First Well Woman Exam? Here’s What You Should Expect

Well-woman exams are often associated with poking, prodding, and a general invasion of your physical privacy. While there is some truth to that, these exams go far beyond the uncomfortable investigations. 

Your first exam can be especially awkward if you’re not sure what to expect. Fortunately, we’re here to prepare you before you even step into our office.

At Bluebonnet OB/GYN, we’re dedicated to making you feel as comfortable as possible. Dr. Patricia Brougher and our team have expert advice on what you should know before heading into your first well-woman exam.

The basics

Your well-woman exam will most likely begin with a general physical exam. Dr. Brougher takes your weight, height, and blood pressure to assess your overall health. From there, she can conduct the following procedures:

Examinations

A part of your well-woman exam includes evaluating your breast and abdomen. Dr. Brougher gently presses on the tissue around your breasts and your abdomen. She checks for any lumps, bumps, and spots of tenderness or pain.

Tests and screenings

Some tests and screenings include a urine test and other lab work. For example, collecting a blood sample to check for anemia, thyroid function, glucose levels, liver panel, and cholesterol.

Other tests include a pelvic exam also known as a Pap smear test. This is a test that evaluates the inside of your cervix and looks for any evidence of cancer, especially cervical cancer. During a Pap smear, Dr. Brougher can also examine your vulva and the opening of your vagina for any abnormalities. 

A Pap smear isn't done every time or even during the first time you come in for a well-woman exam. Dr. Brougher will recommend how frequently you need a Pap smear. 

Dr. Brougher also provides screenings for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). This is especially important because oftentimes the symptoms of STDs go undetected.

Counseling

Well-woman exams aren’t all about tests and lab work. You can use your annual exam as a chance to talk one-on-one with a fellow female who understands your needs and concerns. Some things you can discuss with Dr. Brougher are:

These are just a few of the most common topics of discussion, but we encourage you to bring up any issues related to your physical, emotional, or mental health.

When should I start getting a well-woman exam?

We recommended you schedule your first well-woman exam sometime between 13 and 15 years of age. You likely won't go through a full pelvic exam until you're older. But it’s still an opportunity to begin discussing any concerns or questions you might have. 

By your early 20s, you should start keeping annual exams. By 21 it's encouraged you have your first Pap smear. From your 20s until your 40s, you’re considered to be in your reproductive years. During this time, it’s important to come in each year to check for any abnormalities, diseases, or other issues you might have. 

After reaching the age of 45, your exams switch focus to monitoring your premenopausal and menopausal phases. Our doctor will also use this time to manage any of your symptoms.

Well-woman exams are one of the most important things you can do for yourself as a woman. There’s no substitute for Dr. Brougher’s expert medical guidance and support. When you’re ready to take the first steps towards a healthy life, call our office or schedule your first well-woman exam online.

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