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Women's Health: Here's Why Your Annual Physical Exam Is Essential

March 6, 2020

Trying to juggle your job, your home and your personal life can make it really hard to get all of it done. We're talking about grocery shopping, paying the bills, getting your oil changed, making time to see all of your doctors — you know, all of those responsibilities that, unfortunately, come along with being an adult.

And when you're young and healthy, your annual physical exam might seem like just another women's health checklist item that's okay to brush off. But it isn't.

"Keeping tabs on your health and staying up to date on recommended screening tests can save money, time and, ultimately, your life," says Dr. Torri-Ja'Net Pierce, OB-GYN at Houston Methodist.

So ladies, listen up. Dr. Pierce is here to explain why you should schedule your annual physical exam — even if you don't have any health concerns.

Q: What happens during a woman's annual physical exam?

A: Your annual exam is a chance to focus on preventive care. It's separate from doctor appointments you may have for sickness or injury. Your checkup will include:

  • Services, such as vaccines to prevent disease
  • Screenings, such as mammograms and cholesterol screenings to check for potential health problems
  • Education and counseling to help you make informed health decisions

 

Q: What screenings or exams should I expect?

A: After talking with your doctor, you'll determine which screenings (or exams) are needed. Generally, these will depend on your age and current health status. Your doctor may also suggest other screenings that aren't part of your annual exam.

Q: What should I be prepared to discuss?

A: You'll be asked about your:

  • Medical history
  • Family health history
  • Sexual health and partners
  • Last period (the first day of your last period)
  • Changes in your health, such as eating, toileting, fatigue or sleeping problems
  • Use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs
  • Mental health history
  • Relationship and safety
  • Medications

 

Q: Should I prepare questions?

A: Making a list of questions will help you remember everything you intend to talk about. Don't be embarrassed or afraid to ask questions. Open communication builds trust between you and your doctor.

 

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