Doctor, Should I Come Back Next Year?
With recent changes in the recommendations for how often pap tests and mammograms should be performed, some women are asking whether the annual visit to the doctor is needed.
The short is yes.
The vast majority of women should have an annual visit with a physician.
The annual visit has important purposes besides the pap and other screening tests. It is a time to update your doctor about changes in your health–emergency room visits, a new diagnosis, trauma and fractures, pregnancies, allergies, miscarriages etc.; to talk about medications you have started or stopped or should consider stopping; to discuss changes in habits like quitting smoking or starting a new diet plan; to review changes to your family’s health and changes to circumstances that affect your health like death of a parent, divorce, marriage or adoption of a baby.
It is also a time for your doctor to ask you questions that can identify problems you were unaware of or may have been ignoring like weight gain or loss, vision changes, joint pain, changes in memory, or new food intolerances.
The annual visit also includes an exam that may pick up issues that need further evaluation; for example a breast lump, an irregular heartbeat, or a thyroid nodule.
So even without an annual Pap test or mammogram, talking to your doctor once a year can have great benefits.