What is an Annual Physical?

What is an Annual Physical?

An annual physical is a key part of managing your preventative care. This yearly visit is an excellent time to check in with your physician about any health concerns you may have and for your doctor to perform basic tests to screen for signs of problems.

During an annual physical, your provider may also use your annual physical to update your vaccinations and talk to you about healthy habits.

How is a Physical Exam Performed?

How is a Physical Exam Performed?

Your doctor may begin a physical by asking questions about your lifestyle, sexual activities, diet, alcohol consumption, smoking, and exercise habits. They will make health recommendations tailored to your lifestyle and answer any questions you may have.

Your physician will then move on to a physical examination, in which they’ll measure vital signs and perform a physical exam starting with your eyes, ear, nose, and throat and moving down to your chest, abdomen, and extremities. Sometimes your doctor will order lab tests like urinalysis or a blood count. Further testing, including imaging such as ultrasound, an echocardiogram, or MRI may be ordered by your doctor as needed.

Physical exams for women

A woman’s annual exam may also include a pelvic exam and a clinical breast exam. Some physicians combine a woman’s gynecological yearly exams with their general check-up as a holistic approach to health.

A pelvic exam can help your provider check in with your reproductive health and may include a Pap test. During a clinical breast exam, your provider will check for lumps in the breasts that can be a sign of breast cancer.

At NewYork-Presbyterian, an assistant will always be present during potentially sensitive physical exams to ensure you feel comfortable throughout the process.

Physical exams for men

A man’s annual exam may include specialized screenings as well. These tests include a testicular exam, hernia exam, penis exam, and prostate exam. These examinations are often performed to alert your physician to potential cancers. Depending on a man’s age, different tests may be performed at different frequencies.

Preparing for an Annual Physical Exam


Before going in for an annual physical exam, note any questions you have for your doctor and consider writing them down. Note any changes in your health you would like to discuss and any uncertainties you are experiencing regarding your lifestyle, family medical history, diet, or habits as they pertain to your health.

Be sure to know the names of all the medications you are currently taking and any important dates related to your health (for example, a primary care provider may ask a woman the date of her last menstrual cycle). Also, keep track of any other doctors you’ve visited recently or procedures you’ve undergone.

What to Expect After an Annual Physical

After the Physical

After your annual physical exam, your primary care provider may follow up with you about any abnormal test results or concerns. Sometimes they may recommend that you return to the office for additional testing. Information about your visit can be found on the NewYork-Presbyterian Patient Portal, where you can connect with your care team and review your medical records.

Book an Annual Wellness Visit

Schedule an Annual Physical at NewYork-Presbyterian

With multiple convenient locations and most insurances accepted, NewYork-Presbyterian is the best choice for primary care and annual physical exams. Our physicians have years of experience providing holistic care and understanding when to perform additional screenings and examinations to give you peace of mind. Make an appointment today and stay on top of your preventative care.