The Well Woman Exam

Well woman exams are the foundation for wellness, health promotion and disease identification and management throughout your life. It is no secret that healthy living and early detection of disease increases not only your length of life but, more importantly, your quality of living. A periodic well woman exam for all ages is not just about good medical care, but it also gives you the opportunity to learn more about beneficial health habits, counseling and community support services as well as an overall view of the best ways to take care of yourself and your family for a lifetime.

The well women exam basically is performed in four parts: the health history, physical exam including a breast exam, pelvic exam and an assessment for other health problems. Always remember to discuss all healthcare issues with your care provider—your best source for advice on healthy living.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG, 2004) recommends that young women have a complete physical exam that includes a pelvic exam with a pap smear, by age 21 unless they are sexually active. For sexually active women, this exam is recommended approximately three years after the first sexual encounter no matter what age that occurred. Women, younger than 21 who are not sexually active, but are having gynecological problems, should seek care if symptoms are severe or do not improve. After age 30, how often a pap smear should be done depends on past health history and your age. However, it is important to know that The ACOG advises all women to continue yearly pelvic exams even though they may not need a pap smear.

The well woman exam has identified many healthcare problems of women throughout the lifecycle when treatment is possible and cure is optimal. It is an excellent opportunity to seek information on healthy living for you and your family members. Your health is the most precious thing you have.