“The annual health assessment (“women’s wellness exam”) is a fundamental part of medical care and is valuable in promoting prevention practices, recognizing risk factors for disease, identifying medical problems, and establishing the clinician-patient relationship. The annual health assessment should include screening, evaluation and counseling, and immunizations based on age and risk factors. The interval for specific individual services and the scope of a physical examination is a key part of an annual health assessment visit, and the components of that examination may vary depending on the patient’s age, risk factors, and physician preference.”
- ACOG Committee Opinion Number 534
If you’d like to make an appointment at the Women’s Clinic in the University Health Center, you can call 706-542-8691 or go online using the UHC Patient Portal.
What Should I Expect?
- You will be asked to fill out a form with your medical history, family history, and sexual history. It is important to be completely honest on this form. Your healthcare provider is there to help you, and the only way s/he can help you is if you provide accurate information. Please fill out the gynecological history form when you make your appointment using the UHC Patient Portal.
- A staff member will record some basic health information, such as your weight, body mass index, pulse, blood pressure, and general health.
- Next, the staff member will lead you to the exam room, where you will be instructed to undress. You will be given a hospital gown with an opening in the front, as well as a sheet to cover yourself.
- The health care provider will come into the room, and he or she will take a thorough history and discuss any concerns you may have. The health care provider will then ask an assistant to join him/her to begin the exam. The exam is administered based on the ACOG guidelines for your age.
- Ages 17-19: No routine breast exam nor routine pelvic exam is recommended. However, your provider may recommend a pelvic exam if you are experiencing problems such as abnormal bleeding, abnormal vaginal discharge, or pelvic pain. Testing for STIs (sexually transmitted infections) may be recommended for sexually active patients.
- Age 20: A routine breast exam is recommended, but no routine pelvic exam is recommended. However, as with ages 17-19, your provider may recommend a pelvic exam if you are experiencing problems such as abnormal bleeding, abnormal vaginal discharge, or pelvic pain. Testing for STIs may be recommended for sexually active patients.
- Ages 21-29: A routine breast exam and routine pelvic exam are recommended annually. Per the 2013 ASCCP guidelines, starting at age 21, pap smears are performed every 3 years unless otherwise indicated. Testing for STIs may be recommended for sexually active patients.
- Ages 30+: A routine breast exam and routine pelvic exam are recommended annually. Per the 2013 ASCCP guidelines, pap smears (cytology) with cotesting (hpv testing) are performed every 5 years uless otherwise indicated. Routine mammography is recommended beginning at age 40.
- What does a breast exam entail? Your clinician will feel in circles around your breast tissue for any lumps or abnormalities. S/he will also check for enlarged lymph nodes in the axilla and near the clavicle.
- What does a pelvic exam entail? Your provider will position himself/herself at the bottom of the exam table and will visually examine your vulva, looking for any bumps, sores, or other abnormalities. The clinician will then gently insert a warmed speculum and open it just enough to get a look at your cervix. A pap smear may be performed, which checks for changes in the cells of the cervix. The bimanual exam is normally the last part of the exam. Your clinician will insert one or two gloved fingers into your vagina in order to check the size, shape, and position of the uterus as well as to check for any ovarian abnormalities.
ThinPrep® Pap Smears
- For all Pap tests, the clinician will collect cervical cells from your body in the same way.
- With the ThinPrep® Pap test, the clinician rinses cells into a vial of liquid.
- Because the cells aren’t “smeared” onto a slide, they don’t clump together as much as a conventional Pap test.
- The ThinPrep® technology has the potential to decrease false negatives by detecting more potentially precancerous changes.
- The ThinPrep technique may also reduce the need for repeat Pap tests of an unclear result.
- Often, if the Pap is abnormal, the clinician will order an additional test that detects HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) from the cells that were obtained from the ThinPrep® Pap.
For other information about women’s health, contact the University Health Center’s Health Promotion Department at 706-542-8690.