Get Your Well-Woman Visit Every Year
Schedule your well-woman visit with a doctor or nurse every year. The well-woman visit can go a long way in helping you stay healthy.
Well-woman visits include a full checkup, separate from any other visit for sickness or injury. These visits focus on preventive care for women, which may include:
- Services, like shots, that improve your health by preventing diseases and other health problems
- Screenings, which are medical tests to check for diseases early when they may be easier to treat
- Education and counseling to help you make health decisions
What happens during a well-woman visit?
Your well-woman visit is a chance to focus on your overall health and wellness. There are 3 main goals for the visit:
- Documenting your health habits and history
- Getting a physical exam
- Setting health goals
Health habits and history
Before your visit, the doctor or nurse will ask you to answer some questions about your overall health. These questions may cover topics like your:
- Medical history
- Family’s health history
- Relationships and sexual partners
- Eating habits and physical activity
- Use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs
- Mental health history, including depression
The doctor or nurse will do a physical exam, which usually includes:
- Measuring your height and weight
- Calculating your body mass index (BMI) to see if you are at a healthy weight
- Checking your blood pressure
- Doing a breast exam (feeling your breasts and under your arms for lumps or other changes)
- Doing a Pap test and pelvic exam
You and the doctor or nurse will talk about the next steps for helping you stay healthy. Together, you can decide which screenings or follow-up services are right for you.
If you have health goals, like losing weight or quitting smoking, you and your doctor or nurse can make a plan to help you meet these goals.
How often do I need a well-woman visit?
It’s a good idea to get a well-woman visit once a year. Depending on the screenings or other services you need, it may take more than 1 visit.
For example, the doctor or nurse may ask you to come in for a follow‑up visit to discuss the results of a screening. Or you may need a separate appointment to get a specific service.
Take these steps to make sure you get the most out of your well-woman visit.
Know your family health history.
The health history of your family is an important part of your personal health record. Use this family health history tool to keep track of conditions that run in your family. Take this information to your well-woman visit.
Make a list of questions for your doctor.
This visit is a great time to ask the doctor or nurse any questions related to:
- Birth control
- Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
- Preparing to get pregnant
- Your safety and relationships
- Anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues
- Eating healthy foods
- Getting more active
Some important questions include:
- Which form of birth control is right for me?
- Do I need any important shots?
- How can I protect myself from HIV and other STDs?
- How do I know if my relationship is healthy and safe?
- Where can I get help for a mental health issue?
- How can I get more physically active?
Take a notepad and write down the answers so you remember them later.
Talk with your doctor or nurse about which screenings you need.
Getting screening tests is one of the most important things you can do for your health. At your well-woman visit, the doctor or nurse may recommend screening you for:
- Certain types of cancer
- HPV (human papillomavirus, which can lead to cervical cancer)
- HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
- High blood pressure and cholesterol
- Osteoporosis (weak bones)
- Domestic violence
In addition to screenings, the doctor may sometimes recommend counseling.
What about cost?
The Affordable Care Act, the health care reform law passed in 2010, covers your well-woman visit. It also covers some screenings and types of counseling.
Depending on your insurance, you may be able to get well-woman visits and some other services at no cost to you.