What is a Well-Woman Visit?
Schedule your well-woman visit with a doctor or nurse every year. The well-woman visit is a great tool to help you stay healthy.
Well-woman visits include a full checkup, separate from any other visit for sickness or injury. These visits focus on preventive care for women, which may include:
- Services, like shots, that improve your health by preventing diseases and other health problems
- Screenings, which are medical tests to check for diseases early when they may be easier to treat
- Education to help you make health decisions
What happens during a well-woman visit?
Your well-woman visit is a chance to focus on your overall health and wellness. There are 3 main goals for the visit:
- Documenting your health habits and history
- Getting a physical exam
- Setting health goals
- Health habits and history
Before your visit, the doctor or nurse will ask you to answer some questions about your overall health. These questions may cover topics like your:
- Medical history
- Family’s health history
- Relationships and sexual partners
- Eating habits and physical activity
- Use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs
- Mental health history, including depression
- Physical exam
The doctor or nurse will do a physical exam, which usually includes:
- Measuring your height and weight
- Checking your blood pressure
- Doing a breast exam
- Doing a Pap test and pelvic exam
- Health goals
You and the doctor or nurse will talk about the next steps for helping you stay healthy. Together, you can decide which screenings or follow-up services are right for you.
If you have health goals, like losing weight or quitting smoking, you and your doctor or nurse can make a plan to help you meet these goals.
How often do I need a well-woman visit?
It’s a good idea to get a well-woman visit once a year. Depending on the screenings or other services you need, it may take more than 1 visit.
For example, the doctor or nurse may ask you to come in for a follow-up visit to discuss the results of a screening. Or you may need a separate appointment to get a specific service.
How to make sure you get the most out of your well-woman visit
Know your family health history
The health history of your family is an important part of your personal health record. Write down this information and take it to your well-woman visit.
Make a list of questions for your doctor.
This visit is a great time to ask the doctor or nurse any questions related to:
- Birth control
- Sexually transmitted diseases(STDs)
- Preparing to get pregnant
- Eating healthy foods
- Getting more active
- Your safety and relationships
- Anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues
Some important questions include:
- Do I need any important shots?
- How can I protect myself from HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)?
- How can I get more physical activity?
- Which form of birth control is right for me?
- How do I know if my relationship is healthy and safe?
- Where can I get help for a mental health issue?
Take a notepad and write down the answers so you remember them later.
Talk with your doctor about which screenings you need.
Getting screening tests is one of the most important things you can do for your health. At your well-woman visit, the doctor may recommend screening you for:
- Certain types of cancer
- HPV (human papillomavirus, which can lead to cervical cancer)
- HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
- High blood pressure and cholesterol
- Osteoporosis(weak bones)
- Domestic violence
- In addition to screenings, the doctor may sometimes recommend counseling.
Follow up with the doctor after your visit
During your well-woman visit, the doctor or nurse may recommend that you see a specialist or get certain screenings. Try to schedule these follow-up appointments before you leave the doctor’s office.