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Campus Health

Health Education

Sexual Health

Screenings and Early Detection

Participating in regular health screenings is essential.

Sexual Health Preventative Screening Guidelines are listed below:

Sexual Health Screening Guidelines*
Screening Ages 21-29 Ages 30-39 Ages 40-49 Ages 50+
Pelvic Exam/Annual Gynecological Exam ** ** ** **
Pap Test 3 years 3- 5 years 3-5 years 3-5 years
Mammogram     Baseline 1-2 years
Clinical Breast Exam 3 years 3 years Yearly Yearly
Digital Rectal Exam     Yearly Yearly
STD Screening + See below for more information

* Different organizations often recommend different screening schedules. The above screening schedule is adapted from the U.S Preventive Services Task Force's Guide to Clinical Preventive Services and the American Cancer Society's (ACS) Guidelines for the Early Detection of Cancer.

* *Pelvic exam is not always necessary. If symptoms are present then it may be done.

Pelvic Exam/Annual Gynecological Exam

Please do not have your Pelvic exam or Pap smear done while on your period.

Regular pelvic exams can help to detect diseases and safeguard fertility. A pelvic exam occurs in four steps:

(1) an external exam- a visual examination of the folds of the vulva and the opening of the vagina to check for signs of irritation, discharge, cysts, genital warts, or other conditions;

(2) a speculum exam- insertion of a metal or plastic speculum into the vagina to see the cervix and vagina. The clinician looks for growths or abnormal discharge from the cervix and may use a long swab or brush to collect cervical cells for a Pap test;

(3)a bimanual exam- one or two gloved and lubricated fingers are inserted into the vagina while pressing down on the abdomen with the other hand. The clinician is checking the size, shape, and position of your uterus and ovaries;

(4) (not always done-ask your provider) a rectovaginal exam- insertion of a gloved finger into the rectum and the vagina. This is done to check the condition of the muscles that separate the vagina and the rectum, and to feel for a tumor located behind the uterus, on the lower wall of the vagina, or in the rectum.

Pap Test

A Pap test is performed during a pelvic exam. The cervix is visualized and a long brush collects cervical cells. The cells are examined for abnormalities. Visit the ACS website for more information about pap testing. The Pap test can detect infection from the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). The HPV virus is responsible for approximately 70% of abnormal Pap results. The HPV vaccine can prevent many HPV infections. The ACS explains what it means if HPV is detected.


A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast. During the procedure, which lasts about 15 minutes, each breast is compressed by two plates while an X-ray image is taken. A mammogram is used to find potential signs of breast cancer such as tumors (which are often too small to be found in a clinical breast exam), clusters of calcium, or abnormal changes in the skin. ACS provides additional mammogram information.

Breast Self Exam

Performing a monthly breast self exam (BSE) is no longer recommended as it does not reduce breast cancer mortality. However, changes such as thickening, lumps, spontaneous nipple discharge, or skin changes like dimpling or puckering need to be evaluated as soon as possible. The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation provides an interactive online tool that demonstrates how to do a BSE.

Clinical Breast Exam

A clinical breast exam may occur during your annual gynecological exam. The healthcare provider performs a visual and tactile examination of your breasts. The ACS offers information showing minmal benefits of self breast exams and clinical breast exams.

Testicular Self Exam

Testicular self exams (TSE) are no longer recommended. Neither the U.S.Preventative Task Force nor the American Cancer Society recomends annual screening for testicular cancer. If interested, complete instructions for performing a TSE are provided by the American Cancer Society (at the bottom of the page).

Digital Rectal Exam

A digital rectal exam (DRE) can detect abnormalities in the male prostate gland and in the female reproductive organs (sometimes done as part of an annual gynecological exam). During the exam, your healthcare provider will insert a lubricated gloved finger of one hand into the rectum and screen for blood in the rectum. The American Cancer Society provides an explanation and visual aid in explaining DRE.

STD Screening

Annual STD screenings are recommended for sexually active females under the age of 25. Incidences of Chlamydia and Gonorrhea are greatest in this age group. These infections usually do not cause symptoms in women. Males will be screened if requested or is suspected. Ask your provider if he/she routinely screens for STDs when the Pap test is done. Generally routine STD checks do not include testing for herpes or HPV. HPV is detected with the PAP smear.