The Importance of Your Annual Well-Woman Visit
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Well-woman visits are an important part of your preventive care, and they are covered by insurance.
Barbara Keirns, MD, FACOG, explains what screenings and support are offered to you at your annual visit, as well as the need for follow-up visits.
Care to Fit your Needs
Your annual visit is tailored toward your individual needs. Depending on your place in life, from adolescence to menopause, a typical well-woman visit includes a PAP smear, but it can also include any of the following screenings and support:
- Alcohol misuse screening
- Blood pressure screening
- Cholesterol screening
- Contraceptive counseling
- Depression screening
- HIV screening
- Nutrition and diet counseling
- STI (Sexually Transmitted Infections) screening
- Vaccines and immunizations
Dr. Keirns reminds women to know their family history for genetic conditions. "We are very proactive about identifying a person's potential for genetic predispositions to cancer and having them seek screening."
While the well-woman visit is often seen as a single, annual visit, your health care doesn't always stop there. For example, if the physical exam reveals any concerning findings, an ultrasound may be ordered. If you have a history of breast cancer in your family, your provider might decide that you should get a mammogram and genetic testing. If you opt for a new birth control measure, such as an IUD or implant, a follow-up visit may be scheduled.
There are a number of reasons why your women's health provider may want to see you sooner than a year. Take these follow-up appointments seriously.
Covered Health Care Services
A well-woman visit helps you understand your personal health risks and how to minimize them. You're entitled to a well-woman visit every year until you're 65, and they are covered by health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act, with no out-of-pocket costs.
Learn more about services covered by preventive care for women.
Living your Healthiest Life
Although a well-woman exam assesses a woman's physical health, it is also vitally important in maintaining and improving emotional health. Ask questions. Bring up any concerns you have.
You can ask about your stress levels, diet, mood, medications, sex life and your family's health history. Raising your concerns helps your health care provider know what's important to you and what screenings may be in order.
Be Open and Honest
Health care is moving in the direction of prevention. "Nothing is more important than scheduling your annual physical with your primary care physician, and your well-woman visit with your women's health provider," Keirns says. "There are no judgments and no topics that are off the table during your visit. Building trust will increase the likelihood of a healthy and happy life."
UM SMG – Women's Health is accepting new patients and has offices in Cambridge, Chestertown, Denton, Easton and Queenstown.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call 410-820-4888.