Women’s wellness exams are an opportunity to review the overall health of a woman. This includes physical health, mental health, and social situation. A women’s wellness exam may include a check of your height and weight, your blood pressure and pulse, a review of your vaccines and other tests based on how you feel. These exams also usually include three things specific to the health of a woman: a breast exam, a pelvic exam, and a pap test (a test to check for any problems including cervical cancer).
In the U.S., doctors recommend that women should start having a women’s wellness exam every year after they start having sex or when they reach 21 years of age. This may be different than what is recommended or practiced in Afghanistan. The reason that doctors recommend regular women’s wellness exams for all women in the U.S., whether they are sexually active or not, is because these exams can catch health problems early, when they are easier to cure or manage. These exams are not only done when you have a medical problem, but as a regular check of your overall health. These medical appointments also provide an opportunity to talk to your doctor about any concerns you may have or to ask questions concerning women’s health including abnormal periods and bleeding, mood changes, intense pain during menstruation, family planning, and other health concerns.
Types of Medical Providers in the U.S. That Support Women’s Wellness
Women’s medical needs are supported by several different types of medical providers in the U.S. While all these medical providers are knowledgeable about basic women’s health, each one also has their own specialty. Depending on their medical needs, women may consult with one or more of the following medical providers.
- Primary Care Physicians (PCP) are also known as general practitioners, family doctors, internists, or pediatricians. These doctors take care of a wide range of health issues for people of every age. For women, the primary care physician is also the doctor most likely to perform a women’s wellness exam.
- Obstetricians/Gynecologists (OB/GYN). An obstetrician is a type of doctor that supports women and their babies during pregnancy and childbirth. A gynecologist specializes in treating women’s reproductive health. Doctors specializing in these areas often do both, which is why they are called OB/GYNs. OB/GYNs care for women from adolescence through menopause and beyond.
- Nurse practitioners are nurses who have received advanced training and degrees. They provide preventive care, diagnose health conditions, and manage treatment for people in their care. They may work independently or with doctors to provide a full range of healthcare services.
- Midwives are healthcare providers who support pregnancy, childbirth, newborn care, and postpartum health. Midwives are usually not doctors, although some are nurses. Midwives may work with obstetricians and gynecologists (OB/GYNS) or on their own.
You can receive care from many different types of providers in the U.S. No matter what type of provider you receive care from, all people in the U.S. have the same healthcare rights. Visit this Settle In Help Center link for information on your rights as a patient in the U.S. https://www.settlein.support/en-us/articles/9840143678109
For detailed information on what happens at a women’s wellness exam, read Part 2 at the Settle In Help Center: Woman’s Wellness Exams (Part 2: What Happens at a Woman’s Wellness Exam?)
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