5 Myths About Annual Well-Woman Care
The female body is the subject of a whole host of myths that I could go on about for days, but for today, let's focus on well-woman care. For as many health care providers that have not changed their policies and routines as evidence-based recommendations are published, there's an equal amount of women who are quite sure what components of well-woman care are necessary, routine, or optional...or something they should have a lengthy discussion with their provider about.
Today, the five myths about well-woman care:
1. You need a pap smear every year.
Although pap smears were once done yearly, more recent evidence suggests that, depending on your age and pap history, a pap may only be needed every 3-5 years.
2. The stirrups are a once-a-year requirement too.
FALSE! Although it's recommended you see a doctor or midwife every year for a well-woman exam to discuss contraception, sexual health, and concerns you may have, as well as perform tests such as routine blood work, a pelvic exam is not a necessary component of your gynecology visit. And FURTHERMORE, even if a pelvic exam is warranted, stirrups are rarely a requirement.
3. If you have your period, reschedule your appointment.
We help humans come out of vaginas. A little menstrual blood is no biggie.
4. I don't have any concerns about my uterus, ovaries, vagina, vulva, or breasts, so I don't need a well-woman exam.
A well-woman exam is exactly that...a visit to keep you well! Visits with a midwife for well-woman care include much more than a physical exam. Conversations about nutrition and exercise, sleep, mood, sexual health, contraception, and more are all a routine part of well-woman care.
5. I don't have a family history of breast cancer, so I don't need to worry about scheduling a mammogram.
90% of women who developed breast cancer have no family history, and waiting for symptoms to appear to schedule a mammogram may mean it's too late. Women should definitely begin having mammograms at age 50, and some women may desire to start even sooner, around age 40.