Well-Woman Visit: Preventive Care and Screenings for Women

In women over 65, cervical cancer accounts for over 20% of cases. This is why booking a well-woman visit for preventive care is essential.

There are many reasons to schedule a well-woman appointment regularly. A healthcare provider will do a few things during this visit—cancer screenings, blood pressure checks, HIV screening, etc. Preventive care is critical to detect health problems before they worsen, but many women neglect this wellness check.

If you want to know more about scheduling a well-woman visit, keep reading. This blog explores everything you need to know, so you're prepared. 

What Is a Well-Woman Visit?

A well-woman visit is a healthcare provider's visit that focuses exclusively on women. These visits differ from regular healthcare provider visits as the exams are focused entirely on reproductive health, which includes your uterus, cervix, vagina, and breasts. Healthcare providers recommend these visits as a preventive measure for your health.

Your healthcare provider will determine the services you receive during your well-woman visit. They will consider your age and other risk factors, such as your reproduction needs and health status. 

You should schedule a well-woman visit once a year, as recommended by The Women's Preventive Services Initiative. This visit can help with decreasing stress.

Your healthcare provider may complete a well-woman visit in one session or over several appointments if there are other health concerns. A well-woman visit incorporates:

  • Pre-pregnancy visits
  • Pre-natal visits
  • Postpartum visits
  • Interpregnancy visits

Prevention and Screening

You may undergo one or more women's health screenings during your well-woman visit. Healthcare providers recommend medical screenings as they can detect any abnormalities early on so you can begin treatment immediately if required. Some types of screenings your healthcare provider may perform are, but are not limited to:

  • Gestational diabetes screening (if pregnant)
  • STI screening (Gonorrhea, syphilis, etc.)
  • HIV screening
  • Blood pressure screening
  • Depression screening
  • Infection screening (UTI)
  • Bone density screening
  • Cervical cancer screening (Pap smear)
  • Breast cancer screening and prevention (Mammography)
  • Colorectal cancer screening
  • Hep B and C screening

Other Services

A well-woman visit is not only for screening but also for other prevention services. These services may or may not be available for everyone, but your healthcare provider will advise you on the full criteria needed.

  • Counseling services (HIV, breast cancer, STI, etc.)
  • Access to HIV medication
  • Tobacco interventions
  • Mammogram
  • Pregnancy advice (Breastfeeding vs. formula feeding)
  • Access to folic acid supplements

Screening and Services Eligibility

Your healthcare provider can offer many services and screenings during your well-woman visit. However, you must meet specific criteria to be eligible for certain screenings and services. For example, here is what you need to qualify for the following:

Diabetes Screening

Diabetes screening is done on overweight or obese women between 40 and 70 years. You can also be screened if you've had gestational diabetes previously.

Physical Activity Counseling

To receive this service, you need to be overweight or obese. Furthermore, you must have cardiovascular risk factors, such as abnormal blood glucose levels, hypertension, and diabetes.

Blood Pressure Screening

There are no particular criteria for a blood pressure test. It's performed with an inflatable cuff that wraps around your bicep. It's quick, immediate, and not painful.

Hep B Screening

To be screened for Hepatitis B (HBV) you must have been born in a country with an HBV infection rate of over 2%. You may also be screened for Hep B if you never had a vaccine as a child. Finally, HIV-positive people, IV drug users, and people in contact with others with Hep B can also be tested.

STI Prevention Counseling

If you have a new sex partner or more than one, you may be eligible for sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevention counseling. A healthcare provider can also counsel you if your sexual partners have an STI.

Breast Cancer Screening

There are no particular requirements for breast cancer screening. Instead, it's handled on a case-by-case per the individual being examined.

Perinatal Depression Intervention

Women suffering from family stressors (i.e., intimate partner or any type of abuse or violence), have a history of depression, or are struggling with single parenthood are eligible for perinatal depression intervention.

Primary Care Physical Exams

You will likely undergo three primary physical exams during your well-woman visit. These are all extremely important for your overall health, so having these done at least once a year is essential. This is especially important if you're sexually active. Primary care exams will be conducted based on a woman's age and health needs.

Pelvic Exam

A pelvic exam is an internal exam whereby the healthcare provider will insert two lubricated, gloved fingers into your vaginal canal. This exam doesn't take long, primarily to check for lumps and abnormalities. If anything feels painful, you must voice concerns to your healthcare provider during the exam.

Breast Exam

For this exam, your healthcare provider will examine each breast with a gentle massage in circular motions. You may be sitting or lying back for this exam. Your healthcare provider is looking for lumps, cysts, or other abnormalities.

If necessary, further tests will be done or ordered by your provider, if any lumps or concerning lesions are identified during an exam. As most breast cancers are initially identified by a self breast exam (SBE), every woman should perform a self breast exam (SBE) at least once a month.

Pap Smear

This exam makes most women uncomfortable as it involves medical equipment. This equipment is called a speculum; the healthcare provider inserts it into your vaginal canal. The speculum aids your healthcare provider in examining inside your vagina, vulva, and cervix.

This examination is performed with a cotton swab which your healthcare provider wipes across your cervix. Your healthcare provider will send this sample to a lab, and you'll get your results in a few days. This test is primarily screening for cervical cancer.

Begin Your Healthy Living Today

Preventive care and screenings are critical to your overall health as a woman. It's essential to know your status, and by scheduling a regular well-woman visit, you can stay on top of your health and health concerns. While you may not get every screening listed, things like your blood pressure can give you a good baseline to measure against.

If you need family primary care, contact us today. We focus on disease prevention and health promotion. We have empathetic medical professionals waiting to assist.

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