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With Women’s Health Week and Mother’s Day both falling in the month of May, there is no better time for women to make an appointment with their healthcare provider to ensure they prioritize their own health and wellness.

Below, Dr. Anisha Farishta, an OB / GYN affiliated with Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital and member of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, explains the importance of health screenings, why expectant mothers should seek out both prenatal and postnatal care, as well as the comprehensive women’s health services available at Hermann Memorial.

Question: What health screenings should women complete regularly?

Answer: The COVID-19 pandemic has unfortunately not only canceled celebrations such as weddings and graduations, but it has also caused many people to postpone or cancel routine health visits, which are essential for maintaining and protecting your health.

It is important to visit your primary care doctor and your OB / GYN to complete routine screenings, which may include cervical cancer screenings, mammograms, colonoscopies, blood pressure monitoring, and bone density screenings, based on age-appropriate guidelines.

These screenings provide doctors the opportunity to notice subtle but significant changes that can impact your overall health and wellbeing, allowing doctors to assess and treat any concerns long before you may experience any symptoms.

The US Preventative Services Task Force recommends Pap smears starting at age 21, annual mammograms starting at age 40, colonoscopies starting at age 45, and bone density scans beginning at age 65. These standard guidelines may change based on an individual’s personal and family health history .

Memorial Hermann offers these as well as other important screenings such as diabetes and thyroid screening, cholesterol screening, mental health screening, STD screening, and immunizations.

Regardless of your age, visiting your doctor to detect diseases early when they are most treatable is a good idea. The sooner we identify a problem, the better the overall outcome.

Question: Why is prenatal and postpartum care so important for expectant mothers?

Answer: Pregnancy is filled with many changes and challenges. Early and regular prenatal care is important for a healthy pregnancy and birth.

Meeting with your OB / GYN allows for the identification of risk factors and complications early and for intervention as needed. It also gives patients a chance to speak to their doctors to ease any concerns they may have, especially since we know that COVID-19 has led to increased fear, anxiety, and isolation among our pregnant patients.

Patients can rely on their physicians and the hospital for much-needed support during the prenatal and postpartum period. Memorial Hermann’s Women’s Services offers virtual maternity tours, sibling classes, and breastfeeding informational sessions to help mothers prepare for the arrival of their little ones.

At a few Memorial Hermann hospitals, including Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital, we offer a free, weekly support group called Moms Supporting Moms, which is centered around self-care for new mothers and helping moms through the often-overlooked fourth trimester of pregnancy.

Question: What are some of the other women’s health services available at Memorial Hermann?

Answer: In addition to comprehensive maternity and gynecology care, Memorial Hermann also offers state-of-the-art breast imaging, pelvic floor health services, bone health scans, heart care, colon cancer screening exams, and sleep medicine services.

Question: Many women missed their regular screening appointments during the past two years as an indirect result of the COVID-19 pandemic. What is your advice to someone who is due for an appointment?

Answer: Finding cancer and other medical conditions early improves your chances of living a longer, healthier life. There is no better time than now to take control of your own health and wellness.

I know many of us have neglected our health due to COVID-19, but this is your gentle reminder to stay healthy by making your annual visits and keeping up with your routine wellness exams and screenings.

Memorial Hermann offers comprehensive women’s health services at a number of locations throughout Greater Houston. To learn more, visit https://www.memorialhermann.org/womenshealth.

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