WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) How about a “back to school” checkup? Ok, so you left school ages ago, that doesn’t mean you should put off that end of summer physical of years past. Infact, there are a number of checkups women should schedule before the end of year or prepare to make for 2017.
Conflicting or controversial health guidelines can keep you from getting the care you really need, or send you rushing around for tests that you could do without. So what medical screening tests do you actually need?
These days, more and more health organizations are nodding to the fact that (uh, hello!) we are all unique and many medical decisions need to be made individually. Having the kinds of intricate conversations with your doctor that can tease out your personal risk factors for various health concerns, however, can be tricky when you’re rushing through all your questions in a 15-minute appointment slot.
So, to help take at least some of the guesswork out of it, here are the big screenings you need, and how often to get ’em, as decided by the US Preventive Services Task Force, an independent panel of experts that evaluates the scientific evidence for various health screenings and services.
1. Cervical cancer screening
What it is: Your old “friend,” the Pap test, and a similar swab that tests for human pappilomavirus, or HPV.
Who should get it: Women ages 21 to 65.
How often: Every three years, or every five years if you’re between the ages of 30 and 65 and get the HPV swab and the Pap together. The good news? You probably don’t need the physical pelvic exam anymore.
Why it’s so important: Both tests look for changes in cells that could indicate a need for further testing, like a biopsy, says Tasneem Bhatia, a board-certified physician who specializes in integrative medicine. If it is cervical cancer, you want to catch it early, she says.