In this health video learn about the importance of an annual "well woman" exam to make sure, that your body is working correctly.
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Female Speaker 1: Ask the average woman on the street about her well woman exam and you may get mixed answers. Female Speaker 2: No big deal and I'm glad when it's over and I've done it. Like the dentist. Female Speaker 1: But most women agree Female Speaker 3: I'd just rather know that everything's working correctly. Female Speaker 1: Vivian Dickerson is the President of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. She'd like to see every woman get regular exams, even if they're feeling well. Dr. Vivian Dickerson: Primary prevention is clearly the key and this is a great opportunity, the well woman exam, not just to do the gynecologic things, but to really talk about her health and her health risks in general. Female Speaker 1: The well woman exam is kind of like a tune-up. It's a chance for women to get a general check of their health, and make sure they get important screening tests such as the PAP test, DNA test, or the human papillomavirus test called HPV. Marti Spittell Ziegelbauer spent 20 years in radio and television broadcasting, mainly in Wisconsin and Minnesota. She had been relatively healthy all her life, so when her career called, Marti answered that call like many busy women today. Marti Spittell Ziegelbauer: My life was all about my career and I made that a priority and my health came second. Female Speaker 1: There came a day when Marti couldn't ignore her health any longer. She was about to sign off the air for the last time and move on to a television consulting career. On that very day, she developed severe bleeding and had to see a doctor immediately. Marti Spittell Ziegelbauer: Imagine your legs are up in stirrups, because they are, and there's a sheet over your legs and you hear a physician beneath you saying we need to stop this exam because the tumor in your cervix is too large. I took a deep breath, just like that, and I asked him, I said, did you say tumor? Female Speaker 1: Marti later found out she had stage three, aggressive cervical cancer. This 38 year old, a daughter of a doctor had to have cancer surgery right away. The race for advancing her career had now turned into a race against time. Marti Spittell Ziegelbauer: I cried the entire way home and it was at that moment that it hit me that all these things about my job that I thought were so important and developing this career really meant nothing at all. Female Speaker 1: Had Marti made and kept her appointments for her well woman exam, her cancer might have been caught earlier. Depending on family history and a woman's own PAP test history, she can expect to be screened as often as every year. Joyce Schwartz is a pathologist with the National Testing Laboratory. Dr. Joyce Schwartz: The PAP test has really decreased the amount of cervical cancer tremendously. It's probably decreased it 70%. So it is truly a wonderful screening test for cervical cancer. Female Speaker 1: During a well woman exam, women can also take the opportunity to ask questions of the doctor and discuss important issues surrounding their physical and mental health. Dina Bredeau is an advanced registered nurse practitioner. Dina Bredeau: They're always going to have their breast exam and their pelvic exam, which is could usually include their pap smear when they come for their well woman exam. But depending on how old they are, that usually would really gauge what specific test. Dr. Joyce Schwartz: If you have high lipid levels, there are no symptoms until you have a heart attack or a stroke. So it is so important to know at least your baseline levels and to get them monitored periodically to stay healthy for the rest of your life. Dr. Vivian Dickerson: Take advantage of the fact that you can come in to see me every year. Take advantage of the fact that there are many things you can do every single day without me, that will keep you healthy and keep you strong and make that a priority. Female Speaker 1: Marti's life has been completely transformed since bein