How Often Should I See My Doctor?

Doctor visit
As a busy 20-something in a major city, I often lost track of time between visits to my doctors, whether it be my primary physician, dentist, or eye doctor. Then I would get the ominous reminder card from my dentist's office telling me it was "time for my next visit!"

My question always was, when do I actually have to see some of these doctors? Well, what I didn't know is that there are some established guidelines for when you should get a check-up (without relying on your annual post card as a reminder).

Below are some tips to when you should be scheduling your next visits.


Primary Care Physician

On average, a young person in normal health with no pre-existing conditions or concerns should visit their primary care physician at least once per year for their annual check-up. Even if you have gone the past 3 years and nothing has been wrong, it doesn't hurt to keep in touch with your doctor regarding any changes in diet, exercise, mental health or outside factors that could affect you long-term.

Not sure what to talk about at your annual exam? It's important to bring up anything health-related that occurred since your last visit. Have your allergies been especially bad? Did you have to go to the hospital for any emergencies? Try any new vitamins recently?

When in doubt as to whether you should schedule an appointment, check out this handy list seen on US News:
  1. When was the last time you visited a doctor?
  2. Has anything changed since?
  3. When did your doctor last say that you needed a follow-up?
  4. Was there something you needed to follow-up on with your doctor?
  5. Has your family's medical history changed?
These are all important questions when factoring in when considering an appointment.


If you're like me, you avoid the dentist with a passion. But, I've come to terms with my aversion recently by finding a dentist that I really liked and who had a very, very soft touch when it came to those dreaded cleaning tools.

Before that, I prescribed to the method of "if my tooth hurts, I'll go to the dentist," which, as it turns out, is not the way to live your best life.

The standard schedule for visiting your dentist is once every 6 months for your general cleaning and check-up, but it really depends on the health of your teeth and gums and the opinion of your dentist. The reason for this 6-month standard timeline? Well, most of the issues that you face, such as cavaties and gum disease, are preventable if you get your teeth and gums regularly checked.

Do you remember the last time you visited the dentist? If not, it's probably time to head in for a check-up. From there, your dentist will let you know the frequency of future visits based on their evaluation of your current health.

Reproductive Health (Gynecologist)

As a woman, you normally should start seeing a gynecologist for check-ups anywhere from the age of 13 to 15, especially if you have started your period or are sexually active. This is just to make sure that everything is as it should be for your age.

When you hit your twenties, though, you will need to start scheduling yearly appointments for your pelvic exam and/or Pap test, as well as a general exam to check for lumps in your breasts. This is all overwhelming for the first time or two, but I assure you that it quickly becomes routine and is nothing more than a once-a-year nuisance.

But it's still extremely important nonetheless! You should get screened for any STIs or STDs (sexually transmitted infections or diseases) during your visits, especially if you are sexually active or have recently started seeing a new partner. This is also relevant if your family has any history of breast cancer.

Additionally, your gynecologist is a great source of information in general in regards to sexual health, questions you may have or any concerns. Want to know more about birth control and contraceptives? This is where you should inquire as to more information.


Do you wear glasses or contact lenses? You'll have to make sure that you visit the optometrist for your vision test at least once every 2-3 years in order to keep your prescription up-to-date. If you're younger than 19, you should be getting regular eye exams at least annually until you turn 20, at which point you can visit as needed or follow the schedule mentioned in the previous sentence for your glasses/eyewear.

Otherwise, if you don't have existing vision problems, regular visits to the optometrist won't be relevant for you until you reach your forties. It is recommended that you get checked at least once in your twenties and twice in your thirties for general health issues.

What health factors should I keep track of?

For younger people, this is our time to take preventative actions for our future. This means keeping an eye on certain aspects of our health which may become troublesome as we age.

So what should I keep an eye on when you see your doctor?

  • Cholesterol - this test is performed by your family doctor (or general practitioner).
  • Blood pressure - you'll most likely get this checked no matter where you go, but your family doctor will keep a record of this, as well.
  • Height/weight - again, pretty routine for any doctor that you visit. It's important to keep an eye on your weight to account for any major fluctuations that could indicate a more major health risk.
  • Blood tests - during your annual exam, your doctor may have routine blood panels run to check for any issues. Be sure to follow up with any questions you have or make an appointment to review the results.

There are certainly other factors to keep in mind on an individual basis, so be sure to consult with your doctor and ask if there are any health issues you may be at risk for, or if there are any visits or test you may need more frequently than others.

Final Notes

If there is any final takeaway from this article, it should be this: we need to be more proactive in our approach to our health while we're young to try to prevent and avoid major issues down the line. It's as simple as calling up your doctor now to make an appointment for a check-up. So don't waste any time!

If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to pop in to the comments section below or reach out to me via Twitter.


US News
US Dept. of Health

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