Our bodies are in a constant state of change, and as we go from childhood to puberty, adulthood, and eventually old age, there is a lot we need to do to care for ourselves and avoid problems that come at certain points in our lives. Everything from maturing into adults, having children, and going into menopause represents the possibility of various conditions and illnesses, and physical examinations (or well-woman visits) can help you along the way.
These visits can help you get a picture of your health at every stage and ask questions if you have concerns about specific issues.
But, there are times when the results of an exam require more tests to confirm a diagnosis or rule it out. It could be nothing, or it could be the early stages of a condition you need to treat. If you live in the Sugarland, Texas area and need a well-woman exam or testing after having one, Dr. Chinwe Okafor and her team at Sugarland Primary Care Physicians can help.
To explore what to expect, let’s look at well-woman visits and examine the screenings you may need if it becomes necessary.
Often starting in your teens as your body develops into adulthood, an annual exam is a general opportunity for many women to understand their hormones and menstrual health, address issues about contraception and sexuality, and gauge emotional well-being. To assess these and other things about your health, wellness exams take your medical history, check your vital signs, and do pelvic and breast screenings, along with pap smears.
The frequency of screenings also changes over the years, with pap smears starting in your early 20s and changing to every five years around age 25, and breast exams getting more frequent as you get older. Regardless of age, if there are no aberrant results, you’re good for another year until something comes up.
If the results of your well-woman exam come back with unusual results or a possible diagnosis of an illness, further confirmation is needed and the following are tests you may undergo:
Breasts change for different reasons, such as puberty, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and menopause. But if an exam reveals skin changes, lumps, pain, or nipple discharges, a mammogram is necessary. This is a low-dose X-ray that helps us screen for conditions in their early stages and can be a vital tool for women with a family history of breast cancer, inherited genetic mutations, some noncancerous breast diseases, and dense breasts.
We use this procedure when you have an abnormal result from a pap smear test or a positive test for human papillomavirus (HPV). A colposcopy (type of lighted microscope) magnifies the tissue in your cervix and vagina. This device can be used to test for genital warts, polyps, and cancer cells.
Your test results may also indicate abnormalities that indicate sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and a range of screenings can be done to confirm diseases such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV, syphilis, hepatitis, HPV, and genital herpes.
Further testing isn’t always necessary but can be instrumental in detecting problems and preventing them from worsening. If you need an appointment for a well-woman exam or a follow-up from one, make an appointment with Dr. Okafor and Sugarland Primary Care Physicians today.