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Real Talk: Make Time for Your Well-Woman Visit

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  • Written By: Diane Rabalais, WHNP, APRN-CNP
Real Talk: Make Time for Your Well-Woman Visit

“So, how are you doing?”

This seemingly innocent question is part of conversations all day, every day. If you’re like most people, your answer is “I’m fine.” You may think most people don’t want the real answer anyway, right?

As a women’s health nurse practitioner I want you to know one thing – now more than ever, it’s important to make time for conversations about your health.

As women, we often put our health and well-being on the back burner. But the truth is, balancing the needs of your family or career can cause stress and anxiety. In addition, subtle hormonal changes can raise your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and other chronic illnesses.

That’s why I encourage all women to make their annual well-woman visit a priority. As an essential part of your self-care routine, this visit screens for disease, infection and cancer.

Lightbox message board that says #Take Care Of Yourself

Here are some of the health screenings your provider may recommend at your next annual well-woman visit depending on your age and risk factors:

Pelvic Exam

Pelvic exams are recommended starting at age 21 for healthy women to look for any irregularities. But a woman who has heavy bleeding, painful periods or unusual vaginal discharge might need a pelvic exam sooner.

Pap Screening

Pap screenings are important because they detect cervical cell changes that could lead to cervical cancer caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). In 2020, there were over 13,000 cases of cervical cancer with an estimated 4,200 plus deaths related to cervical cancer. Gynecologists recommend a Pap smear starting at age 21 and then every three years for women in their 20s.

Source: American Cancer Society

Clinical Breast Exams and Mammograms

1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in her life. In 2021, it’s expected that over 43,000 women will die from breast cancer. Clinical breast exams, mammograms and breast self-awareness can help identify cancer early when it’s more treatable.

Source: Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

Bone Health Density Screening

Osteoporosis affects about 25% (1 in 4) of women who are 65 years or older. Bone density screenings are recommended for all women age 65 and older, and for younger women at higher than normal risk for a fracture.

Source: CDC


Colorectal cancer, the second leading cancer killer in the United States, is also one of the most preventable and curable cancers. A routine colonoscopy saves lives. The recommended age for a colonoscopy begins at 45 and continues every ten years after. However, if you have risk factors or a family history of colorectal health issues, a colonoscopy may be recommended sooner.

Heart Health

Did you know that stroke and heart disease are the leading causes of death in women in the United States? Monitoring your cholesterol and blood pressure can catch potential issues early to prevent more serious illness down the road.

Source: CDC

Glucose Screening

Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in the U.S. Glucose screenings generally start at age 45, but depending on your family history, weight, and other risk factors, these screenings could begin earlier.

Source: CDC

Thyroid Screening

Brain fog, weight gain and hair loss are symptoms of thyroid dysfunction. Thyroid screenings are typically recommended for women age 35 and older, unless you have family history or risk factors.

Schedule you annual well-woman visit today. It’s a time to talk, be heard, ask all the questions and learn how to stay healthy. To get the conversation started at Magnolia Obstetrics & Gynecology, call (985) 230-7650 or visit

Diane Rabalais, WHNP, APRN-CNP is a nurse practitioner at Magnolia Obstetrics & Gynecology, where she provides health care for women through all stages of life. Diane’s approach to patient care is centered on kindness. She believes that kindness and an open ear are the best tools for creating a space for the candid conversations that make a difference in her patients’ health.

Diane began her nursing career in Labor & Delivery at North Oaks Medical Center, where she worked for 10 years before becoming a certified women’s health nurse practitioner. A lover of the outdoors, Diane’s favorite past times include four-wheeling, fishing and camping with her family. Get to know more about Diane at