Why Well-Woman Visits Are Important -- And What To Ask

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wellness exam
Sandhia Varyani, MD

Ladies, it’s time to rethink your annual exam. Yearly well-woman visits with your health care provider – often with an obstetrician/gynecologist (OB/GYN) – offer way more for your well-being than the pelvic exam and Pap test that likely come to mind.

Get The Information You Need

Your OB/GYN, a physician who specializes in the care of women, can provide a wide range of health-related education, counseling and services throughout your lifetime. Depending on your needs at the time of the well-woman visit, you can address:

  • Screenings, such as those for breast and cervical cancers and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
  • Pregnancy prevention
  • Prenatal, pregnancy, childbirth and postnatal care
  • Infertility evaluations and procedures
  • Perimenopausal and postmenopausal care
  • Surgery, including abdominal and vaginal procedures

“While OB/GYNs are specialists, they can also provide many primary care services, such as immunizations and blood pressure screenings,” says Sandhia Varyani, MD, an OB/GYN affiliated with UH MacDonald Women’s Hospital. “You can even work together to reach health goals, like starting an exercise routine, losing weight, practicing safe sex, having a healthy pregnancy, transitioning through perimenopause and managing menopause.”

Track Your Health History And Symptoms

Talking about your health history is a key component of each well-woman exam. You may be asked personal questions about the following topics:

  • Menstrual periods
  • Sexual health and partners
  • Health conditions that run in your family
  • Current use of medicines, vitamins and herbs
  • Mental health history, including depression and anxiety
  • Substance use, such as alcohol and tobacco
  • Symptoms you’re experiencing, such as nipple discharge, pelvic pain or pain when urinating
  • Coordination of care with your primary care provider

Just as important – be ready to ask your own questions!

Get Questions Answered

“No topic is off-limits during a well-woman visit,” Dr. Varyani says. “Remember that your provider discusses sensitive issues every day.” Feel free to ask anything, including:

  • Do I need any vaccines?
  • How can I protect myself from STDs?
  • What are my birth control options?
  • How can I tell if my relationship is safe and healthy?
  • Should I be concerned about my alcohol, tobacco or other drug use?
  • What can I do to maintain a healthy lifestyle?
  • Where can I get help for depression (or another mental health issue)?

Consider writing your questions down before the day of your appointment. Record the answers at your visit. And remember, you can contact your provider after you leave if you feel confused or have new questions or concerns.

“The annual well-woman visit is meant to address some basic women’s health topics," Dr. Varyani adds. "If you have health concerns beyond what is typically covered in a well-woman visit, be sure to schedule follow-up visits with your OB/GYN so we can spend dedicated time addressing those issues and putting an appropriate plan of care in place.”

related links

Need to find an OB/GYN? University Hospitals has a large network of women’s health experts throughout the region. Visit OB/GYN & Women's Health Services to learn more and find a provider near you.

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