What's Included in a Well-Woman Exam?

Are you due for an annual well-woman exam, but nervous about getting your feet up in stirrups for the gynecological part? Your well-woman visit is about much more than inspecting your reproductive health. It’s designed to set a baseline for your general health as well, and screen for health risks that can affect women specifically.  

At Physicians for Women in Madison, Wisconsin, our team of compassionate board-certified Obstetrician/Gynecologists and Certified Nurse Midwives provide comprehensive women’s health care, from basic gynecologic care and  primary care to all stages of pregnancy, birth, and beyond.

Well-woman exam basics

You’ll typically have your first well-woman visit after you turn 18. If you’ve been sexually active, you might get one sooner.  

Your well-woman exam starts with a complete medical history and general physical. Your physician checks your height and weight, and notes your age and the date of your last period for your chart. If you’ve got any questions or concerns about your health, we can discuss them before moving on to specific tests and lab work.

Breast exams

The doctor performs a manual breast exam to look for lumps or nodules in your breasts. You only need a mammogram if they recommend it, usually if you’re past a certain age, have a family history of breast cancer, or they’ve found a lump or mass. 

Pap smear 

The Pap smear can be a little uncomfortable, but it’s one of the most important parts of your well-woman exam. The Pap smear checks for human papillomavirus (HPV). If you have an HPV infection or have had one in the past, you might develop precancerous cells on your cervix. 

For the Pap smear, you lie on your back with your feet in stirrups and a sheet covering most of your body. Your doctor uses a tool called a speculum to gently open the vaginal canal, and a long tool to reach the cervix and take a tiny sample of tissue for examination and testing. 

You might feel a little pinch during your Pap smear, and see a drop or two of blood later (we’ll make sure to provide a pantyliner for you.) We’ll let you know the results of your Pap smear as soon as they arrive. 

Pelvic exam

A pelvic exam is a way to check your reproductive organs without a machine scan. During a pelvic exam, your doctor places one hand on your stomach and press gently, while inserting two gloved fingers from their other hand into your vagina. They palpate your organs against the roof of the abdomen to see if your uterus and ovaries are normal-sized and if there’s any swelling or pain.

STD testing

Are you sexually active? Do you have concerns about the safety of your past sexual experiences? Have you noticed any alarming symptoms that make you think you may have a sexually transmitted disease? You can request STD testing as part of your well-woman exam. We can also discuss safe sexual practices with you so you know how to protect yourself.

After your well-woman exam

An annual well-woman exam is the best way to identify potential health issues. The sooner we know something is wrong, the sooner we can treat you. We can also track things like your fertility in case you plan on getting pregnant, or recommend birth control if you don’t want to get pregnant.   

Ready for your well-woman exam? Call our office at 608-218-4835 today or schedule a consultation using our online booking system.

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