Well Woman Exams
Well woman exams are annual preventive screenings of breast and gynecological diseases. Women of all ages can protect their health with these yearly check-ups.
What are well woman exams?
Well woman exams are annual preventive screenings of breast and gynecological diseases. Women of all ages can protect their health with these yearly check-ups. During the exam, your physician will discuss your health and lifestyle with you, and he or she will perform a physical examination of the pelvis and breast. A pelvic exam will check for ovarian or uterine abnormalities and cervical cancer. Depending on your age, a mammogram, bone density scan, Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) test, or Pap smear may be ordered. If you are 40 or older, it is recommended that you schedule a clinical breast exam every year. For women in their 20s and 30s, a clinical breast exam should be scheduled every 2-3 years.
Why are they important?
A well woman exam is extremely beneficial because women should be screened regularly for breast and gynecologic cancers (ovarian, uterine, vaginal and vulvar). They also allow women to discuss additional screenings and concerns, including sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). If you need pre-pregnancy counseling, your doctor can also review options and information with you.
When should I start scheduling these yearly exams?
Examinations should be performed annually starting at the age of 21. If you are in your mid to late teens, we recommend that you schedule your first well woman exam. The physicians at North Coast Family Medical Group conduct these exams on patients in San Diego County. If you live in other areas of the country, schedule with your regular physician, an OB/GYN or a nurse practitioner. During the exam, only the doctor and a nurse/medical assistant are customarily in the room with you.
What will my doctor ask me about during the exam?
Your doctor may ask you about the amount of exercise you get, your nutritional habits, alcohol consumption, smoking, your menstrual cycles and your sexual history. All of this information is helpful in determining your overall health.
Is it painful?
You may feel some discomfort during the pelvic exam, but it should not be painful. The rest of the well woman exam is fairly routine. During the clinical breast exam, the breasts are checked for changes in shape and skin texture, and lumps and nipple discharged are examined. During the pelvic/gynecologic exam, the vagina and labia are checked for appropriate lesions, discharge or estrogen effects. Using a speculum, a Pap smear is performed to collect cells in the cervix to screen for cervical cancer.
Want more information?
Call the team at North Coast Family Medical Group if you have any questions or concerns about well woman exams. We are happy to assist you in any way possible. You can reach our office in Encinitas at (760) 942-0118. You can request an appointment using our Patient Portal.