A woman’s health depends upon a lot of factors – lack of exercise, poor intake of nutrition, and stress – which can altogether cause a lot of potential problems. But as they say, prevention is better than cure. While we mature and age, so do our bodies and health. With these natural changes we must also take into account our preventive health care requirements. To spot any health concern and nip it in the bud, it is essential for every woman to go through certain health check-ups and screenings depending upon her age.
Health screenings make keeping a tab on our health much simpler and hassle free. Here are the screenings a woman must undergo as she ages.
All young women in their 20s must opt for basic regular health check-ups. Maintain a healthy lifestyle with a combination of balanced diet, exercise and healthy habits. In addition to the above, go for these screenings once every year:
Skin exam: Skin cancer does not ask your age before striking you. Visit a dermatologist for a skin check, and keep a close tab on the ABCDE (Asymmetry, Border, Colour, Diameter, and Evolving) of your skin.
Dental check-up: Visit your dentist every now and then for preventive checks and routine dental clean-ups. Use a good toothbrush and toothpaste and replace a brush every 2-3 months.
Immunizations: Make it a point to get immunization shots for measles, mumps, polio, rota virus, swine flu, cholera, typhoid etc.
Eye exam: Your eyes need to be examined every one to two years. Visit an optometrist who checks for other things besides how good your vision is – like signs of glaucoma or cataract.
Also read: How to carry out a breast self examination?
Blood pressure and cholesterol: If you do not lead a healthy lifestyle, chances are you are at a risk of blood pressure issues and increased levels of cholesterol. Go for a full heart screening every year and if diagnosed, battle it by following healthy heart habits like exercising regularly, eating a nutritious diet, and not smoking.
Pap smears and pelvic exams: At 30, your chances of an active sex life are really high; so you must opt for regular pap smears and pelvic exams to make sure you are healthy ‘down there’.
AIDS test: An active sex life calls for an AIDS check every once a year. Condoms are only 97 per cent effective hence getting an AIDS and HIV test is highly recommended.
Breast exams: Your gynaecologist will do a breast exam for you once a year when you visit her for your pap smears. However, it is essential to do a self-breast examination every once a while. The chances of breast cancer are increased once you cross the age of 25.
Skin exam: You must continue the examination that you started in your twenties.
Thyroid test: Start checking for thyroid problems as early as 35. Getting it once a year should be good enough.
Dental check-ups: The frequency of your dental check-ups may require looking into. Although most dentists recommend getting two tests per year, it depends upon your needs and overall dental health to decide how often you need to visit the dentist.
Eye exam: If you have a family history of vision problems, your optometrist will let you know if you need eye exams and check-ups more frequently than once a year.
Immunizations: If you have taken all shots that are advised by your heath expert, ask him and take a shot of influenza every year or two. This will reduce the risk of complications like pneumonia.
Ages 40 and above:
Preventative health care for women in their 40s or above is of utmost importance as the body ages.
Type 2 diabetes and cholesterol: If you have a family history of either diabetes or cholesterol then you must be extra careful regarding these conditions. Get a CBC done and also any other blood test recommended by your physician.
Pap smears and pelvic exams: Even with a dip in your sex life you may still be prone to certain unhealthy conditions. To be doubly sure, get your pap smears and pelvic exam every year. After three or more negative results, your doctor may recommend that you have pap smears every three years instead of every year.
Thyroid test: This test checks your TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) level for signs of thyroid problems. You must be screened for thyroid dysfunction beginning at age 35, and repeat every five years.
Eye exam: Ageing leads to reduced vision and hence you must get your eyes examined every year.
Skin exam: This must be done along with the cancer preventive tests like breast exam, mammography and pap smears.
Mammography: Mammography detects breast cancer early, especially when it’s more treatable and the risk of death is very low. So make it a point to go for regular screening to avoid/fight cancer.
Whether you are in your 20s, 30s or 40s, it is highly recommended to opt for preventive health check-ups, so as to safeguard the health of yourself and your loved ones. Educate yourself and others about preventive tests as most of them also have insurance cover.