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The Importance of a Well Woman Exam

The Importance of a Well Woman Exam

I so vividly remember that fear I felt awaiting my first gynecology exam. I was a headstrong teenager at that time and much too proud to admit my fear, so I chose not to ask my mother any questions about this sort of exam. Instead, I read all about what to expect at that first visit in an article in Seventeen Magazine and felt I was completely prepared. That was until…I walked through the doors of the GYN office. With my heart racing and my hands shaking I thought to myself, “Is this really necessary?” Even then I knew that it was, so I proceeded on.

Well, needless to say, I survived that first visit. The practitioner I saw was truly wonderful. She knew that I was nervous, so she took her time and talked me through each step of the process. When it was over I was filled with a sense of relief and thought to myself “That really wasn’t so bad.” I remember how much I appreciated her and have always tried to remind myself of that when I step into the exam room to greet my patients.
 

Whether younger or older, first time or repeat visit…it is not something most women look forward to doing. However, it is very important.

The well woman exam includes at minimum a breast exam, a pelvic exam and a pap smear (when appropriate). It is important in that it can help identify potential health problems early on. For example, with a thorough history and physical exam we are better able to identify breast, cervical, endometrial and ovarian cancers. We are also able to diagnose and treat sexually transmitted diseases which can have long term negative health consequences.

My philosophy is that it is better to err on the side of caution. For that reason, my exams are more in depth and often times reveal health concerns unrelated to gynecology. I then refer patients to the appropriate health care provider for further evaluation. It’s a group effort. Our bodies are complex and the many systems work together. Though my focus is gynecology, I am looking out for “ALL” of you.

Your health is important! Please don’t let fear or embarrassment keep you from these visits. I understand these feelings well and am committed to making the visit a pleasant one.

 

by Anne-Marie Singleton, CNM, ARNP

Posted on March 24, 2015

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