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Make your resolution to actually go to the doctor

Don't put off your preventative health screenings in 2017

The New Year might mean plenty of things for you. Maybe this is the year you read more, the year you stick to your exercise routine, or the year you treat yourself. But one action you definitely have to take is scheduling your annual well-woman exam. This check-up is a major component in breast and ovarian cancer prevention and early detection.

More: 5 questions to ask about breast and ovarian cancer during your annual checkup

I say this as someone who knows. At a young age I discovered I carried the BRCA1 gene that steeply increases the risk of breast and ovarian cancers. At 23, I underwent a preventative double mastectomy, the youngest woman to have the procedure in the U.S. Since then, I founded Bright Pink with the intention of saving women's lives by making them aware of the importance of being proactive at a young age. Even though Bright Pink’s official Call Your Doctor Day isn’t until June, why not get a jumpstart to 2017 and begin maintaining your breast and ovarian health by calling this month? After the influx of December patients, January is pretty calm at your OB-GYN office, so you might see your doctor in a few days rather than a few weeks.

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You can make the hassle of calling your doctor simpler in a few ways:

  • Call closer to the beginning of the month. The end of the month gets hectic at the OB-GYN when birth control prescriptions tend to run out and patients need refills ASAP. Avoid getting crowded out by last-minute appointments and call early in the month.

  • Schedule your appointment around popular days and time slots. The most popular days to visit the OB-GYN are Tuesdays and Thursdays, and the most booked times (daily) are 9 a.m., 10 a.m., and 2 p.m. Unless you need to see your doctor at these times, be flexible with the receptionist.

  • Prepare for your visit. Another part of the new year for you might include insurance turnover, so make sure you have your updated info for the receptionist when you arrive (and arrive early!). To calm your nerves for the visit, print out and bring a copy of “5 Questions to Ask Your Doctor” so you know what to talk about. You can also discuss the results from Bright Pink’s Assess Your Risk tool if you take the quiz beforehand.

It takes the same amount of time to call your doctor as it does to brush your teeth — so do both today! (Just not at the same time.)

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