Women's Health

contact membersWomen have many unique health needs, which often change with age. Here is some information about women's health issues and tips for living a healthy life. 

Annual Well-Woman Visit

  • See your PCP once a year
  • Check your blood pressure and weight
  • Talk about mental health--like feelings of sadness, worry, or anger

preventiveTests and Shots

Women need different vaccines (shots) and screenings (tests) at different ages. Some of these include:

  • Pap test
  • Hepatitis B vaccine
  • Tdap (whooping cough) vaccine
  • Testing for HIV and other STDs

Live Healthy

Birth Control

Making choices about birth control isn't easy. There are many options, and things to consider. To get started, learn about birth control methods that you or your partner can use to prevent pregnancy. You can also talk with your doctor about these choices. 

Types of birth control

  • Abstinence (not having sex)
  • Barrier methods (condom)
  • Hormonal methods (oral contraceptives-"the pill", vaginal ring, the patch, shot)
  • Implantable devices (rods, IUDs)
  • Permanent methods (sterilizations)
  • Emergency Contraception ("morning after pill")

Keep in mind, even the most effective birth control methods can fail. But your chances of getting pregnant are lowest if the method you choose is always used correctly. Make sure to talk with your doctor about exactly how to use the method you choose. To learn more about birth control options, visit www.plannedparenthood.org

CenCal Health Family Planning Benefits

CenCal Health members: You may go to your PCP or directly to any family planning clinic or qualified Medi-Cal provider (for example, a gynecologist) for family planning services. You don’t need a referral from your PCP for family planning services. You can go to a family planning provider either within or outside of the Health Plan’s provider network. 

Family planning services include birth control and pregnancy testing and counseling. Family planning providers can answer your questions and help you communicate with your partner about these issues.

All members have the right to confidentiality when receiving these services. If you are a minor under 18, you don’t need the consent of your parent or guardian to get family planning services. 

To get a list of family planning providers and agencies in your area, please call the Member Services Department, or call the State Office of Family Planning at 1-800-942-1054.


Breast Cancer

As you get older, your chances of having breast cancer go up. About 1 in 8 women develop breast cancer at some point in their lives. Thanks to screening, breast cancer can be found early, when there is a greater chance of surviving or even curing the disease.  

Screening 

All women ages 50-74 should have a screening mammogram every 1-2 years. 

For women ages 50—74, mammograms (x-rays of the breast) every 1-2 years is one of the most important things to do. Getting routine mammograms helps make sure that cancer is found early, when it is easier to treat. Finding breast cancer early can help save your life! 

If you have not had a routine mammogram, call your doctor today to make an appointment. For help finding facilities in your area that offer mammography services, call Member Services at 1-877-814-1861. 

Risk Factors & Prevention

It is impossible to know exactly who will actually get breast cancer. However, some things that affect a woman's risk of breast cancer include:

  • Age
  • Personal and family history
  • Menstrual and reproductive history
  • Genetics
  • Body weight
  • Lifestyle (physical activity and alcohol consumption)

The following may help decrease your risk of developing breast cancer:

  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Be physically active

To learn more about breast cancer causes, symptoms, and treatments, visit www.womenshealth.gov

Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer is cancer of the cervix, (the lower, narrow part of the uterus). Most cervical cancer is caused by a virus called HPV (human papilloma virus). HPV can cause changes in the cervix that may become cancer.

Screening

There are two types of screening for cervical cancer.

  • Pap tests help find cancer or other changes in the cervix.  
  • HPV tests find the HPV virus even if it hasn’t caused changes in the cervix yet.

Women ages 21-29 should get a Pap test every 3 years. Women age 30-65 should get a Pap test and an HPV test together every 5 years, or a Pap test alone every 3 years.

HPV and Pap tests only take a few minutes and can be done at the same time. These tests can find problems before they become cancer, or they can find cancer early (when it is easiest to treat). Talk to your doctor about the testing that’s right for you.

Prevention

The HPV vaccine helps prevent infections that cause most cervical cancers in women. HPV causes other types of cancer in boys, too. That’s why it is important that both girls and boys get vaccinated as early as possible. Girls can get vaccinated starting age 11 through age 26. Boys can get vaccinated starting age 11 through age 21.

Talk to your doctor about Pap tests and HPV. To learn more, visit www.womenshealth.gov


Menopause

Menopause marks the end of having menstrual cycles. The average age of menopause is 51, but can happen in your 40s or 50s. Although menopause brings many changes, you can still stay active and healthy. 

You might experience these signs or symptoms of menopause:

  • Irregular periods: In the year or two leading up to your last period, you may have irregular periods, often skipping one or two months entirely. Keep in mind that although your periods may be irregular, pregnancy is still possible.
  • Night sweats
  • Mood changes
  • Hot flashes: This refers to a sudden feeling of heat, usually in your face, neck, and upper body. 
  • Weight gain and slowed metabolism.

If you have any concerns about symptoms you might be having due to menopause, see your doctor. Make sure to continue having regular check-ups with your doctor and receive all recommended screenings.