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What to Expect at My Well Woman Exam

No matter what age you are, no matter what gender you prefer, if you have female reproductive organs, you benefit from an annual well-woman exam. In fact, insurance companies believe that well-woman exams are so essential to women’s health that they cover the cost of them, even if you have a regular general physical, too.

What happens at a well-woman exam? At Maria Cole Family Practice in Odessa, Texas, our nurse practitioners Maria Cole, APRN, FNP-C, and Kelly Wenger, APRN, FNP-C, have compiled this guide to help you understand why this annual exam can help you and your reproductive organs stay healthy.   

Getting ready

Before your well-woman exam, our medical assistant takes your blood pressure and pulse. We also measure and weigh you. We then give you a sterile, single-use paper gown to wear during your exam instead of clothing. 

Breast exam

While you lie on your back on the exam table, your nurse practitioner (NP) gently palpates your breasts and may squeeze your nipples. She’s trying to detect any abnormalities that could affect your breast health, such as cysts or potentially cancerous tumors. Tender, swollen breasts could also be a sign of pregnancy.

If she detects an abnormality, she may recommend further investigation. Most of the time, though, your breast exam is normal. Depending on your age, she may refer you for a breast mammogram to take a closer look at your breast tissue.

Pelvic exam and Pap smear

During a pelvic exam, your NP presses on your abdominal area, searching from lumps, growths, or other abnormalities. She may also stick a gloved finger into your vagina to be sure it’s normal.

Depending on your age and if you’re sexually active, your NP may also conduct a Pap smear test to screen you for cervical cancer. While you have your feet in the stirrups, she inserts a speculum in your vagina so that she can see your cervix, which is the opening to your uterus. She swabs your cervix to remove some cells, which she then sends to a lab.

If your Pap smear is abnormal, that doesn’t mean you have cancer. Your NP recommends another Pap smear and other tests to be sure you’re healthy.

Lab tests and STD tests

We also take your blood during your well-woman exam to test for infections, including urinary tract infections (UTIs) and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Many STDs can be cured when caught at an early stage. We also administer a pregnancy test if you’re fertile and sexually active.

Family planning

Your well-woman exam is the perfect place to discuss effective, safe contraceptive methods that help you plan your ideal family size. Your NP can explain the different types of birth control that are available, how effective they are, and list their main pros and cons so you can choose the type that’s best for you.

Fertility support

When you’re ready to become pregnant, we administer tests to ensure that you’re healthy, prescribe prenatal vitamins, and teach you how to identify the most fertile times of your cycle. 

If you’re having trouble getting pregnant, we help determine why. Depending on our findings, we may design a customized treatment plan or refer you to a fertility specialist. 

Hormone optimization

If you’re going through perimenopause or menopause, you may suffer from symptoms such as weight gain, night sweats, and hot flashes. Our NPs identify which hormones you lack, and replace them with a simple, customized pellet that they insert in your hip. 

Weight management

Whether you’ve gained weight recently because of hormone imbalances, or you’ve struggled with attaining a stable, healthy weight for years, we can help. We guide you toward healthy weight loss and make any necessary adjustments, such as hormone balancing, that could help you stay healthy. We also offer body sculpting for exercise-resistant fat pockets. 

Support

No matter what questions you have about your reproductive (or general) health, we’re here to answer them at Maria Cole Family Practice. By coming for your annual general and well-woman exams, you have a chance to develop trust with our NPs, so you have a place to turn whenever you notice troubling symptoms or any other concerns.

To schedule your annual well-woman exam, call our team at 432-200-9087 or use our online message form.

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