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Family 411: Women's Health

Updated: Monday, February 10 2014, 10:28 PM EST
A health alert for women. Doctors say our lives have gotten so busy that it's endangering women's health.

In this Family 411 report, Sheila Gray reports on why women are skipping important exams.

"I tried the vitamin route before I turned to my doctor," said Amanda Miller.

When Amanda Miller started having symptoms of menopause she went to the health food store instead of her doctor.

"It wasn't doing anything," said Miller.

Now Amanda's getting relief after seeing her physician. OB/GYN Dr. Scott Bembry says about half of the patients he sees for menopause symptoms are skipping preventive exams and screenings.

"Pap smears, mammograms, especially screening colonscopy. You may miss a disease process to the point that it's later and harder to treat," said Dr. Bembry.

In fact, women's health experts say it's pretty common for women at mid-life to skip seeing their doctors.  They're often still taking care of kids along with aging relatives, while holding down jobs and leading busy social lives. 

"I was the caretaker for my parents, and I started a new business, and I just didn't want to go to the doctor one more time," said Kathy Smith.

Debbie Bulger and Gayle Farmer don't skip the doctor, but they admit they've been surprised at times by how their health - at mid-life - has changed.

"It just kind of creeped up on me," said Farmer.

"They think they're going through menopause, and that's a complete misnomer. You don't go through it like you're passing through a town," said Dr. Holly Thacker.

Dr. Holly Thacker of the Cleveland Clinic says women beginning the second half of their lives need more than just mammograms and pap smears.  Doctors also need to check their weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, thyroid, vitamin D, and bone density.  And mid-life is a good time for women to evaluate their medical providers.

"Women should seek a medical provider who's interested in menopause and mid-life women's health," said Dr. Holly Thacker.

"What a woman should look for is a doctor who will listen to her symptoms and listen to her needs and explore what the options are," said Dr. Bembry.

Family 411: Women's Health

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