LADY’S HEALTH SCREENING RECOMMENDATION
Once a Month Breast self-exam: Check for unusual lumps or bumps monthly. The best time to do it is a few days after your period ends.
Skin self-exam: The Skin Cancer Foundation strongly recommends that you check out your body once a month for any new or unusual spots or marks. Just remember your ABCDEs: asymmetry, border irregularity, uneven color, diameter bigger than 6 mm, and evolving shape and size.
Every Six Months Dental check-up: Make sure to hit up the dentist’s chair twice a year for cleanings and other preventative maintenance, but you should only get dental X-rays on an as needed basis to prevent unnecessary exposure to radiation, according to the American Dental Association’s recommendations.
Once a Year Full physical exam: This annual check-up should include a height and weight check, a blood pressure screening, a clinical breast exam, and any blood tests your doctor deems necessary. These may include tests for blood sugar and cholesterol, blood count, hormone levels, and other crucial markers.
Pap smear: If you’ve had three consecutive normal pap smears, are in a mutually monogamous relationship, and have no other risk factors, you could technically go three years between screenings. However, most doctors still suggest women see their gynecologist once a year and get a pap smear while they’re there. Your pap tests for any changes or abnormalities in the cells in your cervix, which is a way to screen for cervical cancer. For women 21-29, any mild irregularities in the pap test will prompt an HPV test to check for the high-risk strains of the HPV virus. Other than that, you probably won’t get an HPV test until you’re 30. (See below for more info on HPV testing)
Pelvic exam: Even if you aren’t getting an annual pap smear, it’s important to visit your OB/GYN annually for a routine pelvic exam, where she’ll feel around for your uterus and ovaries. This is a way to check for fibroids, cysts or any pain or swelling that might indicate an infection.
HIV tests: Get tested annually at your doctor’s office or a health clinic. The most accurate screening is a still a blood test, though you may get a mouth swab in some cases.
Other STD tests: It’s recommended that sexually active women get tested for Chlamydia and Gonorrhea annually until age 25. These can be run off your pap or with a separate swab of your cervix. After age 25, it’s still recommended that you get tested regularly for the range of STDs—including hepatitis b and c, syphilis, and the lesser-known trichomoniasis—based on your own risk factors, which you should discuss with your doctor. Of course, it’s also a smart idea to get tested before you have a new sexual partner or if you have any usual symptoms.
Eye exams: The American Optometric Association recommends eye exams at least once every two years, though annual exams are suggested for anyone with current vision problems (if you wear glasses or contacts, that includes you).
Every Other Year Skin cancer screening: Skin cancer is a huge issue for women in their twenties, so see your dermatologist before your biennial appointment if you notice any suspicious marks.
Slightly Less Often HPV test: At age 30, women should start getting an HPV test with their pap every five years. Luckily, it’s relatively quick and painless since the test uses the same cervical swab as your pap.
Colonoscopy: This test should come right around your 50th birthday, unless your family history warrants an earlier screening. If you have a first-degree relative with colon cancer, it’s recommended that you start your screening 10 years before their age at diagnosis. However, anyone after 30 can go for stool occult blood examination as a screening process.
Mammograms: At 40, you’ll want to start scheduling annual mammograms, though your doctor may recommend screening earlier if you have a family history.
Osteoporosis screening: All postmenopausal women with fractures should have a bone density test (DEXA scan).