Six Common Women’s Health Exams and When to Get Them
With school, work, and spending time with friends and family, it can be easy to forget when to visit a doctor for health tests and screenings. Pink and Black has compiled a list of common female health exams as a reference guide.
During a pap smear, a doctor collects cells from your cervix in order to detect the presence of cervical cancer. According to Sandhya Pruthi, M.D. at the Mayo Clinic, women should start having a pap smear at age 21, even if you have never had sex, or a couple years after becoming sexually active.
Web MD states that a pelvic exam can be done during a regular check-up, along with a pap smear. During the exam, your pelvis is examined for evidence of cancer and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). A woman should start having pelvic exams the same time as pap smears: at 21 or after a few years of sexual activity.
Cholesterol Level Test
High cholesterol is linked to heart disease and stroke. A cholesterol test involves taking a blood sample. The National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) advises being tested every 5 years starting at age 20.
Mammograms are an essential test for detecting breast cancer early. According to Breastcancer.org, women should begin getting mammograms annually starting at age 40. However, if you have family history of breast cancer or ovarian cancer, the rule of thumb is to start yearly exams around age 30. WebMD lists the option of breast self-exam starting for women in their twenties, though there has been some debate about the effectiveness of it.
The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends meeting with a dermatologist annually. The foundation suggests to schedule an appointment during spring, so you can talk to your dermatologist about summer sun safety and ensure the health of your skin.
According to Michelle Kulas at LIVESTRONG.com, a person wearing contacts or glasses should get examined annually. Even if you don’t have a prescription, she advises eye exams every few years.