Your annual well-woman exam is an essential component of your overall healthcare plan. In addition to a physical exam and other important health screenings, this visit is a time for you and your provider to be proactive about your health.
Rickie Guida, WHNP-BC, and our care team at Alpenglow Gynecology want you to feel prepared when you come in for your next visit. Our team is committed to helping women in Littleton, Colorado, with individualized care and treatment for many gynecological concerns.
We also understand that knowing which questions to ask can be challenging. Our expert team is here to help. Take a look at three important questions you should ask at your next gynecology appointment.
1. How do I know if I need an STD screening?
Every year, over 20 million new cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are reported in the United States. You probably know that if you have any noticeable symptoms of an STD, it’s time to request a screening. But many STDs don’t come with obvious signs.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides recommendations for women of all ages regarding STD screenings:
- Gonorrhea and chlamydia testing: Annual screening for sexually active women under 25 and women over age 25 with new or multiple partners or with a partner(s) who has an STD.
- HIV screening: At least once in your lifetime (between 13-64).
- Annual HIV testing: Any woman who has unsafe sex or shares needles.
- Syphilis, hepatitis B, and early pregnancy HIV: All pregnant women.
It’s important to remember that these recommendations are general suggestions for all women. Your provider understands your sexual health history better than anyone and can give you detailed information about when you should have an STD screening.
2. How often do I need a Pap smear and mammogram?
Pap smears look for changes in the cells of your cervix and can help catch cervical cancer in its early stages. Beginning at age 21, all women should have a preliminary Pap smear.
Whether you get additional screenings annually, every three years, or at a different cadence depends on your results and sexual history. Be sure to discuss what’s right for you with Rickie at your next appointment.
Mammograms remain the best way to catch breast cancer, which affects hundreds of thousands of women every year, as early as possible. But even official health organizations don’t agree on a schedule. Some recommend women begin mammogram screenings at age 50, others at 45, and still more at age 40.
The result? Knowing when to get a mammogram can be confusing! This is why it’s an important question to discuss with your provider at Alpenglow Gynecology. Our team creates a personalized health plan based on your specific needs.
3. When is the right time to be screened for osteoporosis?
Bone density screenings for osteoporosis are non-invasive tests that use X-ray technology to look at the minerals in your bones. The results tell your provider if you have or are at risk of getting this degenerative condition.
Understanding the right time to be screened for osteoporosis involves understanding multiple risk factors, including your family history, health history, and age. Rickie and the team at Alpenglow Gynecology generally recommend bone density tests beginning at 65, but this recommendation may change based on your specific needs.
Have more questions? Get the answers by scheduling an appointment at Alpenglow Gynecology. Call our Littleton, Colorado, office at 303-797-9199 to get started, or book a consultation online at your convenience.