You’re in a groove, and you know your body. Whether you’re growing your career, expanding your family, making time for yourself, or all three, you have a lot to navigate each day. Meanwhile, you need to manage your health and wellness — it is important to make your health and wellbeing a priority at this stage.
In your mid-20s, you’re beyond the major changes of adolescence and may have more of an understanding of your health. However, in these next couple of decades, your body will continue to evolve and require new kinds of support. And as you approach menopause (or 12 months after your last period), you’ll experience even more changes in your mental, physical, and emotional health.
At Northern Light Health, our women’s health providers are here to support you as you find a balance between your health and the rest of your many responsibilities during this stage of life. This means staying on top of women’s health appointments, keeping up-to-date with health screenings, and utilizing health services to support your wellness.
Women’s Health Services
From Your Mid-20s to Menopause
Your health and wellness are all about you, and our women’s health providers are here to support you during every stage. Here are some of our top women’s health services you may need from your 20s all the way to menopause (or 12 months after your last period).
Annual OB/GYN Visits
You should visit your obstetrician-gynecologist (OB/GYN) for a wellness visit every year. They’re important for anyone who has a vulva, uterus, or breasts. During your annual OB/GYN visit, you will have the opportunity to have discussions with your provider around reproductive health. You can expect your provider to perform a physical, breast exam, pap smear, and STI testing if indicated.
Contraception and Contraceptive Care
If you are sexually active and want to prevent pregnancy, you have options. There are many forms of birth control, including hormonal methods, barrier methods, and intrauterine contraception (like IUDs). There are also permanent methods of birth control, such as female sterilization and male sterilization. Each option comes with its own benefits and side effects, and your women’s health provider can help determine the best solution for you.
Emotional Wellness Screening
Your 20s, 30s, and 40s come with a lot of emotional changes, and these are different for every woman. As you navigate your career, family, and friends, your individual emotional needs must also take priority. Your women’s health provider can screen for depression, anxiety, domestic violence, alcohol use, and substance use. They can also help you find ways to take time for self-care.
Perimenopause and Menopause Care
Menopause — or when you haven’t had a period for a full year without any other obvious causes — typically occurs around the age of 50. However, you may experience physical changes up to eight years before your final period. This transition is called perimenopause, and symptoms include changes in the timing of your periods, hot flashes, night sweats, and thinning and drying of vaginal tissues — which can lead to painful sex. Your women’s health provider can help identify what’s normal (and what may not be) and find ways to ease your symptoms.
After the delivery of your baby it's important to continue to prioritize your health. Your Women's Health provider will assist with lactation consults, birth control, evaluation of mental health, along with resources for in home visits if needed.
Pregnancy, Fertility, and Infertility
If you want to start a family, your women’s health provider can provide pre-conception counseling and education on how to have a healthy pregnancy. They can also provide basic infertility services if you struggle to conceive. They can refer you to a fertility specialist as needed, who will evaluate your situation further.
Prenatal care is crucial to keeping both you and your baby healthy throughout pregnancy. Your women’s health provider provides all necessary prenatal care, such as prenatal visits, important medical tests (such as for gestational diabetes, Rh factor, and group B strep), and how to make healthy lifestyle choices during pregnancy.
Sexually Transmitted Infection Screening
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) don’t always cause symptoms. By keeping up to date with STI screenings, you can determine if you’ve been infected with an STI, get treatment, and prevent the spread of the infection. If you’re sexually active, you may need to be tested for STIs like gonorrhea, chlamydia, or HIV. STI tests will be swab tests done in the office.
Just For Your 40s
As you get older, you have a higher risk of certain health conditions, like breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and weight gain. These health screenings will allow your health provider to catch concerns early to begin treatment right away.
Breast cancer doesn’t always have symptoms, and catching this disease early starts with screenings like mammograms (X-rays of the breast). Beginning in your 40s, you will have the option to begin annual mammograms. Depending on your risk factors, like family history, your provider may recommend starting mammograms earlier.
Screening for ovarian cancer isn’t currently recommended for those without symptoms or family history of this disease, so there’s no recommended age at which testing should begin. Typically, this cancer develops as you get older and in those with a strong family genetic history of ovarian cancer. Roughly half of all women diagnosed with ovarian cancer are 63 years of age or older.
If you experience symptoms or have a strong family risk of ovarian cancer due to inherited genetic mutations, talk with a doctor about when screening may be appropriate for you.
Endometrial cancer screening is only recommended for women with increased risk who have a family history of the disease or colorectal cancer that could be linked to inherited genetic mutations.
Be aware of your body and be on the lookout for changes that might be symptoms of endometrial cancer. Though many symptoms can be attributed to normal changes in a women's body it's a good idea to discuss them with your Women's Health provider if they are new, last more than a few weeks or happens frequently in a month.