Twenty-one is an exciting age, we can now go to bars buy and drink alcohol legally and do about anything possible, other than rent a car. With this new mature age comes something that young women need to start thinking about: getting an annual exam.
To most collegiettes getting an annual exam might seem a little intimidating; who wants to let some stranger with cold hands stick funny objects up their lady parts? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Still, it is important to check to make sure that everything is working properly to prevent problems in the future.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), all women should begin having annual exams at 21. Women ages 21 to 29 should also have a Pap test every year (then every other year after that.) A Pap test is a screening process to detect and prevent cervical cancer. Research by ACOG says the majority of women diagnosed with cervical cancer have not had a Pap smear in five or more years.
Aside from cervical cancer, annual exams help to detect and prevent breast cancer by searching for lumps and abnormalities amongst the breasts. The doctor will also help show how you can perform examinations on yourself.
If you haven’t already, an annual exam is somewhere you can get the HPV vaccination. HPV is the Human Papilomavirus, which is the most common sexually transmitted virus in the United States. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine:
“More than 70 different types of HPV exist. Certain types of HPV can lead to precancerous changes in the cervix, cervical cancer, or anal cancer. These are called high-risk types of HPV.
Not all types of HPV cause genital warts. Other types of HPV cause warts on other parts of the skin, such as the hands. This article focuses on warts on the genitals.
HPV infection around the genitals is common. However, most people have no symptoms. In women, HPV can spread to areas inside the walls of the vagina and cervix. They are not easy to see without special procedures.”
Going to the OB/GYN can also help to answer many questions or concerns young women may have about their bodies. The doctor can help to explain whether things like spotting between periods or menstrual cramps are something to be worried about or not. Staying informed with what is happening to your body is a way to keep confident that you’re healthy and doing the right things as well as a way to learn how to better your health.
To schedule an exam you can call MSU’s Olin Health Center Women’s Clinic or talk to your family doctor.