Help your Doc: Be informative. Ask questions.


When you visit your doctor for your annual Well-Woman Visit, you can help your doctor do a more thorough examination. Patients sometimes tend to think that doctors are all-knowing and have all the answers, so patients often take a very passive role in their own health care. But it’s important for you to give your doctor as much information as possible to help them make a more accurate assessment of your health.

There are also important questions you can ask your doctor to help them pinpoint any specific health concerns that need to be addressed, as well has helping you gain a better understanding of your own condition. Here are some questions to remember:

Will you please explain all these numbers to me? Every exam involves hearing lots of numbers such as systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings, pulse rate, HDL and LDL cholesterol levels, body mass index, and so on. Ask your doctor to tell you your numbers, explain their significance, and whether yours are in the normal range.

What do you think about my current medication regimen? You’ll need to have a list of all the medicines and dietary supplements you take and the dosages.

Is (fill in the blank) something to be concerned about? Ask your doctor about any changes in your weight, digestion issues, joint pain, headaches, skin conditions, or whatever you might be experiencing.

When will the lab results be in? Blood screening tests often take at least a day or two to get the results. You can tell your doctor to call you with the results, and whether or not it’s OK to leave the results in a voice mail or if you want to hear the results directly.

Are there any particular things we need to keep an eye on? The human body is extremely complex, so there’s almost always something that will need special attention moving forward.

Is there anything in my family history I should watch out for? Give your doctor a full understanding of any diseases your relatives have had or died from. You might also be prone to the same illnesses.

Are there any additional tests, screenings, or counseling you’d recommend? A typical exam may involve a number of tests, but there are others, such as a cholesterol test or mammogram, that may require you to go to a lab or other facility to be done. Other tests may be needed if your initial exam indicates a problem that needs exploring. Some of these other tests may be diagnostic, not preventive, and therefore may require you to pay your co-payment and/or deductible.

Are all my shots current? You might need a flu shot, tetanus booster, or if you’re planning a trip to other countries you might need a specific immunization.

Could you recommend a diet and exercise regimen? Be honest and tell your doctor about the foods you normally eat, and how much (or how little) you exercise. Be open to applying the advice you get. Depending on other factors (such as whether you are obese or diabetic), you may be eligible for nutrition counseling, so ask your health care provider about that.

Can we go ahead and schedule next year’s Well-Woman Visit? It’s smart to plan ahead, so while you’re at the doctor you can make the next exam appointment one year from now.

Once your results are in we’d love you to share them with us. This is a great way you can help Go Red For Women monitor the health of the entire community of women. We’ve set up a website where you can register your numbers as part of a ten year eHealth study. It’s the most ambitious women’s health study ever attempted, and you could help play a vital role. This study gives us an understanding of the overall health of the general population, as well as challenges faced by minority communities. Your results are strictly confidential, and help us look for trends in the larger population and keys to better understanding health and warning signs of disease that may need to be addressed.

Just click here: Health eHeart