It’s so easy to keep up on your child’s medical screenings, tests and procedures, but it’s a completely different thing to actually keep track of your own health. I want to go over with you the medical screenings and procedures you should do in your 20s. It’s a good idea to make sure you’re up to date on all of the medical tests and procedures you should be having when you’re in your twenties. If anything it gives you a baseline of how your body looks while you’re young. No one likes to go to the doctor but it’s a necessary task. Your 20s is a time to set yourself up for the rest of your life with your medical history.
8 Medical Tests Women in their 20s Need
Some of the screenings you’ll be reading about have already been referenced in my article, 10 Medical Tests Women Should Have in Their Thirties, for the complete descriptions.
Doctors say that women in their 20s should have their cholesterol tested once every four to six years. If you have a family history of high cholesterol you may want to check with your primary care physician on the frequency of check ups. If your cholesterol comes back within normal, healthy range you won’t need to be reassessed for another five years.
Whenever you visit your primary care physician for a check up you will have your blood pressure taken. This measures the rate your heart can push blood into your body. The top number (systolic number) is the highest pressure when your heart beats and pushes the blood round your body. The bottom number (diastolic number) the lowest pressure when your heart relaxes between beats. If the top number is greater than 140 or the bottom number is greater than 90 you will most likely need to schedule an appointment with your physician if you haven’t already.
Pelvic Exam and Pap
The procedure itself takes about 10 minutes and it’s mildly uncomfortable but it lessens your chances of cervical cancer or infertility simply by checking. Women who are not sexually active must have a pelvic exam and pap by age 21, if the tests come back healthy, your doctor will tell you to come back in three years. If you are sexually active it’s important that you have an annual pelvic exam and pap as well as an STI screening.
During the pelvic exam visit your doctor will do a breast exam to see if there are abnormal lumps or anything that you are concerned about. If you have a close family member who has had breast cancer your doctor may discuss with you genetic testing to see if you carry one of the genes that’s linked to breast cancer. The screening is called BRCA and again it tests for dangerous types of breast cancer that are linked to certain genes (BRCA1 or BRCA 2).
if you were a sun or tanning bed worshiper like many of us were in the 90’s there’s a chance you could find yourself with skin cancer. There are ways to do a self exam but if you have a family history of skin cancer or notice anything that looks out of the ordinary on your skin (a mole that’s changing colors or size, or a sore that’s not healing) you should speak with your dermatologist. Here’s a link to show you how to do a self exam for your skin.
Dentists recommend that an adult woman be seen two times a year for X-rays and cleaning. Most insurances consider this to be preventative care and are willing to cover the cost, however, it can be quite spendy so check with your insurance first.
If you wear glasses or contacts it goes without saying that you will most likely need to have your eyesight checked every other year. If you do not have vision problems, you won’t need to see the eye doctor, however, if you have questions be certain to reach out to an optometrist near you.
How often should women in their 20s get a health check up?
Duke Health recommends that women who are healthy, have no disease risk factors (including obesity and family medical history, and do not take prescription drugs, go in for their check-up every two to three years. All women should have had a Pap smear by the age of 21, if she is not sexually active and depending on the results of the cervical screening, you may not need to go in for another exam for two or three. If you are sexually active you’ll need to discuss with your physician how often you should be seen.
Staying up to date on your health
I’ve created a handy checklist for you to use to keep track of the screenings you have done as well as the ones that you still need to do. Remember, many of the tests that are recommended in your 20s is to create a baseline result so that should you experience problems later on in life your physician will have the ability to see your medical history from when you were younger and presumably healthy. To print the checklist below simply click here and download.
Have you had any of these screenings done? If you haven’t, ask yourself why and contact your physician to schedule an appointment.
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