Below we have outlined the recommended exams and screenings for women of all ages.
Annual Well Woman Exam
It is recommended that all women begin annual gynecological visits at age 21 and continuing throughout adulthood. Your personal and family medical history, your age, and your symptoms, if any, will help your provider determine what tests and screening exams need to be performed.
A pap test is a cervical cancer screening that detects changes in the cells of the cervix that can lead to cancer. In the past, it was recommended that women had a pap test every year. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has recently changed these guidelines. It is now recommended that women have their first pap at age 21. Depending on the result, you may or may not have to have a pap every year.
Our providers always make decisions based on the individual patient, putting your personal health and safety first. Therefore, if your provider recommends more frequent pap tests, please understand he or she would not do so if it wasn’t necessary. Most gynecological cancers can be treated and cured if caught early. LEARN MORE HERE
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Screening
HPV is a very common virus that is spread by sexual contact. About 75% of sexually active people will contract an HPV infection in their lifetime. Many won’t even know because there typically aren’t signs or symptoms. Almost all cervical cancers are caused by HPV. This is why HPV screening has become such an important part of cervical cancer screening in women. The test is performed along with a pap on the same cervical specimen. So no additional exam or biopsy is needed. LEARN MORE HERE
Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Screening
Anyone engaging in sexual contact with another person including vaginal, anal, and oral sex can contract an STD. Your provider will determine your risk based on your sexual history and order appropriate testing. LEARN MORE HERE
A simple x-ray of your breasts that helps to detect breast cancer at an early stage. Unless you have a strong family history of breast cancer, your provider will likely order your first mammogram at the age of forty. Those with a family history of breast cancer will likely undergo mammogram testing at a younger age. Beginning at age 40, it is recommended that all women undergo a mammogram every year. LEARN MORE HERE
Bone Mineral Density Testing
A bone mineral density test measures how much calcium and other minerals are in your bone. This test assists your health care provider in detecting osteoporosis and fracture risk. Because osteoporosis is diagnosed more often in women, we recommend a screening in all women who have gone through menopause and are at least 65 years old. Certain risk factors may lead to recommendation of screening at an earlier age. Some of these risk factors include: cigarette smoking, low body weight (under 127lbs), excessive alcohol use, long term use of certain medications, and various medical conditions.
Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT)
Occult blood in the stool may indicate colon cancer or polyps in the colon or rectum. Typically, occult blood is passed in such small amounts that it can only be detected when combined with the chemicals used in a FOBT. A sample is obtained during a quick and painless rectal exam in your provider’s office. If positive, your provider will refer you to a specialist for further testing. This test is recommended annually for all men and women over the age of 50.
To learn more about these preventative care methods or to set up an appointment with one of our doctors, call us at 815-932-7233 or request an appointment online.