05/14/2012 06:00 pm ET Updated Jul 14, 2012

Time to Make Our Health a Priority

"Your health should come first, but when you're a healthy and busy working adult, you tend to forget how quickly the time flies."

This is Beth, a Planned Parenthood patient, talking about how, when she was 32, her doctor found a lump in her right breast. The discovery was made during an appointment that Beth was nearly too busy to keep.

"Had I not gone in for my checkup, I wouldn't have known about the lump. And while it was determined to be benign, the knowledge that I have a lump in my breast and the skill of knowing what a lump feels like in the future -- I value Planned Parenthood for helping me stay a healthy woman."

Beth's story is a reminder of how crucial preventive care is, and National Women's Health Week (May 13 - 19) is a good time for us all to prioritize our health. In observance of the week, we're encouraging women to use Monday, May 14 -- National Women's Checkup Day -- to schedule a check-up with their health care provider.

There's never enough money or time, and too often our health falls to the bottom of the list. But Beth's story is also a good reminder that there are health centers like Planned Parenthood that provide affordable, lifesaving preventive care such as breast and cervical cancer screenings and testing and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, as well as contraception.

If you're uncertain about what regular health screenings you should have, talk with your provider about whether you're due for a breast exam or a Pap test. You can visit The Check to learn whether you should get screened for STDs so you can protect your and your partner's sexual health.

If you use birth control, National Women's Health Week is also a good time to talk with your provider about your contraception options and whether the method you're using is ideal for both your current life and future plans. Birth control is not one-size-fits-all. Visiting My Method and answering a few questions before your appointment can help you prepare for a conversation with your provider about your options.

In addition to your check-up, here are a few other health-related questions you may want to check in with yourself on:

  • Am I eating healthy and staying hydrated?
  • Am I getting enough exercise?
  • Am I getting enough sleep?
  • Am I avoiding unhealthy behaviors like smoking?
  • Am I paying attention to my mental health, including stress management and the health of my relationships?

Remember, early detection and treatment can save your life. This week, ask yourself: What have I done today to get -- and stay -- healthy? And then make an appointment.