Sexual Health

Sexual Health

You can’t take good care of yourself if you don’t take care of your sexual and reproductive health. This means getting to know your body and getting regular check-ups, as well as addressing any other issues that might pop up.

Don’t know what you would need a wellness check up for? Below list different age ranges when a woman would add on different tests to their well woman check.

Ages 21-24: You may choose to start getting Pap tests at this age if you want
Ages 25-65: HPV test (or a Pap and HPV test together) every 5 years
Ages 25-39: clinical breast exam every 1-3 years
Ages 40+: mammogram every 1-2 years.

This is a general guideline but please talk with your doctor about what your exam should include. Sexual activity and family medical history can change what a well woman check up looks like for each individual. 

What is a wellness visit?

Your wellness visit is all about you, your body, and your reproductive health. Wellness visits are also called gynecological exams, pelvic exams, annual exams, or well woman exams.

What happens at a wellness visit?

When you arrive for your well-woman exam, you’ll go through the regular physical exam process of having your weight taken and your pulse and blood pressure taken. You may also be asked for a urine sample. 

After this, you are given a paper gown and left alone to undress and put on the gown in the examination room. Before reentering, your doctor will knock and make sure you are ready for her to enter.

Once your doctor reenters the room, he or she will begin the pelvic exam, pap smear, and breast exam. Here’s what you can expect for each one:

Pelvic Exam

For the pelvic exam, your doctor will put on gloves and lubricate two gloves that he or she will then insert into your vaginal canal to perform a quick exam. She’ll apply some pressure to your abdomen and check for abnormal lumps or pain. Expect pressure around the middle and sides of your abdomen, and don’t be afraid to speak up if you feel pain or tenderness during the exam. That’s the whole purpose of it.

Pap Smear

This is perhaps one of the more daunting exams, but it’s a routine procedure, and there is no reason to feel intimidated by it. If you are, don’t be afraid to ask your doctor to explain the procedure and ask any questions you may have.

During the pap smear, your doctor will insert a lubricated speculum into your vaginal canal to view the inside of your vulva, vagina, and also your cervix. She’ll swipe your cervix with a cotton swab and send it to a lab in order to make sure there aren’t any signs of cervical cancer and ensure your cervix is healthy. 

Breast Exam

For your breast exam, you may be asked to lift one arm behind your head so that your doctor can easily examine each breast. The exam itself should be pain-free as your doctor gently massages each breast in small, circular movements. She’ll look for any abnormal lumps or possible cysts.

Breast exams will catch early signs of breast cancer. While not all lumps are cancerous, catching them early on will help reduce the risk and let your doctor know what to keep an eye out for. If any lumps are found during the exam, your doctor will order a biopsy to determine if they are cancerous or not.


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