You’ve heard that an annual well woman exam is important for maintaining the health of your reproductive organs throughout your life cycle. But, a well woman exam can be so much more than that. When you establish a relationship with your OB/GYN, you then have a trusted professional you can turn to whenever you have a question or need advice about your health.
At Florida Woman Care of Jacksonville, with two offices in Jacksonville, Florida, expert OB/GYNs Daniel McDyer, MD, FACOG, and Julian Stephen Suhrer, MD, recommend annual well woman exams for all of their patients. Here’s what happens in a well woman exam and how it can help you achieve and maintain optimal health for life.
Your doctor wants to make sure that you’re feeling well and haven’t had any concerning symptoms since your last visit. They ask about your health and — if you’re still menstruating — whether your period has been regular and comfortable.
If you’re in perimenopause or menopause, they ask you about any symptoms you might have related to that, such as insomnia, hot flashes, mood disturbances or loss of libido. You can also feel free to report any symptoms you’ve noticed on your own or to ask questions about any aspect of your reproductive, physical, or mental health.
While you’re waiting for the doctor, our nurse weighs you and checks your blood pressure and pulse. She will also have you provide a urine specimen.
Your doctor ensures that you’re healthy and fit by conducting a complete physical examination of your body, focused on your breasts and pelvic area. You wear an exam gown during the physical and a nurse or Medical Assistant is present the entire time.
While you lie face up on the examination table, your doctor gently palpates your breasts with his hands. He does this to check for any breast tenderness — which could be a sign of cystic breasts or pregnancy — and to identify any possible lumps.
He then presses on your abdominal and pelvic area. First, that helps him identify any areas that may feel tender or painful. He may also be able to determine if you have any physical abnormalities or masses such as fibroid tumors or other types of growths.
Your OB/GYN may also feel inside your vagina with his gloved finger to check for abnormalities. Depending on your age and the date of your last Pap smear test, he may also insert a speculum into your vagina so he can get a better look at your cervix, which is the opening to your uterus. He then swabs the outside of the cervix and sends the sample to a lab to check for any abnormal cells that could be an early sign of precancerous or cancerous changes of the cervix. This test can also check for vaginal and cervical infections, such as gonorrhea, chlamydia and trichomonas.
In addition to a Pap smear test, your OB/GYN will probably ask you for a sample of your urine. This is done to ensure that you don’t have a urinary tract infection (UTI), abnormalities of the bladder or kidneys or other type of infection.
If you’re sexually active, he may also order blood tests to check for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Your OB/GYN can also check a pregnancy test from your urine specimen or from a blood test if you think that you might be pregnant. If you’re hoping to become pregnant, but aren’t pregnant yet, he will order blood tests to evaluate your health so he can identify any hormonal problems that could affect your chances of becoming pregnant.
If you’re due for your vaccines, we can take care of them for you. For girls and women between the ages of 9 and 45, we may recommend a vaccine that prevents against human papilloma virus (HPV), which is the main cause of cervical cancer as well as other types of cancers.
Your annual well woman exam at Florida Woman Care of Jacksonville presents you the perfect opportunity to get any advice or insights you need into your reproductive health. For instance, if you’re considering birth control, we can help you choose the right type that meets your present needs and values. If you are having menopausal issues, sexual health issues or urinary problems, such as leaking urine, we can help you with those problems, too, among many others, including vaginal problems and menstrual issues.
If you’re being physically or emotionally abused at home or at work, our doctors can help you get the care you need to stay safe by referring you to counselors or agencies that deal with abuse.
Set up your well woman exam by phoning our nearest office or booking an appointment online. We look forward to the privilege of providing your care!