Young Adults, 18 to 39
According to MedLine, women should undergo at least one physical examinations every two years. If the patient is considered at-risk for diabetes, heart disease, or other conditions that require more care, then she will likely need to visit the doctor much more frequently. Women between the ages of 20 and 39 should address the following concerns with their physician.
- Breast exam: Beginning at age 20, women should receive a full breast exam (also known as a mammogram) from their physician every three years. Additionally, women should perform a ‘self-exam’ of each breast on a monthly basis, and immediately contact their primary physician if they detect any sort of lump or other irregularity.
- Pelvic exam and Pap smear: Pelvic exams and Pap smears help detect signs of cervical cancer, certain STDS and STIs, and other health problems related to the female reproductive system. Women should receive their first pelvic screening from an OB-GYN within three years of their first experience with vaginal intercourse, or by the age of 21. Following the initial screening, female patients should receive a full pelvic screening and Pap smear every two years; women who are over the age of 30 (or those who receive three negative tests in a row) may be able to only receive a Pap smear every three to five years. Women can also discuss birth control methods during these appointments.
- STDs: Women who are sexually active should receive an annual screening for chlamydia until the age of 24; screenings after that age are recommended, but patients might be able to receive them less frequently. Sexually active females should also consider being tested for gonorrhea, HIV, and other STDs at least once per year. Women in their 20s who have not received the HPV vaccine are encouraged to do so prior to their 27th birthday (there is currently no HPV immunization available for women over the age of 26).
- Pregnancy and family planning: Women experience the highest levels of fertility between the ages of 18 and 35 ― general practice physicians or nurse practitioners can provide women in this age group with one of three primary forms of birth control: progestin or combination oral contraceptives, IUDs or vaginal rings. Female patients who are considering pregnancy should use their GP or OB-GYN as the point of contact for this matter; the physician may offer to treat the pregnancy personally or may be able to refer the patient to a doctor who is qualified to do so.
Between the ages of 18 and 39, men should consult with a physician about the following health issues:
- Testicular cancer: Although men of any age (infancy to old age) are vulnerable to testicular cancer, roughly half of those diagnosed with the disease are between the ages of 20 and 34. Physicians encourage males to perform a self-exam after bathing (when the scrotum is relaxed). To perform the self-exam, simply hold each testicle between the thumb and forefinger and gently run it through all five fingers. The purpose is to monitor for any lumps or irregularities ― although it should be noted that most men have a small coiled mass on the exterior of each testicle known as an epididymis.
- STDs: Although most men who contract HPV remain asymptomatic throughout their adult lives, they are still capable of transmitting the disease to others. For this reason, men are also encouraged to acquire the HPV immunization before the age of 26. Depending on their level of sexual activity, males should also be screened for other STDs (such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis) every one to three years. And although all men and women are at equal risk of contracting HIV, the highest rate of incidence occurs between gay men within this age group.