Well Woman Visits

Why Schedule a Well-Woman Visit?

All women need a general health check each year. This checkup is often referred to as an annual physical. Routine visits with your healthcare provider can help find problems early or prevent health problems before they occur. If problems are found early, they may be easier to treat and less likely to pose serious risks to your health.

What is a well-woman visit?

A well-woman visit is a checkup. It's a time to see your health care provider to:

  • Discuss your health habits and family history.
  • Get or schedule necessary screenings and exams.
  • Set health goals.

Schedule your well-woman visit every year. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, it's considered a preventive service and must be covered by most health plans at no cost to you. During your well-woman visit, you can receive many services free of charge, such as screenings for blood pressure, cholesterol, cervical cancer, and more. And if your healthcare provider says you need more than one well-woman visit in a year, the additional visits are also covered.

What happens during a well-woman visit?

Your well-woman visit is a chance to focus on your overall health and wellness. There are three main goals for the visit:

  1. Documenting your health habits and history
  2. Getting a physical exam
  3. Setting health goals

Health habits and history
Before your visit, the doctor or nurse will ask you to answer some questions about your overall health. These questions may cover topics like your:

  • Medical history
  • Family’s health history
  • Relationships and sexual partners
  • Eating habits and physical activity
  • Use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs
  • Mental health history, including depression

Physical exam
The provider will do a physical exam, which usually includes:

  • Measuring your height and weight
  • Calculating your body mass index (BMI) to see if you are at a healthy weight
  • Checking your blood pressure
  • Doing a breast exam (feeling your breasts and under your arms for lumps or other changes)
  • Doing a Pap test and pelvic exam

Health goals
You and the doctor will talk about the next steps for helping you stay healthy. Together, you can decide which screenings or follow-up services are right for you. If you have health goals, like losing weight or quitting smoking, your doctor can make a plan to help you meet these goals.

How often do I need a well-woman visit?

It’s a good idea to get a well-woman visit once a year. Depending on the screenings or other services you need, it may take more than one visit.

For example, the doctor may ask you to come in for a follow-up visit to discuss the results of a screening. Or you may need a separate appointment to get a specific service.

To make sure you get the most out of your well-woman visit, be sure to give your provider information on the health history of your family, an important part of your personal health record. This visit is also a great time to ask the doctor or nurse any questions related to medications; preparing to get pregnant; anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues; eating healthy foods; and getting more active. Be sure to make a list of questions, and take a notepad to write down the answers so you remember them later.