Your Annual Well-Woman Exam: What to Expect

Your well-woman visit is all about you, your body, and your reproductive health. Well-woman visits are also called gynecological exams, pelvic exams, or annual exams. As a female, these visits are an important part of taking care of your health. What happens during a well-woman visit depends on how old you are, your sexual history, and your medical history. 

It’s a good idea to have your first well-woman visit around age 13 to 15. You might talk about your period, especially if you’re worried about it being heavy, painful, or irregular. If you’re under 18, you may get some shots, like the HPV vaccine, as well. If you’re sexually active, you may talk about birth control or STD testing.

Around age 21 or when your doctor decides it’s appropriate, you’ll start needing regular pelvic exams, Pap tests, and breast examinations. As you get older, or as your health changes, your well-woman visits will include other tests and referrals for age-appropriate screenings like mammograms.

One thing that should stay the same no matter your age is having a good, honest relationship with your doctor and members of your healthcare team. It’s important to feel able to talk about healthy relationships and other parts of your emotional health during your well-woman visit. The more honest you are, the better care you’ll get.

What should you expect during an annual well-woman exam?

  • General physical exam (including breast exam)
  • Pelvic exam (pap smear)
  • Update of life and work situation
  • Update of family health history (any new serious illnesses in your family?)
  • Review of your health history
  • Update of current medications, herbs, and supplements (bring list)
  • Need for medication refills
  • Evaluation of need for health screening tests based on age and personal and family history (such as mammogram, test for sexually transmitted diseases, and colon cancer screening)
  • Update on immunizations

Preparing for this yearly appointment isn’t difficult, but here are a few tips to make your well-woman visit go as smoothly as possible:

  • Go on a day when you don’t have your period, or when it’s at least light — unless you have a bleeding problem that your doctor or nurse wants to see.
  • Make a list of the questions you want to ask your doctor or nurse. Write them down so that it’s easier to remember during your appointment.
  • Ask if you can have a friend or parent in the room with you if that would make you feel more comfortable.

Our doctors are here to help with your well-woman needs. Call (702) 438-2229 to schedule an appointment.