Get Your Well-Woman Visit Every Year
Schedule a well-woman visit with your doctor or nurse every year. The well-woman visit is an important way to help you stay healthy.
Well-woman visits include a full checkup, separate from any other visit for sickness or injury. These visits focus on preventive care for women, which may include:
Services, like vaccines (shots), that improve your health by preventing diseases and other health problems
Screening tests, which are medical tests to check for diseases early when they may be easier to treat
Education and counseling to help you make informed health decisions
What happens during a well-woman visit?
Your well-woman visit is a chance to focus on your overall health and wellness. There are 3 main goals for the visit:
Documenting your health habits and history
Getting a physical exam
What to Expect
Health habits and history
Before your physical exam, the doctor or nurse will ask you to answer some questions about your overall health. These questions may cover topics like your:
Medical history and family health history
Mental health history, including depression
Sexual activity and sexual partners
Eating and physical activity habits
Use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs
Use of any medicines, vitamins, minerals, or herbs
Home life and relationships
If you're comfortable with it, the doctor or nurse will examine your body, which may include:
Measuring your height and weight
Calculating your body mass index (BMI) to see if you're at a healthy weight
Checking your blood pressure
Taking your temperature
Doing a clinical breast exam (feeling your breasts and under your arms for lumps or other changes)
Doing a pelvic exam (looking at your vagina and feeling around your pelvis)
If you’re not comfortable being alone with the doctor or nurse during the physical exam, ask to have another health professional from the practice (like another nurse) in the room, too.
You and the doctor or nurse will talk about next steps for helping you stay healthy. Together, you can decide which screenings or follow-up services are right for you.
If you have health goals, like losing weight or quitting smoking, you and your doctor or nurse can also make a plan to help you meet these goals.
Take these steps to get the most out of your well-woman visit.
Know your family health history.
Your family's health history is an important part of your personal health record. Use this family health history tool to keep track of conditions that run in your family.
Be prepared to tell your doctor or nurse this information during your well-woman visit. Don't forget to share any new health problems in your family since your last visit.
Make a list of questions for your doctor.
This visit is a great time to ask the doctor or nurse any questions about:
Birth control options
Signs of an unhealthy relationship
Anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues
Eating healthy or being more active
Some important questions include:
Do I need any important vaccines?
How can I protect myself from HIV and other STDs?
Which form of birth control is right for me?
How do I know if my relationship is healthy and safe?
Where can I get help for a mental health issue?
What changes can I make to eat healthier?
How can I be more physically active?
Take a notepad or smartphone and write down the answers so you remember them later.
To learn more about these topics, check out these resources:
In addition to screenings, the doctor may sometimes recommend counseling for:
Get information about different screening tests . You can also use the MyHealthfinder tool to find out which screening tests you may need.
What about cost?
Under the Affordable Care Act, insurance plans must cover at least 1 well-woman visit a year at no cost to you. Plans must also cover some screenings and types of counseling. Check with your insurance company to find out more.
If you don’t have insurance, you may still be able to get a free or low-cost well-woman visit. Find a health center near you and ask about scheduling an exam.
To learn more, check out these resources: