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What is well woman care?

In addition to seeing a gynecologist when a woman has a problem, it also is important to schedule routine well woman gynecology appointments. Regular gynecology checkups, examinations and immunizations can help women live healthier by preventing problems before they start and by providing the knowledge to recognize risk factors.

What to expect

During a well woman visit, several screening tests and exams may be performed, depending on a woman’s age, history and overall health. A Pap test, along with a pelvic exam, is an important part of a woman's routine health care because it may detect abnormalities that can lead to invasive cancer. A Pap test (sometimes called a Pap smear) is a way to examine cells collected from the cervix, or the "mouth" of the womb (located at the top of the vagina), for the presence of:

  • Infection
  • Inflammation
  • Abnormal cells
  • Cancer

Most invasive cancers of the cervix can be detected early if women have Pap tests and pelvic examinations regularly. As with many types of cancer, cancer of the cervix is more likely to be successfully treated if it is detected early.

A breast exam also may be performed to look for any changes in the breast and underarm area. A gynecologist also can instruct patients in how to conduct a breast self-examination, which should be performed every month.

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