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What can I expect at my doctor's visit?


For some people, having an annual physical examination is a source of reassurance that they're as healthy as they feel. Others see it as an alarm system, to catch health problems before they become serious.  No one likes having it done, but knowing what to expect can often make things easier.  Physical exams can be done for a variety of reasons.  Most people have them done on a regular basis to make sure that everything is all right.  Sometimes an insurance company can require a physical exam, and many employers require their employees to have physicals.  Join Janet as she has a pre-employment physical exam.

The value of the routine annual exam has been debated recently, but it remains a cherished tradition among many doctors and patients. What can you expect from your annual physical exam?  It depends on what the reasons for the exam are.  Some exams are more thorough than others, but these pages will guide you on the basics.  There are many variables depending on your age, gender, and the reason for the exam.

The physical exam is an essential part of any doctor's visit. Surprisingly, though, there are no absolutes in a routine physical. A good doctor may be thorough or brief, according to your individual circumstances, any new medical concerns you may have, and his or her personal style. A good doctor will spend time listening to your concerns and providing counseling for your particular needs.

Vital Signs

Your exam will include having your vital signs taken.  There are four vital signs which are standard in most medical settings:

Body temperature

Pulse rate (or heart rate)

Blood pressure

Respiratory rate

Body Temperature

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Men's Physical Exam

Getting an annual exam helps supplement a healthy lifestyle. What happens in male physical exams depends on factors such as a male's age and any underlying reasons for his visit. For example, a male may suspect that he is ill or be compelled to get a full exam as a pre-requisite for playing on a sports team or getting a certain job.

Genital Examination

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Digital Rectal Exam

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Women's Physical Exam

During a pelvic exam, your doctor visually and manually assesses your reproductive organs. A pelvic exam usually is done as part of a woman's regular checkup, or your doctor may recommend a pelvic exam if you're having symptoms such as unusual vaginal discharge or pelvic pain.

A pelvic exam is a relatively short procedure. In the course of a pelvic exam, your doctor checks your vulva, vagina, cervix, uterus, rectum and pelvis, including your ovaries, for masses, growths or other abnormalities. A Pap test, which screens for cervical cancer, may be performed during a pelvic exam.

The Pelvic Exam

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The Breast Exam

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