The thought of having a stranger, even a highly qualified doctor, examine your body can be unsettling.
Here to put your mind and body at ease, Dr. Khashayar Shakiba and our experienced, compassionate team at Women’s Pelvic Surgery of North Jersey address all your questions and concerns about the well-woman exam. We explain why it’s an important part of maintaining your overall health, what’s involved in the exam, and what we’re looking for.
What’s the purpose of a well-woman exam?
Even when you feel fine, there are compelling reasons to see a doctor. The well-woman exam, as its name suggests, is meant to take place when you’re in seemingly good health. Why? To make sure you really are in good health and to keep you that way.
Well-woman exams are the best way to prevent certain diseases and conditions from taking hold. Dr. Shakiba takes a thorough health history, including your family’s history, your lifestyle habits, and your general diet and exercise routines, so he can better determine what conditions you might be at risk for.
This part of the exam includes your blood pressure, your heart rate, and a urinalysis. These vital numbers tell us a lot about what’s going on inside your body.
Medical screenings are a way to detect threats to your health. Common screenings test for:
- Cervical cancer
- Breast cancer
- Human papillomavirus (HPV)
- Sexually transmitted diseases
We recommend all women age 21 and over have annual exams.
What happens during my well-woman exam?
In order to get a clear picture of your overall health, we perform several tests during your well-woman visit.
While you’re lying comfortably on your back with your arms behind your head, Dr. Shakiba gently examines your breasts with the pads of his fingers. He’s looking for any lumps or bumps, or any changes you may have noticed in size, shape, or symmetry.
If he detects something out of the ordinary, he may order a mammogram, which is simply an X-ray of your breast tissue. But don’t worry, it’s a painless procedure, and it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong. Your first well-woman exam allows us to get to know you and what’s normal for you, so next time you come in, we have measurements and numbers for comparison.
The pelvic exam may be the one you’re dreading if you don’t know what to expect, so here’s it is, step-by-step:
First, we ask you to remove your clothes and underwear from the waist down, and we give you a gown to wrap around yourself for privacy. Then, you lie down face up on the exam table, with your feet in supportive stirrups, your bottom at the very end of the table. Now you’re positioned perfectly for us to examine your external and internal reproductive parts.
First, we check the skin around your vulva, the outer portion of your vaginal area. If we see any redness, cysts, sores, warts, or discharge, we may test you for sexually transmitted diseases or other conditions.
Next, Dr. Shakiba uses a device called a speculum, a slim metal instrument that slides painlessly into your vagina. Once in place, Dr. Shakiba widens the speculum to open your vaginal walls, giving him a clear view of your internal tissues. While this isn’t painful, it does make some women feel self-conscious. Just take a deep breath and relax; it’s over before you know it.
While your vagina is open, Dr. Shakiba inserts a slender instrument with a small paddle at the end to gently scrape against your cervix to collect a small sample of cells to test for cervical cancer. It’s called a Pap smear, and it’s recommended for all women every three years.
Finally, Dr. Shakima performs a manual exam of your pelvis. He inserts two fingers into your vagina and uses the other hand to feel your abdomen on the outside. He’s looking for any irregularities in your uterus and fallopian tubes.
Signs you should see your doctor in between well-woman exams
If you have any questions or concerns about your health, don’t wait a whole year to come see us. Here are some of the signs that mean you should make an appointment now:
- You have pelvic pain
- Your menstrual cycle is irregular
- You have blisters, sores, or warts on your genitalia
- You have vaginal discharge that is colored or smells bad
- Sex is painful
- Your breasts hurt, have a lump, or have changed in any way
- It hurts when you go to the restroom
- You’re incontinent
These are just a few of the many signs and symptoms that mean you may have a medical condition. We can help you get to the bottom of your symptoms and get your health and your life back on track. Call us at 201-279-5787 or request an appointment online to schedule your first well-woman exam today.