A wellness visit or exam is a comprehensive check-up that helps women maintain reproductive health and make informed reproductive health decisions. It includes health screenings for the breast and pelvic region, blood work, vaccinations and counselling sessions on topics related to sexual health.
Here’s What Happens
Wellness exams are personal to each woman. They depend on the age, medical history, and sexual activity of the individual in question. Women's lifecycles have been divided into four stages to provide the highest possible care for every individual. We have discussed these below:
Women (Adolescent Girls) between 13 to 18 years:
Start early with wellness visits. The first visit may happen between the ages of 13 to 18. This is a great time to have a professional to get familiar with your medical details like BMI figures and menstrual and sexual health history. Depending on your condition, the doctor may recommend testing for any or all of the condition/s below:
- Eating abnormalities
- High blood pressure or hypertension
- Evidence of any form of physical/ sexual/drug abuse
- Stress because of learning disabilities or other factors
- Depression or other mental illness
Women between 19 to 39 years
At this stage, doctors look for signs of pregnancy, need for cancer screening in the cervix, or contraception. Screenings for autoimmune disorders, hypertension, obesity, and diabetes may also happen. Regular pap smears and pelvic examinations for early detection of the following conditions are now essential:
- Polycystic Ovarian Disorder
- Pain in the pelvic region
- Signs of infertility
- Vulvovaginal pain syndrome
- STDs and pelvic inflammatory diseases
- Evidence of adnexal masses
Women between 40 and 64 years
In this age bracket, women go through the physical changes associated with perimenopause or menopause, so your doctor may recommend hormone-level tests and a comprehensive check-up. Other required tests may include:
- Tests for colorectal cancer
- Bone density tests
- Test to detect thyroid functions
- Tests to check cholesterol levels and to detect hypertension
Women above 65 years
The yearly wellness exams will become more regular and necessary when you have crossed sixty-five. In this stage of life, the examiner will make a point of educating you about preventive wellness, particularly heart-related illnesses. Among other illnesses to watch out for are:
- Specific kinds of cancer, including skin, cervical, and ovarian, among others.
- Chronic illnesses of the lower respiratory system
- Osteoporosis and bone-related illnesses
- Alzheimer's and other illnesses of the neurological system
- Accidental injuries
- Sexual/ Physical Abuse of any kind
Essentially, wellness exams are recommended for women going through every stage of life, from puberty and childbirth to menopause. While these visits usually revolve around reproductive health you can also bring up and discuss any concerns or symptoms you might be confused about, including:
- Your BMI levels and weight-related concerns
- Any mental health concerns you may be facing
- Nutrition and eating issues
- High blood sugar, cholesterol or other related concerns
- Overall health and wellness
What to Expect During Wellness Examination
What Questions Should I Expect?
Your wellness expert's questions will revolve around your age, medical history, and family’s medical history. Your responses must be honest and thorough for the best outcome. Here are a few of the questions you can expect:
- When did you last have your period?
- What is the frequency of your period?
- How long does your cycle last?
- Any incidents of spotting or bleeding between periods?
- Do you experience abnormal vaginal pain, itching, or discharge?
- Are there any other medical conditions that you would like to discuss?
- Are there any medical conditions in your family that you would like to discuss?
- What is your current level of sexual activity?
- Have you noticed any abnormal pain or bleeding during or after sex?
- Are you on any contraceptive medication?
- Have you experienced any symptoms of pregnancy?
- What measures do you take to keep yourself safe from STDs?
Other questions may address surgeries you may have undergone, alcohol or drug use levels, major illnesses or infections, and the associated treatment you underwent. These factors also influence your reproductive health, so keep track of them and answer your wellness expert honestly.
Remember that these visits are also a chance for you to discuss any medical concerns with the expert and get the right advice about anything from pregnancy planning and birth control to abnormal vaginal issues, pelvic pain, or any other topic related to reproductive health and overall wellness.
What Tests Will I Face?
Your wellness expert's conclusions about your age, medical history and sexual activity levels will determine what tests you need to take. If you have discussed abnormalities in the vagina or other concerns, the expert will want to conduct tests to find out what is happening. Based on your sexual activity levels, you may also have to be tested for STDs.
The HPV or Pap smear tests may be recommended depending on your age and reproductive health to look for signs of cancer in the cervix. If you've reached twenty-five years, you'll start having clinical screenings for breast cancer.
Women around forty years may undergo cancer screening like mammograms for more types of cancer. These screenings are important since they can also detect other abnormalities and prove useful in upholding women's wellness.
Also Read: Understanding Health Screening
The Importance of Women's Wellness Examination
Women's wellness visits could be thought of as the first line of defence against many types of cancer, like cervical cancer and other illnesses related to reproductive health. Since many diseases are more manageable when caught early, screening and wellness exams are valuable resources for women. Here are a few other benefits of women's wellness exams:
1. They're aimed at prevention of major illness
Early screening is the number one defence against cancer. With today's technology, professionals can detect early signs of cancer and hidden symptoms that may not manifest until the disease has progressed to an advanced stage. Early detection increases your chances of complete recovery and survival.
2. They become a record of medical health history
Wellness exams are a wellness maintenance tool as they record your medical history, sexual activity, and health screenings. With them, your wellness expert will track the development of your health and note changes in weight, sexual health, and other areas. They also help keep you on track with cancer screenings, giving you the best chance for early detection and recovery.
3. They help you identify a dependable wellness expert
Building a relationship of trust with your wellness expert will help you stay on track with your wellness exams and keep you in good stead in the long run. This also allows the professional to track your medical record and make recommendations based on your needs. When you have a wellness expert who is familiar with your past and is tracking your medical records, you have the help and support of an expert at all times.
4. They answer ''delicate'' questions
Wellness exams are a safe space for women to ask questions about personal issues they may not feel comfortable discussing with others. When you have an expert who is familiar with your medical history and one who is tracking your sexual activity and reproductive health, you can comfortably discuss issues like vaginal discharges that smell, or discolourations or growths you are not familiar with.
5. They offer specialised care and expert advice
A yearly physical examination is essential for good health. But after you reach a certain age, reproductive health becomes important, too. Building a rapport with a reproductive health expert will ensure that you have an expert on your side who can help you make informed choices and decisions about different aspects of your reproductive health. This is a many-fold benefit for women throughout their lives.
Going through a medical exam, especially for reproductive health, may put you in an uncomfortable position, but it is essential to your overall wellness and long-term health.
Women of all ages going through different life cycles need a wellness expert on their side. Wellness exams play a crucial role in reproductive health and overall well-being. It is a preventive measure against various forms of cancer and other illnesses that could prove life-threatening. Visit a gynaecologist annually to keep track of your reproductive wellness and give yourself the gift of expert-supported women's wellness.