Your insurance covers an annual well-woman visit. But what exactly does that mean?
Your yearly well-woman visit can be either a combination of your annual physical and care specific to you as a woman or a separate appointment for just that care.
Preventive Care at Your Well-Woman Visit
Your plan covers a lot of preventive care and screenings, many of which you’ll get at your yearly physical. But for some of the care, you’ll probably want to schedule a separate well-woman visit with a specialist, like a gynecologist, or even multiple appointments with your doctor and different specialists.
Depending on timing and what your doctor recommends, this care includes:
Screenings & Care
Osteoporosis screening – For women over age 60, depending on risk factors
Domestic and interpersonal violence screening and counseling
Cancer Screenings & Counseling
Breast cancer genetic test counseling (BRCA) – For women at higher risk
Breast cancer mammography screenings – Every 1 to 2 years for women over 40
Breast cancer chemoprevention counseling – For women at higher risk
Cervical cancer screening – For sexually active women
Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) Screenings
Sexually transmitted infections counseling – For sexually active women
Chlamydia infection screening – For younger women and other women at higher risk
Gonorrhea screening – For all women at higher risk
HIV screening and counseling – For sexually active women
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) DNA test – Every 3 years for women with normal cytology results who are 30 or older
Preparing with questions, and answers to your doctor’s questions, can help you make the most of your visit.
Know Your Family History
Talk to your family members, especially your mom, about your family’s history of women’s health issues. For example, as a woman, you’re more likely to get breast cancer if it’s genetic on your mom’s side of the family. So knowing this information can help your doctor keep an eye out for genetic issues you’re at risk for.
Talk to Your Doctor
Prepare for your appointment by knowing any questions or issues you want to talk to your doctor about. Some things you might want to ask include:
What immunizations or shots you need, like the HPV vaccine
If you should get STI screenings
Help getting pregnant or birth control options
How to do self-exams to regularly check for breast cancer
Mental and social health concerns, like relationship issues or domestic violence questions
Specific issues you might be having, like problems with your menstruation or abnormal pain or cramping
Getting your yearly physical, where you can get covered preventive care and screenings, helps you be your healthiest. It’s important that you not only know what’s recommended for your age and what you need to stay up to date, but also that you get to the doctor for this each year!
What Happens at Your Physical
Each year, you should schedule a physical with your doctor to focus on your health and wellness. At the appointment, you can:
Keep track of your health habits and history
Get a physical exam
Stay up-to-date with preventive care
Get education and counseling and set health goals
Health Habits & History
One of the first things that happens at your annual appointment is a nurse or your doctor will ask you to answer some questions about your health and family history, including questions about:
Your medical history
Your family history
Your sexual health and partners
Your eating and exercise habits
Your use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs
Your mental health history, including depression
Your relationships and safety
This info can help you in the future. From getting diagnosed to being protected and helping you in an emergency, this information can help save your life.
At your yearly physical, you can expect your doctors or nurses to:
Measure your height and weight
Calculate your body mass index (BMI) to check if you’re at a healthy weight
Take your blood pressure and temperature
From there, your doctor may give you your regular preventive care screenings and shots or refer you to a specialist for certain screenings, counseling, or care.
As an adult, certain preventive care and screenings are covered for you, depending on timing and what your doctor recommends.
Doses, recommended timing, and need for certain immunizations can vary based on your case:
Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
Condition Screenings & Care
Aspirin use – To prevent heart disease for adults of a certain ages
Cholesterol screening – For adults of certain ages or at higher risk
Blood pressure screening
Type 2 diabetes screening – For adults with high blood pressure
Colorectal cancer screening – For adults over 50
Obesity screening and counseling
Diet counseling – For adults at higher risk for chronic disease
Alcohol & Tobacco Use
Alcohol misuse screening and counseling
Tobacco use screening – For all adults and cessation interventions for tobacco users
Lung cancer screening – For adults 55 to 80 at high risk for lung cancer because they’re heavy smokers or have quit in the past 15 years
Abdominal aortic aneurysm – A one-time screening for men of certain ages who have ever smoked
Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) Screenings
Sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevention counseling – For adults at higher risk
Hepatitis B screening – For people at high risk, including people from countries with 2% or more Hepatitis B prevalence, and American-born people not vaccinated as infants and with at least one parent born in a region with 8% or more Hepatitis B prevalence
Hepatitis C screening – For adults at increased risk and once for everyone born from 1945 to 1965
HIV screening – For everyone ages 15 to 65 and other ages at increased risk
Syphilis screening – For adults at higher risk
Women also have some additional covered screenings and benefits. Get more details about this specific preventive care while learning about your well-woman visits.
And learn more about what preventive care the United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends you get and when.
Education, Counseling & Health Goals
Your doctor can help you manage your conditions or diseases and prevent future problems by talking to you about your life and health each year.
Your doctor might have valuable handouts, websites, advice, and information to help you take care of yourself or might want to refer you to a specialist who can help you further.
Your doctor is also the perfect person to help you set goals to maintain or improve your health. From quitting smoking and knowing how to self-check for cancer to changing your diet and exercise for your weight, cholesterol, or blood pressure, your doctor can help you plan to be your healthiest.
Prepare for Your Visit
Preparing yourself with questions to ask and answers to your doctor’s questions can help you make the most of your visit.
Know Your Family History
Your family’s history of health and wellness is an important part of your own health record. Histories of illness and disease can help doctor’s look out for issues that run in families and more.
This family health history tool can help you track your family’s health, so that you’re always organized to talk to your doctor. Not sure about your family history? Filling this out is the perfect time to talk to family members for firsthand details.
