Well Woman Care
Well Woman Care is the adoption of preventative and consultative practices that are vital to a woman’s health, no matter how healthy she may appear to be.
A Well Woman Care program often centers around a group of annual screenings and tests, although it may also include regular dietary and overall maintenance doctor visits.
Well Woman Care annual exams usually include:
Breast exam: Mammograms are highly encouraged for women over 40 every one or two years. Images that appear to show cancer that is not in fact present tend to occur more often in younger women, and sometimes mammograms will require further testing. However, breast cancer is best combated by early detection, so you should consult with your physician on your need for screenings, especially if you have a personal or family history of breast cancer.
In addition, every woman should keep track of any changes in her breasts. You should contact your physician if you notice any of the following:
- Developing lumps
- Skin irritation
- Nipple pain or retraction
- Redness or scaliness of the nipple or breast skin
- Any discharge other than milk
Pelvic exam: Pelvic exams enable a doctor to examine organs near the pelvis, including the vulva, uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes, ovaries, bladder, and rectum. The doctor will examine the organs from the outside, feeling for any change in shape and position, as well as perform a speculum exam in order to inspect the vagina and cervix. Sometimes a rectal exam is performed as well.
Pap smear: Also called a pap test, a pap smear is done during a pelvic exam and takes a sample of cervical cells in order to test for any abnormalities or changes in the tissue that may lead to cervical cancer. Women who are sexually active or over the age of 21 should have a pap smear done annually. Pap smears are not 100% conclusive when determining sexually transmitted diseases, and other tests may be necessary to verify their presence.
As part of the entire spectrum of Well Woman Care, the doctor will probably also check the patient’s blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Optional Tests: Other Well Woman Care tests include, but are not limited to:
- Bone Density Scanning / Osteoporosis
- Cardiac screening (for women with risk factors)
- Colonoscopy (recommended every ten years after age 50, except for those with risk factors)
- Breast cancer screening