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Your reproductive and sexual health care checklist for your 30s

What you need to know to feel your best, all decade long.

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Reproductive and sexual health are important all the way from your first period (menarche) through after your last period (menopause). But what you can do to stay on top of them and get ahead of issues depends on your age.

And your 30s is no exception: Whether you’re exploring your sexual desires, in the throes of pregnancy, parenting, or actively not getting pregnant, or just dealing with an ever-changing body, staying on top of your reproductive and sexual health is an important part of this decade.

We reviewed the clinical guidelines and recommendations for people with vaginas in their 30s so you know what’s on the docket throughout the next 10 years. Since recommendations may vary based on your health status and medical history, it’s always a good idea to talk to your health care provider about what’s right for you.

What sexual health screenings should you get in your 30s?

When it comes to reproductive and sexual health, you might be wondering: What medical tests do I need in my 30s? We’re here to help. Here’s an overview of what screenings and tests you can expect.

Cervical cancer screening

The United States Preventive Services Taskforce recommends that people with cervixes who are in their 30s get cervical cancer screenings at a frequency based on their age. Screenings for people in their 30s include Pap tests and/or human papillomavirus (HPV) testing. 

Pap tests (often called Pap smears) involve the collection of cervical cells to check for precancerous and cancerous cells caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). Follow-up testing may be needed.

HPV testing checks for strains of HPV that are associated with cervical cancer.

People with cervixes who are in their 30s are advised to meet one of the following guidelines:

  • Get HPV tests every five years
  • Get HPV tests along with Pap tests every five years
  • Get Pap tests every three years

More frequent screening may be recommended based on your unique health history.

If you’ve had your uterus and cervix surgically removed (aka total hysterectomy) for reasons unrelated to cervical cancer, you don’t need vaginal Pap tests. If you had a total hysterectomy because of cervical cancer or precancer, your health care provider will recommend the best follow-up care for you.

Learn what you can expect from a Pap and HPV test.

Breast cancer screening

For anyone in their 30s (and beyond), “breast self awareness” is recommended. What this means is doing your best to get familiar with your breasts, so you can learn what is normal for you (including what they feel and look like). If you notice something different—from nipple discharge to lumps, bumps, or skin changes—let your health care provider know. While there are a lot of great tools to teach you how to become aware of your breasts, a good provider will also spend time talking you through it and teaching you how. (And remember: breast tissue is like a halter top, so be aware of the tissue above the breast and in your underarm!)  

The American Cancer Society recommends that people assigned female at birth who are at high risk of breast cancer get breast/chest magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and mammograms every year starting at age 30. Regular screening with mammograms, regardless of risk level, starts at age 45.

There is growing research that Black patients need earlier and more frequent screening for breast cancer, as there are major health disparities with care, and the odds of dying from breast cancer are much higher than white patients. 

Breast/chest MRI takes detailed images of the inside of breasts/chests to detect breast cancer signs among people with high risk for the cancer. Mammograms are low-dose x-rays that help detect breast cancer early—before there are physical symptoms to suggest it.

People who are at high risk include:

  • Anyone with the BRCA1 or BRCA gene mutation
  • Anyone with a first-degree relative who has had breast or ovarian cancer (for example, a parent or sibling) 
  • Anyone with parents, siblings, or children who have the genetic mutation
  • Anyone who had chest radiation therapy before they were 30
  • Anyone who has Li-Fraumeni syndrome, Cowden syndrome, or Bannayan-Riley-Ruvalcaba syndrome
  • Anyone with parents, siblings, or children who have Li-Fraumeni syndrome, Cowden syndrome, or Bannayan-Riley-Ruvalcaba syndrome

Learn what you can expect from a breast/chest MRI and mammogram.

Screening for sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are extremely common and highly treatable. However, if left untreated, they can lead to issues like pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), infertility, or pregnancy complications down the line.

The following STI tests are recommended for people with vaginas in and beyond their 30s:

  • Anyone ages 13-64 should get an human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) test at least once.
  • People with vaginas should get tested for gonorrhea and chlamydia annually when they have new or multiple sex partners—or if their sex partner has a history of STIs. It is also important to tell your health care provider where you have sex, because STIs can live in your throat, vagina, penis or anus (and all of those sites can be tested).
  • Early in pregnancy, pregnant people should get tested for syphilis, HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. Some pregnant people may also be tested for gonorrhea or chlamydia. Some may also need repeat testing.

Additional testing may be recommended based on your unique circumstances. Talk to your healthcare provider about what STI testing is right for you.

Learn what you can expect from STI testing.

