10 questions every woman should ask their doctor
Does an upcoming medical appointment have you worried? Here are 10 women’s health questions to ask your doctor.
As a woman, you should know that historically our health has been neglected, apart from reproductive concerns. Some doctors are not even aware of the differences that exist in risk factors and presentation of some diseases in women. You have to be your own advocate. Go to your doctor appointments prepared and ask questions and don’t stop until you get an answer
Here are 10 women’s health questions to ask your doctor.
1.Should I be worried about my symptoms?
Never ignore your symptoms. If you have any concerns or are experiencing any physical or mental health issues, describe them to your doctor. Please never forget that even subtle symptoms count. Your doctor may ask for more information such as your family history, a list of the medications and supplements that you’re currently taking, and to describe your diet and lifestyle. Then your doctor should be able to guide you as to what you should—or shouldn’t—be worried about.
2.Do I have a healthy weight and blood pressure?
Measuring your weight and blood pressure are simple non-invasive tests that should be done regularly. If your weight or blood pressure has changed dramatically, or if they are too low or too high, could be a sign that needs more investigation. If these are a concern, your doctor can order tests to measure your metabolism or hormones and may recommend some diet and lifestyle changes that work for you.
3.What about reproductive health issues?
Whether you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, going through menopause, post-menopausal or anywhere in-between, there are many women’s health questions to ask your doctor. Our bodies go through so many changes throughout life. If you have concerns about hormones, sexual health, or how to handle what you’re going through right now, your doctor is there to help you.
4.Do I need a cardiac check?
Heart disease is the number one health threat for women. It claims the lives of 420,000 women in our country. 50,000 more women than men die of heart disease every year because cardiac disease is underrecognized and undertreated in women. Beyond weight and blood pressure, you need to understand your risks and take charge of your health. This is why you should always ask your doctor about a cardiac check. Unfortunately, heart disease is still considered a man’s disease and women need to be empowered with knowledge on how to prevent it. If you want to know more about it check out my book, Heels vs. Ties.
This book was written to empower you, to help you be your own advocate and remove your name from the statistics.
5.What other tests should I get?
As a woman, there are some tests you need regularly based on your family history or just being a woman (e.g., pap smears, blood tests, breast exam). There are other tests that are recommended at certain stages in life. For example, at a certain age your doctor may request additional tests for early detection of heart disease, cancers, or osteoporosis. These tests can include CT calcium scores, stress tests, mammograms, colonoscopies, and bone scans. This is one health question all women should always ask their doctor.
6.What are the risks and benefits of each test?
Each medical test comes with its own risks and benefits. There are risks and benefits of getting a test done—as well as not getting the test done. Be sure to ask your doctor what to expect if you decide to go ahead with the test: What will the results tell you? Is there anything you need to do to prepare for it? When can you expect the results? If you’re hesitant about taking the test, ask what the risk of not getting the test is or if there is an alternative test to consider.
7.Am I at risk for any diseases?
Disease risk is a very important health question to ask your doctor. Depending upon your symptoms, weight, blood pressure, test results, etc. you may be at a higher risk for certain diseases. This goes beyond heart disease, cancer, and osteoporosis. Other diseases to ask about include diabetes, depression, and dementia. It’s important to ask your doctor if there is anything you should be concerned about or keep an eye on in the future.
8.Do I need any immunizations?
Other than annual flu shots, we often think of immunizations as something that’s completed during childhood. There are some vaccines that need to be boosted throughout life and even some that are specifically made for older adults. Bring your immunization record with you and ask your doctor if she recommends any immunizations.
9.What can I do to be healthier?
Almost everyone can take an extra step or two on the road toward optimal health. This is a key women’s health question to ask your doctor. Your doctor may ask you to describe your current diet, exercise routine, and lifestyle habits to understand where you’re at right now. She can then provide you with resources, recommendations, counseling, or even a referral to another professional (e.g., dietitian) who can help you reach your health goals.
10.When should I schedule my next appointment with you?
If your doctor ordered tests for you, she may recommend that you return sooner rather than later. If she is not monitoring anything in particular or prescribing medication refills regularly, you may not need to return for several months or even a year. Find out so that you can book your next visit before you leave.
Now that you have a list of the top 10 questions for women to ask your doctor, go ahead and make your appointment! Be your own advocate and don’t stop until you get answers.
Alvarez, N. 2019. Heels vs. ties: Living with your #1 threat. RI-AL Consulting.