Woman getting exam
Crystal M. Newby, MD. The thought of having your first gynecology exam might be nerve wracking, but it is a straightforward and quick procedure that is an important part of maintaining your overall health. Once you understand the purpose of the annual well woman exam and what it involves, you will realize that there is nothing to worry or be embarrassed about.SEE VIDEO BY TOPIC: What to Expect From a Female Pelvic Ultrasound Exam
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Crystal M. Newby, MD. The thought of having your first gynecology exam might be nerve wracking, but it is a straightforward and quick procedure that is an important part of maintaining your overall health. Once you understand the purpose of the annual well woman exam and what it involves, you will realize that there is nothing to worry or be embarrassed about. The purpose of your routine annual gynecology exam is to allow a health care provider to check your female organs to ensure and maintain good gynecological health.
The physical portion of the exam takes about 10 minutes and there is a time before and after the exam to ask and answer any questions you and your health care provider might have. Women should start receiving annual gynecology exams between the ages of 18 and 21, or when they become sexually active. However, if you are experiencing any gynecological symptoms, you should schedule an exam sooner.
Such symptoms include irregularities in the menstrual cycle , unusual or severe vaginal or pelvic pain, abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge , swelling, tenderness, sores, lumps, or itching, or unusual changes in the breast. When making your first appointment, it is helpful to tell your gynecologist that this is your first gynecological exam. Your health care provider knows that many women feel nervous about gynecology exams, and they will help you to relax and understand the process.
It is also perfectly acceptable to have a female family member or friend accompany you during your appointment and, if you would prefer, you can always request an additional nurse chaperone. Otherwise, there is not much you have to do to prepare for a pelvic exam. Do not douche, use vaginal creams or have sex for 24 hours prior to your well woman exam, and if you have your period during the time you are supposed to have your exam, you will need to reschedule. The physical exam includes a urine sample, an external and internal pelvic exam, pap smear, and a breast exam.
The pelvic exam in your gynecological exam is comprised of four main steps: the external genital exam, the speculum exam, the Pap Smear test and the bimanual exam. For the exam, you will lie on the examining table in a dressing gown with your legs in stirrups or knee rests and a sheet is draped over your legs for your personal privacy.
Once you are comfortable, your gynecologist will ask you to spread your knees apart. At this point, try to relax as much as possible. Breathe deeply and do not tense your muscles. This is will make the exam less painful and more efficient. Rest assured that if you have requested the company of a friend or family member or chaperone, that they will be asked to stand at a location that preserves your personal privacy.
During the external genital exam your clinician will visually examine the vulva and labia. They are checking for abnormalities, such as irritation, swelling, redness, cysts, or any visual indication of sexually transmitted diseases STD.
After the external examination is concluded, a sterile medical device called a speculum will be inserted into the vagina.
This is not painful but may feel a little cool. Once in place, the speculum is opened slightly to separate the walls of the vagina so that the cervix can be examined. You may feel pressure or brief discomfort at this point, but remember, if you stay relaxed, this part will be easier, and always communicate with your health care provider concerning your level of comfort.
When the speculum is opened, your cervix will be examined. The clinician is looking for signs of irritation, atypical discharge, or indications of sexually transmitted disease. With the speculum still in place, your health care provider will continue with the Pap Smear test. A Pap Smear checks for precancerous or cancerous cells. This is a quick procedure that involves taking a sample of your cervical cells and testing them to verify that they are healthy.
It will feel like a strong pinch. This annual test is very important and it is necessary even if you are not experiencing any symptoms and do not have any personal concerns. However, you will not know the results of the Pap Smear test at your appointment. The cell sample has to be sent to a laboratory where it is carefully examined. Your results will take a few weeks to get back to you. After the Pap Smear test, your health care provider will remove the speculum and perform a bimanual exam to check the health of your ovaries and uterus.
This portion of the exam involves inserting a gloved and lubricated finger in to the vagina with one hand. With the other hand, they will press down on your stomach. You will feel pressure and some light discomfort is possible, but again, always tell your gynecologist how you are feeling throughout the examination. The breast exam is brief and painless. Your health care provider will manually palpate your breast, feeling for lumps, thickening, or discharge. They will also teach you how to give yourself a personal breast exam.
You will be asked to provide a urine sample. Urine is used to check for kidney health, various infections, and pregnancy.
As part of your exam, you will be asked questions about your family history, current health, and sexual activity. You can also expect to be asked questions about your menstrual cycle, sexual activity and partners, contraception, STD prevention, pregnancies, illnesses, surgeries, and drug and alcohol use. Some of these questions will be quite personal in nature but it is important that you answer honestly. Do not let shyness be a health risk. You should have complete confidence that what you say is kept confidential.
Kansas City ObGyn W. Arroyo, MD Crystal M. Newby, MD Meghan A. Nichols, MD Emily S. Minderman, MD J. Connect With Us. Newby, MD The thought of having your first gynecology exam might be nerve wracking, but it is a straightforward and quick procedure that is an important part of maintaining your overall health.
