For too many women, our busy, overbooked lives cause us to put off properly taking care of ourselves. However, now is the time to make your health a priority. And the best way to do that is to schedule your annual well-woman exam.
Most of you may think of it as just a gynecological check-up, but it is more than that. This is not just a physical exam. We believe that to achieve your best self physically, mentally, emotionally, and sexually, we need to get to know your health history. We need to talk about preventative issues that could directly affect your overall health. By getting to know you better, we will be equipped with the tools necessary to best manage your health. You will have the opportunity to discuss any concerns and ask questions that you may be uncomfortable discussing with others.
Before you make your appointment, you might be asking yourself what to expect from a well-woman exam and for some, at what age should you initially start to see the gynecologist on a regular basis? According to Planned Parenthood, young women and those with breasts, vulva or uterus (if you are non-binary), should schedule their first gynecological (well woman) exam around the age of 13 to 15. Young women may not have a pelvic exam at their visit – may just talk.
The staff will ask you to provide information regarding your personal health, including, but not limited to, any medical conditions that you have and your family’s health history. They will measure your height, weight, blood pressure, and pulse. These are normal, routine items included in any well visit. When the doctor meets with you, she will gather information about your periods: first onset, frequency, pain level, volume of blood flow, etc. It is important to have a baseline for comparison on future visits. This is also the time to ask questions. The more knowledge you have the better. As you get older and/or become sexually active, we will discuss how to protect yourself from STDs. If you haven’t already had one (and fall in the appropriate age range) we offer the HPV vaccine to prevent precancers and infections that can lead to cervical cancer.
Your annual well-woman exam is very beneficial as you age. Your doctor will address the changes to your reproductive system at all stages of life, from menarche (your first menstrual period) to perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause. Each stage of life brings hormonal changes and new questions. By seeing your gynecologist each year, you have a built-in reminder to ensure that you schedule the recommended diagnostic and screening tests necessary to identify signs of disease in their early stages.
Specifically, starting at the age of 30 through 65, you should be checked for the presence of HPV (human papillomavirus). You will also have a pap smear which checks for the presence of precancerous and cancerous cells on the cervix. Along with the Pap test, with the timing and frequency depending on your age and family history, you should also be scheduling a mammogram for breast cancer screening. We order mammograms yearly from age 40 and up.
If you are fortunate enough to live in The Woodlands, Texas area, you have access to the practice of Dr. Natalie Drake, a board-certified OB-GYN and notably, a Fellow of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Dr. Drake has over 23 years of experience in the medical field not only as a physician but as a professor and researcher as well. Today is the day to take control of your health and wellbeing. Call 281-402-3268 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Natalie Drake, at Oncology Specialists of Texas.