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You’ve already posted the quote across your social media accounts: “New year, new me.” You’ve committed to Dry January, to #Whole30January and you’re seriously debating splurging on a Peloton bike. While this regimen will help you look and feel better, you’re missing some crucial pieces from your wellness (paleo) pie. In order to know what’s happening beyond your athleisure, here is a list of the doctors appointments you should make in 2021 and every year to make sure you’re taking care of yourself both inside and out.
Everyone knows going to the doctor is important, but actually setting aside time to call and book the appointment? Somehow, that’s the more annoying part. I don’t know why, but just try to tell me you disagree! To make it easier, set aside one morning or afternoon and call all the necessary doctors to book your appointments all at once. Grab your coffee and your calendar and just get it done! It’ll be a fairly annoying hour, but hey, you won’t have to do it again until 2022.
Which docs require a yearly visit? You know your body best, but below, we’re rounded up the top five couldn’t-hurt appointments everyone should consider making. Read on for every doc you need to see, from the dentist to the derm.
1. Check Under The Hood
This one is a no-brainer for people with vaginas. “Even though a woman may be on an every-one-to-three-year interval to get a Pap smear, seeing the gynecologist annually is important for a woman’s overall health and wellness,” Dr. Sherry Ross, an OB-GYN, says.
For many women, the gynecologist is often the only doctor they see annually, making it a time to discuss things like testing for sexually transmitted infections, period irregularities, family planning or sexual dysfunction, as well as more general medical issues like depression, anxiety or domestic violence.
2. The Catchall
Dr. Nieca Goldberg is a medical director at NYU Langone Health and understands that while most women always remember to schedule a yearly exam with their OB-GYN, they must also remember to pay a visit to their primary care physician.
“It is important to have a primary care doctor who specializes in internal medicine, family medicine or a nurse practitioner to take care of your overall health,” she says. “They will be able to assess your risk for conditions such as heart disease and diabetes [and keep up with] your vaccinations, and it’s always good to have someone when you have an unexpected cold or sore throat.”
3. Check Those Pearly Whites
Yes, that means a trip to the dentist. Dr. Casey Chow of Bella Smiles says regular dental checkups are a must for more reasons than most people realize.
“Seeing a dentist regularly will help detect tooth decay and gum-related issues early, which allows for less invasive treatment and in turn less expensive treatment (like simple fillings), but regular visits can also detect gum disease, which is associated with heart disease and stroke and oral cancers,” he says.
4. Love The Skin You’re In
Next up on your to-do list should be a visit to your dermatologist. Dr. Alan J. Parks, founder of DermWarehouse, says it’s a good idea to see a dermatologist on a yearly basis for a skin check.
“One reason that skin cancer is one of the most treatable forms of cancer is because it can be the most easily recognizable,” he says. He recommends doing self-checks of all your freckles and moles on a monthly basis, and if you see any spots or moles that look out of the ordinary, be sure to make an appointment to see your dermatologist right away.
“Some people may need to be seen more often if there is a personal or family history of skin cancer or melanoma or if they have a history of multiple precancerous lesions or extensive sun damage,” he adds.
5. It’s Just A Chat
This last appointment may not be on your must-do list, but it should be. 2020 was quite the year, leaving many of us exhausted both mentally and physically. Dr. Kevin Gilliland, the executive director of Innovation 360, recommends adding a mental health professional to your calendar.
“Our health is broad-based,” he says. “When we eat right and are active, our mental health improves; they’re connected. So, why all the blood work and physical exams, but nothing for our mental health? Find a therapist and meet with them once or twice so they get to know you.”
Let the mental health professional know you’re there for a mental check up and talk about whatever’s on your mind, including anxiety, mood and how you use substances, which, Gilliland says are some of our most common struggles.
Now, grab your phone or log in to Zocdoc and start scheduling!
A version of this story previously appeared in January 2019.