Well Woman and Gynaecology Exams
At Phoenix Family Medical Clinic, Well woman exams are the foundation for wellness, health promotion and disease identification and management throughout your life. It is no secret that healthy living and early detection of disease increases not only your length of life but, more importantly, your quality of living.
A periodic well woman exam for all ages is not just about good medical care, but it also gives you the opportunity to learn more about beneficial health habits, counselling and community support services as well as an overall view of the best ways to take care of yourself and your family for a lifetime.
The well woman exam basically is performed in four parts: the health history, physical exam including a breast exam, pelvic exam and an assessment for other health problems. Always remember to discuss all healthcare issues with your care provider - your best source for advice on healthy living.
Who should have Pap smears and when?
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (ACOG, 2004) recommends that young women have a complete physical exam that includes a pelvic exam with a pap smear, by age 21 unless they are sexually active. For sexually active women, this exam is recommended approximately three years after the first sexual encounter no matter what age that occurred. Women, younger than 21 who are not sexually active, but are having gynaecological problems, should seek care if symptoms are severe or do not improve.
Until age 30, ACOG recommends that all women have yearly pap tests. After age 30, if a woman has a negative history of abnormal pap smears for three years and no evidence of a virus called HPV, cervical screening can be extended to every three years unless they are at high risk for cervical cancer. Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted virus that is responsible for genital warts, cervical cell abnormalities and, in some cases, cervical cancer. There are treatments available if HPV is detected, and often it clears up on its own.
Women who have had hysterectomies (removal of the uterus and often the ovaries) should know that ACOG suggests that if a hysterectomy was done for health reasons that did not include abnormal cells and cancer, they do not need pap smears. After age 70, the American Cancer Society suggests that pap smears are no longer necessary.
It is important to know that ACOG advises all women to continue yearly pelvic exams even though they may not need a pap smear
During your visit to Phoenix Family Medical Clinic for your Well Woman exams, some questions you may need to answer include:
- Have you ever been pregnant and, if so, did you have any problems?
- Are you planning a pregnancy?
- Are you experiencing any health problems now?
- Are you up-to-date on shots?
- What about eating habits and exercise?
- Are you smoking?