An annual well woman exam, separate from any other visit for sickness or injury, is an important way to stay informed and promote a pattern of preventive care and long-term health. These visits may include immunizations, important diagnostic and health screenings, and education and counseling to make informed health decisions. Talk openly with your provider, give honest answers, be prepared to ask questions that are important to you, and listen carefully to the answers. Above all, be your own advocate!
Here are five questions to ask to make the most of your next visit with your primary care provider:
1 Is my weight healthy?
Maintaining a normal weight is important for overall health. So ask your provider about your Body Mass Index (BMI), a measure of the relation between your height and your weight. A healthy BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9.
2 How can I improve my health?
Asking a broad question like this gives your provider the opportunity to make recommendations that address your personal health needs, whether it’s more exercise, a healthier diet, or how to stop smoking.
3 Am I taking my medications the right way?
One study has found that 50 percent of patients don’t take their medications correctly, reducing their effectiveness. Be sure you ask your provider or your pharmacist the right way to take your prescriptions.
4 Should I get tested for osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a condition in which bones become brittle because of loss of tissue. Women are four times more likely to develop the disease than men. Initial screening usually starts at age 65. However, if you have certain risk factors, such as a family history of the disease, you may want to be tested as early as age 50.
5 Could you write that down?
A lot of what a provider says in the exam room is forgotten by patients. It’s understandable. A visit to the provider is often a stressful time for patients. Don’t be bashful. Ask your provider to repeat or rephrase anything you don’t understand. Take notes, or encourage your provider to provide a print out that contains the essential information you need to remember.