A well-woman exam is one of the most important steps that women of all ages can take to protect their health.

two women with black hairThis is an annual preventive screening of breast and gynecological diseases. During the visit, your doctor will discuss your health and lifestyle behaviors and will perform a physical exam of your breast and pelvis.

Why is it important to have a well-woman exam?

The well-woman exam is important because women need screening for breast and gynecologic cancers and to discuss any preventive and sexually transmitted disease screening. It is also a good time for pre-pregnancy counseling.

How often should I have a well-woman exam?

Starting at age 21, well-woman exams should be performed yearly. It is recommended that the first visit occur in the mid- to late-teens.

What questions will I be asked during my well-woman exam?

During your exam, the doctor may ask about:

  • Exercise
  • Nutrition
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Sexual practices
  • Menstrual cycles

What is checked for during the exam and what tests will be performed?

  • Breast exam
  • Pelvic exam – to check for uterine or ovarian abnormalities and screen for cervical cancer.
  • Depending on age, a mammogram or bone density scan may be ordered.
  • Depending on age, a Pap smear and possibly a test for the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) may be ordered.