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The Annual Well Women Exam: What’s New? – by Dr. Rachel Harris

The Annual Well Women Exam: What’s New?

The mainstay of women’s preventative healthcare continues to involve a yearly visit with an OB\GYN provider.  Developing a relationship with your provider is key to ongoing heath care — that way, when an issue arises; you already have a connection and can feel more comfortable discussing your problem.

Some guidelines have changed in the past several years, allowing some women to have Pap smear testing every 3-5 years instead of annually. However, yearly breast and pelvic exams remain extremely valuable for cancer and disease screening.  At your visit, we address age-appropriate health concerns, help to schedule screening tests like mammograms and colonoscopies, and keep you up to date on important immunizations.

For women under 21, a pelvic exam is not necessary unless there is a specific issue to be addressed.  We see many women under 21, however, for annual exams.  This is especially true for women with contraceptive concerns, menstrual problems, or who desire STI (sexually transmitted infection) screening.

The annual exam for women in their reproductive years focuses both on contraceptive and preconception counseling.  It is also an opportune time to undertake screening for long term health issues like high cholesterol and diabetes, as well as beginning annual mammograms at age 40.

Peri- and post-menopausal women often have many questions related to the life transition they are undergoing.  Counseling on what to expect, how to manage menopausal symptoms, and how to continue a healthy lifestyle in the setting of menopausal changes is essential to ongoing health care.

We welcome you to continue your goals for a healthy lifestyle, starting with your annual visit!