Annual gynecologic exams (also called Well Women Exams) are recommended for all women annually starting at age 21. Routine components to this visit include a history, evaluation of your concerns and a physical exam
What to expect from a gynecologic annual exam:
Upon arrival at Dover Women’s Health, you would be greeted and checked in by our friendly front office staff. For your first visit, you are asked to arrive early, to allow time to fill out your health history form, using our state of the art touchscreen pad. A medical assistant will then bring you to an exam room. The assistant will obtain your weight, blood pressure, and the date that you started your last menstrual period. She will document any specific concerns that you would like to have addressed with the provider that day, and she will direct you to change into a full size patient gown with a lap sheet for privacy.
Next, you will see your provider, one of the physicians or nurse midwives. After reviewing your history, and your special concerns of the day, a physical exam will be performed. This exam will include palpation of your neck, listening to your heart and lungs, a breast exam, palpating your abdomen and a pelvic exam. On completion of your physical exam, your provider will review their findings with you and discuss your concerns and together make a plan for maximizing your health for the coming year.
Recommendations for pelvic exams and their frequency:
We recommend that all women have their first gynecologic visit (which will not include a pelvic exam) prior to establishing sexual activity. The standard of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is that a woman receives her first pelvic exam and Pap smear at age 21, and continues with yearly exams thereafter. From ages 30 to 64, in a healthy woman without risk factors, the Pap smear with HPV test may be completed every third year, although women in this age category are advised to continue receiving the pelvic exam without the Pap smear on the alternate years. A Pap smear and pelvic exam are important parts of a woman’s routine health care because they can detect abnormalities that may lead to cancer of the cervix. These abnormalities can often be treated before cancer develops. Most cervical cancer can be prevented if women have Pap smears regularly and as with many types of cancer, cervical cancer is more likely to be treated successfully if it is detected early.
There are a variety of symptoms that if experienced, would warrant you requesting a pelvic evaluation in addition to the above schedule.
These would include:
- unusual or persistent vaginal discharge or odor
- bleeding between periods
- pain or bleeding associated with intercourse
- Pelvic pain or menstrual cramps that disrupt your daily activities