A guide to women’s health in your 20s.
Your 20s can be an exciting, yet challenging period of your life. You’re out of college and on your own for the first time, you’ve got your first 9-5 job, and paying the bills—that’s all on you now. But it’s incredibly important to take charge of your health and fitness routines during this time, as well. The following basic tests and screenings should be performed while you’re young to ensure peak health for years to come.
Pap Smear. This test looks for precancerous cell changes on the cervix, which may become cervical cancer if they’re not treated. This test should be performed every one to three years starting at age 21.
Human Papilloma Virus Test. The HPV test detects the virus that causes the precancerous cells that will become cervical cancer. This test should be performed every five years, beginning at age 21.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases. Chlamydia and gonorrhea are tested with a swab in the cervix, while HIV, syphilis, and hepatitis are tested with a blood sample. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourages HIV testing, at least once, as a routine part of medical care if you’re between the ages of 13 and 64. But if you’re at high risk of infection, it’s recommended that you get tested annually. Testing for chlamydia and gonorrhea should begin at the onset of sexual activity.
Breast Cancer Screening. A breast self exam is best performed in the shower. Use the pads of three fingers to check each breast for lumps. Move your fingers vertically over one breast and then the from the collarbone to below the breast. After you leave the shower check for nipple discharge, puckering of the skin, redness, swelling, and changes in breast size and/or shape. Self exams can be performed lying down in bed as well. If you feel any lumps or changes, call your doctor.
General Health Tests. Your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood sugar levels should be checked on a regular basis.
What are some of your health concerns?