Well-woman Exams: More than Just a Physical

An annual well-woman exam is an opportunity to stay on top of your health. The appointment includes a physical exam and discussion about your health to help identify serious health concerns before they become life threatening. A well-woman exam is tailored to your age, family history, past health history and need for preventive screenings.

With an increased focus on patients’ well-being, physicians also see well exams as an opportunity to look at the whole picture—physical and mental health.

“Depression and anxiety are more common for women,” says Nelson Echebiri, M.D., obstetrician and gynecologist with Meritus Women’s Health Specialists-Robinwood. “From childbirth to menopause, women can experience mood changes so it’s important to discuss mental health issues during a well-woman exam.”

Daily struggles like finances, lack of time, relationship problems and parenting demands can produce stress—and when left unchecked, cause serious health problems.

Stress, says Dr. Echebiri, can be a risk factor for weight gain, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.

Dr. Echebiri recommends these 10 strategies to help you cope with stress and anxiety:

  1. Set aside a certain evening or afternoon for yourself and schedule an activity that will bring you pleasure. Like a doctor appointment, putting the date on the calendar makes it more likely you’ll keep it.
  2. Take breaks where and when you can get them. Look for 15 minute of relaxation while your child practices sports or while you wait for a flight. Use the time for a quick burst of exercise, to listen to music or read your favorite magazine.
  3. Walk it off. Taking a walk can help lower stress hormones by increasing your endorphins. Even walking for 10 minutes can help you shed stress.
  4. Live in the moment. Watch your children play in the park and take a snap shot of this moment in time—they’ll be in college before you know it.
  5. Stay connected to friends. Social support is key to managing stress. Call a friend or schedule a 30 minute walk with a buddy or loved one.
  6. Pick up a book. Reading can temporarily take you away from the present and into an alternative space.
  7. Get enough sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults should aim for seven to nine hours of sleep each night.
  8. Eat a balanced diet of fruit, vegetables and whole grains.
  9. Breathe deeply. Inhale slowly through your nose, let your belly expand and exhale through your mouth.
  10. Don’t aim for perfection. It’s OK to say no, delegate and let someone else play the role of super woman.

Women are notorious for placing everyone’s needs ahead of their own. As a result, they often put off or forget to schedule a well-woman visit. If you need a primary care physician, contact Meritus Medical Group and schedule your well-woman exam today.