Diabetes screening

Diabetes is a health condition where the body has difficulty regulating its levels of blood sugar. Issues with blood-sugar control like diabetes or insulin resistance can impact menstrual cycles and make it harder to get pregnant. People who have diabetes are also monitored more closely in pregnancy. Uncontrolled diabetes can cause pregnancy and birth complications.

Diabetes screenings are recommended at a frequency based on age, body-fat percentage (based on body-mass index), and pregnancy status. Screenings include testing A1C or oral glucose tolerance tests.

Diabetes screenings are also recommended for pregnant people. Screenings include glucose screening tests and glucose intolerance tests.

A1C tests examine the average blood-sugar levels from the prior 2-3 months.

Glucose tolerance tests measure blood-sugar levels before and after drinking a high-glucose beverage.

Glucose screening tests measure blood-sugar levels after drinking a high-glucose beverage.

Diabetes screening guidelines are different for different people:

  • Non-pregnant people ages 35-70 who have a higher body-fat percentage (based on BMI) should be screened every three years for diabetes.
  • Pregnant people should be screened between the 24th and 28th weeks of pregnancy. 

Learn what you can expect from diabetes screenings.

Pelvic exams

Pelvic exams are an important part of reproductive and sexual health care. But, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), they should only be conducted when necessary based on symptoms or medical history. Think of this as the “no search without probable cause” rule—meaning that, unless there is a reason, it is not recommended to do a pelvic exam. 

The following symptoms might indicate that a pelvic exam is medically necessary:

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • Pain during sex
  • Pelvic pain
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Vaginal prolapse
  • Urinary issues
  • Issues with inserting tampons
  • Vaginal discharge or odor

Pelvic exams are not required for most forms of birth control, with the intrauterine device (IUD) being the exception.

Learn what you can expect from a pelvic exam.

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Many people may not realize that there are vaccines for certain diseases related to reproductive and sexual health. There is a vaccine for HPV and hepatitis B, both of which can be transmitted sexually. Some strains of HPV can lead to cervical cancer.

HPV vaccination is typically recommended between the ages of 11 and 12. Between age 27-45, some people may be advised by their health care provider to get vaccinated against HPV. However, by this age, most people have already been exposed to the virus.

Hepatitis B vaccination is recommended for all adults ages 19-59, if they haven’t already been vaccinated.

How often should you get checked out in your 30s?

ACOG recommends that people with vaginas should visit with their OB-GYNs at least once every year for general reproductive and sexual wellness — including while in your 30s. 

Outside of annual visits, there are other times checking in on your reproductive and sexual health with a health care provider is important:

  • When you’re experiencing uncomfortable symptoms
  • When you’ve noticed changes in your breasts/chests or periods
  • When you want to go on birth control or switch to another birth control
  • When you think or know you’ve been exposed to an STI
  • When you’re pregnant

How often should you get a general health checkup in your 30s? This depends on your health status and medical history. Additional screenings and tests will be recommended to prevent, detect, or manage health conditions. If you have a chronic health condition or a family history of one, you can expect to visit with your healthcare provider more often.

How to get your reproductive and sexual health checked out

Although there are clinical guidelines for people in different age groups, your recommended screenings and tests may vary based on your health status and medical history. Talk to your health care provider about staying on top of your reproductive, sexual, and overall health.

If you have health insurance, know that all health plans cover preventive health services for people with vaginas. These can include:

  • Birth control (unless you have an exempt religious employer)
  • Gonorrhea screening
  • Hepatitis B screening
  • Syphilis screening
  • Chlamydia infection screening
  • HIV screening and counseling
  • STI counseling
  • Urinary tract infection (UTI) or other infection screening
  • Mammograms
  • Cervical cancer screening
  • “Well-woman” visits (your annual OB-GYN appointment)

Abortion care, vaccinations, Prep (prevention for HIV), emergency contraception or other essential reproductive and sexual health services may also be covered by insurance, depending on your age, medical history, and/or health plan. (FYI: Hey Jane accepts insurance!)

What if you don’t have health insurance? Local health departments and organizations may offer free cancer screenings, STI testing, and follow-up services:

Hey Jane offers safe, supportive, and confidential telemedicine services for many of your sexual and reproductive health needs — including abortion care, birth control, emergency contraception, UTI treatment, yeast infection treatment, bacterial vaginosis treatment, and herpes treatment. We ensure that care is affordable, with or without insurance. 

Connect with a Hey Jane provider in under 1 business day to get started on your treatment plan.

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Written by

Sarah duRivage-Jacobs (MPH)

Sarah duRivage-Jacobs is a New York-based writer and editor of words dealing with reproductive health and abortion access. She received her Masters of Public Health degree in Community Health.

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