Women, let Local 4 News know if this sounds familiar. You make regular doctor and dentist appointments for your family—even your pets. But when it comes to your own checkups, you never find the time or cancel them at the last minute.
Decisions such as those are why National Women’s Health Week is so important.
NWHW is an annual effort to remind women about the importance of prioritizing their health and scheduling those routine checkups they might’ve put off.
“A lot of women do get caught up in everything, and they think, ‘oh, I’ll deal with it when I have a problem,’” said Cleveland Clinic OB/GYN Dr. Salena Zanotti.
Dr. Zanotti says that mindset is not a good approach.
“It’s important to talk about these wellness checkups because the way to prevent disease and increase survival for people is to, number one, catch it early or to be able to talk about these preventative measures, which is why these appointments are also important,” Dr. Zanotti said.
Dr. Zanotti says routine checkups typically include an overall wellness exam, a breast exam, and a pelvic exam.
Other tests may also be ordered depending on the patient’s medical history and age. For example, blood work may be recommended, or a colorectal cancer screening for those over the age of 45.
Doctor Zanotti says those kinds of appointments are essential for prevention and to help identify possible issues. Sometimes, her patients don’t realize the pain they’re feeling isn’t normal.
“A lot of women, especially younger women, deal with menstrual issues and really heavy periods, and it keeps them from going to work, it keeps them from doing things, and they’re afraid to talk about it,” Dr. Zanotti said. “And it’s important to come talk about it because there may be something going on that we need to diagnose and fix, and there are definitely ways we can help manage it, so these things don’t affect your quality of life.”
It’s also important to come prepared when you visit the doctor’s office. You should write down your family history and any issues you may be having, along with any questions you want to ask.
That will help you get the most out of the appointment and make sure you don’t forget any information you want to share.