Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 12th. Don’t forget to send that card! This is also a good time of year to check in
with the mother or mothers in your life and make sure that they are getting the medical care and support that
What are key women’s health issues?
This often depends on age, but adult women should have regular meetings with their Primary Care Provider
(PCP) to discuss topics including:
• Diet and exercise
• Healthy habits including avoiding tobacco and limiting alcohol
• Managing stress and staying mentally healthy
• Birth control and family planning
• Skin checks and education about skin cancer prevention
• Age appropriate cancer screenings including pap smears, mammograms, and colonoscopies
• Staying up to date on vaccines
• Getting periodic blood work to screen for conditions such as diabetes, or to monitor existing conditions such as having an underactive thyroid
Why are regular visits to the doctor
Regular checkups are important because they can help identify issues before they start and catch conditions at their earliest stages. Regular checkups also help women develop and maintain a healthy relationship with a provider, reduce the anxiety of seeing a provider, help women get the best care for their existing health conditions, and also help women navigate the complex health care system and system of resources.
It stands to reason that people who have high blood pressure, or high cholesterol, or take medication for depression have a better chance of controlling it if they see a provider regularly. A 2013 study published in Cancer, a Journal of the American Cancer Society, found that for patients in the US on Medicare, those who had more visits to their PCP were more likely to have appropriate screening for colon and breast cancer, and had lower rates of death from these cancers as well.
Have there been any recent changes in
women’s health issues?
Yes! Modern medicine is rapidly evolving and certain practices around women’s health have been updated.
Two good examples:
1. Pap smears (screening for cervical cancer): Studies have consistently demonstrated that pap smears done every 3 years provide as much benefit as annual screening, with fewer “false positives.” For women at average risk for cervical cancer who are between ages 30 and 65, there is now testing that can be done, which if normal, leads to only needing a pap smear every 5 years.
2. Mammograms and self breast exams (screening for breast cancer): Most experts now agree that mammograms every 2 years are just as effective as annual screening for most women. Did you know that self breast exams are unproven, and that many organizations including the World Health Organization recommend against doing them, and other organizations such as the National Comprehensive Cancer Network have revised previous recommendations in support of them?
All cancer screening is based on personal risk factors such as family history, previous screening test results, and the latest in medical science. However, it is critical to have a discussion with your provider: you may learn you need more testing, different testing, or even less testing.
Regular visits are about YOU!
In my opinion, the “best” patient is a well-informed one. Regular visits are not about finding reasons to order every test and screen for every disease. They are a chance for you to ask questions, hear about advances in medicine, and to make customized health decisions based on your individual needs and choices.
Use this Mother’s Day to remember the important women in your life, thank the important women in your life, and encourage them to get the help they need to stay healthy.
Where can I get more information?
The family of Pacific Medical Group clinics is here to help you! Talk with your provider, who can direct you to additional helpful resources. Same day appointments available.