It’s Summer, which means you may have some much needed time off. Between vacations, spending time outside, visiting friends and family (just to name a few), your schedule may be packed with plans. In addition to your busy Summer plans, this is also a great time to think about your vaginal health and the next appointment with your doctor. It’s always good to prepare and address any problems, concerns, or questions you may have, especially when you have the time to get those visits scheduled.
Here are some things to think about when you schedule that next doctor visit.
When Was the Last Time You Had a Pap Smear?
You should start having Pap smears at age 21, regardless of when you first start having sex. Women who are 21 to 29 should have a Pap test alone every 3 years. HPV testing alone can be considered for those who are 25 to 29, but Pap tests are preferred. Women who are 30 to 65 have three options for testing. They can have a Pap test and an HPV test (co-testing) every 5 years, they can have a Pap test alone every 3 years, or they can have HPV testing alone every 5 years.
Get Tested for Sexually Transmitted Infections or STIs
This usually includes gonorrhea, chlamydia, hepatitis B, HIV, and syphilis. This does not include herpes testing so this is something you will have to ask for. Whether you have a new partner or just want to know your status, this is a great time to get tested. Keep in mind not all will have symptoms if they are exposed to an STI.
Talk to Your Doctor About Any Problems Involving Your Sexual Health
I often hear people say that they are embarrassed or ashamed to talk about their bodies. I cannot stress this enough but we have probably heard about it, seen it, or experienced it ourselves. Do NOT be embarrassed.
Birth control is not used just to prevent pregnancy. There are many reasons why someone may want to use contraception and it may take some trial and error to figure out what is best for you. Think about why you want to use some form of contraception, and consider convenience, cost, and effectiveness. I've included a link to possible choices here, that way you can narrow down your options and discuss them with your doctor.
Dr. Jodie Horton