For women trying to maintain the best possible reproductive health, it’s important to take a proactive approach. Keeping up a healthy lifestyle can be a great start, however, certain gynecological issues can still arise. Prevention and early detection are critical when it comes to identifying and treating potential reproductive health concerns while they are still in their earliest stages. This is why annual well woman examinations are so important. During a well woman exam at Gynecology Associates of Gwinnett, we administer a series of diagnostic tests including a breast exam, a Pap smear, and general health screenings to gauge a woman’s reproductive health and identify any potential problems that may have surfaced since her last appointment. To help explain the importance of well woman exams, our board-certified gynecologists have taken some time to answer a few questions about what they can provide our patients.
Question #1: At What Age Should a Woman Begin Her Well Woman Exams?
This answer may depend on a woman’s specific situation. We typically recommend for women to begin undergoing annual well woman exams when they turn 18 years old. However, women who become sexually active before 18 should begin their well woman exams when they become or plan to become sexually active. In some cases, for those with a history of certain reproductive issues or underlying conditions, we may suggest starting well woman exams as young as 14. Pap testing should begin at age 21.
Question #2: How Should I Prepare for My Well Woman Exam?
Well woman exams are performed annually and a lot in a woman’s body can change in a year. This is why we strongly recommend keeping a running journal between your appointments. This can help you keep track of any changes to your body or reproductive health since your last annual exam. For instance, you may not notice a change in your menstrual cycle’s length or in other gynecological symptoms unless you can look back and see a pattern.
Additionally, a well woman exam is the perfect chance to speak with your gynecologist about any intimate concerns you have regarding topics like menopause, birth control, fertility, and more. It’s easy to be flustered and to forget in the moment, so try preparing a list of any questions and concerns before your appointment to make sure there is nothing you forget to ask.
Question #3: What Tests are Performed at a Well Woman Exam?
Your well woman exam will include general health tests like a blood pressure reading, a breath exam with a stethoscope, and a weight measurement. You will also receive a breast exam to screen for breast cancer and a pelvic exam. If you do need a Pap smear, we will also screen for gynecological cancers like cervical cancer, endometrial cancer, and ovarian cancer. Additionally, we will run tests pertaining to your general health like gauging your cholesterol levels and testing your thyroid and kidney function. We can also check for various sexually transmitted infections (STIs) during your well woman exam if the patient wishes to.
Your annual well woman exam can be a great opportunity to both achieve a more thorough understanding of your reproductive health and form a more personal bond with your gynecologist. Here at Gynecology Associates of Gwinnett, we pride ourselves on our ability to perform well woman exams with the professionalism, discretion, and comfort that every woman deserves. To request your well woman exam with board-certified gynecologist Dr. Kristine Gould, contact Gynecology Associates of Gwinnett today. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for additional tips, news, and details on our upcoming health and wellness events.