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Moms Need Check-Ups, Too

If you’ve been putting off scheduling your own well visits, it’s time to put yourself first and pick up the phone to make that appointment.

We moms tend to be organized when it comes to scheduling doctor's visits for our kids, oil changes and tune-ups for the car, and vet appointments for the pets, but when it comes to getting ourselves into the doctor for a check-up, we have lots of excuses:

“I’m too busy.”

“I’ll go to the doctor after I lose a little weight/eat better/exercise more.”

 “I need to find a new doctor, and I don’t know where to go.”

“I’m healthy; why bother?”

So, let's get real.

You’re not going to be suddenly less busy, and honestly, you’ve been talking about losing weight, exercising more and eating better for years now. There are many options for finding a new doctor, like asking other people, calling your insurance company, searching an online referral source. You can even post a note on Facebook, “Anyone know a great eye doctor?”

Now that we’ve gotten the excuses out of the way, it’s time to grab your calendar and pick up the phone. Here are five professionals you should visit regularly:

  • Family doctor- You need one place where all of your medical information is known and stored. The better your family doctor knows you, the better care you will get when you really need it. They want to see you when you’re healthy, not just when you’re running a fever, coughing and plugging tissues up your nose. I like to go get my blood work before my annual physical so we can talk about my numbers at my appointment. Regular check-ups also ensure that immunizations, such as tetanus, are up to date. Prepare a list of questions and issues before your well-visit appointment. Here’s a great guide about how to talk to your doctor
  • Gynecologist- This is a doctor we see regularly throughout our pregnancies and the postpartum period. It is important to schedule regular pap tests and mammograms. Keep looking until you find a gynecologist you really like.  Let’s face it; it’s hard to maintain your dignity in the position required for this exam. You may need to ask about embarrassing things, as well. If your gynecologist makes you feel uncomfortable, find another doc.
  • Dentist- If you’ve been to the dentist recently, you probably got an oral cancer check with your cleaning. The health of your mouth can give clues about your cardiovascular health, risk for diabetes, Alzheimer’s and other diseases. It is widely recommended that we go twice a year. If you have dental anxiety, there are many options today ranging from massage to full-out sedation that will make your visit more pleasant. 
  • Dermatologist- Skin cancer is very treatable—if caught early. Several years ago, I scheduled my first skin check after talking to a young mom who had been diagnosed with skin cancer on her face. The doctor didn’t like a little spot on my leg, so he removed it and sent it off to the lab. I was shocked to find it was pre-cancerous. I had to go every three months for a little while, but now I go every year. Make an appointment for your skin check, or mark your calendar for one of these free skin clinics available in our area.
  • Eye doctor- Now that I'm having trouble reading labels, (I'm convinced they are making the print much smaller!) it's time for me to search out an eye doctor. The American Optometric Association offers a helpful article about what happens to vision when we reach our 40s. It's a bit depressing, but helpful.

So move you to the top of your to-do list.

After all, you're worth it.

Jennifer Armour April 11, 2011 at 01:50 PM
This is a great topic! It's really important to see an internist annually. I think a lot of women believe that the annual visit to the OB/GYN is enough--it isn't. And a good OB/GYN will tell you the same. An internist will look at family history and make recommendations based on that information. For example, if anyone in your immediate family had polyps discovered during routine colonoscopy, you are supposed to have the same procedure done ten years prior to the age they were when the polyps were removed. A GYN will not, nor is it their responsibility to, tell you that.

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