The holiday season has come and gone, the seasons are changing, and just like that, it’s a new year. Soon it’ll be time to file your taxes, get your vehicle inspected, and (gasp) slip on the familiar white paper gown for a yearly OBGYN visit. Or is it?
While the circumstances for each individual certainly differ, the consensus among medical professionals remains similar: doctors recommend a yearly checkup, if for nothing more than simply making sure everything is still in perfect working order.
Even though you may feel like you could start going semiannually or at least taper down the frequency of your visits, here are five reasons why you really should bite the bullet and schedule that visit once a year.
Maintain Sexual Health
Regardless of whether or not you’re actively trying to start a family, if you are currently sexually active, it’s a good idea to talk about it with your doctor. Along with proper contraception techniques and practices, your doctor can also keep you informed about STI and STD prevention. According to the CDC, sexually transmitted infections and diseases were at an all-time high in 2018, meaning there was a significantly higher rate of incidence among babies born with afflictions like syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia. Simply taking the time to get tested can make all the difference. It is critical to get tested at least yearly, especially if you are non-monogamous. And remember: it’s totally okay to demand your partner get tested too!
If you are serious about starting a family and getting pregnant, a good first step would be to talk it over with your OBGYN. From ensuring your body is healthy enough to carry a fetus to imparting a healthy prenatal routine to providing family planning advice, your doctor really is a qualified expert on all things pregnancy-related. You’d be remiss not to take advantage of that! Of course, once you get pregnant, the frequency of your visits should intensify. But if you’re still at the planning stage, talk everything over with your doctor. You’ll be glad you did.
Among American women, breast cancer has the second-highest fatality rate, just behind lung cancer. Furthermore, breast cancer is also the most commonly diagnosed cancer. Why is that?
For starters, many doctors believe the Western lifestyle contributes to the abnormally high incidence rates. Improper nutrition, a lack of exercise, alcohol and tobacco use, and artificial hormone use can all increase the chances of developing breast cancer.
Therefore, it is imperative to be proactive. Breast cancer doesn’t usually develop rapidly. By scheduling a yearly breast exam, you’ll increase the odds that if there is an irregularity, your doctor will catch it and be able to act expeditiously. After all, mammography is the ONLY proven way to reduce breast cancer deaths.
Overall physical health
If you own a vehicle, chances are your state mandates you have that vehicle inspected once a year. Just like your vehicle, your body should be checked at least once a year, just to make sure everything is alright. Though on the surface it may seem like nothing is wrong, it can be important to take the time to dig a little deeper just to confirm that notion. And unless you’re a licensed M.D., you need to see a doctor.
A yearly maintenance checkup may include a pelvic exam, calculating BMI (body mass index), and checking the abdomen, lymph nodes, and vital signs. Think of it as a marginally more intensive physical examination.
Ultimately, a yearly visit is usually enough to catch something mildly to moderately serious. Some problems may even manifest in such a manner that they may be easy for you to overlook. Your doctor won’t. Simply taking the time to run a diagnostics check on your body with your OBGYN may truly make all the difference!
You might have overlooked this one. At the end of the day, however, the other person in the room with you during your well-woman exam is, after all, a licensed physician. Simply because they specialize in obstetrics and gynecology doesn’t mean they’re limited to talking about only those issues. With that said, a yearly visit can be a great opportunity to discuss mental health.
You might not know it, but hormonal imbalances can wreak havoc on your mental health. If you feel like something is off, your doctor can analyze your blood or urine to determine if hormonal imbalances might be the cause. Should that be the case, they can then prescribe medication to get things back in order.
Ultimately, it is important to have someone with whom you feel comfortable talking about anything, and your OBGYN fits the bill to a T.
Although it might seem scary, in truth, a yearly OBGYN visit isn’t anything to worry about. In fact, it is a great opportunity to either keep yourself in excellent health or get back on the road to excellent health. Who knows–you might be surprised at how beneficial you find it to be!