Cheatsheet to Women’s Health

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With all the health and screening guidelines changing every year, it’s no wonder that women find themselves confused. How often do you need to see a doctor and what tests do you need? Read on for the most current recommendations:

18 to 39

  • Yearly Chlamydia/Gonorrhea screening through age 24 and after that, as needed
  • Get tested for HIV at least once, and again if you have potentially been exposed. As a reminder, HIV  is spread through bodily fluids (blood, semen, etc.). Always use protection if you don’t know the HIV status of your partner!
  • Pap smear rules have changed – you should have a Pap smear every 3 years until age 30. A pap smear is a test looking at cells on your cervix to see if there is any precancerous change from HPV (Human Papillomavirus) infection. After age 30, get a Pap smear and HPV test together every 5 years
  • Side note: Ask your doctor about the HPV vaccine, a series of 3 shots, which protects against the most common strains of HPV. This is a cancer preventing vaccine, ladies (and gents!)
  • Continue going to your ob/gyn for annual well woman exams. This will include a review of your medical history, a breast exam, and an external and internal vaginal exam.
  • Blood pressure check every 2 years (you can do this at your well woman exams!)
  • Flu shot every year and a TdAP vaccine once after age 19 and booster every 10 years

40 to 59

  • Mammogram screening is not set in stone for women ages 40-49! Talk to your provider about the best test for you. After age 50, we recommend a mammo every 1-2 years until age 75.
  • Annual well woman exams. You will become well acquainted with your obgyn, who will also be your guide through pregnancy
  • Annual stool test, flexible sigmoidoscopy with a stool test every 5 years, or a colonoscopy every 10 years to screen for colon cancer
  • Flu shot yearly and TdAP booster every 10 years
  • Blood pressure check every 2 years, and if you’re over age 44, cholesterol screening every 5 years, and diabetes check every 3 years.

Over age 60

  • All the same preventative tips as above (colon cancer screening, breast cancer screening, and immunizations)
  • Shingles and pneumococcal vaccines over age 60
  • no more Pap smears after age 65, as long as you have had 3 negative results in the past decade! Yay!
  • Dexa bone scan over the age of 64 to check for osteoporosis
  • Mammograms after she 75 are controversial so chat with your doc about your specific risk factors

These are general screening guidelines but remember, if you are experiencing any symptoms out of the ordinary that are concerning, do not hesitate to go see your doctor. It is always better to get checked out early in case it is something serious. As always, leave your questions below!

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