Proactively scheduling a well-woman visit each year is a great way for women to take charge of their health. Annual women’s wellness exams typically include discussion of health topics relevant to your age and risk factors, exams and screenings, and immunizations.
“It's best to have your first well-woman visit between the ages of 13 and 15, and continue each year thereafter. Pelvic exams are recommended by age 21,” said Dr. Vanessa Cook, Family Medicine physician at Ascension Via Christi Clinic in Manhattan. “No matter what age you are, it’s crucial that you build a good relationship and that you are honest with your provider so they can provide you with the best care possible. Well-woman visits don’t have to remain focused on physical health – the more your healthcare provider knows about your health history and habits, the more comprehensive care they can provide.”
According to Dr. Cook:
- Women don’t have to see a gynecologist for a well-woman visit: While you can see a gynecologist, you can also visit your primary care provider or nurse practitioner. Each of these providers can provide appropriate screenings, exams, and immunizations.
- Routine preventative health screenings are critical components of women’s health: Routine health care visits help prevent health problems or detect problems early. If problems are found early, they may be easier to treat and less likely to pose serious risks to your health.
- You can perform breast self-exams between well-woman visits: Breast self-exams and mammograms are critical for early breast cancer detection. If you notice any changes in your breasts, such as a new lump or skin changes, consult your doctor. Also, ask your doctor when to begin mammograms based on risk factors and personal history.
To speak with a provider about the importance of annual well-woman visits, please contact: