It can be hard to carve time out of your busy day to see your doctor, especially when you’re feeling fine. If it ain’t broke, right? But when it comes to your health, it’s not always best to wait until things go wrong.
At Women’s Pelvic Surgery of North Jersey, we know that well-woman exams are a key part of keeping your health on track. These annual visits can screen for early signs of illness, serve as learning opportunities for understanding your body, and help you stay proactive about your health.
What is a well-woman exam?
The well-woman exam may seem like a new procedure to some who are more used to pelvic exams, annual physicals, or gynecologist appointments. In truth, these can all refer to the same thing: a checkup based on having female reproductive organs while you’re not actively seeking treatment for illness.
Typically, your first well-woman exam should be around the time you start seeing signs of puberty. From that point on, the focus of your appointments may change with events in your life, but the annual visit should be a regular part of your health care routine.
What to expect during your exam
Regardless of your age, it’s likely your visit starts with vital signs such as weight, height, pulse, and blood pressure, as well as general observations about your health. Building a relationship with your doctor or gynecologist helps, since they can follow your health over time, potentially noticing things that other health care providers may miss.
Your history since the last visit is often part of the discussion, including illnesses you or close family members have had. Changes in your lifestyle can also be relevant.
When you start well-woman visits around the age of 14, you may first have questions about your changing body and your period. This is typically a good time to receive the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine to protect you from some forms of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
The changing nature of your exam
Once you become sexually active, a well-woman exam is an excellent opportunity to discuss birth control methods, safe sexual practices, and STD prevention and testing. If you’re preparing for a pregnancy, your exam can focus on your health and how it will support your fetus.
When you’re done with childbearing, permanent birth control may become a priority, and later in life, the symptoms of menopause could be prominent.
Your general health is also part of your well-woman exam, including screening for cancers. We can spot both breast and cervical cancer during medical exams long before there are symptoms you can detect.
Dr. Khashayar Shakiba is a board-certified OB/GYN who specializes in urogynecology and pelvic reconstructive surgery. You can visit him at Women’s Pelvic Surgery of North Jersey for information on both surgical and non-surgical treatment of many women’s conditions, including minimally invasive procedures that speed healing.
Call the office or request an appointment using the online tool. Schedule your consultation today.