Harvard Women's Health Watch

Why your annual check-up is still important to your health

The annual visit helps to sustain your relationship with your clinician and personalize your health care.

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Although health experts are giving us fewer reasons to see the doctor every year, there are many benefits to doing so.

The reasons for the yearly well-woman visit with one's doctor have been disappearing. The routine pelvic exam and annual Pap smear are things of the past, and it's up to your primary care clinician to decide what the visit should entail. Your doctor—or increasingly, nurse practitioner or physician assistant—will measure your height and weight, take your blood pressure, and listen to your heart and lungs. He or she may review your health history, see if you're up to date with immunizations and screening tests, and offer advice on lowering your risk factors for high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. You may have a blood test for cholesterol and blood sugar. Then, if you don't need follow-up care, it's goodbye until next year.

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