A woman’s gynecological concerns often change with age. Caring for one’s reproductive health and well-being is essential for older women. This article describes some gynecological concerns that older women commonly face.
Vaginal dryness is a common problem, particularly as women age. After menopause, hormonal changes often lead to vaginal dryness, but other factors may contribute such as certain medications or medical conditions.
Vaginal dryness that affects your sexual health or comfort should be evaluated by your gynecologist, who can assess your particular condition and make lifestyle or medical recommendations to help you manage the problem.
Loss of bladder control is not the most pleasant topic to discuss with others, even your doctor. But, you might be surprised how common the problem is. According to the Urology Care Foundation, approximately one-quarter to a third of people in the U.S. suffer from urinary incontinence, and nearly 75% to 80% are women.
If bladder control problems interfere with your daily activities, it’s time to see the gynecologist because urinary incontinence is not simply a bothersome personal issue, it is known to:
- Limit people’s activities and social interactions
- Negatively impact your quality of life
- Increase the risk of falling (from rushing to the bathroom)
- Suggest a severe underlying health problem
With age, gynecological cancer risks increase. Yearly visits to the gynecologist help detect these cancers early on while increasing the likeliness of a good outcome if cancer treatment is needed. Cancer screenings may, or may not be recommended beyond age 65. Talk to your gynecologist to find out what’s best for you.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that most breast cancers are diagnosed after age 50. For women aged 50 to 74 at average risk for breast cancer, the USPSTF recommends two-yearly mammograms. For women over the age of 75, some doctors don’t recommend mammograms, while others do. Talk to your gynecologist to find out what’s best for you.
The most common age range for a cervical cancer diagnosis is between 35 and 45 and ranges up to age 50; however, older women can also be affected. Screenings for cervical cancer include Pap smears and HPV tests; all women, regardless of age, should have these tests.
- Pap Smears (Pap Tests): Pap smears are commonly used to detect abnormal cervical cells that may indicate the presence of cervical cancer or precancerous conditions.
- HPV (Human Papillomavirus) Testing: HPV is a virus that can cause cervical cancer. Testing for HPV can help identify women at risk of developing cervical cancer.
The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends:
- A Pap smear every three years in women aged 30 to 65
- An HPV test every five years in women aged 30 to 65
Women over the age of 50 who have not been vaccinated against HPV may talk to their healthcare provider about getting vaccinated.
Most people think about cancerous or precancerous screening when they hear the term “pelvic exam.” But a pelvic examination can also include an assessment of the vulva, vagina, pelvic area, and reproductive organs to check for non-cancerous conditions, such as infections, polyps, or uterine fibroids. Yearly pelvic exams for non-cancerous conditions are recommended for people over the age of 50.
At Pacific Gynecology & Obstetrics Medical Group your yearly visit allows our specialists to teach you about your body’s changes as it ages, screen for cancer and chronic conditions, and teach you preventative and self-care measures.
Even if you feel fine, you should still see your provider for regular checkups. These visits can help you avoid problems in the future. Contact us to make your yearly gynecological appointment today.