Talk to Your Doctor
Prepare for your appointment by knowing any questions or issues you want to talk about ahead of time. Some things you might want to ask:
What immunizations or shots you need
Your diet and eating healthy food
Advice for exercise and getting active
Mental health concerns, like depression and anxiety
Specific issues you might be having, like sore joints, back pain, migraines, and more
The end of April and beginning of May might be the craziest month-long stretch I’ve ever planned for myself. I will be battling traveling stress each week with almost no downtime in between.
First, I spent a weekend with loved ones around Indy, going to the zoo and shopping. Then, my mom, sister-in-law, and I went on a big weekend trip to New York City to see a Broadway show. The next weekend, I’m headed to Chicago to visit some old friends. The 2 weekends after that, I’m driving home for events, and then the weekend after that, I’m off to Seattle.
No matter what, traveling is stressful, so to get through it, I’m trying to plan ahead, stay on top of things, make the healthiest decisions I can on the go, and enjoy the moments of fun that are the whole point of traveling in the first place.
Planning Ahead to Avoid Traveling Stress
While tickets and such have been booked ahead of time, the planning never ends there.
First, I spring-cleaned my apartment like crazy so that it could survive the coming month without looking like a wasteland.
I pulled tons of great tips to make this list from the helpful resources we shared in our Spring Cleaning for National Cleaning Week post, like using rubber gloves to wipe dog hair off my furniture, freshening up my garbage disposal, and more.
Organize, Organize, Organize
I’ve been making a list of all the things I need to do before each trip, so I don’t do something silly and forgetful, like making myself late by forgetting to put gas in my car before driving to the airport.
And this list doesn’t just include the things I need to pack but also the things I need to do around the house and the errands I need to run first.
This helps me stay on track and not forget all the little things that have to be pulled together at the last minute.
I try to pack as much as I can ahead. The key to-do’s I can mark off in advance:
Buy or organize travel liquids if I’m flying.
Check the weather forecast.
Plan versatile outfits, like things that can mix and match and fit the weather and planned activities, including shoes because I get blisters easily.
Organize or switch to a purse better for travel.
Never forget essentials, like headphones, a book, sunscreen, bandaids, gas in the car, and meds.
Plan driving times and routes.
Then, at the last minute, I can just add in the things I’m still using, like my makeup bag, toothbrush, and phone charger, and avoid all that last-minute packing stress.
Planning for Work
Another important key to planning ahead is making sure work is ready for me to be completely unavailable.
Usually that just means talking to my co-workers in advance and making sure anything that takes place on the weekends, like social media for the next week, is done early.
One of the easiest ways to ruin your vacation is to have to drop everything for work, so make sure you’ve talked to your co-workers and set boundaries for when you’ll be available.
Then, stick to those boundaries because vacations are an important part of avoiding burnout. If you’re only going to check email once a day, stick to that and do it at a time when it won’t ruin your day.
Staying on Top of Things to Avoid Traveling Stress
No matter how much planning you do, it can all fall apart while you’re there if you focused on the wrong thing.
I like to make plans for each day with loose free time around them. You never want to have to be too many places in one day, so one meal with reservations and one event or activity that requires tickets in advance per day is probably plenty. You can munch or discover something new when you’re actually hungry the rest of the time, which can help you avoid overeating on a trip. And you’ll have more time to focus on something you love instead of rushing off to your next activity.
I also like to have extra time planned in so that if I’m exhausted, I can take a nap, shower after a hot outdoor activity, or simply enjoy downtime by watching a movie or grabbing an appetizer with my loved ones.
Get Your Bearings
Another key can be knowing your location and how to get around. I’ve lived in New York and Chicago, so I know my way around the neighborhoods and how the subways work, and pulling up a location on my phone is more than enough for me to find my way in either place.
However, I’ve never been to Seattle, so looking at maps and familiarizing myself with what’s where will be a much more important part of planning that trip so I don’t end up lost when I get there.
Identify what you need to focus on in preparation for each trip for a smooth journey to avoid hiccups in the moment.
Start the Day Off Right
Each morning of your trip, it’s a good idea to review your plans with everyone. Not only will it put you all on the same page, but it will help you remember which important tickets, confirmation numbers, or reservation details you need to bring along that day for your planned activities.
Making Healthy Choices to Avoid Traveling Stress
Traveling stress skyrockets for me when I feel guilty about it, so I’m trying to make healthy choices wherever I go.
A few weeks ago, I bought a Ringly ring. Ringly is a fitness tracker that syncs to your phone but looks like jewelry. I’d been wanting a tracker for a while, and the design of these adorable pieces made me finally get on board.
You charge it in a ring box and manage it from an app on your phone, and no one would ever know from looking at it that it’s a tracker.
Because of this new tracker, I can see how much walking I’m doing each weekend. The weekend in Indy, I walked 9.2 miles. And in NYC, we planned in time to walk the High Line and the bottom half of Central Park. We ended up walking 25.5 miles total!
I also try to choose healthier food choices most of the time without sacrificing the experience.
Enjoying the Moment to Avoid Traveling Stress
Finally, the stress-busting key for me is enjoying the fun parts of traveling. Those moments have to outweigh the stress, or it’s not worth it!
In NYC, we:
Ate at Bobby Flay’s Gato
Saw the new show Amélie
Spent a day at Chelsea Market
Walked the High Line
Had a ball at Waitress, including the perfect-serving-size, tiny Key Lime and Marshmallow Pies at intermission (And they raised $20,000 dollars in a little auction at the end of the show for charity!)
Indulged in the special Easter brunch menu at Tom Colicchio’s Craft
Explored Central Park
With more crazy weekends ahead of me, I hope my planning helps me stay sane!
Tips for Your Travels
If you need more tips to make it through your next trip and traveling stress, these can help: