Preventative care is an often overlooked but an important part of your health. Seeing your doctor once a year for an annual physical can seem like a burden when you are healthy, but it’s a great opportunity to check in and make sure all is well. Besides performing a physical exam and filling out any forms, this is your doctor’s chance to screen for any risk factors to your health.
Despite the name, your annual examination is more about talking than examining. This once-a-year visit is meant to make sure you have healthy behaviors and stay well into the future. You should schedule it when you feel well so you have the time to cover all the different areas of your health, not just one or two ailments you have that day.
During the visit, you’ll talk about several things with your doctor. Remember, this information is confidential and it’s best to be honest! Your doctor will ask you about what’s new in your life, how your general health has been, and then dive into more specific questions.
You can expect to discuss your mental health, diet, exercise, any medications or supplements you are taking, and about things that may increase your risk for disease later in life. If you are using any substances, your doctor will talk with you about the risks and help create a plan to get you off of them.
Even if you aren’t sexually active, your doctor may still recommend preventative testing for things such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, or HIV. If you have specific concerns about sexuality, risk for STDs, or prevention medicines against HIV, this is a great time to talk do you doctor!
Good preventative care goes far beyond just physical health. The yearly physical is a great time to get to know your doctor, for your doctor to get to know you, and for you to be able to discuss any questions freely and confidentially you have about your body, your mental health, or your lifestyle.