts of the female body and includes the following procedures:

  • Breast examination
  • pelvic exam
  • Checking sexually transmitted tests
  • Cancer screening (breast cancer screening and cervical cancer screening)
  • general health examination

As you can see, a well woman visit does not focus solely on the uterus or breasts. It is a complete medical check-up of the body, including reproductive health. In general, most women get their first wellness exam sometime in their late teens.

It’s a good idea to have a wellness visit if you’re a sexually active teen. Otherwise, any time between the ages of 18 and 21 is a good time to start an annual well-woman visit. Ideally, you should make these visits regularly starting at age 21.

As part of health and human services, these well-woman care exams can sometimes also include a clinical breast exam, mental health exam, and screening for chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure. and diabetes mellitus.

Why Is A Well Woman Exam So Important?

Getting annual well-woman exams can have a vital impact on your overall health and even help prevent early death from certain cancers. These visits to preventive health services are an important part of a woman’s health care. Here are some of the key reasons why you should get a wellness visit every year without fail:

Do I Need To Get My Well Women’s Exam Every Year?

#1. Prevention Or Early Detection Of Cervical Cancer

For starters, a pelvic exam and Pap smear are the only way to detect early signs of cervical cancer. It is a type of cancer caused by a virus called the human papillomavirus or HPV. At one point, cervical cancer was one of the most common causes of cancer death in American women.

It is encouraging that, with regular Pap smears and pelvic exams, we have successfully reduced the incidence of deaths from cervical cancer, but it still poses health risks. Every year, about 14,000 new cases of cervical cancer are discovered and it causes the death of more than 4,200 women.

The most common type of cervical cancer begins with some changes in the uterus. This is called the precancerous stage. If you find cancer at this early stage, the disease can be treated and prevented from becoming full-blown cancer.

Since a well-woman visit always includes some type of cervical cancer screening, it could help save your life.

Do I Need To Get My Well Women’s Exam Every Year?

#2. Prevention Or Early Detection Of Breast Cancer

While the occurrence of cervical cancer is relatively rare, the same cannot be said for breast cancer. After skin cancer, it is the second most common type of cancer among women in the United States. Breast cancer is also the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women, behind lung cancer.

Any woman (and even some men) can develop breast cancer. Almost 30% of all new cancers detected in women each year are breast cancers. If you are an American woman, your chances of developing breast cancer at some point in your life are 1 in 8, or about 13%.

Early detection is essential for a positive outcome of breast cancer treatment. The best way to detect breast cancer is through a mammogram – an x-ray of the breasts. It can help detect early signs of cancer deep in the breast tissue, at least three years before you can feel them as breast lumps. With early detection, you may also be able to avoid removal of the breast.

Breast cancer is most common among women over the age of 40, so annual mammograms are included as part of your wellness visits starting at this age.

Do I Need To Get My Well Women’s Exam Every Year?

#3. Improve Your Reproductive Health

Numerous disorders and diseases can affect the reproductive system. These include sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), urinary tract infections (UTIs), polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and other disorders.

These can affect your ability to have a healthy sex life and safe pregnancies. Annual checkups during a well-woman exam can help solve many of these problems or at least keep them under control.

What to expect from a Women’s Wellness visit?

There are several different stages in a well-woman exam. Before the different procedures, the nurses or doctors at the center will ask you about your medical history, family history, and any ongoing health problems.

Do I Need To Get My Well Women’s Exam Every Year?

#4. Commonly Asked Questions During A Well Woman Exam

The doctor or nurse may ask you the following questions:

  • How often do you have your menstrual period?
  • How long do your menstrual periods usually last?
  • Do you experience heavy menstrual bleeding?
  • Do you experience bleeding/spotting between your periods?
  • Do you experience unusual itching, pain, or discharge from your vagina?
  • What other medical conditions do you have (if any)?
  • Does anyone in your family have a history of major diseases such as cancers or heart disease?
  • Are you sexually active?
  • How often do you have sex and what kind of sex (vaginal, anal, oral)?
  • How many sexual partners do you have and what gender are your partners?
  • Do you experience pain or bleeding during or after sexual intercourse?
  • Are you using birth control?
  • What protective measures do you use against STDs?
  • Do you plan to become pregnant at any time?

While some of these questions are undoubtedly very personal and uncomfortable, it is vital that you provide honest and accurate answers to each one. It will help health care providers serve you better. And keep in mind that there are strict patient privacy laws in place – doctors/nurses cannot reveal personal details to anyone outside of a healthcare setting.

#5. What Can You Expect During A Physical Exam?

The doctor/nurse will take your vital statistics such as height and weight. They will also measure other things like your blood pressure and heart rate, and listen to your lungs for breathing. In addition, your throat will be checked for any problems with your thyroid gland.

A basic exam of your abdomen is also done. If you are between the ages of 40 and 64, you may have the following tests for cardiovascular disease using blood and urine samples:

  • Diabetes screening tests
  • Cholesterol screening tests
  • colon cancer screening
  • Bone density scan

Health care providers will also verify your current vaccination status. These may include HPV vaccines to prevent cervical cancer (annual until age 26), as well as vaccines against flu, tetanus, MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), and chickenpox.

Do I Need To Get My Well Women’s Exam Every Year?

What to expect during a breast exam?

Younger women under the age of 40 will usually receive a manual breast exam. The nurse or doctor will use their hands to inspect and put pressure on your breasts and underarm areas. You will need to remove all clothing covering the breast area for this exam.

The doctor or nurse will first inspect the breasts with their eyes for any outward signs of disease, such as visible rashes, discolorations, and lumps. Then they will feel each breast with their fingertips to check for any lumps inside. They will also check your nipples and the area under your armpits.

