What Everyone Should Discuss with Their Primary Care Doctor


What Everyone Should Discuss with Their Primary Care Doctor

Tessa Chatham Registered Nurse

Written by Tessa Chatham Registered Nurse

Tessa Chatham Registered Nurse

Tessa Chatham Registered Nurse

Tessa is a MSN prepared Registered Nurse with 12 years of critical care experience in healthcare. When not practicing clinical nursing, she enjoys academic writing and is passionate about helping those affected by medical aliments live healthy lives.

Linda Anegawa, MD, FACP

Reviewed by Linda Anegawa, MD, FACP

July 19, 2022 / Read Time 5 minutes

Your primary care doctor can help with a variety of concerns that you may not have considered before. Regular checkups with your primary care doctor are one of the best things you can do for your overall health, even if you feel good. Oftentimes, problems can be detected early, before symptoms start. Here are some topics to discuss with your doctor that may be specific to you.

What Everyone Should Ask Their Doctor

Everyone, regardless of sex, should ask their doctor about osteoporosis or bone loss, colorectal, and lung cancer. Osteoporosis screening can be discussed with your doctor if you are aged 50 to 70 for both males and females. Risk factors for osteoporosis include long-term steroid use, low body weight, smoking, heavy alcohol use, and a family history of osteoporosis. Additionally, annual lung scans are also encouraged if you are a current smoker or have quit within the past 15 years.

Your primary care doctor will support you with all of the necessary prevention tools, guidance, as well as treatment plans if needed. Your doctor will make a customized treatment plan for you that meets your specific needs. Read on to find out more questions that everyone can ask their primary care physician.

Is the Pain or Discomfort I'm Feeling Normal?

Pain is a signal from the body that something is not quite right. Although pain may be transient or short-lived such as a muscle cramp, sprain, body ache, headache, or soreness, there are times when pain is a major warning signal. 

Pain is concerning if it comes on suddenly, is severe, wakes you from sleep, or is worsening over time. Sudden, severe pain is often an emergency. Chronic pain (persistent or intermittent pain lasting longer than 3 months) is abnormal. You should seek medical care if you have chronic pain, regardless of if you can manage it or not.

What Lifestyle Changes Can I Make to Be More Healthy?

Being involved in your health and healthcare choices is the first step to living a healthy lifestyle. Primary care visits promote a healthy lifestyle. Being healthy isn't always about a complete overhaul, it is about consistency and small changes over time.  Making drastic changes all at once may not be advised, as these types of changes are not always sustainable for everyone.

Taking small steps not only improves confidence but promotes motivation to continue. Make sure to gradually incorporate healthy lifestyle changes and share your successes with loved ones or friends.

What's My Diagnosis?

Not knowing is often more excruciating than the diagnosis and can feel very frustrating. Thinking that "something is wrong with me" causes anxiety, hopelessness, and lack of control. It is important to speak with your doctor about your concerns and anxiety surrounding making a diagnosis for your symptoms.

Once you know your diagnosis, ask your doctor what your next steps are to improve your  health and prevent future problems. PlushCare provides a care team comprised of a registered nurse, care coordinator, and physician. Together, your healthcare team helps guide you every step of the way.

What Can I Do to Learn More About My Condition?

Ask your doctor what resources are available for you to educate you on your condition. Usually, there is an organization that provides healthcare education for every condition imaginable. For example, if you are recently diagnosed with diabetes, your doctor may refer you to the American Diabetes Association. If you have heart issues, you may research information on the American Heart Association, and so forth.

When learning about your condition, it is important to read from credible sources. That is sources that are backed by peer-reviewed research. Associations, government websites, and medical journals are generally accepted as credible healthcare sources.

What Female Patients Should Ask Their Doctor

Female patients can have important health issues specific to their anatomy. When it comes to women's healthcare issues, it is important to understand what screenings should be completed and by what age. Screening and early detection are the number one way to prevent health problems and reduce chronic illness. Primary care is considered preventative care. With proper preventative primary care, many diseases may be found early and therefore can be prevented from developing into chronic, serious illnesses. It is important to ask your doctor what tests or screenings you need at every stage of your life.

When Do I Need an Annual Checkup, Pap Smear, Breast Exam, Colon Cancer Test, and Pelvic Exam?

Annual checkups should be done once a year, and may be done via telemedicine for many individuals. These yearly exams can check for a wide range of health problems, including high cholesterol or other blood abnormalities such as diabetes. Many problems detected on blood work may not have any symptoms in the early stages, so it is important to get checked yearly for these conditions. Normal cholesterol levels can get rechecked in 2 years; however, you should repeat testing if you gained weight or changed your diet. Your doctor may prefer yearly testing. 

Your doctor may also ask you to check your blood pressure, as early blood pressure problems often don't have symptoms as well. Dental and eye exams should also be done yearly, along with mental health screenings that assess your emotional well-being.

Screening for cervical cancer begins at age 21 and includes a pelvic exam. A pelvic exam is a comprehensive exam done in a gynecologist's office that assesses your reproductive organs. Pelvic exams include a PAP smear and breast exam. A PAP smear collects fluid and cells from the cervix to detect abnormalities. Breast exams are utilized to detect breast lumps or other abnormalities. You should have a mammogram at age 50, or sometimes at even younger ages, depending on risk factors.

Screening for colon cancer begins at age 45. If you have a strong family history of colon cancer or polyps, you may get screened before the age of 45. Colonoscopies are used to examine the gastrointestinal tract for abnormalities.

What Male Patients Should Ask Their Doctor:

Male patients should ask their doctor about colorectal, prostate, and lung cancer screening even if they currently feel well. It is important not to wait to go to the doctor only if you feel bad. Prevention is key for long-term health, and yearly checkups save lives. Most illnesses can be caught early and treated and have no symptoms early on in the disease process.

Do I Need to Get Tested for Prostate Cancer?

Prostate cancer screening should be done at age 50; however, digital prostate examinations are no longer routinely done on patients with no symptoms. Risk factors for prostate cancer include having a family history of prostate cancer or being African American. The American Cancer Society recommends African American patients be screened at the age of 45.

What Screenings Are Important for my Annual Physical Exam?

Blood pressure, heart rate, diabetes, cholesterol, height, weight, body mass index, eye exams, mental health screenings, and a skin check, should be done annually with your physical exam. Preventative health screenings help people understand their risk for developing chronic conditions before symptoms are present, and while you can still take action. There is power in prevention.

Other Health Concerns Our Doctors Help with:


Erectile Dysfunction

Hair Loss

Weight Management

Yeast Infections


STI Testing


Birth Control

Read More About Preventive Health Topics:

High Blood Pressure Symptoms in Women Vs Men

STD Symptoms in Men: What to Look For

Symptoms of Yeast Infection in Men

STD Symptoms in Women: Recognize the Signs


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