Well-Woman Exams

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Annual well-woman exams are important for women at every age to maintain wellness and health and for early disease detection. If problems are found early, they may be easier to treat and less likely to pose serious health risks.

In addition to a physical exam that assesses overall health, a well-woman exam includes breast and pelvic physical exams, a Pap smear, and other laboratory and imaging studies, as needed.

Starting at age 21, women should get annual pelvic exams, which include an external inspection and an internal speculum exam. Younger women do not need internal exams unless they experience a menstrual disorder, vaginal discharge, pelvic pain, or other reproductive-related symptoms.

Another important part of the well-woman visit is the breast exam. These should be done every one to three years for women ages 20 to 39. Women ages 40 and older should have annual clinical breast exams and annual mammograms.

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