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PREVENT

Beyond the Pap test: 10 questions women in their 20s and 30s should ask at their next checkup

Between living a busy life and changing guidelines for how often women in their 20s and 30s should get Pap tests, you may be wondering whether you need an annual visit with your obstetrician-gynecologist (OB/GYN). The answer is yes! Because there is more to an annual exam than a Pap test, we advise that women get annual wellness exams through all stages of life.

Like many OB/GYNs, we often serve as women's primary care providers. At your annual exam we screen you for diseases or problems you might not be aware you have. In addition to a breast exam and pelvic exam, we typically screen patients for high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol, diabetes and depression. Those are conditions that may not exhibit symptoms until they make you very sick. 

During your visit we talk about your social history, including smoking and drinking, and address age-specific topics such as birth control, pregnancy planning and the prevention of sexually transmitted infections. And we still individualize the frequency of a Pap test, depending on your history and risk factors. 

An annual exam is a great opportunity for you to ask questions, too. These 10 questions are especially important for women in their 20s and 30s to ask:

  1. Do I need any vaccinations or booster shots?
  2. How often do I need a Pap test?
  3. Do my weight, diet or behaviors put me at risk for heart disease or diabetes?
  4. How much exercise should I get?
  5. Am I using the right kind of birth control for my needs?
  6. Should I make any changes before getting pregnant, such as taking folic acid supplements or switching a medicine?
  7. Should I be screened for high cholesterol, high blood sugar or high blood pressure?
  8. Do I have any suspicious moles or skin growths?
  9. What vitamins or supplements should I be taking?
  10. Does my family's health history raise any concerns?

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