If you're like most women, you lead a busy life--one that might not
have the time to squeeze in a regular checkup with the doctor. After all,
you feel healthy, so isn't that enough? It's not, which is why
the American Heart Association is supporting the
Go Red for Women movement to recommend annual well-woman visits.
"These well-woman visits are a necessary component of your wellness
Gregory Sacher, MD, a board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist at
Annadel Medical Group in Santa Rosa. "It's a chance to monitor your health, get needed
screenings and check in with your physician with any issues or questions."
Like any checkup or exam, you'll want to come prepared. "Write
down any questions you may have so you make sure to cover anything you
are concerned about," Dr. Sacher says. "When you schedule the
appointment, you may want to ask if you'll be due for shots or tests;
the latter can include cancer screenings, blood work, or a check for sexually
transmitted diseases. Finally, your well-woman visit usually starts with
some questions about you, so be prepared to talk about your mental and
physical health history and your family's health history, as well
as lifestyle questions including relationships and whether you drink or
Your health care provider will also cover some basics: take your temperature
and blood pressure, weigh and measure you, check your breasts for any
abnormalities and conduct a pelvic exam and Pap smear. The tests that
can be done during a well-woman visit will depend on your age, health
condition and whether you are predisposed to certain diseases. "They
cover a wide range of health concerns, including cervical and colon cancer,
diabetes, hypo- or hyperthyroidism and osteoporosis," Dr. Sacher
says. "And shots aren't just for kids--adults may need boosters
of vaccines, or to catch up on shots if they weren't immunized when
they were younger."
"In addition to that, another valuable part of the well-woman visit
is the opportunity to set wellness goals with your physician," Dr.
Sacher says. "Whether you want to lower your cholesterol, decrease
your risk of diabetes, or better manage your stress, your doctor can work
with you on steps you can take to meet those goals."
For those reasons, the well-woman visit is one every woman should make
time for in her busy schedule. "Staying on top of your health with
annual checkups is integral to preventive care," Dr. Sacher adds.
"These well-woman exams focus specifically on a woman's health
needs and are meant to cover every area of her life. If you haven't
scheduled a well-woman visit recently, now's the time to get started."
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