Yet the invincibility of youth makes both sexes feel like they can go without health care. Because if you’re healthy, what’s the point of wasting a co-pay on a medical appointment?
Prevention. It’s the best way to ward off disease, catch problems early and maintain your good health. So even when you feel fine — especially then — there are plenty of reasons to visit a doctor.
5 Reasons to Visit a Doctor
1. Build a relationship with your doctor.
Health insurance requires that you establish a primary care provider for a reason — they serve as your main contact and point of entry to the health care system. They’re there for you when you’re sick and when you’re well.
At a minimum, you should see your primary care provider once a year. You may not need to for any preventive or medical reason. But an annual visit helps establish a baseline so your provider can better identify changes in your health over time. This prevents large, mysterious gaps from appearing in your medical history and ensures that any minor setback in otherwise good health isn’t a symptom of some deeper issue.
As a mom, you know the immunization schedule lasts as long as childhood. Once you become an adult, the vaccinations tail off as you’ve been immunized to most diseases. But there are still some vaccines, like an annual flu shot or a tetanus shot, that you need to get in adulthood. Your provider can make sure you’re up-to-date on all your immunizations so you’re protected from dangerous illnesses and diseases.
Screenings are another important prevention tool. And two of them are performed routinely at preventative health visits. Your provider will check you for high cholesterol and diabetes.
For most women, none of the other screenings are recommended until age 40. But if you have a preexisting condition, family history or other known risk factors, you may need an early screening to keep an eye out for certain cancers and diseases.
3. Understand your risk of breast cancer.
Breast cancer is one of the diseases that doesn’t require a screening until age 40. Most women will be able to wait until they turn 40 to start getting annual mammograms.
You should still understand your breast cancer risk before then. Earlier this year, the American College of Radiology tweaked their recommendations, suggesting that every woman gets a breast cancer risk assessment by age 30.
If the results categorize you in the high-risk pool, you’ll start your breast cancer screening program much earlier. In addition to an annual mammogram, you’ll also have an annual breast MRI. The two tests will be staggered six months apart to monitor your breast health more closely.
Annual visits to an OB/GYN may have started as early as your teens. That’s something you need to continue to monitor your physical, sexual and reproductive health. Depending on your sexual activity or plans for having children, you may need STD testing, birth control, testing or fertility treatments.
Your gynecologist will give you a clinical breast exam to check for lumps and abnormalities at least every three years. They will also administer a Pap test to check for signs of cervical cancer and a pelvic exam to check your reproductive organs. Once you turn 30, you need an HPV test along with your Pap test at least every five years.
Your family physician can also perform a Pap test. So talk to the provider you feel most comfortable with about cervical cancer screening.
5. Get your eyes checked.
Unless you wear contacts or glasses — or have other vision problems — you may not go to the eye doctor. Under your insurance, you may be covered for an annual eye exam. If so, schedule it to make sure you have correct vision.
It’s recommended that you get at least one eye exam before you turn 40. But if everyone else in your family wears glasses or contacts, you may want to check your vision more frequently.
Once you become a mom, you’re much more concerned about the health of your children than yourself. And the sheer amount of check-ups and sick visits can wear on you. But don’t let that stop you from taking care of your health. This list shows there are plenty of reasons to schedule a few doctor visits of your own.
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About the Author, Dr. April Kolb
Dr. Kolb is a Family Medicine physician at the Iowa Clinic location on Alice’s Road in Waukee. She loves Family Medicine because it gives her the ability to care for patients of all ages. She considers getting to know her patients on a personal level and developing long-lasting relationships key to being a Family Medicine physician, and part of her job that she enjoys most. Go online to schedule an appointment with Dr. Kolb today.