A timeline of when to visit your OBGYN because no one really tells you this stuff
Everything from HPV vaccines to mammograms
Having a vagina comes with extra responsibility and no manual. Which is why your OBGYN should be one of your best friends.
babe put together a definitive timeline of all the things you should visit your OBGYN for throughout your lifetime, and at all the right ages.
Your first HPV vaccine: 9-26 years old
Human papillomavirus, more commonly known as HPV, is actually a group of over 200 related viruses, with more than 40 of them easily transmittable through sexual contact. The US Center for disease control estimates that 14 million cases of HPV infections happen each year, and that between 80% to 90% of sexually active men and women will contract one type of HPV infection throughout their lifetime.
While most HPVs are treatable, some persist for years, and even others can lead to different types of cancers, such as cervical, anal, vaginal, penile, and cancers of the mouth, throat and tongue.
HPVs are certainly preventable, all thanks to HPV vaccines like Gardasil and Cervarix. These vaccines, two to three doses taken over an eight to twelve month period, are recommended for both girls and boys during their preteen and early teen years. HPV vaccines can be administered started as early as 9 years old.
If you haven’t been vaccinated yet for HPV, have no fear. Women and men can be vaccinated for HPV up until the age of 26.
Your first visit to the OBGYN: 13-15 years old
Not long after you hit puberty, doctors recommend you make your first appointment to see an OBGYN. This can be anywhere between the ages of 13 and 15 years old.
Most women don’t realize how important this initial visit is, and don’t end up visiting their OBGYN until their late teens to early 20s.
Your first Pap smear: 21 years old
Pap smears, also known as Pap tests, are screenings performed by OBGYNs to test for cervical cancer. The procedure involves scraping away cells from the cervix, the opening of the uterus, and testing them for normal growth, an indicator of cancerous cells.
It is recommended that a women gets her first Pap smear at the age of 21.
Your first mammogram: 45 years old
Mammograms are x-rays taken to check women for breast cancer. Doctors recommend that women begin receiving mammograms at 45 years old.
Mammograms can also be performed as early as 40 years old depending on risk factor. If your family has a history of breast cancer, it is better to be tested sooner than later.
When you can stop getting Pap smears: Not anytime soon
Regardless of being menopausal or postmenopausal, you should continue having Pap tests until the ages of 65 or 70. Your OBGYN will determine at what age it is safe for you to discontinue Pap testing based on the results of prior tests.