As a woman, it’s incredibly important to stay on top of your health, from getting regular pap smears to STD tests to routine annual physicals. As important as these tests are, we often skip or avoid them due to busy schedules, poor health insurance or plain lack of comfort. However, when you’re single and casually dating, skipping one STD test or pap smear can lead to more than just a nagging doctor, it can lead to severe health risks.
It’s important to state that being single doesn’t sentence you to poor health — in fact, far from it! However, single women who are sexually active need to take the extra precaution to ensure they remain healthy, including making time for important tests that could, ultimately, mean the difference between life or death.
An annual pap smear is a critical test for any woman who is sexually active, regardless of marital status. However, this test is especially important for single women who are casually dating or engaging in sexual intercourse with multiple partners. So why is this test so important for single women? Approximately 20 million Americans have HPV, the human papilloma virus. Although most cases of this virus are dormant, some cases, if left untreated, can lead to cervical cancer. According to the CDC, one in four sexually active women have HPV, and of those, 12,000 end up with cervical cancer. The rate of transferring HPV is high when you’re sexually active with multiple partners. So how does a pap smear help? Pap tests can spot the earliest signs of cancer and can quickly detect abnormal cell shape.
Check out these pap smear basics >>
STD tests are especially important for single women under the age of 25. A new report on MSNBC found that more than half of the 19 million new cases of STDs in women are among those ages of 15 to 24. Even if you are taking the necessary precautions, it’s incredibly important to test for HIV, chlamydia and gonorrhea when beginning a new relationship or after you’ve been sexually active since, if untreated, these STDs can lead to infertility. It’s especially important to test for HPV and HIV, which are not only incurable, but can be fatal if not caught in time. In addition to getting tested, it’s extremely important to always use condoms when having sex in non-monogamous relationships, even if you’re on the pill, since some STDs can be transmitted just through skin-on-skin contact.
Check out these important sexual health tips >>
Routine physicals are important for all women to do annually, especially when for blood tests and testing your cholesterol. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women of all ages, but the risk could be higher if you’re single, according to the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. A 2006 study found that of the 123,000 women they followed for the year, the single women had a higher rate of acute coronary syndrome, which could be a heart attack or sudden cardiac death. Although the cause is hard to explain, doctors believe it could be due to high blood pressure, poor diet and smoking, which studies suggest are more common among singles. Getting a routine physical beginning at age 21, along with blood pressure and heart tests, is the key way to spot a problem and/or prevent one. Another study also found that single mothers have poorer health than mothers who are married, which could be due partly to poor eating habits, and financial strain or stress that is common in single mothers. Not only will an annual checkup help improve the lives of single mothers, it will also install healthy habits in their children.
Being single can be a lot of fun — as long as you’re still taking care of you!