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Health Watch: Four Important Screenings for Women

It’s important that women make their own health a priority by regularly visiting the doctor and getting the appropriate screenings. Getting screened can help catch diseases, infections and ailments that are symptomless, meaning there is no way to know you have them. Also, screenings give women the advantage of early detection, so if a disease is more serious, it can be treated early.

Here’s four important screenings for women with guidelines for frequency. If you’re not sure what tests you should have, ask your doctor, nurse or OB/GYN at your next appointment.

Pap Test

Pap tests are performed by an OB/GYN, typically during an annual check-up. Cells are extracted from the opening of the cervix and are then examined under a microscope to check for cervical cancer. Most medical groups (such as the ACS, American Congress of OB and USPSTF) recommend pap smears begin at age 21 or when a woman becomes sexually active, and should be performed annually or bi-annually. Certain risk factors may mean more frequent testing.

STD Tests

A woman’s need for STD testing depends on age, sexual behaviors and other risk factors. Urine samples, blood tests and genital swabs are the most common ways to test for sexually transmitted diseases. Women under the age of 25 who are sexually active should have annual testing. Women over the age of 25 should be tested if they’re having sex with multiple partners or if their partner changes.


Mammograms are performed by taking an image of the breast tissue to help determine if there are any abnormalities, especially those that could lead to breast cancer. Women over 40 should be tested annually; however, those at high risk of breast cancer can be tested at any age.

Bone Mineral Density Test

Women are at increased risk of bone density loss, osteoporosis and reduced calcium, making it easier to break bones and sustain serious injuries. Bone density tests help women determine if they’re at risk of osteoporosis by measuring how much calcium and other types of minerals are in a certain area of the bone. The test is performed through a DEXA (dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry) scan, which uses x-rays to examine your bones. Women over the age of 65 or those at risk of osteoporosis should have a bone mineral density scan.

Get your health screenings

Depending on your age and risk factors, you may need one or a few of these tests. If you’ve been putting off visiting the doctor or scheduling your screenings, it’s time to make your health a priority and schedule an appointment today.

The Women’s Health Center at Columbia Memorial Health has many skilled obstetricians, gynecologists, doctors and nurses ready to deliver the highest quality care. We offer discreet, state of the art screenings, diagnostics and imaging at our two convenient care centers. Use our Find A Doc tool to find the physician that’s right for you.

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