The importance of preventive health and wellness exams for transgender people

The Wellness and Stress Clinic of Memphis is an inclusive place for all people to receive free, high-quality health care. We are a team of gender-affirming clinicians who support Memphians who do not have health care but need to see a physician for preventive care, disease management, emotional wellness or a number of other reasons. Preventive care is critically important to maintain overall health outcomes – but many people neglect to seek preventive care because of stigmas or distrust of medical institutions.

Transgender people face discrimination across industries, including in the medical profession. But preventive care, especially related to sexual organs for people who have not had gender confirmation surgery, is essential to check for cancer and other life-threatening conditions. Understandably, seeking medical care that is typically gendered can be uncomfortable enough to keep a person from routine care. At the Wellness and Stress Clinic, our discrete process will help you feel at ease to seek the care you need to remain well. Here are some of the screenings recommended for transgender people. 

As a note, our recommendations here address the unique medical encounters a transgender person might have related to their sexual organs. Transgender people, like all people, should also receive preventive care for overall health conditions like hypertension, diabetes and pulmonary function. 

For transmen

Transgender men may not feel safe or comfortable in a gynecologist’s office. But anyone with a uterus, ovaries and breast tissue needs regular pap smears and mammograms to check for abnormal cells or masses that could indicate cancer. They may also need support with menstruation-related challenges like endometriosis or polycystic ovarian syndrome. The Wellness and Stress Clinic offers routine gynecological exams for all people who need them and can provide birth control support if a person needs it. 

For transwomen

Similarly, transgender women need specialized medical care to support long-term health. Prostate cancer is one of the leading forms of cancer among people assigned male at birth, and everyone should be tested regularly to detect any abnormal cells early. There may also be additional colorectal care needed among people assigned male at birth – talk with our physicians about this during your wellness check. 

For all people

No matter your gender identity, it is important to receive preventive care related to your sexual organs and overall wellness. This can include the exams we discussed above, but should also include regular STI testing for anyone who is sexually active. Many STIs are treatable, and those that aren’t can be managed through an ongoing relationship with a health care professional. When you’re getting a routine checkup, talk with your provider about your sexual status to determine what STI tests are appropriate for you.