by Dr. Molly Ashby
Happy 2018! I hope it’s off to a fantastic start! Whether you are starting your journey towards reaching a new goal or sticking to a plan you already have in place, this is the perfect time of year to reflect on what you want to accomplish over the next 12 months. So where does VPFW fit in? We want to be a part of helping you be the healthiest you can be, so here are the top five resolutions we hope you’ll include for 2018:
1. Keep your annual appointments. Even if you aren’t experiencing any symptoms, well woman visits should be a critical part of your routine health care. From detecting abnormalities in a Pap smear or mammogram, to telling you that you’re healthy and all is good after a normal pelvic exam, preventive care can give you peace of mind, and, in some cases, even save your life by catching any problems you may have early.
2. Stay active. Any doctor would agree that staying active and eating a balanced diet are incredibly important to your overall health. From an OB/GYN perspective, staying active can help you build and maintain strong bones, give you a better chance of having a healthy pregnancy, ease symptoms of many gynecologic conditions like Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), and even help with depression and sex drive. Not sure where to start on the exercise or weight loss front? Call us for an appointment! We offer dietary consults, and we frequently refer patients to ACAC’s Physician Referred Exercise Program (P.R.E.P.)!
3. Complete regular breast self-exams. One out of every eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime, but, when caught early, the five year survival rate is almost 100%. Those numbers alone should be enough to encourage you to be aware of what is normal for you so that you know right away if you have any breast changes. If you do find something abnormal during your monthly self-check, just give us a call. We’ll examine you to help determine if additional testing is needed. Also, if you’re over the age of 40, or if you have a family history of breast cancer, make sure you are keeping up with your regular mammograms, too! We offer screening mammograms at three of our office locations (Midlothian, Short Pump, and Prince George), and many times we can schedule your mammogram on the same day that you are coming in for your annual exam – just ask when calling to schedule your appointment.
4. Make time for yourself. Admittedly, this one isn’t specific to my role as an OB/GYN, but as a woman (or even just a human), I can attest to the importance of making time to focus on yourself. We are all incredibly busy, but, instead of using that as an excuse, you should look at it as the reason to not let self-care fall off of your to-do list! Hopefully prioritizing yourself includes coming in to see your physician for routine appointments, but I also hope it includes taking time out for your own interests and activities. Whether you commit to an exercise class on a regular basis, plan a monthly lunch date with friends, or settle in for an evening with some wine and a good book, mindfulness and self-care will make you a happier and healthier person!
5. Plan ahead. You may not know what you’re having for dinner tonight, but chances are you do know whether or not you want to have a child this year. If you are thinking about getting pregnant, now is a good time to discuss it with your doctor. They can help you understand what to expect if you stop using birth control, and they can even look at your overall health and make recommendations for lifestyle changes that may help you have a healthier pregnancy. If you aren’t interested in having children this year, talk to your doctor about birth control methods. Options can range from a daily pill, to a monthly vaginal ring, to an intrauterine device that prevents pregnancy for years at a time. Your physician can help you choose the method that works best for your body, your goals, and your lifestyle.
I know that I’ll be using these resolutions as a guide to help maintain my health over the next year, and I hope you’ll join me in focusing on your health, too! Your body and your OB/GYN will thank you!
Dr. Ashby became involved in the medical field during college at James Madison University where she was a volunteer EMT with the Harrisonburg Rescue Squad. She discovered her love of Women’s Health while working as an OB tech at St. Francis Medical Center before going to medical school. She also has an interest in Public Health and completed a Masters Degree at Virginia Commonwealth University. She has a passion for International Mission trips and has traveled to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, where she provided both general medical and OB/GYN-focused care. Dr. Ashby sees patients at our Short Pump, Henrico Doctor’s, and St. Mary’s offices. Request an appointment with her here.