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Feel Good and Look Good: Health Screening for Ages 18 to 39

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Feeling and looking good is important for women of all ages. Starting in our late teens and as we age, there is a recommended regimen that heightens awareness of our health and well being. Different health screenings and immunizations are outlined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as guidelines for health care particular to women.

These government guidelines may vary with each woman and her doctor’s recommendation for screening and any necessary treatment. For example, an annual physical exam including height and weight monitoring is not a guideline but it is common practice among women and their healthcare provider.

Reproductive health is of particular importance to this age group (18 to 39). Starting at age 21 it is recommended that a woman have a pelvic exam. This exam should include a pap test and other tests for chlamydia or other sexually transmitted infections. The chlamydia test is recommended until age 25 if sexually active and if there are multiple partners, age 26 and older. Along with a discussion with the physician, women younger than 21 who are sexually active should also get exams and testing.

For women over 30, it is recommended that there be a pap test every 3 years although many physicians will recommend this as a part of the annual exam. An HIV test should be done at least once to find out HIV status followed by a discussion with the healthcare provider to determine the need for follow up or periodic testing.

Vaccinations are routine for women up to this point, as they received inoculations in their pediatric regimen. HPV (human papillomavirus vaccine) should be continued up to age 26 if the complete vaccine series has not already been administered. Other vaccines like meningococcal vaccine, herpes zoster vaccine (to prevent shingles) and influenza vaccine are not within the routine guidelines for women aged 18 to 39 but may be administered depending upon lifestyle and risk of exposure. Everyone should be current with tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis booster vaccine which is every 10 years.

Routine dental hygiene including cleaning is recommended for all age groups.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.