1. Complete Physical Exam
Many an MD will strongly urge their patients receive one on an annual basis, but there’s no apparent harm in spacing them out by a few years. Physicals are recommended as early as 21 years of age and are used to monitor the overall health of your body and serve as early detection for potential illness. In a physical exam, doctors typically screen for cholesterol, blood sugar, thyroid and vital organ functioning. Detailed exams may include neurological, dermatological, breast and pelvic exams.
2. Pap Test/HPV Exam & Pelvic Exam
Physicians advise women begin receiving annual pap smears as early as 21 or shortly after the dawn of the sex life. If you haven’t had the pleasure, the Pap exam involves removing cells from the cervix by way of a long swab. It may not be the most comfortable experience, but the information your doctor may discover from a pap smear could be lifesaving. These days it’s pretty standard for gynecologists to screen for HPV when the results of a Pap test come back as abnormal – although some experts suggest the 2 tests be given at the same time.
The official word is that most sexually active women are infected with the Human Papilloma Virus at some point in their lives. Concern arises because HPV is the number one cause of cervical cancer, which could be fatal if undiagnosed. Many HPV strains clear the body within 2 years, but once women enter their 30′s, challenges can arise in overcoming the virus, due to an older and weaker immune system. The American Cancer Society suggests getting a Pap test once a year until 30, and once every three years – with an accompanying HPV exam – after receiving 3 consecutive normal pap results. Check this for details.
3. Breast Exam
As early as 18, medical experts recommend women bring breast health into focus. As a matter of fact, many MD’s suggest we perform our own breast exams at home once a month, with an official test conducted by our doctor once a year where they probe for any suspect lumps in the general region.
4. Cholesterol Test
The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute claims that heart disease is the number one killer of women in the U.S.A. In addition, the NHLBI states that it affects Black women at a much higher rate than any other group. If high blood pressure, diabetes or heart disease is part of your family history, it’s a good idea to start cholesterol screening as soon as possible. Medical opinion suggests testing once every 5 years, unless it’s revealed that the levels are too high. In that case, doctors should retest every six months to a year. An additional lipid profile may be used for more “at-risk” patients to help prevent the development of heart disease.
5. STI Exam
When speaking about sexual health, early detection is best, but prevention is obviously best. The CDC says that 19 million new sexually transmitted infections occur every year with half of them affecting 15 to 24-year-olds. Lack of treatment for some of these could result in major health problems, including infertility – or even death. Doctors recommend getting the full work up, including HIV, Gonorrhea and Chlamydia at least once a year –adjusting more or less depending on your individual sexual lifestyle. –Sky Obercam