The Importance Of Well-Woman Visits

Well-woman visits are annual checkups of female reproductive and gynecological health. Many medical conditions can be discovered and treated during visits. Pap smears, cervical screenings, and breast exams are used to detect and prevent cancer. Well-woman exams are essential for maintaining female health.

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Why are these exams important?

Well-woman exams focus on preventative care. The visits are a comprehensive review of a female’s health. As reproductive organs mature, a woman should begin annual visits with a gynecologist. Many medical conditions are only found and treated through gynecological visits. For instance, the human papillomavirus (HPV) is the leading cause of cervical cancer and only discoverable through Pap smears. The HPV vaccine can prevent 9 of the most viral and cancer-causing strains. During well-woman exams, the doctor will answer any questions and recommend treatment plans. Preventative screenings identify abnormalities and allow for early-stage treatment. The earlier treatment is started, the better the outcome will be.

Age and well-woman visits

Most females under the age of 13 do not need pelvic exams. Pelvic exams are recommended when a female turns 21 or becomes sexually active. Mammograms are generally reserved for women 45 and older. Well-woman exams begin with an overview of a patient’s medical and sexual history. The doctor will need to know any current medications the patient is taking. Certain medications can affect fertility or create unwanted gynecological symptoms such as yeast infections.

Cervical screenings, Pap smears, and breast exams

Cervical screenings, Pap smears, and breast exams are 3 of the most common tests performed during well-woman exams. All are used as early cancer detection and prevention. Cervical screenings and Pap smears are similar and both look at the cervix. The purpose of the tests sets the two apart. Pap smears are used to identify abnormal cells on the cervix. Cervical screenings look specifically for HPV. Breast exams are used to detect lumps that could become problematic. During the exam, the doctor will look at the shape, size, texture, and color of breast tissue. Breast self-exams can be performed at home.

Improving overall health

Well-woman exams ensure a woman’s gynecological and reproductive health stay on track. The exams help identify lifestyle or genetic factors that may put the patient at greater risk. Pap smears, cervical screenings, and breast exams are the best methods for early cancer detection and prevention. Women should consult with a healthcare provider for more information on cancer screening and prevention.