There is no better feeling than knowing you are okay or addressing a health concern early. It’s an opportunity for you to focus on your overall health and goals, and to also build a good relationship with your doctor or nurse. In fact, scheduling a well woman exam each year is the best birthday present you can give yourself!
Well woman visits are separate from other doctor visits for sickness or injury; these visits focus on preventative care just for women.
Why get a well woman exam?
Focus on YOU.
Well woman visits are a time to focus exclusively on you and your needs. If you have health goals, like losing weight or quitting smoking, you and your doctor or nurse can make a plan to help you meet these goals. These visits also help you stop small problems from turning into big ones.
Your conversations with your doctor during these visits are, by law, confidential. You can feel safe asking any question, whether it’s about birth control, relationship violence, or depression, to name a few.
If your mom had breast cancer, or a family member had diabetes, your well woman visit is the perfect time to ask about your own risk for these conditions, and find out how you can lower your risk.
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010, preventive exams like your annual well woman visit are usually covered by your health insurance plan at no cost to you.
Plans must also cover some screenings and types of counseling.
It’s a good idea to call your doctor’s office or your health insurance plan to find out if your visit will be free or low-cost.
If you don’t have insurance some local providers will work with you so it is affordable and in some cases free.
RELAX: you need a Pap smear every 3 years, not every year.
Everyone gets a little nervous about pelvic exams, no matter how many times you’ve had one. But rules have recently changed: most women don’t need a Pap smear every year; now you just need to get one every 3 years, if you are 21 years old, or a sexually active woman of any age. In some special cases, your doctor may recommend you get a Pap smear more frequently than every 3 years, so talk to your doctor about what is best for you.
Make a list of questions for your doctor
This visit is a great time to ask the doctor or nurse any questions about:
- Your birth control options… Download the Guide
- Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
- Your reproductive health
- Being more active
- Your safety and relationships
- Eating healthy foods
- Anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues
Some important questions include:
- Do I need any important vaccinations?
- What changes can I make to eat healthier?
- How can I protect myself from HIV and other STDs?
- What birth control is right for me? Download the Guide
- How do I know if my relationship is healthy and safe?
- Where can I get help if I am anxious or depressed?
- How can I be more physically active?