How often should a woman in her 20s be doing a full medical check-up? And what are the major tests she should do?

Women in their 20s are usually healthy so there is not a lot that they need to do for ‘preventative maintenance’. At a routine well-woman exam, her doctor will screen for diseases, assess risk for future problems, discuss lifestyle habits and make sure vaccinations are up to date. This should be a yearly visit.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, starting at age 21, a woman should have a routine Pap smear to screen for cervical cancer. This can be done every three years depending on a woman’s risk factors for cervical cancer. Also recommended is screening for sexually transmitted diseases.

A well-woman exam also includes a clinical breast exam and it is a great time to have your doctor teach you how to perform a self breast exam. You should perform a self breast exams on yourself monthly about a week after your period ends. If you do the exam before or during your period you breasts may feel more lumpy-bumpy and make you confused about the exam.

If you are at increased risk for coronary heart disease (CHD) you should have your cholesterol checked starting at age 20 and then every 5 years. Risk factors include diabetes, smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, and personal/family history of CHD.

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Women in their 20s should have an annual influenza (flu) vaccine. As many women in Dubai are frequent travellers, they run the risk of encountering the flu in their travels as well as here in the UAE. The flu vaccine changes formulations each year to adjust for the most common types of flu for a given year and hence must be given yearly. The other major vaccine a woman in her 20s should consider is the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine if she did not get it as a teenager. The HPV vaccine protects against cervical cancer, laryngeal cancer and genital warts. All women who are sexually active are at risk of getting cervical cancer as HPV causes cervical cancer and is sexually transmitted.

Dr Jennifer Kasirsky is consultant obstetrician and genaecologist at Mediclinic Parkview Hospital. Got a problem? Our fantastic panel of renowned experts is available to answer all your questions related to fashion, well-being, nutrition, finance and hypnotherapy. Email your queries to friday@gulfnews.com.