What Happens When You Have a Doctor's Checkup?

Updated April 17, 2017

Wellness checkups represent an important part of preventive health care. Wellness checkups try to identify health risks before they become illnesses or to identify illnesses at early, treatable stages. The checkups also allow you to ask questions or get health advice from your doctor. Depending on your age and gender, the tests and services performed at a checkup will vary.


Wellness checkups for women include blood pressure checks, cholesterol checks and weight checks. Women 21 and older or those who have been sexually active for three years should have Pap tests, and women over age 50 should have mammograms and also be tested for colorectal cancer. Depending on risk factors, women may also be tested for osteoporosis and sexually transmitted infections. Doctors will also give women advice on diet, exercise, birth control and other lifestyle choices.


Wellness checkups for men include weight, cholesterol and blood pressure checks. Men 50 years and older should be tested for colorectal cancer. Depending on risk factors, men may also be checked for sexually transmitted diseases or other conditions. Doctors will give men advice on diet, exercise, injury-prevention practices and other good habits.


Health care professionals measure the height and weight of children at checkups to make sure they're growing properly. Kids also usually have their blood pressure, temperature, eyesight and urine checked at a wellness checkup. The doctor also listens to a child's lungs and heartbeat, checks reflexes, looks in the eyes, ears and throat, checks the spine and physically examines the stomach and genitals. Kids sometimes receive vaccines at wellness checkups, although most kids don't need many shots after kindergarten.


Preparing for your wellness check-up makes your visit less stressful and ensures that your health care provider provides the most accurate information and recommendations. First, contact the doctor's office to determine whether you need to prepare for any tests. For example, you may have to fast before undergoing blood work. Consider whether your close relatives have developed any new diseases since you have seen your doctor. You should also write down any questions you have about your health as well as any changes you have noticed in your body.


Most people get wellness checkups through their regular health care provider. Health insurance typically covers part or all of the cost of wellness checkups. If you don't have health insurance or if your health insurance does not include preventive care, you can get wellness checkups through federally funded health centres.


Depending on your age, health, gender and risk factors, you may not need wellness checkups every year. Ask your doctor how frequently you should schedule checkups.

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About the Author

Rebekah Richards is a professional writer with work published in the "Atlanta Journal-Constitution," "Brandeis University Law Journal" and online at She graduated magna cum laude from Brandeis University with bachelor's degrees in creative writing, English/American literature and international studies. Richards earned a master's degree at Carnegie Mellon University.