Maintaining good health often requires early detection and intervention through regular health screenings for women. Even without symptoms, women may have the early stages of medical conditions that can grow into more serious health problems if left untreated. Early signs of skin cancer, diabetes and heart disease, among other health concerns, can be addressed with great success.
To keep you in tip-top shape, the following are the recommended health screenings for women:
Physical Exam/Wellness Check-up: Women should visit their primary care physician every 2 to 3 years for a physical exam. This is a time to complete many of the tests below in addition to discussing your physical, mental and emotional health with your doctor.
Blood Pressure Test: Blood pressure should be checked at least every 2 years beginning at age 18. It is likely that you will have your blood pressure taken any time you visit your doctor for check-ups or sick visits so you’ll be able to track your normal blood pressure levels. You can also do a self-test at many drug stores.
Cholesterol Test: With a simple blood test, you can keep an eye on this huge risk factor of heart disease. Starting at age 20, every woman should have a cholesterol test every 5 years. For those with family history of heart conditions or other risk factors such as elevated blood pressure, tests should be done more frequently.
Blood Glucose Test: Women age 45 and older should have their blood glucose levels checked every 3 years. This will help determine if you have an insulin imbalance and may be diabetic or pre-diabetic. Anyone with risk factors of diabetes should be tested earlier in life and more often.
Body Mass Index (BMI): BMI shows the relationship of bodily fat based on weight and height. This test is generally done during physical exams and is a helpful indicator of obesity and risk factors for diabetes, heart disease and other health problems.
Pap Smear: A pap smear is a cervical cancer test that women 21 to 30 years old should have done every 3 years. Those over 30 should have a pap smear and an HPV test done every 5 years. Women who are sexually active before age 21 should have a pap earlier.
Mammogram: Self breast exams should be done monthly beginning at age 20. Clinical manual exams should be done every three years between the ages of 20 and 40. After 40, clinical breast exams should be done every year and mammograms should be done every 1 to 2 years depending on personal risk factors.
Colon Exam: Women starting at age 50 should have a colon exam, either a sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy, every 5 to 10 years to check for colon cancer.
Bone Density Screening: At age 65, women should begin regular bone density screenings. As women age, the calcium stored in bones is depleted, causing weak and fragile bones. This condition is known as osteoporosis.
Dental Exam: Twice yearly dental exams are necessary for women to maintain oral health. Many dental problems go undetected when dental exams are skipped.
Skin Exam: Women should check their own skin every month for changes in skin tone, moles that may change in color, size or texture and any other skin irregularities. A yearly visit to a dermatologist is recommended for women, especially those who spend any amount of time in the sun.
Stay healthy and vibrant with these important health screenings for women!