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When Should Women See a Doctor?

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Not sure if you need a well-woman screening or test? Start a dialogue with our doctors to find out what recommendations may be right for you!

As preventative medicine and medical care advances, and as screening tests become more high-tech, guidelines on recommendations for women’s wellness is changing at a head-turning pace. It can be difficult for many women these days to know when they are due for screenings at various stages throughout their lives.

Only 25% of women consider themselves very informed on what they should do to stay on top of their health.

Recent changes to mammography and pap smear guidelines leave even doctors confused at times, so it’s important to be sure that you’re getting the right advice and staying up-to-date on all of your screening exams yourself.

Skipping annual visits

Recent polls show that 1 in 5 adult women don’t have a personal doctor (or Primary Care Provider-PCP) that they can rely on to keep track of their wellness screenings. Among those that do have a PCP, 1 in 4 of those women had recently delayed or gone without necessary care in the last 12 months. Many women are missing out on these sometimes life-saving screenings that can help aide with early-detection and treatment.

Reasons for irregular check-ups vary, with many women citing their lack of time as the most important factor in foregoing medical care. Many other women struggle with an inability to take off work, or find safe and reliable childcare. Additionally, like many other Americans today, some women cited cost concerns as another barrier to getting the treatment they needed.

Women's Health Graphic


Preventative screening recommendations continue to change

Confounding the logistical hassle of getting to a doctor, screening guidance have evolved in recent years -only 25% of women consider themselves very informed on what they should do to stay on top of their health. In 2012, the American Cancer Society no longer recommended that all women undergo annual pap smear screening for cervical cancer. Studies show that it takes most cervical cancers 10 to 20 years to develop, and screening annually was often leading to unnecessary, costly, and sometimes traumatic procedures for many women. Current recommendations now vary based on a woman’s personal history and prior pap smear results, and may now be spaced anywhere from 1-5 years.

In the fall of 2015, breast cancer screening recommendations updated both the required age groups and the frequency of exams.

This has caused mass confusion both for providers, and for patients themselves. Not to mention, looking at the history of changes for screenings, it’s easy to see how the details can overwhelm consumers.

So.. what are the current Breast Cancer screening recommendations?

According to the US Preventive Services Task Force, women between the ages of 50 and 74 should plan for a mammographic breast exam every 2 years, unless they have specific risk-factors. For women between 40 and 49, screenings every two years are at the discretion of the patient and her provider, based on family history and their personal risk. Current recommendations for breast cancer, cervical cancer, and more can be found here. Remember that many women do not fall into the “average” category, and it’s always best to discuss your personal history and case with a physician before planning for any screening testing.

What Can I Do to Learn What I Need?

Want to know more about what screenings you might need and when?  First Opinion is here to help. Our doctors can help manage symptoms, order tests and screenings, or help you keep your chronic conditions under control, thereby reducing your risk for other diseases. Chat with us 24/7!

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