You eat right and exercise, and you feel fine. Do you really need to see your doctor for regular check-ups?
One of the best ways to make sure you stay well is to take advantage of preventive care and screenings.
So, which tests should you get? Here are the screenings Carilion Clinic Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends for women:
- Blood pressure: 18 to 40 – Have your blood pressure checked every three to five years if normal and no other risk factors, and annually after age 40.
- Cervical cancer: 21 and older – Screening with a pap smear—or an HPV test—should occur every 3-5 years depending on your age and history. Talk to your provider to decide on the best test for you.
Gonorrhea, chlamydia and HIV: 24 or younger – If you are sexually active, get tested annually for these sexually transmitted infections.
- Thyroid conditions: If you are pregnant or want to become pregnant and have risk factors, screening is recommended. Non-pregnant, asymptomatic women should talk with their primary care provider about when and whether to be screened.
- Breast cancer: 40 and older – Get screened every one to two years. Discuss your breast cancer risk with your doctor to see how often you need a mammogram.
- Cholesterol: 45 and older – Everyone should be screened. Based on your risk factors you may need to start testing earlier, discuss how often you should get tested with your doctor.
- Diabetes: 40 and older – Patients who are overweight should be screened. Based on your risk factors you may need to start testing earlier, discuss how often you should get tested with your doctor.
- Colorectal cancer: 40 and older – Ask which test is best for you and how often you need it.
- Bone mineral density: 65 and older – Have this test at least once. Discuss your risk of osteoporosis with your doctor to see if you need further screening or if you need to start screening earlier.
And of course, you should be getting a flu shot every year, and if you are not yet fully vaccinated against COVID-19, get your free vaccine as soon as possible to protect yourself, your loved ones and our community.
Your particular risk factors will affect how often you should get certain tests. Even if you think you’re healthy, you should get regular check-ups to screen for potential issues. Some conditions, like cervical cancer, can progress without symptoms.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions. That’s what doctors are for. Sometimes, just talking to your doctor can help you avoid or minimize illness. It’s all about optimizing your health.
These guidelines were reviewed May 4, 2021 by Eduardo Lara-Torre, M.D., Section Chief, Carilion Clinic Obstetrics and Gynecology.