The “Well Woman Exam”, “Woman’s Health Check Up”, “ Woman’s Health Appointment” – WHAT IS THIS, and DO I NEED IT and WHY, you may ask?
WHAT IS IT?
My answer is – call it what you will, but YES, you do need to see a doctor who is passionate about your health as a woman AND you need to see them annually!
This is the reason why: below is a classic scenario that I see daily in my consulting room, in my conversations with friends and colleagues and, to be honest, in myself: As women, we know we need to have “ a smear” and “a mammo’ ” at some stage in our lives and at some regular (seemingly random) time interval.
Some of us have had these procedures in the past and they have been benign and routine, all results are normal and we skip off thankfully and forget about it all and suddenly 3 or 5 or 7 years have passed. With the passage of time, making the appointments and having the procedures somehow becomes much harder.
There is now a fear of possible reprimand from your doctor for having taken so long to see them again, a sense of guilt at our neglect of our own health, and a counter-sense of power and immortality and the thought that “ …it will never happen to me.” to justify our tardiness!
And then, you hear that a family member, a friend, a mum from the school car park has breast cancer or cervical cancer, or a history of breast cancer. And then that “ well woman” breast cancer screening looms as potentially being an “unwell woman exam “ and that woman may be you (or me). Sound familiar?
In my practice I aim to remove the fear and mystique of this appointment for my patients. Information is power. The more you know what to expect, the less you have to fear and the better prepared you will be and the more likely you will be to make this an annual event.
I consider the Well Woman Exam to be more than just an appointment with your doctor. It is building a relationship with a person who will care for your very specific and constantly changing health-care needs as a woman over at least a 30-year period.
This is a person who will really get to know you and understand you – physically and emotionally. This is a relationship that moves from the care-free days of youth and contraceptive choices, through the years of bearing and raising children, through the time of flourishing in your womanhood and then navigating a way through the hormonal ebb and flow of menopause. This is clearly a very important relationship.
SO WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT FROM THE WELL WOMAN EXAM?
- A longer medical consultation of 45 min up to 1 hour
- A full history and discussion of any general medical conditions; medication; diet and lifestyle
- A full history and discussion of reproductive health matters, periods; contraception options, potential planned pregnancy, breast implants.
- A full history and discussion of sexual health matters: libido; intercourse;
- A full general physical examination including weight; blood pressure, urine tests
- Examination of the thyroid gland, breasts, breast tissue, pelvic exam and abdomen
- A PAP smear and an internal vaginal examination to screen for Cervical Cancer or precancerous cells.
If indicated following the examination:
- Referral for blood tests
- Referral for a diagnostic or screening mammogram and bone densitometry
- Referral to medical/allied medical specialists
You should be asked for permission before any physical and gynecological examination is undertaken and some doctors will have a female assistant present during the examination. You should be welcome to bring your mum, sister, best friend, or partner with you if you choose to.
However, this is also an appointment that is often easier and sometimes necessary to attend by yourself and if somebody accompanies you, your doctor should have the discretion to suggest that some part of the appointment is completely private.
This annual full Woman’s Health Examination is an essential item on your “ to do” list. It’s a commitment to you, your health and wellbeing as a woman. Your commitment to it sets an example for your own daughters, sisters, friends and partners and it may be that one appointment, which changes your life or theirs forever.
To book an appointment with Dr. Clarke, click here. Alternatively if you would like to find out more contact our client concierge on firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0860 994 160 and we will guide you through your questions.