Nearly every woman knows that the yearly trip to your gynecologist entails a few regular screenings — a breast exam, a PAP test and a pelvic exam. If you’re not already getting these annual checkups, now is the time to start. From the time a woman is sexually active, or no later than age 16, it is advised that she visit her doctor at least once a year for these basic screenings. However, there are several other tests that some women are not even aware they should be getting.
Every time you have unprotected sex with a new partner, or even return to an old one who may have been intimate with other people since you, the National Women’s Health Information Center recommends you get an STD test that includes HIV. The best way to do this is with a blood test at your doctor’s office because there are several STIs that may not show up in other tests. Of particular importance to women under 25 is a chlamydia screening, which is the most common bacterial STI and often goes undetected because of a lack of symptoms.
For women with a history of certain cancers — breast, endometrial and ovarian — it is important to discuss with your doctor whether certain screenings should be done at a younger age or with more frequency.
Beyond the obvious physical health issues that can arise, it is important to also pay attention to your mental health. The National Women’s Health Information Center advises all women who have recently given birth to undergo an evaluation for postpartum depression. Also, a study conducted in 2000 revealed that women suffer from anxiety disorders two to three times more frequently than men, which can include eating disorders and PTSD.
Just as it is imperative that women take care of their physical well-being, women must also pay attention to their mental well-being. Seeing a professional if you are concerned about your mental health is as important as going to the doctor for a broken arm, so make sure you are diligent about all aspects of your health.
These are just a handful of the screenings, tests and exams women should be aware of when they see their doctors each year.