As we turn the calendar to a new year, it’s common to start the month of January with personal initiatives to improve our general health and well-being. For some this might include making a goal to finally kick an addictive smoking habit. For others, the New Year could include a plan for an improved diet and making time for regular exercise. This year, why not also consider the importance of female internal health. For women, an annual exam is the best way to receive critical screenings for cervical cancer and HPV (human papillomavirus). While this exam might not have the instant gratification of a new diet or the endorphins from a new exercise program, it’s very important for general gynecological health.
Well Woman Exam
Making this resolution can be easier than you might think. With recent changes in health care regulations, the annual exam, also known as the Well Woman Exam, is part of basic insurance coverage. This routine check-up also includes a general physical exam including checks for blood pressure, temperature, height and weight, and updating prescriptions for birth control. A follow-up appointment could be necessary if you have ongoing health problems requiring attention or a list of other health concerns or questions.
Elements of an Annual/Well Woman Exam
- Pelvic Exam with a Pap smear to check for cervical cancer
- Recording of family and personal health history, including the use of medications, herbs and supplements
- Physical Breast exam (not a mammogram)
- Evaluation for need need-based tests (mammogram, testing for sexually transmitted disease, a colon cancer screening, or HPV vaccination (depending on age)
While many associate an annual or Well Woman Exam with childbirth or a way to get a prescription for birth control, an exam is also about life-long prevention through a variety of screenings, including cervical cancer and HPV. Recommendations state women age 21 and older should have a yearly exam.
Facts about HPV
- HPV is a major cause of cervical cancer
- HPV infection is spread through sexual activity
- Currently, 79 million people have HPV
- Many more don’t know they are infected with HPV
- The HPV vaccine can help prevent HPV
- Pre-teens should receive the HPV vaccine by age 11 or 12.
- Women up to age 26 and men up to age 21 can still get the HPV vaccine
- Insurance often covers the HPV vaccination
Gynecological Services at Summit Medical
As the female body experiences changes, it’s important to have gynecological care that reflects the natural evolution. Dr. Sam Vigneri and Dr. Sam Scaling, gynecologists at Summit Medical Center, provide caring and comprehensive gynecological care for women at every stage of life, from the adolescent and reproductive years to the stages of pre-menopause, menopause and post-menopause. “The yearly exam is very important, not only to maintain good cervical health but also to be sure that the breasts and ovaries remain normal and to recognize any problems earlier rather than later,” Dr. Scaling said.
Summit Medical Center offers orthopaedics; ear, nose and throat; pediatrics, gastrointestinal; primary care; general surgery, pulmonary; and plastic surgery to the Casper, Wyoming, area. With cost-competitive, high-quality medical care and superior patient service, Summit Medical Center is changing the delivery of healthcare in Casper and beyond.