Ladies, we get it: It can be hard to make time for your health, even when you're not caught up in the back-to-school hurricane. Why, then, would you add an extra appointment to see a PCP (primary care physician) when you're already seeing your gynocologist once a year?
While it's true that most PCP offices offer an annual Well-Woman Exam as part of their yearly check-up, it's incredibly important to see both so that you have double the resources and care.
Dr. Akanksha Kumar of Methodist Health System in Dallas has outlined exactly why women should take the time and care to find a great PCP (primary care physician) in addition to seeing their OB/GYN each year.
"A yearly physical includes a discussion of your health overall — mental, physical, and well-being — and preventive care such as screenings, bloodwork, etc.," Dr. Kumar explains. "If you are due for a Pap smear, you can have that done at your yearly physical. A yearly gynecological checkup will include your Pap smear, if you are due, and general health and well-being as well, but it is usually more tailored to gynecological concerns. A PCP annual visit can be more comprehensive."
PCPs are fully qualified to provide comprehensive women's healthcare, including contraception and family planning counseling, but, as Dr. Kumar continues, "PCPs do not provide prenatal care or deliver babies, which is why some patients choose to keep both as their physicians."
Yearly physicals, annual Pap smears, and Well-Woman Exams are routine visits, and to prepare for them, you should organize your medical history and current health information.
"It is helpful to bring prior records if you are meeting your doctor for the first time," says Dr. Kumar. "If you do choose to see both a PCP and an OB/GYN for your routine care, it is helpful for them to have each other's contact info so they can share your health information, as long as you give them permission to do so."
Need help finding a doctor? Use Methodist Health network's online search tool or call 877-637-4297 to find a PCP, OB/GYN, or other specialist who's right for you.