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Thursday, January 03, 2013 - Calling All Women - Start Off a Healthy New Year by Scheduling Your Annual Check-Up Now

Calling all women ─ Start off a healthy new year by scheduling your annual check-up now
By Fiola Sowemimo, M.D.

As women, we are natural born caregivers to our parents, spouses, children, friends ─ the list goes on and on. In between these responsibilities, most of us also work and manage day-to-day operations on the home front. As a result, we often place our own needs, including our healthcare, at the bottom of a never-ending to-do list. It takes a concerted effort to prioritize our own health when there are so many other things that need to get done. Believe me, I understand.  But it’s a new year and an ideal time to reconfigure our priorities and bump our own wellness care to priority number one. 

Can you remember a time when you were sidelined by a bad cold, stomach virus or injury that kept you from ‘taking care’ of everything? It’s not a great feeling. As I remind all my female patients, regardless of age, protect the good health you have today by undergoing routine, annual screenings to ensure that everything is all right. More often than not, you will receive the a-ok lab test results you were looking for and go on about your business. Even if your blood work or Pap test identifies a concern, the chances are you caught a problem early on, when it can be treated most successfully. As the saying goes, ‘a stitch in time saves nine.’

Based on your age, womenshealth.gov offers a comprehensive list of specific screenings every woman should undergo. For people who don’t have any chronic disease issues, I recommend these standard screenings for most women─

  • Heart disease screening - blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Body mass index (BMI) to identify an obesity issue and blood glucose level testing every three years to screen for diabetes
  • Monthly self-breast exam and yearly mammogram starting at age 40 or earlier if there is a family history of cancer
  • Pelvic exam including Pap smear every 2 years, STD screening and birth control review as needed
  • Vaccinations and immunizations ─ annual flu shot; tetanus every 10 years; and pneumococcal vaccine every 5 years as appropriate
  • General skin evaluation for unusual growths, spots or discoloration yearly
  • Colon cancer screening yearly after age 50 or every 10 years with a family history of colon cancer
  • Bone density evaluation every 2 years after menopause or earlier with tobacco use

While the list above may seem lengthy, your personal physician or gynecologist can perform these screenings in a single visit, in most cases. Best of all, what better way to start 2013 than by knowing your body is healthy and ready to take on whatever life has in store. So take a minute and call your doctor for your annual check-up appointment. You’ll be glad you did.

The Women’s Health Center at CentraState Medical Center in Freehold offers the latest diagnostic, treatment and counseling services provided exclusively by an all-female staff including board-certified women’s health physician specialists. The Women’s Health Center is accredited by the American College of Radiology (ACR) and has been named a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence. For more information about treatment and services available, call (732) 294-2626 or visit centrastate.com.

Dr. Fiola Sowemimo (“Dr. Fiola”) is a board-certified internal medicine physician and on staff at CentraState Medical Center in Freehold. She may be reached at Prime Internal Medicine, located in the Medical Arts Building at CentraState Medical Center, by calling (732) 252-6688 or visiting drfiola.com.