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How Often Should I Schedule a Well-Woman Exam?

How Often Should I Schedule a Well-Woman Exam?

You should plan on visiting the OB/GYN team at Capital Women’s Care in Silver Spring and Laurel, Maryland, at least once per year for a well-woman exam

This exam is an opportunity for you to see the doctor when you’re well, rather than suffering symptoms of a pelvic or reproductive issue, and to build rapport with our team.

Plus, this visit involves screenings and evaluations that are an important part of taking care of your health. You may be accustomed to tending to the health care needs of others in your family. Don’t neglect your own.

Here’s why that annual well-woman exam is a vital appointment to make and keep.

What goes on during a well-woman exam

A well-woman exam is a chance for you to check in with your OB/GYN. It usually includes a clinical breast exam, pelvic exam, and Pap smear. 

Ideally, these visits begin when a girl is 13-15 years old, and the visits look different at these younger ages. There’s usually no pelvic exam or Pap smear, unless you’re having problems that suggest they’re necessary. 

The visit does include a comprehensive physical. The initial well-woman exams are an opportunity for a girl to talk about issues surrounding menstruation, sexuality, and personal health. 

The well-woman exam as an adult usually begins at or around age 21. 

The importance of Pap smears

Pap smears detect abnormal cells, and possible cervical cancer, in your cervix. The screening is quick and easy. Your provider just takes a swab and gathers a few cells from your cervix during your pelvic exam. You might feel slight pressure for a few seconds, but it’s not painful. 

If your Pap smear comes back abnormal, it doesn’t mean you have cancer. Your provider may just want to repeat the test in a few weeks or months — often the cells resolve on their own. Or, depending on the nature of the abnormality, your provider may order more in-depth screenings. All are important in detecting cancer early, when it’s easiest to treat. 

Your pelvic exam detects abnormalities

Your provider can find any medical problems with the vulva or uterus. The exam may also help them see if you have outward signs of a sexually transmitted disease (STD), like unusual discharge or genital warts. 

STD screening

An STD screening isn’t a regular part of your annual well-woman exam, but you can request it during this visit. If you’re sexually active, these tests are important. STDs don’t always have outward symptoms, but they can have a long-term impact on your fertility and pelvic organ health. 

Visiting the OB/GYN between well-woman exams

If you’re having unusual symptoms, it’s a good idea to make an appointment at our office. These symptoms could include:

These symptoms indicate a change in your reproductive and pelvic organ health, and it needs medical attention. You may have an infection, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, or another problem that can easily be attended to by our skilled team. 

It’s also a good idea to schedule a visit if you’re trying to get pregnant. We can help you prepare your body and optimize your chances of conception.

Get the health care you need by scheduling an appointment at Capital Women’s Care. Call or use this website to set up your visit. 

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