Did you know that the second Tuesday in June is National Call Your Doctor Day? This day was started as an initiative to remind women to call their doctors and schedule their annual exam. When schedules are packed and you’re responsible for getting the kids to their doctor and dentist appointments, various lessons and games all over town, it’s easy to put your own care last on the list, but there’s no time like the present to change that. Here are the appointments you should be scheduling regularly for yourself.
As the name implies, your annual exam should be done once each year. At this exam, your doctor will check your vitals like blood pressure, heart rate and temperature. They’ll review your medications, health history and whether you have any current health concerns. You might get some bloodwork done to test your cholesterol levels or kidney levels to make sure everything is where it should be. It can be helpful to establish a primary care physician that you see each time so they have a better understanding of your overall health and health history and can spot issues quicker.
A gynecological exam
Sometimes you can get your pap done at your annual exam with your primary care physician, but it’s not a bad idea to make a yearly gynecological exam if you’re over the age of 21 or sexually active (whichever comes first). Your gynecologist will check your breasts, do a pelvic exam and a pap smear. These exams are important for the early detection of any abnormalities like precancerous cells on your cervix or lumps in your breast. It’s also a good time to bring up questions or concerns regarding things like pain with sex, yeast infections, UTIs, etc.
Two dental cleanings
Ten out of ten dentists recommend getting your teeth cleaned every six months. These appointments can be easy to overlook but they’re important for making sure your teeth and gums are healthy. Your dentist will examine your gums and teeth, and may even take x-rays to make sure everything is looking strong and healthy and there are no cavities, decay or other issues present. Plus, you’ll get some of those coffee stains polished off.
An eye exam
Even if you don’t wear glasses or contacts, it’s still really important to get your eyes checked every year. Your eyes are pretty critical and you only get one set, so it’s wise to take care of the pair you have. At your optometrist appointment, the doctor will check for signs of eye disease including glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration. If you do wear glasses or contacts, it’s a good time to get your prescription renewed.
It’s never too early to start screening for cancer, and your doctor might have you start getting a mammogram earlier based on family history or your breast tissue, but in general, the American Cancer Society recommends the following schedules for mammograms.
- Women ages 40 to 44 can choose to start annual breast cancer screening with mammograms if they wish to do so.
- Women age 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year.
- Women 55 and older should switch to mammograms every 2 years, or can continue yearly screening.
A skin check at the dermatologist
At a regular dermatologist visit, the doctor will do a thorough check for skin cancer and look for any moles, lesions or areas of concern. They may note areas they’ll want to watch over the course of your subsequent appointments. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends a dermatologist visit for a skin check once a year, and more frequent visits if you are at a higher risk for skin cancer. Skin cancer can happen to anyone so it’s important to start your skin cancer checks now, no matter what age you are. Caught early, most skin cancers are easily treatable.
What to Bring to Your Health Appointments:
- Your ID
- Health insurance card
- List of medications including supplements (bring pill bottles with you if you need to)
- Any notes or photos tracking your symptoms or questions
- Form of payment
- Family history (if applicable/available)