For optimal health, women need to have routine medical exams and screenings. Consider these tests a preemptive strike against any future health conditions that may develop over time. When caught in the early stages, a number of diseases such as cancer, diabetes and osteoporosis can be treated successfully. Do you know which medical tests and health screenings are the most worthwhile to women? Here are some common ones that should be a part of your yearly well woman physical exam:
There is some dissention among medical professionals as to when women should start going in for mammograms. The American Cancer Society, the leading governing group in regards to cancer, suggests that women add mammograms to their yearly screenings when they turn 40. However, if a younger woman has a history of breast cancer in her family and runs a higher risk of contracting the disease, she should start at an even earlier age. Caught in the early stages, breast cancer has a survival rate of over 95%. The test is a bit uncomfortable but totally safe.
You should get yearly pap smears from your gynecologist from age 21 and above. However, if you are sexually active at a younger age, you should have your first pap smear within two years of your first sexual encounter. This test detects abnormal cervical cells that may lead to cancer if left undetected. While women still die from cervical cancer, the percentages are low.
Osteoporosis can occur in men, although women have the highest occurrences, usually due to female hormones. As you age, your bones can become more fragile if you are not careful about ensuring your diet has enough calcium, vitamin D and other bone strengthening nutrients. Once women turn 65 years of age, the bone density test is a requirement during yearly physicals. However, if you are younger and have had a hysterectomy or have a genetic propensity for osteoporosis, it is important to have your bones tested. If caught early, this disease can be successfully treated with prescription medications that can stop the progression of or even reverse bone loss.
Blood Pressure and Cholesterol
One of the leading causes of death among women is heart disease. This can be prevented or treated when caught early. Blood pressure and cholesterol health screenings should be a part of every woman’s yearly physical exam. Hypertension occurs when blood pressure routinely stays above a reading of 120/80. High blood pressure can narrow the arteries. Cholesterol also can narrow the arteries restricting blood flow which in turn can lead to high blood pressure. As you can see cholesterol and blood pressure are intimately intertwined and should tested at every opportunity. As you grow older, it might be beneficial to invest in a personal blood pressure monitor and have your cholesterol tested each time you donate blood or take advantage of pharmacy or clinical public screenings.
Once you hit age 50, a colonoscopy should take place every five to ten years to screen for colorectal cancer. If you have inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis or irritable bowel syndrome, you should have a colonoscopy more often.
Skin Cancer Screenings
During routine health screenings, your doctor should examine your skin for any signs of cancer. Luckily, skin cancer is fairly easy to detect, especially with the naked eye. Also, if you are concerned about any freckles, moles or rough patches of skin, you should see a dermatologist and check them out.
Hearing and Vision Screening
Testing your eyesight should be a yearly occurrence to ensure you do not need glasses or a new prescription if you already have vision correction glasses or contacts. In addition, an eye doctor can look for signs of cataracts, glaucoma, retinal dysfunction, tumors and even signs of diabetes. Every five to ten years, your hearing should be tested. At least 30% of people age 50 and older have some hearing loss and may not realize it.
Besides cholesterol screenings, blood tests can identify sexually transmitted diseases, diabetes, HIV and AIDS, anemia, allergies and various nutritional deficiencies. The blood is telling and knowing the results can help you tailor your diet or seek the help of a specialist in the event some type of disease is detected.