Exams and tests can be the foundation for good health. It’s well known that those who detect conditions and diseases early have a better opportunity to both manage and survive various conditions. Some women, however, avoid regular check-ups out of fear or misunderstandings around what doctors are looking for. Here’s a summary of some of the most important tests for women.
Screening frequency depends on your medical history and test results
- Pap test for women starting at age 21, which for women under 30, may be followed by an HPV test if results are abnormal (HPV—Human Papillomavirus— is the primary cause of cervical cancer.)
- Pap test along with an HPV test for women age 30 and older, to look for abnormal cells (Pap test) as well as detect the virus that can cause cervical cancer (HPV) to identify women at risk and put monitoring and follow-up in place before cervical disease or cancer can develop. If you are age 30 and older, be sure to ask your doctor for an HPV test together with your Pap. To find out if your doctor uses the Pap + HPV testing as his/her standard for cervical cancer screening, check the Qiagen Clinician Finder. If you don’t see your provider on the list, it’s a good idea to call the office before your annual appointment to request the HPV test along with your Pap. Or you can remind him or her when you go in for your appointment.
General pelvic exam and STD screen
- Feel for unusual lumps or masses; check lymph nodes
- Screen for common STDs such as chlamydia and gonorrhea
Lifestyle and Diet
- Discuss diet and exercise
- Ask questions to screen for depression, substance abuse or possible domestic violence
Check for lumps or masses
- Monthly self-exam, best performed starting at age 20, 5-7 days after the end of a menstrual cycle.
- Menopausal women—monthly self-exam at a consistent time each month
- Yearly exam by a health professional
- Mammogram every 1-2 years in your 40s and every year beginning at age 50