Even if your busy schedule doesn't allow you to see your doctor as much as you'd like, hopefully you're checking in with them once a year. Margarita Rohr, MD, clinical instructor of medicine at NYU Langone Health, says that your annual physical is your chance to get ahead of your health, and you shouldn't take it for granted.
Beyond being an opportunity to discuss any general health issues you've noticed, like why you're not getting enough sleep, your physical also gives your doctor the chance to catch potential health issues before they become huge problems for you.
"If a disease is caught early, it may improve treatment outcomes and chances of cure," Dr. Rohr says.
Not to mention, seeing a doctor at least once a year means that you can develop more of a relationship and rapport with them, which makes it easier to ask them for help when you need it.
What happens during your physical will depend on your age, gender, and personal and family history of illness. But in general, Dr. Rohr says, you can expect certain things, like your doctor checking your height, weight, BMI (body mass index), blood pressure, pulse, respiratory rate, and temperature. For some patients, it might include things like a breast exam or a pelvic exam.
The screenings you have might depend on a variety of factors, but the one thing you should know is that there's nothing you should be embarrassed to bring up with your doctor. They've probably seen and heard it all, and they're there so that you can voice any concerns you might have.
"Some people feel embarrassed to bring up problems with their bowel movements, urinary incontinence, impotence, loss of libido, depression, and physical abuse, just to name a few," Dr. Rohr says. "[But] these are all important health issues that doctors can help give you advice about and, in some instances, provide treatment."
With that in mind, read on for a few tips and questions you can ask to make the most out of your appointment.
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