Women's Annual Exam
Annual exams are an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Your doctor or certified will tailor the specifics of your annual exam to your current life stage, medical history, and needs. A typical annual exam consists of a pelvic exam, PAP test, and breast exam.
Depending on age, we may also evaluate the need for mammography and bone density studies. As appropriate, your clinician will discuss options for contraception or hormone therapy. We will answer any other questions or concerns you may have.
Annual exams should be booked at least three months in advance to ensure that you are seen within 30 days of the anniversary of your previous annual exam. Most insurance providers allow you to have one annual exam per calendar year. If you inquire when scheduling your exam, we will confirm that your insurance requirements are being met.
IMPORTANT NOTE ON PAP EXAMS AND ANNUAL PELVIC AND BREAST EXAMS
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recently issued new guidelines on PAP tests. As a result of these guidelines, which recommend PAP tests every three years for most women ages 21-65, some insurers no longer cover an annual pap exam.
It is important to note that this does not mean that you do not need an annual pelvic and breast exam. We encourage all patients to schedule an annual exam even if their insurance does not cover an annual PAP test.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in non-smoking women. Screening and early detection are the best ways of increasing cure rates for women found to have breast cancer. A women’s self-breast exam along with a breast exam done by a Women’s Healthcare Provider is easily available. It can be very helpful if done routinely.
Mammography is currently the gold standard for early detection of breast cancer with 90% of cancer being detectable by mammography screenings. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends beginning screening mammography at the age of 40. However, the American Cancer Society recommends starting screening mammograms at the age of 45.
Mammography films can be done every 1-2 years depending on risk factors up until the age 50. After the age of 50, an annual mammogram is highly recommended. Our providers will assist women in developing a screening strategy that is most appropriate for them based on their physical exam, family history, signs, and symptoms.
Menopausal symptoms are a group of physiological changes women notice when their estrogen and progesterone levels fall below a certain point. Some women aren’t bothered much by this. Meanwhile, some women experience a significant disruption in their daily lives.
Hot flashes are the most common menopausal symptom. Others may include worsening memory and concentration ability, mood changes, poor sleep, bone loss, and painful intercourse related to thinning of the vaginal tissue. We encourage women to discuss these issues at their yearly visits, or a dedicated appointment to discuss menopausal symptoms can be made.
Treatments are available to those who desire them. We spend time discussing risks and benefits. Then, we tailor a plan to your needs. Treatments can come from a typical pharmacy or a compounding pharmacy. Typically, they require a prescription. However, some therapies are available over-the-counter without a prescription.
We don’t believe in a “one size fits all” approach when treating menopausal symptoms. Call us and come in for a visit. Together, we can formulate a plan that will meet your needs.