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Exams women need in their 30s

While the changes are subtle, women in their 30s may notice a difference in their bodies compared to when they were in their 20s. Stacey Lindo, M.D., an obstetrician and gynecologist at Piedmont Newnan Hospital, women celebrating their 30th birthday and beyond need to be aware of their diet, fitness, fertility and illness prevention.

  • Diet and fitness.  “As women move from their 20s to their 30s, they should watch what they are eating and exercise at least three days a week,” says Dr. Lindo. She says many of her 30-something patients express concerns about weight gain, which she attributes to a slowing metabolism. A healthy diet, coupled with cardiovascular exercise and strength training, can help prevent the pounds from creeping up.
  • Fertility. Fertility issues are another concern. “Most women in their 20s and teens are on birth control,” she says. However, once they reach their 30s, some begin thinking about family planning and may have difficulty getting pregnant right away. If you are having trouble getting pregnant, see your doctor, says Dr. Lindo. “We can figure out a plan for you,” she says. Most birth control should be out of your system within three months after you stop using it, depending on which method you used. “If you had long-term birth control, it may be in your system longer, but usually once you stop using birth control, you want to be aware that you could get pregnant within the next month,” she says.
  • STD screenings and other tests. Women in their 30s should still be tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) if they are not in a monogamous relationship. “Universally, we don’t test for STDs unless we talk with a patient and find they have risk factors for having a sexually transmitted infection,” says Dr. Lindo. Dr. Lindo tests all patients over 30 for human papillomavirus (HPV) in their Pap tests. If both the Pap smear and HPV test have negative results, women may be able to go three years, rather than one, between Pap tests. However, even if you only require a Pap test every three years, Dr. Lindo stresses the importance of seeing your primary care physician and gynecologist on an annual basis for both a physical and gynecologic exam. Your primary care physician will check your cholesterol, blood glucose and blood pressure, and review your overall health.
  • Breast health. Your physician should give you a clinical breast exam during your annual visit, but you should also give yourself a breast exam every month after your period. If you notice even a slight change, such as a lump or mass, talk to your doctor. Breast cancer is highly treatable when detected in early stages.
  • Prevention.“In your 30s, prevention is the key,” says Dr. Lindo. “You’ve come from your 20s and now things are changing. You want to make sure you are getting your preventative exams: Have your eyes checked, go to your dental exams and get your flu shot every year.” To find a physician near you, click here.

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