Guidelines for Pap smears and cervical cancer screening have changed over the years. But that doesn’t mean you should skip your annual GYN exam —your wellness visit. Your annual well-woman visit is more than a pelvic and breast exam. It’s about checking in on your overall health.
Before you find yourself sitting on the exam table, put some thought into what you want to get out of your visit. Did anything happen since your last wellness visit that worried you slightly but not enough to prompt a visit to the doctor’s office? This is your chance to talk to your provider and share what’s new in your life. An opportunity to discuss changes in your body, period and sleep patterns. Are you experiencing pain during sex? Leaking when you run, jump or laugh too hard? Have your birth control or hormone replacement needs changed? Based on your conversation, you and your provider can decide if there are any screenings or tests you might need.
Your annual wellness visit includes a physical exam and health assessment which can help detect problems like high blood pressure, diabetes, thyroid issues, bone density loss, cervical, uterine, breast cancer, anemia and more. And, it’s your chance to address your emotional well-being, too. Are you taking life’s challenges in stride? Or are you constantly feeling overwhelmed and exhausted? What about abuse—partner or substance? Your provider can’t help you if you don’t share what’s going on in your life, body, and mind.
If you’re like many women, your annual wellness visit is the only time you take out of your hectic schedule to see a doctor. Make the most out of it. Be honest and open so that they can help keep you healthy, catch problems early, start treatment and prevent long-term issues.
If you have trouble remembering when your last check-up was, or difficulty remembering when to set up the next one, schedule it during your birth month. Think of your annual exam as a gift to yourself—the gift of health and well-being. And, put yourself on top of your to-do list. You’re worth it. And, your family and friends will thank you for taking care of yourself.
About Virginia Women’s Center
At Virginia Women’s Center, every medical decision we make—together with you—is based on what is best for you. Our goal is to educate and empower you so that you can actively manage and maintain your health, no matter where you are in your life journey. Our dedicated, knowledgeable team is here for you, from adolescence to menopause and beyond.