Gynecologic Health for All Ages

But no matter their age, when women visit her office, Dr. Laura Mueller,  Missouri Baptist obstetrician-gynecologist and a member of BJC Medical Group, focuses on healthy habits. “We check blood pressure and body mass index to make sure numbers are within healthy ranges,” she said. “We also talk about diet and exercise, and discuss and screen for tobacco, alcohol or drug use.”

Late Teens & Twenties

Most women make their first gynecologic appointment in their late teens or early 20s. “We encourage patients to be vaccinated against HPV, which can cause cervical, anal and vaginal cancer, as well as genital warts,” Dr. Mueller said. “Pap smears start when women are 21, and we discuss safe sex, contraception and intimate partner violence.”

Thirties & Forties

Many women choose to start families in their 30s. “So we talk to patients about contraception, family planning and preconception counseling, if they plan to have children,” Dr. Mueller said. “Additionally, we review family histories to assess if patients are at increased risk for certain cancers and to determine the need for early screenings.”

Forty is a time of transition toward menopause. “We talk to women about perimenopause symptoms and what to expect,” Dr. Mueller continued. “We also draw blood work for cholesterol, diabetes and thyroid conditions, schedule mammograms and encourage early screenings for patients at risk for disease.”

Fifties, Sixties & Beyond

In their 50s, women are managing menopause, while incidences of colorectal and breast cancer rise. “This is the time when we talk to patients about hormone replacement therapy,” Dr. Mueller said, “and encourage breast cancer screenings and scheduling their first colonoscopy.”

Since bone health is an important topic for women in their 60s, “we talk to women about weight bearing exercises, calcium intake, vitamin D supplements and scheduling a bone density scan,” Dr. Mueller said. “We also discuss treatment options for urinary incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse and postmenopausal bleeding, conditions more common in women at this age.”

Whatever their age, by asking questions and participating in decisions that affect their bodies, women become their own best advocates.

“Make an appointment with a gynecologist – even if you’re healthy,” Dr. Mueller encouraged. “Establish a relationship so you get to know them and they get to know you.”

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