How to Stay on Top of Your Reproductive Health
Happy National Women’s Health Week! We believe healthy women are empowered women who can change the world. Plenty will be said this week about what you can do to protect your overall health.
But since we’re kind of fans of periods and reproductive health here at Dot, we’re going to drill down into how to make sure your reproductive organs are in the best shape possible.
Here’s what you need to know to keep all your lady parts in good working order:
Tests for a Healthy Reproductive System
The best preventative measures are actually some of the most simple. Basic screenings with your gynecologist or general practitioner can catch cancer and other diseases early on.
How can I prevent breast cancer?
A clinical breast exam is a simple, non-invasive exam. In this exam your doctor will check your breasts for any lumps, discharge, or abnormal skin appearances. The goal? To detect breast cancer before it becomes a problem.
Beyond a clinical breast exam, mammograms are also important screenings to do regularly past a certain age. They can detect cancer even before you experience any symptoms. Early detection means early treatment that’s more effective.
How can I prevent cervical cancer?
Another standard test is the Pap smear. Your doctor will use a speculum to open your vagina and then will collect a small sample of cells from your cervix to send to a lab. An added bonus, the doctor can also check for the HPV virus during this test. Though a little uncomfortable, this simple procedure can detect cervical cancer early on.
How can I check for sexual infections?
If you’re concerned about the possibility of an STI, contact your doctor. STI screening is fast, simple, and private. Depending on the clinic or your insurance coverage, screening may also be free.
Here’s how simple they generally are. Genital Herpes without symptoms, Syphillis, and HIV can be detected through blood tests. Most other STI symptoms only require a quick swab of the genital area.
When it comes to STIs, early detection is best, so if you or your partner have any symptoms, check with your doctor right away.
Testing by Age
Keeping up with reproductive health screenings throughout each decade of your life will help keep you functioning properly and help catch early signs and symptoms of disease.
If you’re in this age group, this is the time to really get on top of your reproductive health. Here are several things you should be doing.
Track your menstrual cycle. Knowing how your body works will give you insight into fertility or hormonal issues that pop up down the road.
You should have your first Pap smear and clinical breast screening. Start scheduling these every three years so you and your doctor can spot any cancer concerns or reproductive problems.
As a sexually active adult, this is also a very important time to stay alert to any STIs. It’s as simple as asking your doctor to check for any STIs at routine appointments if you have any reason for concern.
Keep doing what you were doing in your 20s. But at this point you can start scheduling appointments for every five years. This is also the time to start adding the HPV swab to your Pap smear.
In addition to the regular Pap smears and clinical breast screenings, you should start scheduling annual Mammograms. Mammograms at this age can help catch cancer before it spreads.
By the time you’re in your 50s you shouldn’t need to change much to your screening routine. However, in your mid-50s mammograms can become a biannual event.
Once you’ve started a routine, your doctor’s office can help remind you and keep you current with your appointments and screenings.
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Rodriguez, Diana. "10 Health Screenings All Women Should Have." Everyday Health(blog), November 10, 2017. Accessed May 10, 2018. https://www.everydayhealth.com/womens-health/10-screenings-all-women-should-have.aspx.
"Screening Tests for Women." Harvard(blog). Accessed May 10, 2018. https://www.health.harvard.edu/topics/screening-tests-for-women.
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Weatherspoon, Deborah. "Mammography." Healthline(blog), January 11, 2016. Accessed May 10, 2018. https://www.healthline.com/health/mammography.
Weber, Michael. "Pap Smear (Pap Test): What to Expect." Healthline(blog), March 13, 2017. Accessed May 10, 2018. https://www.healthline.com/health/pap-smear.
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