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Annual Woman Health Exam

The UHS Women's Health Clinic offers confidential annual exams. If you have never had an annual exam before, this guide will help you know what to expect at your visit.

The purpose of an annual exam is to:

  • Examine your breasts to see that they look and feel normal
  • Examine and evaluate your reproductive organs
  • As indicated, screen your cervix for abnormal changes that might lead to cancer
  • Test for infections, including sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • If applicable, evaluate your current method of birth control and discuss options*
  • Discuss any other sexual or reproductive concerns you might have

*NOTE: If you want a prescription for a hormonal method of birth control for the first time, please view Contraception for College Students Video Series or individual consultation before you see your Women's Health provider. For more information and schedules, visit Classes and Workshops.

What Happens During an Annual Exam?

At your visit, your healthcare provider will ask about your and your family's medical history and any health concerns you may have. Before your appointment, write down any questions you'd like to discuss, so you don't forget to bring them up during your visit.

Breast Exam

Your healthcare provider will examine your breasts to check to see that they look and feel normal. They may also examine the front of your neck to check for thyroid gland abnormalities.

Pelvic Exam

The pelvic exam usually lasts only a few minutes and can include the following:

External Genital Exam

Your provider will examine your external genitals (vulva) and the areas around your vagina and anus for signs of infection or other concerns.

Speculum Exam

Your provider may insert a speculum, an instrument shaped like a slender duck bill, into your vagina much like a tampon is inserted. When the speculum is opened inside your vagina, your provider can examine your cervix (the entrance to your uterus) for abnormalities, including signs of infection and collect any specimens needed for testing. You may feel mild discomfort or pressure during this part of the exam.
  • Pap smear: For patients over the age of 21, the annual exam may include a Pap smear. If you are getting a Pap smear, your healthcare provider will brush the cervix to get a sample cells. These cells are sent for laboratory analysis. The Pap smear checks for abnormal changes in the cervix that could lead to cancer.
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and other vaginal infection testing: If you ask to be screened for chlamydia and/or gonorrhea, your provider will use a swab to get a sample of your vaginal secretions, which will be sent to a laboratory for analysis. Your provider can diagnose some infections by looking at a sample of your vaginal secretions under the microscope during your visit. You may also request blood tests for other STIs such as syphilis, herpes, HIV, and hepatitis B and C.
NOTE: If you haven't already received them, talk to your healthcare provider about how to get hepatitis B and human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines.

Bimanual Exam

After the speculum is removed, your provider will gently insert one or two gloved and lubricated fingers into your vagina while pressing on the outside of your abdomen with the other hand. This checks your uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries for proper size and placement, abnormal growths, pain, or other signs that might indicate a problem or a need for further testing.

Getting the Results of Your Exam

Before you leave, your healthcare provider will discuss with you any areas of concern that were detected during your exam and will tell you how to get results for any tests that were performed.

Annual Exams for Transgender Patients

If you need an annual exam and you don't identify as female and would prefer not to be seen in the Women's Health Clinic, UHS providers can conduct an annual exam in one of the general medicine clinics. Call the appointment desk at 512-475-8265 (instead of using online scheduling) and ask to be seen for an annual exam in General Medicine.

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