Asking your doctor the right questions about your health can be tricky. It’s not always obvious what signs and checkpoints you should be aware of at your age. That’s why we pulled together a list of important questions to think about before your next doctors’ visit based on your age!
Q – What birth control method is right for me?
There are various forms of birth control on the market today. Although the expansion of options is great for women, it can also make it difficult to determine which method is right for you specifically. If you choose to go on birth control in your 20s, start by speaking with your physician about the different forms and evaluate which type is best suited for you.
Some common options include barrier methods, hormonal medications, and intrauterine devices. Barrier methods come in the form of male and female condoms, diaphragms, and cervical caps. Hormonal medications, on the other hand, use synthetic hormones to regulate your hormone levels, while also protecting you from pregnancy. The most common form is through birth control pills. Other forms include vaginal rings, implants, patches, or injections. Lastly, intrauterine devices, or IUDs, are inserted into the uterus to prevent egg implantation. For more information on the methods listed above, visit here.
Q – Am I at risk for Endometriosis or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)?
Signs of Endometriosis and PCOS typically begin to appear in your 20s. While it’s true that both of these have similar symptoms, they are two separate conditions entirely. In some cases, women can actually have both conditions simultaneously. Tell-tale signs of Endometriosis may include intensely painful periods, pain during sex or when going to the bathroom, and fertility troubles. As for PCOS, signs are typically comprised of the following: irregular periods, unexplained weight gain, hair growth in unexpected places, acne, and fertility troubles.
Although these conditions may sound scary, it’s incredibly important that you address these concerns with your doctor. After all, they’re the only ones who can properly diagnose you and provide you with effective treatment solutions. For instance, to help regulate your period and alleviate pain, your doctor will likely recommend that you go on hormonal birth control to start. As for the other symptoms, they may prescribe other medications or therapies to control those.
Q – How’s my fertility?
After the age of 35, you may find it more difficult to conceive. That’s why it’s crucial to discuss your family plans with your gynecologist now before it’s too late. Whether you plan to have children or not, it’s critical for you to assess your fertility status and your available treatment options. If you’re not sure where to start, here’s what you can do:
Start by going to your regular gynecologist to start the conversation and get some testing done. Your doctor will then be able to give you an idea of what your chances of conceiving are and recommend options to help. If you’d prefer a little more privacy, consider taking an at-home fertility test instead. Also, it’s always a good idea to get multiple opinions as this will give you more insights on what solution is the best fit for you. From there, you can visit fertility clinics, which are specifically designed to assist those who want to become parents but are unable to achieve so naturally, with fertility tests for males, as well as women.
Q – Do I need to be screened for cancer?
Since many cancers can begin appearing in your 30s, it’s essential to ask your doctor about any screenings you may need. Oftentimes, they will determine which ones you need based on your family’s medical history. Certain cancers are hereditary, which is why it’s imperative to get screenings early on if they run in your family.
A few common screenings include pap smears, colonoscopies, mammograms, blood tests, skin exams, and ultrasounds. Although this can be nerve-wracking, being proactive will ensure that you catch any potential signs early on. Be sure to speak with your doctor about any concerns for certain cancers and schedule regular appointments as needed for screenings.
Q – When do I get my mammogram?
Mammograms normally take place every two to three years as long as there is no cause for concern. In some cases, your doctor may advise you to get these done annually. If you’re not sure what to expect at your first mammogram, don’t fret. It’s a very simple screening where your doctor will position your breasts in between two imaging plates. The exam should only take roughly ten minutes and then you’re done!
Most baseline mammograms begin some time in your 50s, however, your doctor may suggest that you begin getting these done even earlier depending on your family medical history. If you have a history of breast cancer in your family or have dense breast tissue, you’ll likely start your mammograms in your 40s. Typically, your gynecologist can perform a mammogram screening for you at one of your regular exams.
Q – How are my hormone levels?
Your hormones play a huge role in various aspects of your health, particularly estrogen and progesterone. As you age, it’s normal for your estrogen levels to decrease. This is why women begin to develop signs of menopause in their 50s or 60s. It’s important to assess your estrogen levels in your 40s to determine whether or not you’re perimenopausal (the period before menopause).
The transition into menopause takes several years and as you become perimenopausal, your estrogen levels will slowly drop. Once your body is no longer releasing eggs, that’s when you know you’ve officially hit the menopause stage. During this time, you may experience some menopause-like symptoms, such as hot flashes, breast tenderness, worsened PMS, fatigue, and discomfort during sex. Be sure to check in with your doctor in your 40s to assess your menopausal transition and find solutions for any uncomfortable symptoms.