Annual physical exams are of vital importance to your health and wellbeing. For many, though, going to the doctor is a challenge for one reason or another. So, whether you haven’t been to a yearly exam in a while or simply want a refresher, wondering what you should expect at your annual wellness exam is entirely normal.

Such exams are comprehensive but not invasive. In other words, your doctor will evaluate your overall wellbeing, including individual aspects of your bodily health, but the exam is considered general. If you’re looking for a more detailed deep dive into what specifics you should expect, have no fear—the nuances of what to expect at your annual wellness exam are below!

The Basics

While there are no specific guidelines or requirements when it comes to physical exams, there are a few basics that are generally considered standard practice among physicians. Every doctor is sure to have their own approach and style, but the chances of them performing these common practices are high.

  • The history of your health is sure to be a conversation at your annual exam. Here, you will share concerns, answer questions about your lifestyle, and update the medical history of yourself and your family.
  • Vital Signs. Your doctor will likely check your vital signs. While different doctors check different vitals, the common signs include your blood pressure, heart rate, and temperature.
  • Don’t worry; your annual physical exam is not a beauty contest. Your doctor will simply observe your appearance and look for anything concerning. For example, they will be noting your memory as you talk and your mobility as you walk to ensure nothing is amiss.
  • Common Exams. At your physical exam, your doctor will conduct several specific exams to evaluate how particular areas of your body are doing. These exams can include heart, lung, head, neurological, and abdominal exams, among others.

Gender-Specific Exams

When the general side of your annual physical exam is completed, your doctor is likely to perform a gender-specific exam. Think of this as the physical you had to undergo to participate in school activities. These gender-specific exams will typically look for any noticeable issues regarding male or female organs and common gender-specific health problems and may include checking for hernias, performing a pelvic exam, and more. Typically, no laboratory tests are required during annual physical exams. If your doctor has a concern that they cannot confirm, they may order tests, but those will usually be scheduled and conducted on a future date. For older people, those with preexisting health conditions, and those with personal concerns, annual exams are invaluable. However, you should not pass on your yearly doctor’s visit because you don’t fall into any of the above categories. Everyone can benefit from an annual physical exam, including young, healthy individuals.

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