If you haven’t had a well-woman exam yet, you may feel a little nervous about scheduling your first one, especially if you’re a teen or young woman. You’re probably wondering what to expect and how it will feel to have a gynecological exam.
These feelings are normal. Most women feel a little apprehensive before their gynecological check-ups. But our team of care providers at Associates in Women’s Health in Cincinnati want to reassure you that we will do our best to make your first well-woman exam a positive experience.
To help you prepare for your first exam, we’d like to tell you what you can expect.
What is a well-woman exam?
A well-woman exam is a medical visit that occurs not to receive treatment for an illness, but to assess your health, answer your questions, and advise you on how to prevent future health concerns.
We focus on your reproductive health, addressing issues such as contraception, pregnancy planning, sexuality, menstruation, and the health of your reproductive system.
A woman’s first well-woman exam should take place as early as age 13 to 15, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. If you are older than that and haven’t had a well-woman exam, we recommend that you schedule one soon, especially if you are sexually active.
Much to talk about
Although your well-woman exam does include a physical examination, we also spend a significant part of the visit talking with you. We ask you questions about your health, your periods, your sexual activity, and your health history. And we invite you to ask us questions, too. Feel free to write them down beforehand, so you remember them all.
Keep in mind that our medical office is a judgment-free zone. Our goal is to provide you with the information and care you need. Anything you say remains confidential between you and your provider.
During your exam
In addition to a discussion about your overall health, a well-woman exam includes the following:
A physical exam
We check your heart, lungs, blood pressure, heart rate, reflexes, and breasts. If necessary, we may recommend a urine test, blood test, or screening tests to check things like blood sugar or kidney function.
A pelvic exam
During your pelvic exam, your provider uses an instrument known as a speculum to check on the health of your vagina, cervix, and ovaries.
If you need a Pap smear, your provider gently scrapes cells from your cervix. This test checks for abnormal cervical cells. Pap smears are typically done on women starting at age 21.
During your pelvic exam, your provider may also check for sexually transmitted infections. If you have not yet had an HPV vaccine, your provider may recommend one since HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the US. The HPV vaccine can help prevent cancers caused by HPV.
If you are sexually active, your provider talks with you about birth control. If you wish to use birth control, your provider works with you to decide which method best suits your needs. There are many types of birth control; the one that is best for you depends on several factors.
Schedule your well-woman exam today
To make an appointment for your well-woman exam, call our office at 513-794-1500, or request an appointment today.