The average life expectancy for American women is 81.2 years which is nearly five years longer than men, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Lifestyle, stress levels, nutrition, exercise routines, sleep patterns and medical conditions together impact women’s health. And, seeing your provider once a year for routine health screenings and an overall health assessment is critical.
Annual Well Woman Exams
Having an annual exam promotes prevention while identifying possible health risks. While cervical cancer screening is no longer necessary every year, an annual wellness exam is recommended for women beginning between the ages of 13 and 15. The components of the exam vary by age and medical history, but they typically include:
- Routine screenings.
- Breast exam and recommendations for regularly scheduled mammograms based on individual risk factors.
- Pelvic exam with a Pap test every three years from age 21 to 29 and Pap test with Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) test every five years from age 30 to 65.
- Depression assessment.
- Counseling on reproductive life planning, smoking cessation, weight management and general health risks, along with menopause and sexual health management.
While 50 percent of pregnancies in the U.S. are planned, half are unplanned. Sometimes this is a welcome surprise, and sometimes that positive test can throw a monkey wrench into a woman’s plans for her life and family. There are many great options for preventing pregnancy until you are ready, including long-acting reversible contraceptives (like the intrauterine device or birth control implant) and natural family planning. At a well woman exam, your provider will discuss your health issues, your goals for your family and your values to help you choose the option that fits best into your life.
For those that want to be pregnant in the next year, a pre-conception visit can help address how to optimize any chronic health issues, like high blood pressure or diabetes, perform routine screenings and immunizations and review the best time in your cycle to try to get pregnant. You’ll also want to start supplements like vitamin D and folic acid in advance of conception.
It can take several months to get pregnant and 85 percent of women will become pregnant within one year of trying. But for women who have been trying for more than a year or those that are over age 35 and have been trying for six months or more, further evaluation should be sought to see if fertility treatment can help.
Many women have no bothersome symptoms and may not need any treatment. For those that suffer with debilitating night sweats, mood changes or decreased libido, there are treatment options available.
Note: Bleeding after the menopause transition is never normal. See your provider right away if you experience any bleeding after menopause.
Specializing in Women
Since 80 percent of women seek primary care through their gynecological specialist, North Memorial’s Women’s Health providers offer a range of care throughout a woman’s reproductive years. Our OBGYN specialists also work closely with our Family Medicine partners and can help you find a primary provider for all your health needs. By offering a mix of philosophies along with a broad range of skills and expertise, we work as a team to provide both wellness care and pregnancy care to ensure all our patients receive the care that truly meets their individual health care needs.
Women’s specialty services are available throughout the Twin Cities.
Call 763-581-5090 or schedule an appointment