Women need to be familiar with the different annual exams recommended to maintain their health. If you visit a family doctor each year, they can help ensure you schedule these appointments. If you don’t have a primary care physician, many communities offer low-cost health care clinics. Some of these offices provide more than just routine care, such as administering free pregnancy testing in Illinois and low-cost medication. Read on to learn more about which exams you should have done each year.

Pelvic Exam

This appointment is with a Gynecologist, a doctor who specializes in women’s reproductive health. Even if you are not sexually active or have gone through menopause, it’s a good idea to see this doctor each year. In a pelvic exam, your doctor inspects the vaginal area, cervix and uterus for lesions and growths that can indicate cancer. This is also the time they can test for sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhea and chlamydia.  The final test an OBGYN may perform is a pap test. This is a swab of the cervix which checks for precancerous cell growth. It is a crucial step in catching cervical cancer when it’s early enough to treat. The guidelines for how often to have this done changes as you age and with family history, so talk to your doctor about when to get it done. 

Breast Exam

Many women overlook breast health, so don’t forget this exam. A trusted family doctor may complete this test, but an OBGYN may also perform this during your annual visit. Though not as detailed as a mammogram, this is a physical test where your doctor palpitates your breast tissue, looking for any lumps. They also look for any discoloration or rash on your skin and any discharge. 

Cholesterol Screening

When you visit your family doctor, one blood test they recommend is to check your cholesterol levels. Cholesterol is the amount of fat in your blood used as an indicator of future heart attack and stroke risks. The frequency of this test is determined by your current health conditions, such as weight and underlying complications like kidney problems or diabetes, as well as family history. As you age, this test is also requested more frequently. It is a simple blood draw test that needs to be done while fasting, so make sure you schedule the appointment in the morning so you don’t have to wait all day without eating.

Blood Pressure Monitoring

Maintaining good blood pressure levels is important for long-term heart health and decreased risk of stroke. Ideal levels are when the systolic number is below 120, and the diastolic number is below 80. If numbers are greater than that, you need to be monitored more closely. Your doctor may suggest adjustments in diet and exercise, or they may even prescribe medication to decrease pressure. If your rate is high, do your best to avoid stressful situations and get plenty of rest. 

It’s easy for women to be informed about their health when they visit their doctors each year. If you want to have a long, healthy life, you should see your family doctor and gynecologist once a year. 

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