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Women are unique, and so are their health needs. If you have delayed your care, it’s important to schedule your routine screenings to identify health problems that could be screened for, identified, and treated earlier.

Quincy Medical Group Gynecologist Dr. Tanya Mero says recommendations are for all women ages 21 and older to have annual screening pelvic exams.

“We do pap smears which screen for cervical cancer based on the patient’s age and history – sometimes yearly, sometimes every five years, but a woman should have a pelvic exam yearly despite not needing a pap smear that year,” Dr. Mero explained.

During your wellness exam, your doctor will also screen for sexually transmitted diseases and perform a breast exam. Mammograms are typically performed at age 40 unless the patient has other risk factors, then screening may begin at an earlier age. Dr. Mero said women at high risk of breast cancer may need additional screening with an MRI.

Dr. Mero said annual wellness visits are for more than just breast and pelvic exams.

“We assess patients for problems, history, order labs as needed, and check on mental health as well,” she said. “Most labs do not need to be fasting. It’s easy to screen for diabetes, high cholesterol, kidney and liver diseases, high blood pressure, anemia, etc. Finally, we discuss family planning – either contraception or preconception needs.”

Other recommended screenings for women include a bone density test and colonoscopy. A bone density test screens for osteoporosis. Women should begin having this test at age 65 or earlier based on risk factors. A colonoscopy is usually recommended at age 45 unless there is a higher risk of colon cancer due to family history.

“The recommendation for how often one needs a colonoscopy depends on the findings of the first colonoscopy and the personal and family history of the patient,” explained Dr. Mero.

Some patients may be hesitant to schedule routine exams due to COVID concerns, but Dr. Mero said you should feel reassured that precautions are in place at QMG to keep everyone safe.

“We thoroughly wipe down the room between every patient. I try to run on time to minimize the wait in the waiting room,” she shared. “We can do telephone check-ins, and patients can wait in their cars until their exam room is available – just ask the receptionist or nurse when making your appointment. We are all are masked during the entire appointment and ask patients to mask as well.”

To schedule an appointment with the QMG Women’s Health team, call (217) 222-6550, ext. 3437 or visit https://quincymedgroup.com/medical-services/obgyn/.