The second week of May is National Women’s Health Week, making May the perfect time for you to schedule your first well-woman exam. Nervous? Don’t be. This is an annual exam designed to keep you safe and healthy.
At Casa de Salud in Los Angeles, California, our physician, Dr. Afshin Akhavan, ensures that each patient coming in for her first well-woman exam is treated with the utmost care. Your first checkup should be a positive experience, so our kind and discreet staff will make sure your needs are met.
What to know about your well-woman exam
A well-woman exam is built around making sure you’re healthy, and focuses on your unique needs as a woman. Dr. Akhavan and our team (which includes female nurses who are always present) will be doing lab work, as well as a manual examination to make sure all of your reproductive organs are in good health.
Most women get their first well-woman visit after they turn 18, although sexually active teenagers may have their first exam earlier.
Here’s what you can expect:
First, we’ll review your past medical history. Then we’ll note your age, height, and weight. We’ll check to make sure your immunizations are up to date and discuss any general concerns you may have.
The breast exam checks for any lumps or masses in your breasts. You won’t need a mammogram until you’re older, unless your practitioner finds something suspicious. This is a good time to ask about how you can perform manual breast self-exams and what to watch for. Getting familiar with your own breasts can help you recognize if something changes or a lump forms.
The Pap smear checks for abnormal or precancerous cells on your cervix, which are often due to human papillomavirus (HPV). We use a tool called a speculum to gently open the vaginal canal to access the cervix with a long tool that takes a small sample. It might be a little uncomfortable but it’s very quick. The sample is sent to the lab to be tested, and you’ll be notified of the results.
A pelvic exam might be performed if we agree that one is advisable. During a pelvic exam, your practitioner inserts two gloved fingers into the vagina and places their other hand on your stomach. The uterus and ovaries are palpated to make sure they feel normal and aren’t swollen or painful.
If you’re sexually active and have concerns about the safety of your past sexual experiences, or have experienced symptoms that make you think you may have a sexually transmitted disease, you may also request STD testing.
After your first well-woman exam
You might have slight cramping or spotting after your well-woman exam, due to the Pap smear. This is normal, so don’t be alarmed. Make sure you get your exam each year so any health issues can be caught quickly and treated. Your well-woman exam is an important part of your overall health care as a woman, and could even save your life.
To get in touch with our team at Casa de Salud, call the location closest to you or book an appointment online.