Self-care means looking at your whole body and working with your care team to ensure the next year of your life is your best yet.
There’s a magical time between Christmas and the first glimpses of spring where time seems to flow endlessly, yet the minutes are few. With the rush of the holiday season over, it’s the perfect time to prioritize self-care in its most important form: the annual gynecological appointment.
While many women dread and often put-off the yearly discussion, doctors are encouraging women to keep their annual exams because it’s directly tied to better health and wellness outcomes.
“An annual exam is a really unique opportunity for a discussion about diet, exercise regimen, alcohol and drug consumption, vaccination, and what may be ahead in the future with a proactive (instead of reactive) lens.” – Dr. Sharyn Lewin
If you’re imagining stirrups and stern talks, Dr. Sharyn Lewin, a gynecologic oncologist and President of the Lewin Fund, wants you to think of your annual visit in a new light. “As women, we are more likely to prioritize the hairstylist, nail technician and esthetician over our annual exam,” Dr. Lewin remarked to The Fresh Toast. “Self-care means looking at your whole body and working with your care team to ensure the next year of your life is your best yet.”
When having a conversation with your gynecologist, Dr. Lewin suggests remembering to discuss these three key elements with your care team:
1.) Diet and Exercise: With obesity now being tied to thirteen different types of cancers, Dr. Lewin believes that a healthy weight and diet is more important than ever. “A plant-based diet full of leafy green vegetables, fruit, whole grains, fish, and lean meats will offer you a great defense against cancer,” Lewin states.
2.) Lifestyle: Dr. Lewin states to be your healthiest, limit smoking, alcohol, make sure vaccines are up-to-date, and practice good hand-washing to eliminate viruses and bacteria that can cause illness.
3.) Upcoming Tests: Most low-risk women start mammograms at the age of 40, colonoscopies should begin at 45 and pap smears in most cases are every three years. These screening tests are
Dr. Lewin believes that women should recognize the importance of sitting down and discussing lifestyle choices that can affect an individual’s risk for cancer. After all, by recognizing internal health feeds outward appearance, Lewin explains that viruses react to a myriad of lifestyle choices including obesity, stress, and overall health. The best self-care is often simple: a great night’s sleep, a healthy diet, staying up-to-date on vaccines, and taking two minutes to meditate while you wash your hands thoroughly to prevent illness.