A well-woman exam or visit covers far more than your gynecological health –it’s a whole-health appointment, focusing on preventive care and screening. Your physical health, mental health, lifestyle, and social situation, in addition to your gynecologic or reproductive health, are all part of your overall health.
“The well-woman visit is an opportunity to address preventive health care needs for women of all ages and stages,” says Stacie Moritz, a physician assistant with Bradley Gynecology. “The visit is tailored to you and your specific health needs.”
What to expect
A well-woman visit starts with a conversation with your provider. Based on your age and risk factors, your provider will help you determine what screenings, tests, or immunizations you need.
When to screen for cancer, for example, varies widely for different types of cancer. Cervical cancer screening starts at age 21, breast cancer in your 40s or 50s and colon cancer starting at age 45, for women at average risk. For some of these tests, exactly when, how often, and how you should be screened is determined by you and your provider through shared decision-making.
Another common area of discussion is reproductive health. Depending on your age and life goals, this discussion will vary. Not interested in kids any time soon? Your provider will help you choose the right contraception method for you. Planning on a pregnancy? Your provider will discuss prenatal vitamins and preconception care with you. Approaching menopause? Your provider will talk about that life change with you.
Mental health is an important topic too. Screening for anxiety and depression is important for women of all ages, and your provider will also talk to you about need for counseling, medication or even specific referrals.
There is still an exam portion, but it may not include a pelvic exam. “Many women will have a breast exam,” says Moritz. “Your provider will also perform a general physical exam and take your vital signs.”
All of the screening and prevention elements of a well-woman visit are based directly on research. Every recommendation comes from a large and growing body of evidence showing how it can benefit women’s health.
For more information, visit www.BradleyGynecology.com or call 701-877-2020 to schedule an appointment.