During National Women’s Health Week, we wanted to take a moment to highlight some health care topics to help patients improve their overall health and live a healthy lifestyle.
#1 – Annual Exams
We cannot highlight enough the importance of the screening annual exam. During this visit, your physical as well as emotional well-being is assessed. If you think you are healthy and do not need a doctor, often times at these visits we can identify items that you may have not considered, including skin health and recommended vaccinations.
#2 – Pap Smear Screenings & Mammograms
Pap smear screening (after age 21) and mammograms (after age 40) are a part of well woman care. In addition, we discuss screenings for HPV and other sexually transmitted infections.
Based on your age, certain vaccines can help to prevent infection.
These include the annual flu shot, TDAP (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) during pregnancy or as a booster every 5-10 years, as well as the HPV series and pneumococcal vaccine. If you are uncertain if you have received a vaccine, your provider may be able to order blood work to see if you are immune to a disease.
#3 – Skin Health
With spring and summer finally here, it is important to highlight skin health. Most skin care practitioners recommend wearing SPF daily even if you do not spend time outdoors. Many products, including moisturizers and makeup, contain some SPF.
If you are going to be in the sun, wearing a hat, protective clothing and SPF 30+ will help decrease your risk of skin cancer, which is the most common cancer in the US.
Seeing a dermatologist for a skin check is particularly important. They can identify problem areas, monitor them for change, and perform biopsies if indicated.
#4 – Healthy Diet & Exercise
At your screening visits, your healthcare provider will review healthy diet and exercise. As each woman’s body is unique, so too is her healthcare plan, dietary needs, and exercise regimen. With so many diets available, many are confused as to what is healthy and what is not. What may work for one woman will not work for another.
A diet that is higher in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy meats and fats is typically preferred; however, by seeing your provider, you can identify your body’s particular needs. Nutritionists in your area are available to discuss your goals, whether it be weight loss, better overall nutrition and fitness, or diabetes management for example.
#5 – Heart Health in Women
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in women.
It is recommended that women get 150 minutes of cardiovascular activity each week and weight train twice weekly. Women who have high blood pressure, diabetes, or an increased family history of heart disease, are particularly at risk. By getting your blood pressure and lab work performed, your provider can identify if you are at an elevated risk and help you to prevent disease from occurring.
#6 – Mental Health Disorders
Mental health disorders, including anxiety and depression, can affect more women than men.
It is estimated that 1 in 3 women will suffer from these disease in their lifetime.
Speaking with a provider about your feelings, symptoms and stressors is of particular importance. Health care providers can identify these disorders and can help tailor a treatment plan that is right for you. Numerous resources in the area are available for individuals who want to pursue non-medication based approaches. These include talk therapy, group therapy or support groups.
About Chantel Roedner, MD
Dr. Chantel Roedner joined WakeMed Physician Practices as an OB/GYN after completing her residency at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and earning her medical degree at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. Her clinical interests include high risk obstetrics, infertility, minimally invasive gynecological surgery including robotic surgery, well woman care and contraception.