Every woman, of any age, needs to take responsibility for her health. Prevention, good diet and exercise can prevent most diseases and conditions. But if something feels amiss you may need to have some health tests and screenings for common conditions that can impact a woman’s health. Lots of conditions can be treated much more effectively if they’re caught early. Here are the health screenings that every woman should have.
- Blood pressure screening. Starting at the age of 20, you should have your blood pressure checked once every two years to make sure it is in the normal range. After the age of 40, or for those with conditions like obesity that could put you at risk of hypertension, an annual screening is wise. High blood pressure can cause a lot of health conditions, so keep an eye on yours.
- Cholesterol check. This can assess your risk of developing heart disease or stroke. For those over the age of 20, a test once every five years is enough. You’re looking for a cholesterol level of less than 200 milligrams per deciliter. If you have been identified as at risk of heart disease or stroke, more regular tests might be in order.
- STD tests. If you’re dating, it’s smart to have an STD test every few months. If you’ve met someone new, you should both get tested if you’re thinking of getting serious, to make sure you both have a clean bill of health. With over 4,400 cases reported, STDs are more common than you might think. A test every few months is enough to ensure you’re healthy and don’t have something without symptoms.
- Pap smears. Between the ages of 21 and 65, you should have a Pap smear every three years. A Doctor uses a speculum to widen the vaginal canal and takes cells from the cervix with a small brush. Those cells are examined for changes that could lead to cervical cancer. If you’re over 30, you can have the test every five years and combine it with a screen for HPV, which can also lead to cervical cancer.
- Mammograms. A mammogram screens for breast cancer, and involve compressing the breast between plates in order for X-ray images to be captured. The risk of breast cancer increases as you age, but false positives from frequent screening can do more harm than good. Some Doctors advise that starting at age 50, women should have a mammogram every two years. Some suggest starting annual screenings at age 45, which then switch to biannual screenings at age 55. If you have a family history of breast cancer, speak to your Doctor about when you should start having screenings and how often you should have them.
By having regular health tests for women like this, you can make informed decisions about your health. Advance warning for health problems like cervical or breast cancer can make a big difference to how well they can be treated. By paying attention to your health and not skipping these important tests, you can give yourself the best chance of staying around for your family for as long as possible. But always remember, prevention is easy with proper diet and a little exercise.