Sometimes, we are all guilty of allowing time to rob us of our good health. We feel that we are rushed through each day in such a way that we don’t stop to take a breath or eat well, let alone schedule health screenings. Since preventative medicine is the best kind, we are writing today to let you in on which health screenings are truly important for even the busiest woman on the block.
Health screenings aren’t meant to be fun. While they may not be much to look forward to, they are incredibly important in determining your overall health as well as the chances you have of developing a host of serious illnesses. Doctors try hard to get patients to take their health seriously, and annual screenings are one of the most effective ways to catch diseases before they become difficult to treat.
Your doctor may have different suggestions for you depending on your genetic predisposition for things like breast and colon cancer. Your comorbidities, such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and other chronic illnesses may also be a factor in determining how often you need a certain screening. Check out our list below to see the most important screenings for women and then make the call to get it in your calendar.
- Colonoscopy. This one isn’t so fun, but it is a truly effective way to discover colon cancer in its early stages. In fact, this test undoubtedly saves many lives each year, as rates of colon cancer climb, even for younger age groups. Colonoscopies check for polyps, which can be either benign or precancerous. Current recommendations to begin screening are between the ages of 45 and 50. However, if you have a family history, you may need to be screened starting at an earlier age.
- Mammogram. Another not so fun test, and one that involves some definite discomfort, but nonetheless it is incredibly important in diagnosing breast cancer early on. Doctors recommend starting screenings at age 40, although, again, if you have a family history you will need to start earlier.
- Pap and HPV testing. You’ll need to get your feet up in the stirrups every five years from the ages of 30-65. If you are younger than 30, you should have a screening done to ensure you have a normal pap. You may also want to get STD testing, especially if you plan to be sexually active or become pregnant.
- Skin check. Skin cancer is another silent killer, but regular skin checks can save the lives of women who may otherwise be unaware of dangerous lesions or moles. Starting at age 18, and especially if you are fair skinned, you should be in touch with a dermatologist. Full body skin checks should then begin at age 40.
- Bone density test. Dense bones mean a decreased chance for fractures. Osteoporosis, or a decrease in bone density, is a real threat to women, especially as we age. Make sure to get your bone density screenings starting at age 50 if you have risk factors and age 65 otherwise.
Don’t forget your annual physical!
On top of these screenings, you should make sure to head to your doctor once a year for a physical. At this appointment, your blood pressure and other vitals will be checked. You will have blood drawn for a health screening panel that includes cholesterol as well as liver enzymes, blood platelets and glucose. Remember, it is important to bring up concerns with your doctor at this time, even if you think it is something small.
Your health is your greatest treasure. Don’t let yourself be intimidated by the thought of scheduling preventative screenings. Instead, write a list, make some calls, and then rest assured knowing that you are doing everything you can to live your healthiest life.