From puberty to adulthood to old age, our bodies are in a constant state of flux, and how we take care of them plays as much a part in our long-term health as anything you get from your parents. For women, that means the changes in hormonal balance from growing into a woman and becoming sexually active and slowing down hormone production as you go into menopause.
Over a lifetime, this means changes in muscle growth, body shape, digestion, cognitive function, and sensory perception. It also means increased risks for many illnesses over a lifetime from different causes. Keeping track of your health is an important part of reducing risks, and well-woman exams can help a great deal to manage how you take care of yourself. Let’s examine why you should get an annual exam, what questions you should ask while there, and what screenings go into them.
An annual exam is essential to keep track of your health consistently and to examine changes as they happen to see if there are health risks or dangers. With women, this means checking on your reproductive system routinely with breast exams, pap smears, and other tests to reduce the risk of cancers and other possible threats, like sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and infections.
These are important questions you want to ask when you’re having one of these exams:
If you’re starting to menstruate or going through changes with your cycles from hormonal changes or other reasons, don’t hesitate to bring it up while you’re there.
Whether you’re just starting to have sex, haven’t had it for a while, or you’re dealing with symptoms of an STD, your doctor needs to know if you have any concerns in order to help.
If you’re sexually active but not interested in children, this is the time to learn what options you have to prevent having children. You can also address how long each method works to decide what to use if you do want children at some point.
If you’re trying to become pregnant, you may want to ask about the best time during your cycle to have sex, how long it may take to get pregnant, and how to prepare once you’ve succeeded.
Usually, when you reach your late 30s and early 40s, your body starts producing fewer hormones and is preparing to enter menopause. There are a lot of changes to expect during this time, and your doctor is there to help you through the process of exiting your reproductive years.
In addition to the standard examinations for height, weight, heart rate, blood pressure, and blood and urine tests, women often get breast exams, mammograms, pap smears, human papillomavirus (HPV) tests, and STD screenings. The frequency of these tests changes as you age, and there may be additional exams as you get older.
These exams can make a big difference in your long-term health, and they are the perfect time to raise concerns about new problems and ask important questions concerning your reproductive health. If you’re ready to get your well-woman exam and need to voice concerns, make an appointment with Dr. Okafor and Sugarland Primary Care Physicians today.