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Well Woman Exams:

pregnancy calendar

To stay in optimum health, you should always have an annual exam consisting of a general physical; breast exam; pelvic exam with a pap smear; update your doctor on life and work situation as well as family health; review your personal health history; update current medications, herbs, supplements, etc; need for medication refills; evaluation of need for health screening tests based on age and personal/family history, such as mammograms and STD tests; update on immunizations. Once you become sexually active or over the age of 18 you should have a well woman exam annually. If you plan on becoming pregnant soon then you should have more frequent exams. Likewise, you should have more frequent exams if you have a history of sexual problems or problems with your reproductive organs, or an immediate family member who developed breast cancer before menopause.

In addition to scheduling the exam annually, if you at any time detect a lump in your breast or any other unusual changes in your breast or you have the symptoms of a sexually transmitted disease, or if you are bleeding outside of your normal menstrual period, you should have an exam immediately.

General Physical:

Your general physical will consist of your physician asking you questions regarding your medical, sexual, and family history. This will be followed by a basic physical exam to check your overall health. The basic physical exam includes measurement of weight and blood pressure´┐Żas these factors can influence pregnancy, menstrual cycle, and contraceptive or hormone replacement choices. Additionally, if you are taking any herbs, vitamins, or nutritional supplements you should tell your physician or health care provider as some of them can affect your menstrual cycle and hormone balance.

Breast Exam:

Your physician will press on and inspect your breasts and your arm pits while you place your arms in various positions. This exam can be described in detail by your physician.

Pelvic Exam with Pap Smear:

Your physician will examine your reproductive organs for problems and also check you for cervical cancer. This exam can be described in detail by your physician.

Contraceptive Counseling:

You and your physician can discuss what, if any, contraceptives you wish to use. Contraception becomes even more important if your periods are becoming less regular as you approach menopause because determining the time of ovulation and greatest fertility will be less reliable. Your physician will determine when to switch you to lower dose hormone replacement therapy either by blood levels of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) after a period of hormone withdrawal, or by choosing the most likely age for menopause, generally 50-52.

Menopause or Midlife Counseling:

Whenever you are 45 or older, or having perimenopausal symptoms, your physician should discuss the benefits and risks of using hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to restore estrogen and progesterone that begin to decrease toward and in menopause. You should be sure to be as involved as possible in the decision making process. Be sure to clue your physician in to all of your lifestyle habits that could affect the perimenopause transition period including smoking, cessation, physical exercise, drinking habits, physical exercise, stress deduction, weight maintenance, proper diet intake, etc.

Laboratory Testing:

Standard urine and blood tests should be done at the annual exams as well. If you are over the age of 45 the serum cholesterol levels and thyroid testing should be included due to the heightened chance of heart disease and underactive thyroid as age progresses.

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