Making the most of a well-woman checkup

(HealthDay)—Don’t wait until you get sick to see a doctor—wellness visits for women can catch problems before they become serious, as well as make sure you’re taking all the right steps for good health.

A well-woman checkup focuses on preventive care. It may include immunizations, screenings to check your blood pressure, cholesterol levels and other health markers, and advice for setting wellness goals.

Your health-care provider will document your health habits and health history and give you a physical exam. Depending on your age, he or she may do a breast exam. Your age and lifestyle will determine when you need a pelvic exam.

Be prepared to answer questions about:

  • Your personal medical history, such as any illnesses and/or surgeries you’ve had.
  • Your family’s health history, including illnesses your siblings, parents and grandparents have had.
  • Your use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, including prescription and over-the-counter medications, such as supplements.
  • Your mental health history.

Prepare for the visit by also writing out a list of questions you want to ask. Depending on your goals, this might include: how to eat healthier and get in more exercise; steps to take before getting pregnant or a plan for birth control; and help for any emotional issues you’re facing, like stress or anxiety. Bring paper and pen to take notes.

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