A well woman exam is a preventative examination focusing on the reproductive system. Typically, a woman 18 years or older gets this procedure done every year, although it’s recommended that yearly exams start once she becomes sexually active. The medical professional checks several key reproductive health areas in a well woman exam.
Breast cancer is a major concern for women and it’s important to find signs of this disease early on. In most cases, the medical professional visually exams the breasts to note any concerning signs that may indicate cancer or other health problems. They also search for lumps and other abnormalities during this procedure. For women over 40 or those with a family history of breast cancer, a mammogram provides an additional screening mechanism for breast cancer.
This part of the well woman exam focuses on the pelvic region, with several tests and examinations performed. The pap smear is a test that looks at cervix cells and determines whether there are any problems. The medical professional looks at these cells through a microscope and searches for HPV or cervical cancer signs. The doctor also looks for visual signs of any problems with the vulva or vagina. They use a speculum to examine the cervix. If the doctor finds any problems, a follow-up examination may be requested or the woman could be referred to a specialist for treatment options.
While these two areas are the primary focus of a well woman examine, additional tests may be conducted as part of the procedure. Basic vital signs such as blood pressure, weight and heart rate are checked. Blood may be tested for sexually transmitted infections or other bloodborne diseases. These tests help women proactively care for their health and prevent major health issues that could be stopped with enough warning.