The Doctor Appointments Women Should Make Every Year

The Doctor Appointments Women Should Make Every Year

April 12, 2022

Clinical Contributors to this story:
Josephine Filardo, M.D.
Women are known to visit doctors more often than men do. But what doctors should women see annually to best stay on top of their health?

Making appointments with a key handful of doctors every year should help you receive preventive care, manage common health concerns that affect women and even discover potential problems before they escalate, says Josephine Filardo, M.D., chair of obstetrics and gynecology, Ocean Medical Center.

Do you make these doctor appointments for yourself every year? If not, schedule a visit soon.

Every year, women should have:

  • A well visit. If you only turn to your primary-care physician, internist or general practitioner when you’re feeling ill, you’re missing the opportunity to actively manage your health. At an annual well visit, your doctor can keep you apprised of your overall health.
    The doctor can check your weight and blood pressure, screen you for diabetes, send you for bloodwork, ask about your mental health, recommend age-appropriate immunizations and screen for intimate-partner abuse. They can prescribe or renew medication as needed. Your doctor can also help you map out healthy lifestyle changes, such as improving your diet, exercising more often or getting more sleep.
  • A gynecologist appointment. At your annual visit, your gynecologist can perform a breast exam, do a pelvic exam, screen for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and offer a Pap test when appropriate. You can discuss your concerns about your sexual health, birth control, pregnancy, infertility, menopause, STIs and more. Preventative testing can be discussed as well, such as mammograms and colonoscopy. 
  • A mammogram. Mammography is a simple screening test that can catch breast cancer early, when it’s treated most easily. A mammogram is a low-dose X-ray of the breasts that checks for irregularities in breast tissue.

    Breast Cancer Screening Infographic
  • An eye exam. Visiting the ophthalmologist annually for a comprehensive eye exam is important for women aged 40 and older, even if you don’t wear glasses. Your eye doctor can keep tabs on your eye health and screen for age-related conditions that have silent symptoms, like glaucoma and macular degeneration; catching them early may help prevent vision loss. Eye doctors may also help diagnose or manage diabetes and other health conditions which impact your whole body, not just your eyes.
  • A skin check. See a dermatologist once a year for a full-body skin cancer screening, especially if you have fair skin, freckles or moles, a personal or family history of melanoma or if you spent much of your younger years sunbathing without the SPF protection that’s recommended today.
    Don’t overlook this recommendation if you aren’t fair-skinned and freckly; people with darker skin also need to be screened for skin cancer. If you don’t have a dermatologist, ask your primary-care physician to do a full-body skin check during your annual well visit or in a separate appointment. If they spot something suspicious, they can refer you to a dermatologist for diagnosis and treatment.
  • At least one dental visit. The American Dental Association recommends that you see your dentist on a schedule that meets your personal needs. Some people go once or twice a year; others go more often. Not only will the dentist look for cavities and signs of gum disease, they’ll check for oral cancer and symptoms of other diseases which may exhibit symptoms in the mouth, such as diabetes.

“Women who visit their doctors consistently are more likely to develop good rapport with their providers and check in when they experience worrisome symptoms, which may either turn out to be nothing or may lead to an early diagnosis,” says Dr. Filardo. “They’re also more likely than people who don’t go to the doctor to find out that they have health conditions with silent symptoms, since they’re being followed regularly by providers.”

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The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.

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