Believe it or not there are some women who never have this routine exam. It is recommended that all women over the age of 18 have an annual well woman exam. This exam should be taken so that it can possibly identify early health problems. Usually upon completion of the yearly exam, the doctor will have you schedule the next appointment. I am screaming to the top of my lungs–Get Your Well Woman Exam!
Some women do this well woman exam around their birthday or some other significant day. I do mine in the summer in June.
This exam will be given by your gynecologist. The exams always include a breast exam, pap smear and pelvic exam.
The importance of this exam lies in identifying potential early health problems. The most important tests included in an examination are the tests listed above. Some doctors consider other tests in the examination, including measurement of blood pressure, HIV testing, and other laboratory tests such as urinalysis, and testing for other sexually transmitted diseases. The procedure is important also to detect certain cancers, especially breast and cervical cancer.
The breast exam is usually two parts. The first part is visual. This checks such things as color, symmetry, lean body mass and more. It also looks for abnormalities such as shrinkage and bulges. The breast exam then goes to palpation, which means while thepatient is lying down the doctor will use two or three fingers to go around the gland (breast) and under the arms to feel for abnormalities. This does not take the place of the mammogram which should also be done yearly.
Another part of the well woman exam is the pelvic exam which exams the pelvic area. It is done in three parts.
- The inspection of the external genitalia looks for color changes, lesions, warts and other abnormalities.
- The bimanual exam which palpates (touches) organs that can’t be seen. With the index and middle finger the doctor checks the inside of the vagina checking the length and width–the cervix is also checked. With the other hand, the doctor will press the stomach and check the uterus and ovaries.
- Speculum examination is where a device called a speculum will be inserted into the vagina. The speculum is opened to widen the vagina so that the vagina and cervix can be seen.
A pap smear will be done while the speculum is in place. The doctor will take cells from the cervix.
A breast mammogram should also be done yearly. I do mine the same day as the well woman exam.
You can also opt for the 3D mammogram which my doctor suggest that I do. Some doctors will suggest that you also take a breast ultrasound because of family history and/or age. I have taken the ultrasound, and there was something discovered, but thankfully it turned out not to be serious.
Your well woman exam helps to keep you a well woman. Remember “thisisyourbestyear” taking this exam can save your life.
**The well woman exam and mammogram are usually covered by your health insurance. There are several agencies that will do both for those that are uninsued. In the North Texas area please check those listed below and others. Please check your local areas–this exam can save your life.