A well-woman exam is an integral part of women’s health and wellness. However, you may wonder why you have to come back year after year when it feels like nothing has changed and you passed your last exam without any problems. After all, it should be covered by your annual checkup with your primary care physician, right? Wrong! 

There are checks, questions, and general wellness indicators that are taken care of at an annual well-woman exam that are essential. They can have a dramatic effect on your overall health of course, but they are also imperative for preventative care and/or early detection of illnesses or complications. 

What is a well-woman exam?

A well-woman exam, also known as a wellness visit, women’s annual, or annual gynecological exam, is similar to your annual exam with your primary care provider. It’s different because it’s administered by an OB/GYN who specializes in comprehensive women’s health. 

Did you think an annual well-woman exam was just a Pap smear? That’s a common misconception, but you can gain much more from your visit. At a well-woman exam, your provider will go over topics like:

  • Family and medical history
  • Overall health and wellness goals
  • Medical concerns, especially related to menstruation, fertility, hormones, and bone and breast health
  • Sexual activity and partners, including STI prevention and birth control

What happens at this appointment?

Your appointment will typically involve a nurse or other healthcare specialist and your OB/GYN. During the appointment, you can expect a few steps that vary by age, risk factors, and sexual activity.

  1. A physical exam that includes
    • Blood pressure
    • Height
    • Weight
  1. A clinical breast exam, usually starting at age 25
  2. A mammogram, usually starting at age 40
  3. A pelvic exam, usually starting at age 21 but can be earlier, that may include
    • An external exam
    • An internal exam
    • A Pap smear, sometimes combined with an HPV test
  1. Vaccines to prevent disease
  2. Screening tests to assess the presence and risk of
    • STIs or other infections
    • Cholesterol levels 
    • Osteoporosis 
    • Colon cancer
    • Diabetes 
    • Thyroid disease

What questions are appropriate for my doctor?

Before you ask your OB/GYN any questions, you first need to ask yourself a question. Do you feel comfortable with and trust your doctor? Trust is the foundation of a high-functioning doctor-patient relationship. When you trust your provider, you’ll find yourself asking even the toughest questions. 

You may have questions about topics like:

  • Period abnormalities, like heavy bleeding or irregularity
  • Pelvic pain
  • Itching, discomfort, smell, or discharge in your vaginal area
  • Pregnancy planning
  • Birth control
  • Hormones
  • Menopause 

This is also a safe place and time to discuss your relationships at home. Openness and honesty will lead to the best possible outcomes for you and your holistic health. 

When do I start and stop my annual exams? 

On average, a young woman may have her first visit between the ages of 13 and 15. During your initial visits, it’s common to simply talk and have a basic physical examination. Pelvic exams can generally wait until a patient is about 21 years old. A first visit will likely focus on your menstrual cycle and sexual health, including any need for birth control and STI prevention. 

Your annual well-woman exam should continue to take place every year, regardless of age. Your OB/GYN has a wealth of medical knowledge and information to maximize your health at every phase of life. 

How do I make an appointment for my well-woman exam? 

To make an appointment, all you need to do is place a call to your OB/GYN’s office. 
If you’re in need of quality and comprehensive women’s health services near you, you can always start with the expert providers at Henry Community Health. We proudly serve women of all ages in New Castle, IN and surrounding areas.

Use our simple search tools to:

Are you a woman who is uninsured or underinsured?

Henry Community Health believes in providing essential healthcare for patients, including whenever possible those who are uninsured or underinsured. That is why we offer FREE Women’s Health Clinics throughout the year. Our next clinic is: 


Wednesday, May 1, 2024 
5:30-7:00 PM


HCH Northfield Park Campus
152 Wittenbraker Avenue
New Castle, IN 47362


  • Pap smear
  • HPV screening
  • Breast exam


Call 765-599-3279


  • Appointment required
  • Women ages 21-64
  • Must be uninsured or underinsured
  • Have not had a Pap smear in 12+ months
  • Have not had a total hysterectomy

If you missed this free women’s clinic, you can still contact us for quality healthcare treatment and information.