What you need to know about women’s health guidelines
Confused about how often you need a Pap test? Wondering when to start getting mammograms? Our San Antonio OBGYNs know that women’s health guidelines can be baffling, so we want to help clear things up. We also encourage you to ask our team questions to ensure that you understand screening tests and your options.
What happened to annual Pap tests?
You may remember getting a Pap test at every yearly visit to your OBGYN. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, known as ACOG, changed the women’s health guidelines for cervical cancer in 2012 and updated them in 2022.
Here’s what you need to know.
- Younger than age 21? No testing
- Ages 21-29? You should only get a Pap test. Some women ages 25 to 29 can also have human papilloma virus (HPV) testing, but most only need the Pap test.
- Age 30 to 65? You can choose to have a Pap test only every three years, an HPV test only every five years, or both tests every five years.
- Age 65 and older? You don’t need screening if you don’t have a history of cervical changes or problems, and have either three negative Pap tests, two negative HPV tests or two negative co-testing results in a row or within the past 10-year time period. The tests should have occurred within the past three to five years, depending on the type of test.
Okay, you may be thinking, that’s as clear as mud. We get it! Our San Antonio OBGYNs encourage you to discuss your options with us.
The big squeeze is vital to your health
Nobody loves mammograms, right? It can be a bit uncomfortable, but it’s a vital screening test that can keep you healthy. Early detection could save your life. Here are the women’s health guidelines for women with average risk of developing breast cancer. Women at higher risk should discuss screening tests with our physicians.
- Start having mammograms annually at age 40, or no later than age 50, if you haven’t already started screening earlier.
- Age 45 to 54? You should have annual mammograms, with the option of switching to every other year at age 55 and older.
- Continue having mammograms until age 75 or later.
Our San Antonio OBGYNs encourage you to have screening tests
In addition to Pap tests and mammograms, our physicians recommend that you have a bone density scan, or DEXA scan, starting at age 65 to screen for osteoporosis, the disease that causes brittle, weak bones. Screening is crucial for your health and well-being. Contact us to learn more.