If you’re not thrilled about the prospect of a gynecological exam, particularly when you feel fine, you aren’t alone. Studies show that pelvic exams are a source of anxiety for the majority of women having them. It’s natural to feel the urge to skip a medical appointment when there seems to be nothing wrong.
Women’s health strongly benefits from preventive care. Some conditions develop over years and they produce few symptoms, if any, in their early stages. Regular gynecological exams can detect these early changes long before a health threat exists.
Dr. Betsy Horton and the team at Alpha Internal Medicine in Fayetteville, Georgia, offer world-class internal medicine while also specializing in women’s health. Rethink that urge to skip this year’s exam and schedule your appointment today.
Goals for a well woman exam
Understanding the three goals your doctor has for a well woman exam helps you make the decision to keep to your scheduled appointments. These goals are:
- Reviewing your medical history, including changes since your last visit
- Physical exam including Pap test, if required
- Health education and goal-setting
As you can see, each aspect of your visit serves the purposes of identifying potential health issues while staying on course with preventive health measures. Let’s look at each goal.
Your everyday life impacts significantly on your health, so pinpointing changes is often helpful when evaluating future health risks. Be ready to share changes in diet, exercise, personal habits, relationships, family health, and anything that might help your doctor detect a health risk.
They’ll ask questions that may sometimes seem personal, but these are necessary to form a clear picture of potential changes that might affect you in the future.
Your vital signs are often good indicators of your overall health, particularly when compared with previous appointments. A key benefit of maintaining a regular exam cycle is continuity. Your current blood pressure, for example, may be healthy within general guidelines, but if it’s substantially different from your previous visits, it may be a clue about health changes.
Pelvic exams and Pap tests sometimes show changes long before you’re aware of a problem and indeed, often long before there is a problem. Pap tests can detect precancerous changes to cells in the cervix that indicate you might be developing cancer. Since cervical cancer typically progresses slowly, you’ll have plenty of time for confirming tests and preventive treatment, and you may never have a cancerous condition because of this early detection.
Health education and goals
An often overlooked part of doctor visits is the education portion. With all the disinformation floating through the internet and word of mouth, your well woman visit is an ideal time to get the best information from an informed and trusted source. Have questions ready for your doctor in advance.
This goal also looks to the future, planning for health-related actions between now and the next visit. If you’re trying to quit smoking, lose weight, or take other corrective action for your health, you can discuss strategy and support now.
Effective healthcare is a collaboration between you and your providers. Contact Alpha Internal Medicine to arrange your next gynecological exam. You can call the office or use the appointment request tool on this page. Book now, whether you’re on schedule or overdue, even if you feel great. Your continued health depends on it.