A well woman exam is the OB/GYN equivalent of an annual physical with your general practitioner — and it’s just as important for your health.
During an annual well woman exam we will conduct screenings, evaluations and counseling to best help you maintain gynecological and reproductive health as well as minimize possible health risks. These exams are conducted on a patient-by-patient basis, so while we have a number of standard screenings and tests we suggest we conduct, please note that your exam may look a bit different.
To help you further understand why we perform this annual health assessment and what you should expect during a GYN exam at our Houston, Texas practice, we compiled a guide to our standard gynecological exam.
When will I start undergoing annual well woman exams?
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that standard GYN exams begin between the ages of 13 and 15, not including pelvic exams, which they recommend begin at age 21. We follow these guidelines as we like to equip our patients with long-lasting tools and knowledge to most effectively maintain their gynecological health as well as to build a communicative and trusting relationship with our patients.
What screenings will I undergo during a well woman exam?
Every patient who comes in for an annual GYN exam will undergo a physical exam. While what this exam entails will vary based on patient age, medical history and risk factors, we will likely always obtain your standard vital signs. This includes, but is not limited to, calculating your body mass index, examining your lymph nodes and assessing your overall health.
An annual well woman exam at our practice will likely involve a pelvic exam. We perform this exam to screen for everything from STDs to cysts to cancer. We may do this a number of ways, including conducting a bimanual evaluation or using a speculum during a pap smear.
Typically every three to five years you will also undergo a pap smear during a GYN exam at our practice. During a pap smear we will insert an instrument called a speculum into your vagina to collect cells from your cervix.
We conduct a pap smear along with a pelvic exam to screen for cervical cancer.
Clinical Breast Exam
During your well woman exam we will also conduct a clinical breast exam, and we will likely do it during every annual exam. This is our approach to screening our patients for breast cancer. Please reference our page on breast exams to learn more about what this screening may include.
While we follow the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ recommendations for the frequency of specific exams (and when it is safe for the patient), the decision to undergo pelvic and breast exams is entirely the patient’s. These exams require your consent, and we will discuss your options if you choose to forgo these screenings.
If you have any questions or concerns about our well woman exams or how we may approach this annual exam for you specifically, please contact or visit our office.