When was the last time you visited your gynecologist? You may not realize it, but regular gynecological checkups are an important part of your health care, no matter where you are in life. Below, the team of doctors and nurses at All Wellness Medical Center in Bullhead City, AZ, offer advice on how to be proactive about your health at every age.
In Your Teens & 20s
Many young women schedule their first visit to the gynecologist’s office when they’re still in their teens. The HPV vaccine is recommended for women under the age of 26, and most begin receiving the three-dose vaccination during adolescence. The newest guidelines from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that when it comes to pap smears, a woman should have her first by the age of 21. If the results come back normal, the test can be repeated every three years.
This is often a time in life when women figure out which birth control method they prefer. They can also learn about taking care of their sexual health by having STD screenings if needed, and discussing safe-sex practices with their doctor. It’s also a good time to talk about their menstrual health, so that conditions like endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, or premenstrual dysphoric disorder can be diagnosed and treated.
In Your 30s
It’s important to keep up with your preventative care appointments throughout your 30s. If you’re thinking about starting a family, this is the time to talk to your gynecologist about fertility. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that even if women aren’t looking to become pregnant, they should still keep up with their annual examinations. These appointments are an opportunity for women to discuss family medical history, lifestyle, work-related activities, and social relationships with their doctor.
In Your 40s
At this time of life, many women are thinking about “the change,” otherwise known as menopause. While they may still be having periods, those cycles might become more irregular. Your gynecologist will probably advise you to continue doing breast exams on your own, as the recommendation for your first mammogram is still a few years away when you are in your 40s, unless you have a family history of reproductive cancers, in which case they might start earlier.
In Your 50s & Beyond
As women enter menopause and the years beyond, they may find that hormone replacement therapy is needed to cope with symptoms. Menopausal women can experience hot flashes, sexual discomfort, weight change, and even depression or anxiety as a result of hormonal shifts. This is also a time when your doctor might start recommending more screenings, such as a mammogram or bone density tests.
Regular preventative care is a lifelong commitment to health, and should include regular breast exams, an annual examination, and pap smears, as recommended by your gynecologist. The doctors at All Wellness Medical Center will help you determine your health care needs at all stages of life. To make an appointment, call (928) 704-4499 or visit their website to learn more.
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