Monday, June 3, 2019

Well-woman exams and Pap smears are an important part of women’s health care

Amy Metzger, CNM

Well-woman exams and Pap smears are an important part of women’s health care
While access to timely and affordable health care is a topic much in the news, it’s alarming that many patients, especially millennials, tend to skip or delay getting routine care.

There are many health conditions, including certain cancers and sexually transmitted diseases, that don’t have obvious symptoms, particularly in their earliest stages when they are most treatable. A lot of women put off their annual well-woman checkup because they have so many demands on their time, but you will save time in the long run if we detect and treat a problem early.

A survey conducted byZocDoc in 2015 showed that 80 percent of Americans delay or skip preventative care, and that number increases to 93 percent when surveying millennials. In 2016, a woman’s non-profit, Bright Pink, founded National Call Your Doctor Day—observed this year on June 11—to encourage young women to schedule their annual exam, a movement the providers at Women’s Health Associates support.

During your annual well-woman checkup, we will talk to you about your health in general, as well as any specific concerns or symptoms you have. We’ll also perform a pelvic exam to check for any changes or abnormalities, and every three years or so, based on your medical history, perform a Pap smear and human papilloma virus (HPV) test.

During a Pap smear and HPV test, we take a sampling of cells from inside the cervix to check for abnormalities that could indicate cervical cancer or HPV infection, as well as signs of infection or inflammation. The Office of Women’s Health recommends that women between the ages of 21 and 65 have routine Pap smears every three years. Increased frequency may be recommended for women who have had abnormal results in the past, who are HIV positive or who have weakened immune systems.

We encourage our patients to schedule well-woman checkups every year. In addition to helping us to detect and address concerns early, these appointments allow us to get to know you better, provide health counseling and answer questions you might not otherwise think to ask.

We want to be a resource to you across your lifetime. If you haven’t had your annual well-woman exam or are overdue for a Pap smear, we hope you’ll schedule your appointment today.