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Why an Annual Well Woman Exam is so Important

It’s safe to say that most women don’t necessarily look forward to visiting their gynecologist or receiving a well-woman exam from their family doctor every year. It’s very personal and can be uncomfortable. It may not be your favorite thing to do, but your annual well woman exam is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Early intervention can mean the difference between catching cancer early and having to manage it once it has progressed.

That’s not to say cancer is the only concern. Many different health issues can be addressed during your annual exam. Breast exams and pap smears can tell you if something is abnormal long before troubling symptoms you can’t ignore develop. Often, by the time symptoms develop, diseases have progressed considerably. Preventative care is the best approach when it comes to dealing with your long-term health.

Getting serious about early intervention

If you read the news, you’ve no doubt come across stories where a woman’s life was saved thanks to a routine wellness exam. This isn’t as uncommon as you might think.

Keep in mind that many diseases don’t show drastic symptoms that are indicative of something being wrong until they have progressed. Consider that a simple pap smear can tell you when something is wrong when it’s still at the cellular level before things like tumors become visible.

The more advanced a disease becomes, the fewer options you’ll have for combatting it. A yearly examination along with diligent self-checking can help reduce the chances of being caught by surprise later on when a condition has progressed.

How the well-woman exam takes place

The woman’s wellness exam consists of four main parts, each addressing different facets of your health.

Health history

You’ll be asked a series of question to help the doctor evaluate the state of your overall health. Typical questions usually involve subjects such as your exercise habits, your diet, if you smoke, and other similar topics. You’ll also be asked questions regarding pregnancy to get a better gauge of your experience.

Physical exam

The physical exam is like any other regular physical from your family doctor. Your weight will be measured, blood pressure taken, and heart and lung function checked. You may also undergo a urine test to check for any abnormalities.

Clinical breast exam

The first of the two major specialized exams during your visit, this is to screen for lumps or other signs of possible disease in the breast tissue.

This exam is performed both sitting up and lying down to ensure that the area is checked thoroughly. Your doctor will also go over proper technique for self-examination with you so that you can check yourself throughout the year.

Pelvic exam

The pelvic exam can be a bit different depending on your age. For example, not everyone gets a Pap smear annually. The Pap smear can be an early indicator of many different conditions. The physical component is the same for everyone. A manual examination of the vagina and pelvic area will occur to evaluate the vaginal walls and the cervix. You may also be asked questions related to menstruation, menopause, or other topics depending on your age.


Your annual well woman exam may be a bit more in depth than the typical physical and the process can be a little uncomfortable, but you owe it to yourself to get this very important exam done every year to screen for possible life-threatening conditions. If you are due for your annual well woman exam or if it’s been awhile since your last one, it’s time to make an appointment to come in. Book an appointment online today. Dr. Scarborough and the team at Family Life Medical are here to provide you with the care you need so you can stay happy and healthy.

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