These healthcare providers are trained to look for any abnormalities. If they find anything unusual, they will suggest further tests or scans. The most common scan to look for breast cancer is something called a mammogram.

Do I Need To Get My Well Women’s Exam Every Year?

If you’re over 40, a mammogram is usually included in your annual well-woman exam. Mammograms are also recommended for younger women who are at higher risk for breast cancer (due to a family history of breast cancer, genetic conditions, medications, etc.).

A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast taken with a special x-ray machine. A nurse or x-ray technologist will guide you through the entire process. You will be asked to stand in front of the mammography machine. Your breasts will be placed between two plastic plates, one at a time.

The plates will squeeze the breast to keep it still during the scan. The entire process is usually completed within 15 minutes. While you may experience mild discomfort or pain, it will go away immediately.

Do I Need To Get My Well Women’s Exam Every Year?

#6. What To Expect During A Pelvic Exam?

Many women fear a pelvic exam because the whole process can be uncomfortable, strange, and an invasion of privacy. But the pelvic exam is a very powerful tool for your overall gynecological health and cancer prevention.

A pelvic exam consists of three main parts:

  • An examination of the external vagina/vulva.
  • An examination of the inside of the vagina and cervix with a speculum.
  • An examination of the uterus using gloved hands.

The whole process only takes a few minutes. You will be asked to remove all clothing and put on a gown. The doctor may provide you with an extra sheet to wrap around your waist for privacy and comfort.

Before the actual pelvic exam, the doctor may check your heart, lungs, and abdomen. During the pelvic exam, you will be asked to lie on the exam table with your knees bent, feet apart on the corners of the table or in the stirrups.

Do I Need To Get My Well Women’s Exam Every Year?

After looking at the outside of the vagina for any signs of infection or sores, the doctor will spread the vaginal walls by inserting an instrument called a speculum. It is shaped like a duckbill and is made of metal or plastic. It may cause some discomfort – tell your doctor if you feel any pain.

After looking inside your vagina, the doctor will use two fingers to feel inside your abdomen. By pressing these fingers on the uterus and ovaries, the doctor can check the size and shape. It will help detect any unusual growths or abnormalities.

The doctor can usually tell right away if there are any problems that require additional tests or scans.

#7. Are Pap Smears Included In A Pelvic Exam?

A Pap smear is a test done during a pelvic exam to check for signs of cervical cancer. It involves collecting samples of cells from the cervix from inside the vagina using a speculum and brush. The cell samples are then sent to a laboratory to look for signs of cancer.

Do I Need To Get My Well Women’s Exam Every Year?

The whole process can be quite uncomfortable. There may also be slight bleeding immediately after sampling. How often you get Pap smears will vary depending on your age:

  • Between the ages of 21 and 29–once every three years.
  • Ages 30-64 – once every five years when combined with an HPV test.

Pap tests are stopped after age 64 or if you have surgery to remove your uterus (hysterectomy). Your doctor may recommend more frequent Pap smears if you have additional risk factors—a past positive test for cervical cancer, HIV infections, organ transplants, chemotherapy, steroid treatments, or a history of smoking.

Generally, if you are between the ages of 21 and 64, you can expect a Pap smear (or HPV test) to be part of your pelvic exam once every 3 to 5 years.

Do I Need To Get My Well Women’s Exam Every Year?

#8. Difference Between A Pap Smear And An HPV Test

Both the Pap smear and the HPV test are two different ways to screen for cervical cancer. Almost all forms of cervical cancer are caused by HPV. There are many types of HPV viruses, some cause harmless warts while others cause dangerous cancers.

A Pap smear uses samples of cells from inside your vagina to look for signs of cancer. In contrast, an HPV test looks for the presence of high-risk HPV viruses inside your vagina. Both medical tests use samples from the same area inside the cervix, the lower end of the uterus.

If you get a positive Pap smear, it means you need treatment to prevent cancer growth. A positive HPV test means that there are high-risk strains of the virus inside your body. This is a warning sign – even if you don’t have cancer now, there is a high chance that it will develop in the future.

If you test positive for HPV, your doctor may recommend more frequent Pap tests during future well-woman exams as a precaution.

#9. Counseling After Your Well Women Visit

After completing several procedures, your healthcare provider may suggest other steps to improve your overall health. This may include optional information on contraception – you can seek guidance on birth control measures to prevent unwanted pregnancy.

For women over the age of 45, the health care provider may also include menopause counseling. This will include discussions about the use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to increase the level of estrogen and progesterone in the body. It may be beneficial in reducing the risk of heart disease and improving bone health (preventing osteoporosis).

Do I Need To Get My Well Women’s Exam Every Year?

VNA Health Care Provides Free Or Low-Cost Well Women Exams

VNA Health Care is a highly trusted and reputable non-profit organization serving underserved communities in the Chicago suburbs. We provide high-quality, low-cost access to essential medical services including family medicine, pediatrics, senior care, pregnancy care, and immunizations with an additional focus on women’s health and primary care.

Under the Affordable Care Act, annual well-woman exams are completely free and fully covered by insurance plans as a preventative benefit. To get a free well woman exam, all you have to do is get your procedure done with a health care provider who accepts your insurance plan.

VNA Health Care accepts all major insurance plans, including Medicare, Medicaid, and other private marketplace insurance plans. Even if you don’t have insurance, you may qualify for free or low-cost wellness exams at our health centers. For more information, call our appointment line at (630) 892-4355 today .


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Do I Need To Get My Well Women’s Exam Every Year?

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