Preventative Exams for Women

Angie Shuey, a Womenâ??s Health Nurse Practitioner from Complete Family Medicine, stopped by the set of Good Morning Heartland to talk about Preventative Exams and how they are important to women. WATCH VIDEO ABOVE to learn more.

Question: How often should a woman have a preventative exam and when should they start?

Answer: Preventative exams should be completed yearly and there is no special age to start. Every woman should have a yearly wellness exam.

Question: What is included in a preventative exam?

Answer: Each wellness exam is tailored to each woman. Each woman will have her blood pressure taken as well as height and weight and obtain a history and physical. Then if needed, a breast and pelvic exam.

Question: How old are you when the breast exam starts?

Answer: Usually at around age 20 or sooner if she has any concerns or a strong family history. Speaking on breast health, every woman should feel very comfortable knowing how their breasts usually feel like. This way they will be able to notice any new breast issues such as lumps. This is called breast self awareness. It is recommended that women perform monthly breast self exams. Best time is the end of the period or the week after. If she doesn't have periods then pick the birth date and use that each month. A healthcare provider should examine breasts every 1-3 years.

What about mammograms?

Answer: Mammograms usually begin at age 40 for most insurances. Medicare screening mammograms begin at age 50. Now if a woman has a strong family history of breast cancer the mammogram screenings may start earlier. There is no upper limit to stop mammograms really. When a woman would not treat a condition found on mammogram then she should stop screening.

Question: Everyone dreads the pelvic exam, what is that for?

Answer: A pelvic exam includes a speculum exam when the Pap smear and cultures if needed are obtained followed by a bimanual exam looking for pain or masses.

Question: What does a Pap smear look for?

Answer: Pap smears are screenings for cervical cancer only. These should begin at age 21 regardless of sexual activity. Then, the frequency is determined based on the results. The guidelines state apps every 3 years in the twenties and every 3-5 years 30 and above. Once you get to 65-70, one can consider stopping cervical cancer screenings.

Question: Some people get lab work each year. What is included?

Answer: This is really determined on a case by case manner but usually there is a screening for diabetes and elevated lipids. STD screenings can also be included.

Question: What other items may be included?

Answer: Education on diet and exercise, smoking cessation, immunizations. This is an excellent time to ask questions.

Complete Family Medicine

1611 S. Baltimore

Kirksville, MO. 63501