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What a well-woman exam is and why you need one

What a well-woman exam is and why you need one

Has it been a while since you had a well-woman exam? It’s time to get one on the books. This type of medical visit is an essential part of preventive care.

While you might think about visiting a medical provider as something you do when you’re under the weather or have an injury, regular visits are important. By seeing your provider yearly, you can get a good look at whether there are any underlying issues and help prevent medical conditions in the future.

Keep reading to see how much you know about well-woman exams and why it might be time to schedule with a University Medical Center New Orleans provider.

Well-woman exam vs. annual physical: What’s the difference?

If you’ve ever wondered whether a well-woman exam and an annual physical were the same thing, you aren’t alone. It’s a common question. The answer? Sometimes.

Preventive care for women can be provided as two separate appointments with different providers—seeing an OB/GYN for a well-woman exam and a primary care provider for an annual physical, for example.

Sometimes, though, you may see one provider for both types of checkups at one appointment. It’s not uncommon for women’s health providers, including OB/GYNs, to provide a comprehensive annual checkup for women.

During a typical checkup with an OB/GYN, the visit focuses primarily on the genital area and the breasts. Your annual checkup will include a pelvic exam, encompassing a Pap smear and HPV testing in some cases, and a breast exam.

This visit may also include conversations about your sexual health and reproductive health, as well as recommendations about vaccines you need, tests for sexually transmitted infection, and screenings for breast cancer and cervical cancer.

When you see a primary care provider for an annual physical, the visit usually includes a broader look at your overall health. You’ll be asked about your medical history and your family health history, as well as your lifestyle habits. Your provider will listen to your lungs, check your blood pressure and pulse, and take a look at your eyes, ears and throat.

During this visit, you’ll also have blood drawn for lab work to check on levels, such as your blood sugar and cholesterol. If needed, your provider will refer you to specialists for medical care and recommend age-appropriate screenings and vaccines.

If you see your OB/GYN as your sole medical provider, your well-woman exam and annual physical can be completed together. That visit will include all the elements outlined above to ensure you get a comprehensive look at your overall health.

Why regular checkups are important

Whether you’re a two-checkup gal or like to handle it all in one visit, the important thing is to have an annual well-woman exam. Visiting a medical provider regularly is essential for ensuring you’re in good health—and that you stay that way.

If you’re feeling well, that’s great. Seeing your provider can help you detect any illnesses that might be there without symptoms and take steps to prevent health issues. These appointments can also help you keep track of the other essentials for preventive care for women: vaccinations, screenings and blood work.

Time for your well-woman exam? Schedule an appointment with University Medical Center New Orleans to get a good look at your health.