Women's wellness

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Women's wellness

When was the last time you put off a preventive screening? Don't use the phrase “I'm too busy” as an excuse for neglecting your own health.

Schedule a well woman exam and other preventive screenings to make sure you're staying healthy for you and your family. Preventive care is often fully covered by insurance.

What exams do you need?

Well woman exam: This annual exam checks your reproductive health.

What to expect:

  • General physical exam, including a breast exam.
  • Pelvic exam, including a Pap smear.
  • Review of your health history.
  • Update of current medications and/or refills.
  • Evaluation for additional health screening tests such as mammogram, tests for sexually transmitted diseases, and colon cancer screening.
  • Update on immunizations.

Pap test: More than 12,000 women in the U.S. get cervical cancer every year. As much as 93 percent of cervical cancer could be prevented with proper screening and a human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccination. The best way to find cervical cancer early is to have regular screening with a Pap test, which can be combined with an HPV test. Cervical cancer is often caused by infection with HPV.

Take the following steps to find cervical cancer in pre-cancer or early cancer stages:

  • Begin cervical cancer screening at age 21. Women 21 to 29 should have a Pap test every three years if results are normal. If abnormal, more testing may be advised. HPV testing should not be used for screening in this age group, but may be used as a part of follow-up for an abnormal Pap test.
  • Get a Pap test combined with an HPV test every five years beginning at age 30 and continuing until age 65.
  • Be screened more often if you have a high risk of cervical cancer because of a suppressed immune system, or because you were exposed to diethylstilbestrol in utero.
  • Stop Pap or HPV screening if you've had a total hysterectomy unless it was done to treat cervical pre-cancer or cancer. If your cervix was retained, continue cervical cancer screening according to the above guidelines.
  • Follow the above guidelines even if you've been vaccinated against HPV.

Mammogram: Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in American women, other than skin cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Your risk for developing breast cancer grows as you get older. The sooner you detect breast cancer through breast cancer screening, the better your chances of survival.

What other screenings should I consider?

  • BRCA risk assessment: Consider this genetic test if you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer. Genetic counseling should also be considered if your BRCA test is positive.
  • Osteoporosis screening: For women 65 and older or younger women at high risk.
  • Sexually transmitted disease screening: For women at high risk of developing chlamydia, gonorrhea or syphilis.
  • Colonoscopy: A colorectal cancer test is a must starting at age 50, but you may need the screening earlier if you have a family history of colorectal cancer.

Where can I get these tests?

All HonorHealth Medical Group primary care locations offer well woman exams and many of the above screenings. More than 30 primary care locations are conveniently located around the valley.

For more advanced screenings, consult with your primary care physician to determine your best plan of action.

If you have new health concerns beyond your routine exam, you may want to schedule an additional appointment to discuss with your family doctor.