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Why Is a Well-Woman Exam Important in Preventive Health Care?

An annual well-woman exam may seem like an inconvenience, especially if you’re feeling just fine and don’t have any specific questions about your pelvic health. 

These exams are critical, however, in providing the OB/GYNs at Capital Women’s Care with a baseline understanding of your health and in screening for gynecological problems that may not show symptoms until complications occur.

An annual well-woman exam should be a nonnegotiable part of your preventive care. Here’s why it’s so important.

It gives you basic information about your gynecological and reproductive health

A well-woman exam typically involves a pelvic exam and a Pap smear. During the pelvic exam, your provider can identify any irregularities that could suggest a sexually transmitted disease, a developing infection, or a structural irregularity. 

This exam makes sure everything is healthy in organs like your vagina, vulva, cervix, and uterus.

During this pelvic exam, the doctor usually performs a Pap smear. Your provider uses a swab to collect cells from your cervix and sends the sample to a lab to detect any irregularities that could suggest cervical cancer. 

An abnormal Pap smear isn’t a diagnosis of cancer, but it means you’d benefit from additional screenings to rule out a serious diagnosis. Incidence of cervical cancer — including death rates — have dropped more than 50% in the past 50 years due to the increase in Pap smear screenings.

You’ll also undergo a clinical breast exam, in which your provider feels for any lumps or abnormalities in your breasts. 

Your annual well-woman exam is also a time to make sure you’re getting your annual mammogram. This imaging test is usually recommended for women 40 and older unless you have a prior history or family history of the disease. 

You get the answers and information you need

Your annual wellness exam is a time to ask questions about your gynecological and reproductive health. Your questions change as you reach different stages of life and may involve issues like: 

The team at Capital Women’s Care looks out for your overall health too. They screen your blood pressure and, as you get older, your bone density to identify any risks of hypertension or osteoporosis. 

Maintain information about your health history

Seeing us for an annual exam gives us a chance to get to know you. This means we can identify changes in your health that could affect your long-term reproductive and sexual health. 

At your annual well-woman exam, we collect information that may seem personal but helps us understand your risk for certain diseases. This information can also help us determine if you need special screenings due to your family history or personal medical history. 

Information we may ask for at your exam includes:

Your provider also asks about any symptoms you’re currently experiencing, such as nipple discharge, pelvic pain, or pain when urinating. Even if these symptoms are mild, they could indicate a condition that would benefit from diagnosis and treatment.

You get tools to protect your health every day 

Your annual exam is also a time to talk about how you can optimize your overall gynecological and sexual health. These include how to protect yourself from STDs, whether you’re in a healthy relationship, and how to live a healthy lifestyle. 

Don’t put off your annual well-woman exam. This appointment confirms your health or allows for early treatment, when health problems are most responsive to intervention. 

The team at Capital Women’s Care in Silver Spring and Laurel, Maryland, is ready to see you. Call or use this website to request an appointment.

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