A well-woman visit is a yearly preventive check-up with your doctor, separate from any other visit for sickness or injury. Well-woman care focuses on prevention - taking care of your health now to avoid illness later - and is key to your long-term health and wellness. This annual visit gives you a chance to focus on yourself and what you can do to reach your health goals. With many convenient locations, it’s easy to make this a priority. Find the nearest SSM Health provider to you.
What to Expect at Your Well-Woman Visit
Well-woman care includes a review of your general and sexual health history, a close look at your current medications, contraceptive counseling, menopause counseling, a physical exam and, if needed, laboratory or other testing.
There are three primary goals for this annual visit:
- Document your health habits and history
- Get a physical exam
- Set health goals
Questions to Expect From Your Physician
Your physician will ask you questions about your habits and lifestyle to create a more accurate picture of your overall health. Some common questions your doctor may ask include:
- What is the reason for your visit?
- Are you experiencing any health problems?
- What was the date of your last period?
- How long does your period typically last?
- What is the amount of flow (light, medium, heavy)?
- Do you have cramps?
- What is your family’s medical history (for instance, has anyone in your family been diagnosed with cancer)?
- Do you exercise or play sports regularly?
- Do you take any medications, vitamins, herbs or supplements?
- Do you use tobacco, alcohol or other drugs?
- Are you sexually active?
- Do you use birth control?
- Within the last year, have you been slapped, hit, kicked or physically hurt by someone?
- Has anyone forced you to have sexual activities that made you feel uncomfortable?
- Do you ever feel sad or depressed as though you have nothing to look forward to?
Your doctor, or nurse practitioner, will perform a physical exam at this appointment. This exam will include:
- Height and weight measurement
- Blood pressure check
- Evaluation of the skin, heart, lungs and thyroid
- A breast exam to check for changes in skin texture, shape, nipple discharge and lumps
- Pelvic exam to check for labia, vaginal, cervical, uterine and ovarian abnormalities
Depending on your age and health history, your doctor may also recommend screening you for:
- Certain types of cancer
- HPV (human papillomavirus, which can lead to cervical cancer)
- HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
- High blood pressure and cholesterol
More frequent screenings may be recommended for some of the above based on your personal health history.
Common Questions to Consider Asking
This visit is a great time to ask your doctor or nurse questions you may have about your health. Here are some topics to consider when coming up with your list of questions:
- Birth control
- Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
- Preparing to get pregnant
- Eating healthy foods
- Getting more active
- Your safety and relationships
- Anxiety, depression or other mental health issues
A few questions women often ask their doctors:
- What screenings should I have on an annual basis?
- How do I perform a self-breast exam?
- Why do I have such painful periods?
- My periods are irregular. Should I be concerned?
- Why does sex sometimes hurt?
- What can I do for my gynecological health until my next exam?
Your visit is also a great time to set your health goals for the year. You and your doctor, or nurse, will talk about the next steps for helping you stay healthy. Together you can make a plan that works for you.
It’s a good idea to schedule a well woman visit annually. Depending on the screenings or other services you need, it may require more than one visit. For example, your doctor or nurse may ask you to come in for a follow-up visit to discuss the results of these screenings. Or, you may need to schedule another appointment for a test or procedure that requires preparation.
Get started on your path to wellness and schedule an appointment with SSM Health Women’s Health.