Like most women, I’m sure you don’t enjoy the annual trek to the Gynecologist. But did you know that there are some real lifesaving reasons why the annual wellness exam should be a consistent part of your wellness program? Why is this exam so important?
I. Review and Update Your Medical History
This includes current medications, changes in your family history, screening for issues such as falls, urinary function, depression, domestic violence, issues regarding sexual function, alcohol and drug use, risky behavior such as talking, texting, and not using seat belts while driving.
II. Prevention of Infection
Appropriate testing for bacterial and viral infections, sexually transmitted Illnesses (STI), vaccinations when indicated for HPV virus protection, Hepatitis, Influenza, Tetanus with Pertussis, Shingles, Pneumonia, Chickenpox (Varicella). For example, did you know that all adults should receive a booster for Pertussis (Whooping Cough)? Family members can transmit this disease to newborns who have yet to be vaccinated ( i.e.Grandparents to their newborn grandchildren). The CDC (Center for Disease Control) recommends that all family members visiting a newborn infant be vaccinated, and every pregnant woman receives a booster toward the end of EACH pregnancy to give some protection when her child is born.
III. Evaluation of Fitness, Height, and Weight
This includes calculating your BMI (Body Mass Index) and evaluating diet and exercise Lack of weight-bearing exercise and proper diet along with low Vitamin D can significantly increase the risk of hip fractures. Ordering the appropriate tests can minimize this risk. Did you know that an elderly person who fractures her hip has a 50% chance of not surviving? Proper monitoring of bone health can often prevent the first fracture!
IV. Cancer Screening and Prevention
Each stage of a woman’s life has its specific illnesses to consider. Your doctor knows when to screen for each of these cancers. From cervical, breast, uterine, colon, and ovarian, appropriate screening may make a real difference in early diagnosis and even survival. The average woman has a 1 in 8 chance of developing breast cancer over her lifetime.
Did you know that based on certain risk factors, ethnic background, and family history some women’s risk may be as high as 70-80%? Proper screening can identify women at risk before cancer develops so specific risk-reducing steps may be taken. The risk of ovarian cancer increase in women with age. This cancer grows silently, with vague, nonspecific symptoms and is difficult to diagnose at the earliest stages required for survival. The annual exam is extremely important in checking for cancer of the ovaries, and should include a thorough screening for symptoms, along with a complete pelvic and rectal exam. If we do not think of ovarian cancer, we will never make a difference in early diagnosis.
V. Heart Disease
Did you know this illness is the number one killer of women in 2017? The symptoms of heart attacks in women may be very different and not as obvious as in men. We can’t change our genetic background and the risks we receive from our parents, but we can screen appropriately before it is too late.
VI. The Menopause
This important time in a woman’s life is filled with new issues and concerns. Please don’t wait. Make your appointment now to see your gynecologist for your annual wellness exam & stay healthy.