Before Your Well Woman Exam Women should start receiving annual gynecology exams between the ages of 18 and 21, or when they become sexually active. What the Gynecological Exam Includes The physical exam includes a urine sample, an external and internal pelvic exam, pap smear, and a breast exam. Pelvic Exam The pelvic exam in your gynecological exam is comprised of four main steps: the external genital exam, the speculum exam, the Pap Smear test and the bimanual exam.
Pap Smear A Pap Smear checks for precancerous or cancerous cells. Breast Exam The breast exam is brief and painless. Urine Sample You will be asked to provide a urine sample.
Get Your Well-Woman Visit Every Year
A pelvic exam is a way for doctors to look for signs of illness in organs in a woman's body. The word "pelvic" refers to the pelvis. The exam is used to look at a woman's:.
You should visit your health care provider from time to time, even if you are healthy. The purpose of these visits is to:. Even if you feel fine, you should still see your provider for regular checkups. These visits can help you avoid problems in the future. For example, the only way to find out if you have high blood pressure is to have it checked regularly.
Many teen girls may be getting unnecessary pelvic exams
Many teenage girls and young women in the United States are having invasive gynecological exams, despite recommendations against the practice, according to research published Monday. The study, in JAMA Internal Medicine , found that a majority of those ages 15 to 20 who had a manual pelvic exam during a gynecologist visit likely didn't need one. George Sawaya, professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of California, San Francisco. Pelvic exams involve applying light pressure to a woman's abdomen while inserting two fingers into the vagina to feel for unusual growths or signs of infection. In , the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists changed its guidelines for pelvic exams, concluding they weren't recommended for individuals under age 21, except in certain circumstances. The exams are generally recommended for women in this age group who experience gynecological symptoms or who are pregnant. They're also recommended prior to certain procedures, such as the insertion of an intrauterine device for birth control. In the new study, Sawaya and colleagues estimated the number of unnecessary procedures following the change in the ACOG recommendations. Their analysis was based on survey data from to from 3, young women between ages 15 and The research found that, in a single year, 1.
Health screenings for women ages 18 to 39
From ages 15 to 21, the annual visit is usually more of a conversation than an exam. In most cases, a pelvic exam is not necessary, and we really want to get to know our patients. Regardless if the patient is sexually active or not. We will also discuss the HPV vaccine and home breast exams.
A pelvic exam involves physically and visually examining the female reproductive and sexual organs. It allows a doctor to look for signs of infection and illness. They will examine the:. Doctors often perform pelvic exams to check for sexually transmitted infections STIs , yeast infections, and bacterial vaginosis.
What happens during a pelvic exam?
A pelvic exam is where a doctor or nurse practitioner looks at a girl's reproductive organs both outside and internally. This includes feeling a girl's uterus and ovaries to be sure everything's normal. Teens don't usually get pelvic exams.
We all know how important exercise and diet are when it comes to living a healthy life. However, many of us forget the role of regular check-ups in staying healthy. For women, that means a well-woman exam. A general well-woman exam gives women an opportunity to discuss their reproductive health with their gynecologist or primary care physician. The exam is recommended once a year for most women. The best way to prevent cervical cancer is to follow ACOG guidelines for Pap smears and human papillomavirus HPV testing, which are both usually done at the same time.
The importance of the well-woman exam
A well woman examination is an exam offered to women to review elements of their reproductive health. The exam includes a breast examination , a pelvic examination and a pap smear but may also include other procedures. Hospitals employ strict policies relating to the provision of consent by the patient, the availability of chaperones at the examination, and the absence of other parties. Although women often undergo well-woman examinations on an annual basis, the interval for this visit and exam will vary depending on the needs of the patient. The breast examination begins with a visual inspection. With the patient in a supine or seated position, the medical professional will look at both breasts to check the color, symmetry, dimensions according to age, lean body mass, the physiological pregnancy and lactation and race, looking for abnormalities, such as bulges and shrinkage. If it is flattened or retracted umbilicated , it is necessary to consider the possibility of a cancerous lesion which has caused the malformation. Next, the breasts are palpated, again with the patient lying or sitting.
There's a common misconception that by performing a cervical exam at the end of pregnancy, one can tell if labor will begin soon or if vaginal birth is recommended or not. This is not the case. However, a cervical exam at this stage does allow a practitioner to determine dilation and possibly the position of the baby, which can help define when labor actually does or did start. Typically, practitioners will also test for group B strep at this point. It's important to note that performing a cervical exam is not risk-free: they may increase risk of vaginal infection or could possibly result in the premature rupture of membranes.
Schedule a well-woman visit with your doctor or nurse every year. Well-woman visits include a full checkup, separate from any other visit for sickness or injury. These visits focus on preventive care for women, which may include:. Your well-woman visit is a chance to focus on your overall health and wellness.
The joys of motherhood are never fully experienced until all the children are in bed. However, we all know how important it is to take care of our health, and regular visits to your AOA gynecologist are simply an essential part of growing up and taking responsibility for your health. Relax, put your feet up not in the stirrups quite yet and let us demystify the experience and reassure you that there is nothing to fear.