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Biological and psychosocial issues

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Essential medical exams for women in their teens and 20s

 

What women in their teens and 20s need to know?

When you turn 18 or become sexually active, itís time to schedule a pelvic examination and Pap test. Nobody loves going in for these, but remember, neither should be painful, and they could save your life.
During the exam, your doctor will first look at your external genitalia for signs of irritation or disease. Then she (or he) will use a tool called a speculum to separate your vaginal walls.
Next, your doctor will perform a Pap test to check your cervix for abnormal cells that could indicate a precancerous condition. She will scrape cells from your cervix and cervical canal in a quick and painless procedure. (If anything ever hurts during the exam, tell your doctor immediately.)
The Pap test is particularly important to have if you are or have been sexually active: it can help diagnose human papillomavirus (HPV), a common sexually transmitted disease that can cause cervical cancer.
After removing the speculum, your doctor will feel your ovaries, uterus and fallopian tubes to make sure they are healthy.
She may then perform a rectal exam to check for abnormalities in the wall separating the rectum and vagina.
Most doctors recommend a pelvic exam once a year, and it is suggested that a Pap test be performed during your first three pelvic exams. If the results are normal, ask your doctor how often you should schedule future Pap tests.

BP test :
This is as quick and easy as a test gets: your blood pressure should be checked every time you go to the doctor, without your even having to ask. Your blood pressure should be below 140/90. Make sure you are tested annually if you are overweight or have a family history of high blood pressure. It is recommended that everyone have a blood pressure test once every two years.

Skin exam :
Have a doctor examine your skin for irregular moles or skin color. Your doctor may suggest you see a dermatologist if he finds anything suspicious. It is recommended to have the skin exam once every three years between the ages of 20 and 40.

Cholesterol:
High levels of cholesterol increase your risk of heart disease, so find out what your level of cholesterol. It is recommended to have the testing once every five years for people 20 years of age and older. Your primary care doctor will take a blood sample for analysis and may suggest a low-fat diet and exercise if your cholesterol level is too high.

Breast exam :
It is not too soon to be aware of breast cancer. It is recommended that you examine your breasts for unusual lumps or bumps once a month right after your period ends and have your gynecologist examine your breasts every three years once you turn 20. If there is a history of breast cancer in your family, ask your doctor about when to start having mammograms.

Testing for STDs:
Ask your physician about being tested for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) as well as other common sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), such as chlamydia, herpes, gonorrhea and hepatitis B.

Dental exam:
Visit the dentist regularly to have your teeth cleaned and examined for cavities.

 


 
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