Women’s Wellness | A Quick Guide
Wellness has become a trendy word tied to beauty products, books and other goods. But what does wellness mean to you, as a woman? It may be creating work/life balance, making time for friends or going to a yoga class. Those are all good moves, but don’t forget your preventive health.
An annual exam with a Community Health Network gynecologist includes checking for inflammation in your ovaries and uterus and conducting a Pap test, which can prevent cancer before it starts.
We’ve made several changes at each of our locations to ensure the safety and well-being of our patients and staff. This includes enhanced cleaning and sanitizing, social distancing and infection prevention protocols that align with CDC recommendations. Here’s what you can expect from a gynecology wellness visit.
Conversations That Matter
There’s nothing more frustrating than not having your voice heard. At your wellness visit your input isn’t just respected — it’s an essential part of your care plan.
As you might expect, part of your conversation with your provider will be about your physical health. Your period, your sexual history and other information are important parts of your life, but that’s only part of what makes you a healthy woman.
How are your relationships with friends? What’s been keeping you busy outside of work? Have you been taking time for self-care? Your provider cares about the things that truly matter in your life because they matter to your health.
Together you’ll make a plan to fit your lifestyle, whether it’s birth control or family planning, preventive screenings or reactionary care, or anything in between. No matter what changes you face as you go through life, a true connection with your provider is a constant you can rely on.
Personalized Care for Your Unique Needs
When your provider has a good understanding of your lifestyle and health history, she can recommend the screenings that are right for you. Typically, you’ll have a pelvic exam at your annual wellness visit. Your provider will also suggest additional screenings based on your unique needs. Here are some of the screenings your provider might recommend:
- Pap Test - Checks for cervical cancer or precancerous cells.
- HPV Test - Done at the same time as your Pap test, this finds some types of the human papillomavirus that cause cervical cancer.
- Thyroid Test - Ensures your hormone levels are in the right range to help your body use energy and keep your brain, heart and muscles working properly.
- Monthly Breast Self Exam - Detects changes in your breast density and lumps. Discuss any changes with your doctor immediately.
- Mammogram - Detects breast cancer early so you have the most treatment options available.
- Blood Pressure Test - Indicates your heart health.
- Bone Density Screening - Indicates the strength of your bones and detects osteoporosis.
When to Get a Pap Test
One of the most important parts of your health as a woman is the health of your cervix. Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women worldwide, and Pap tests are your best chance at early detection.
You’re probably already on a plan for your cervical health. Every woman over the age of 21 should be getting a Pap test every three years. Once you hit age 30, your doctor might suggest a combination Pap test and HPV test that only needs to be done once every five years.
Whichever schedule you’re on, here’s what to expect at your next Pap test:
- After you change into a gown, your doctor will insert a metal or plastic tool into your vagina. This is called a speculum. It will open your vaginal canal so your doctor can get a better look at the tissue inside.
- Next, your doctor will use a small brush to collect cells from your cervix. This might feel a little weird if it’s your first time having a Pap test. Some women say it feels like a small pinch, but it’s not too uncomfortable.
- The whole procedure should be over in a couple minutes. Once your doctor has a cell sample, she can look for any abnormalities that might point to cervical cancer. If she finds anything out of the ordinary, she’ll talk with you about a treatment plan.