We enjoy some special events on an annual basis: birthdays, anniversaries, family holiday times.
There are other recurring tasks that need to be remembered every year, like visiting a physician. The importance of annual checkups does not just apply to those with health issues. Seeing your doctor regularly is part of maintaining good health.
Here’s what you need to know about the importance of annual checkups.
Why Do You Need Annual Checkups?
Think of a yearly trip to the doctor as a preventative visit. Just as you take your car in regularly for an oil change and get the other components checked, an annual visit to a doctor is like maintenance for your well-being.
This annual trip will provide the foundation of your health care. It’s an opportunity to connect with your doctor about your current and long-term health. 1
Here are 4 other reasons you need an annual checkup:
- It’s a chance to catch any health problems early, ensuring you have a range of treatment options if there is something wrong. Many health concerns are easier to treat when they’re found in the early stages.
- An examination may reveal hidden problems like pelvic organ prolapse or urinary incontinence. 2
- It can provide you with important information about how to prevent health problems from occurring in the future.
- It’s an opportunity to ask your doctor questions about your body, your health and your well-being. Make note of any concerns throughout the year so you remember to bring them up at the appointment.
What Happens at Annual Checkups?
There are a number of examinations that are typically part of an annual checkup:
A physical exam: that notes your weight, blood pressure, heart rate and other physical factors. The doctor will listen to your heart and lungs and look for any signs of trouble. The doctor may also check your ears and eyes.
A gynecological exam: this incorporates an examination of your female health, including your reproductive system. The doctor will examine your breasts, and check your pelvic health. If needed, you will receive a Pap test and/or HPV test. These screening tests are not necessary every year, but you will be on a schedule to receive them as a screening for cervical cancer.
A discussion of any other necessary screening tests: depending on your age, the doctor may book you for subsequent health screening tests, such as a mammogram to check for breast cancer, or a colonoscopy to check for colon cancer. You may also be screened for conditions such as diabetes, osteoporosis, and thyroid disease. 1
Exams are just one component. The other is an opportunity to talk to your physician. Be sure to discuss birth control, symptoms of menopause, plans for pregnancy, and bring up any questions or concerns such as painful periods. 1
Your doctor is a partner in your health, so be sure to mention anything that concerns you. Not all health issues come with symptoms, so visiting your doctor annually can help you and your doctor be proactive in prevention and early detection of any health issues. 3
How Can I Make Sure I Go For Annual Checkups?
Life gets busy, so it can be hard to remember when you’re due for an annual checkup.
One way to remember the importance of annual checkups is to schedule them close to your birthday, or that of your spouse or child. Think of the visit as your annual gift to yourself and your health.
You can also choose a date, like July 15, and stick to booking on or around that date every year. You can also set up a recurring appointment in your smartphone, with a reminder that will ensure you book your checkup.
If you don’t have a doctor you see on a regular basis, use our Physician Finder to find a women’s health specialist in your area. Then you can ensure you attend annual checkups and look after your well being.