Do you need both a physical and a well woman exam?

Did you know that while there is some overlap, both exams are crucial for your overall health.

By Barrett White

We’ve all heard that annual check-ups are important, but we often don’t know which services to pursue when we book that appointment. Often when a woman requests an annual exam, she might be booked for either a comprehensive wellness exam or a gynecological exam and a breast exam. These exams are important on their own – but individually they cannot address your overall health.

Make sure you schedule both your comprehensive wellness exam and your gynecological and breast exams. Together, the combination of these exams can help with preventative care and with the early detection of chronic illnesses, the chances for which increase as we age.

Why is a comprehensive wellness exam important?

“I strongly recommend everyone get their comprehensive exam because that’s not only when we take a look at your physical health, but also when we get to discuss your habits, conduct wellness screening tests, and administer your immunizations,” says Dr. Vanita Agrawal, Medical Director of Adult Medicine at Legacy Community Health. “I enjoy taking the extra moments with my patients and giving them the time to discuss anything health-related that could use professional advice from their doctor, rather than WebMD or Google. Anything from smoking cessation to family planning to weight management – I want to be your partner in good health, so let’s chat.”

Physical exams may vary slightly by provider, but most often include:

  • Vital signs assessment (blood pressure, temperature, heart rate, respiration rate)
  • Family history
  • Heart exam
  • Lung exam
  • Neurological exam
  • Dermatological exam
  • Head and neck exam
  • Extremities exam
  • Clinical breast exam (CBE)

Your provider may also have you do a blood test or other screenings, should they apply. Such screenings may include screens for kidney or liver disease, diabetes, anemia, and high cholesterol. As you enter your 40s, mammograms and colonoscopies may become part of your treatment plan to check for certain cancers or other health conditions.

Is a well woman exam necessary if I already had a physical?

Dr. Agrawal encourages her patients to speak to their OB/GYN about scheduling a well woman exam in addition to your comprehensive exam. Your OB/GYN can screen for and address health concerns including but not limited to:

  • Fertility issues
  • Birth control
  • Cancer prevention
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

There are many ways your gynecologist can help keep you healthy alongside your primary care provider. Your OB/GYN can schedule your pelvic exam and Pap smear to ensure your uterus and ovaries are in good shape, and can screen for STIs. Should you be looking to become pregnant, family planning can be discussed with your OB/GYN, from prenatal care to genetic testing.

Additionally, if you’re concerned that cancer may run in your family, you can discuss this with both your primary care provider and your OB/GYN, so they can help you decide when to begin cancer screenings.


Are you ready to schedule your comprehensive and well woman exams? Go online or call (832) 548 5000 to schedule today!