Regular wellness visits key to women's health
To the editor:
When was the last time you had a regular checkup? If you're flipping through your calendar or just can't remember, it's probably been too long.
As a family doctor, I know how important well-woman visits are, but I also know many women feel they have little time between work and taking care of others to visit their doctor when they aren't sick. This week is Women's Health Week, and it's time to pick up the phone or go online to schedule an appointment and prioritize your health and well-being.
Well-woman visits are an important part of staying healthy: they help identify health risks and include preventive screenings for diabetes and high blood pressure as well as breast, cervical, and other cancers. These are crucial because early detection and treatment of these diseases save lives. Well-woman visits are also an opportunity to make sure you are using the birth control method that's best for your needs, which can change throughout your life.
These visits are not only a great way to stay healthy and prevent future health problems — they also provide an opportunity for you to talk with someone you trust. If there's something about your health or safety that you are worried about but you've been scared or embarrassed to bring it up, share your concern at your annual visit. When you have a trusted provider who offers compassionate, non-judgmental care, nothing is off-limits. And whatever you and your provider discuss is entirely confidential.
If you've never had a wellness visit, you may be nervous. Your health care provider can walk you through the process and give you a clear sense of what to expect. Every woman deserves a place to turn for information and health care — so don't put off scheduling your appointment any longer. Celebrate Women's Health Week by making the time to take care of yourself. Your health is important to prioritize!
Jennifer Childs-Roshak, M.D., Boston Dr. Childs-Roshak is president and CEO, Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts.