The fresh start that each new year brings also offers a chance to renew your commitments to the business of your health. While you are setting your health-first intentions for the upcoming year, this handy “Health Checkup Checklist” may help you focus on the preventive care and screenings that can give you the edge when it comes to your health.
The changes in your body in the years surrounding menopause may cause you to experience not only new symptoms associated with hormone fluctuations, they may also increase your risk for health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and osteoporosis. With regular screenings you will be well-informed of your risk factors, and be poised to implement prescribed preventive or defensive measures.
Getting your appointments on the calendar is half the battle. But many providers have made that easier than ever with online appointment scheduling. So, no excuses! As the saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.
Your Annual Wellness Visits – At the top of your list of important appointments this year will be with your primary care physician (PCP) and your gynecologist for your wellness check-ups. This is where, together with your provider, you will review your current health and risk factors, and determine your personal disease prevention plan.
With your PCP, you can expect to have a blood pressure check and bloodwork, plus advice on vaccinations not only for flu and virus, but also tetanus booster or shingles vaccine. Your PCP can also help you check the boxes on referrals for many of the screenings that you are due (or overdue) for.
Your annual gynecological appointment may include a pelvic exam, cervical cancer screening, and a breast exam. And while some PCPs are willing to perform breast and pelvic exams and do Paps, the focus and expertise of a gynecologist is of benefit and added value when it comes to receiving the most comprehensive women's healthcare.
Dental Care – Seeing your dentist twice a year for routine cleaning appointment and screening for teeth and gum disease doesn’t just care for your teeth, it also protects your health. Inflammation in your mouth can allow bacteria to enter the bloodstream causing inflammation elsewhere in the body. This is why gum disease is linked to many chronic conditions including heart disease, diabetes, respiratory illness, osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Eye Checkup – Depending upon your individual health history, a routine eye exam is recommended every one to two years. An optometrist or ophthalmologist will check for signs of eye disease including glaucoma, cataracts, and age-related macular degeneration.
Skin Cancer Screening – Individuals with average risk will want to plan for a yearly visit with the dermatologist for a skin cancer screening and examination of any moles, spots or lesions. If you have a family history of skin cancer or have other underlying risk factors, your doctor may recommend more frequent visits.
Menopause Check-up (Gennev refers to this as the M-check) - Starting at the age of 45, women’s post reproductive health care begins with a menopause check-up. A board-certified OB/GYN who specializes in menopause will answer the health pains of menopause, determine what state of menopause you currently are in, and may help assess the risks for chronic issues that may arise as your estrogen declines. The incidence of rising cholesterol, depression, sexual dissatisfaction, fluctuating blood sugar levels and more are common after menopause, and it’s best to address these changes before they become health concerns. If you haven’t had your M-check, start by taking the assessment. Then, speak with a doctor and feel better starting now.
Mammogram – The American Cancer Society suggests that women with no prior history, or family history of breast cancer get mammograms each year beginning at age 45, and continue with screenings as long as a woman is in good health and is expected to live 10 more years or longer.
Colonoscopy – Due to the increase in colorectal cancer in younger individuals, The American Cancer Society now recommends that screenings for individuals with average risk begin at age 45. Colonoscopies can detect disease, and may help prevent cancer as precancerous polyps can be removed during the procedure.
Bone Density – Osteoporosis often begins to develop in women a year or two before menopause. For this reason, working with your physician on when a DEXA scan may be right for you is important. The current national recommendation for individuals with average risk is to do a DEXA scan at 65. But for menopausal women with a fragility fracture or strong family history, earlier screening may be recommended.
With your health and well-being being top of mind, there’s no better time to recommit to the daily habits that support your body and mind during menopause and beyond.
Whether you're in perimenopause or post-menopause, lifestyle behavior change is a must for managing weight, hot flashes, anxiety, sleep, fatigue and joint pain. Gennev registered dietitians/health coaches work with women of varying levels of discipline, so don't overthink it, just start by doing something. Put your health first this year, and book an appointment.
The information on the Gennev site is never meant to replace the care of a qualified medical professional. Hormonal shifts throughout menopause can prompt a lot of changes in your body, and simply assuming something is “just menopause” can leave you vulnerable to other possible causes. Always consult with your physician or schedule an appointment with one of Gennev's telemedicine doctors before beginning any new treatment or therapy.