Finding time for regular checkups can be difficult, but it’s important to catch issues before they get worse. Visiting providers who focus on particular aspects of a person’s health gives women more power to prevent illnesses. Your doctors work best as a team, contributing unique abilities and expertise to collaborate in protecting your health. Every woman should schedule these five doctor appointments to keep on top of health issues this year:
Primary Care Provider
Many women see other doctors, such as their OB/GYN, in place of a primary care provider. Tamara L. Callahan, M.D., a gynecologist with Norton Women’s Health, put it this way:
“The system is designed so that you have them working hand-in-hand,” Dr. Callahan said. “Neither has time to do everything, and you check for more when we [gynecologist and primary care provider] are working in concert.”
A trusting relationship with your primary care provider allows them to know you better as a patient. This leads to a better ability to detect, comprehend and treat your individual conditions and needs. Regular meetings with this doctor raise the standard of care that they can offer.
Your primary care provider can screen for diseases, offer coaching on healthy lifestyle choices and offer preventive care. These resources create a strong foundation for wellness that can be built upon with help from other specialists.
These doctors’ focus on women’s health qualifies them to handle a wide variety of issues unique to the female body. Gynecologists can assist you with care for cancer screenings, pregnancy and childbirth issues, hormones, menstruation, sexually transmitted infection (STI) and many other concerns.
Checking in with your gynecologist or OB/GYN even while you are healthy, is a key practice to maintain wellness. Periodic screenings for HPV, breast cancer and pelvic cancer offer peace of mind or an opportunity to catch diseases early, before they become more dangerous. A pap smear is not required every year, but regular appointments with your gynecologist are still a good idea.
A gynecologist’s expertise fills the gaps between a woman’s primary care experience and her more personal questions and concerns. Naturally, trust is essential to the success of this doctor-patient relationship, and regular appointments are a great place to start.
Reproductive health can be overwhelming. Having a trusted doctor by your side to offer valuable input for difficult decisions can be a huge relief.
For some women, getting to the dentist can be like pulling teeth. Nevertheless, scheduling an appointment with your dentist can pay dividends to your overall health.
As trained experts in oral health, dentists have much more to offer beyond a beautiful smile. They can help prevent and detect conditions such as tooth decay and gum disease — which has been linked to diabetes, cardiovascular disease and preterm birth. Dentists also improve treatment outcomes for oral cancer by performing routine screenings.
Hormone level fluctuation from your menstrual cycle or the use of birth control can lead to health concerns with your mouth, teeth or gums. Visiting the dentist twice a year can help you address any oral health issues before they become more difficult to treat.
These appointments are more important than many women think. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, affecting about 1 in 5 Americans in their lifetime.
This is just one reason why yearly dermatologist appointments are recommended after turning 35.
Visiting a dermatologist is even more vital for those with risk factors for skin cancer. These include fair skin, having a high number of moles, having strangely shaped or colored moles, a weakened immune system or a family history of skin cancer.
Skin is the body’s largest organ, and dermatologists help protect it by treating rashes, infections and other conditions affecting skin, hair and nails. They often are the first to detect an STI, when symptoms are present on the skin.
Regular visits with your dermatologist establish a baseline measure of your skin’s normal state. This allows the dermatologist to be more effective in detecting and tracking irregularities over time and providing appropriate treatment.
Vision is another commonly overlooked aspect of health. Having 20/20 vision doesn’t eliminate the possibility for eye disease to develop. All women over 50 should have yearly checkups with an ophthalmologist.
Family history, diabetes, high blood pressure and pregnancy all can put women at a higher risk for eye disease and vision impairment.
Familiarity with a patient’s routines and medical history allows doctors to make more effective recommendations for treatment. Your eyes are not only critical to your everyday lifestyle, they are complex organs that can require attention from a specialist to remain healthy.