As a woman, self care and wellness should be top priorities in your life, both now and in the future. Knowing the right preventive exams to have throughout your lifetime is key to keeping you healthy and safe. From early on into adulthood, there are certain screenings that all women need to incorporate into their routine self-care. Once you reach your 60s, different health tests become important in managing age-related conditions. Taking steps now towards long-term self care with these necessary screenings will ensure you stay as healthy as possible for years to come.
1. Mammogram (Breast Cancer Test)
A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast that is used to screen for breast cancer. Mammograms can be performed using either digital or film technology. The American Cancer Society recommends that women over the age of 40 get a mammogram every year. Regular mammograms are a critical piece of preventive health care for women beginning around the age of 40. Their purpose is not to diagnose cancer, but instead to catch any cells exhibiting early signs of cancerous changes.
When caught early enough, many cases of breast cancer can be treated successfully with minimal impact on quality of life. The test itself is quick and generally painless, taking about 20 minutes and involving a low-dose X-ray. Even more reassuring is that mammograms now use digital technology which requires less radiation exposure than traditional film techniques did in the past. To ensure maximum benefit from this important screening test, it's advised that women discuss when they should begin the routine with their healthcare provider.
2. Pap Smear (Cervical Cancer Test)
A pap smear is a test that is used to screen for cervical cancer. The test involves collecting cells from the cervix, which are then examined for signs of cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends that women over the age of 25 get a pap smear every three years. During a Pap Smear, cells are taken from the cervix and examined under a microscope for abnormalities, helping to identify precancerous conditions that may lead to cervical cancer if left untreated.
This regular screening is recommended for women between the ages of 21 to 65 who need to be tested once every three years or so – more often if they have any risk factors such as a history of HPV or multiple sexual partners. It can be done during an annual wellness exam and takes only minutes, making it one of the simplest preventive tests a woman can undertake for her health.
3. Skin Exam
A skin exam is an examination of the skin that is used to screen for skin cancer, such as melanoma. During a skin exam, a doctor or nurse will look at the skin for any abnormal growths or changes in coloration. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that people of all ages get a skin exam every year. Regularly checking your skin for abnormalities can play an important role in early detection of skin cancer which could potentially save your life. Skin exams are important for all women, even if you don't have any visible signs of skin cancer.
During a skin exam, a health care provider will inspect the surface and look beneath the surface of your skin to check for any abnormalities such as moles, ulcers or lesions that shouldn’t be there. If any suspicious areas are found, additional tests will be recommended to determine how serious it is. While this can seem intimidating, it's a great way to take proactive steps towards ensuring your health and safety. Annual or bi-annual skin exams shouldn't take more than 15 minutes, but can make all the difference in detecting potential problems early-on.
4. Blood Pressure Test
A blood pressure test is a test that measures the force with which blood flows through arteries. High blood pressure can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. The American Heart Association recommends that starting at age 20, people should get their blood pressure checked at least once every two years. A blood pressure test is an incredibly important part of a woman’s yearly visit to her doctor.
This simple, painless test can tell your doctor so much about your health. A high reading could mean that you are at risk for a number of serious medical issues such as stroke or heart disease. A low reading could signal that you are dehydrated or have a medical condition called hypotension. Taking action in either situation can make all the difference when it comes to staying healthy. So if you haven't had a blood pressure test recently, be sure to talk to your doctor and get one done soon!
5. Bone Density Test
A bone density test is a test that is used to screen for osteoporosis, a condition that causes bones to become weak and brittle. Women over the age of 65 may get a bone density test every two years, but a study led by Dr. Margaret Gourlay found that “it would take about 15 years for 10% of women in the highest bone density ranges to develop osteoporosis.” Harvard Health also suggests that the testing frequency depends on the patient’s “previous fracture, family history of osteoporosis, and alcohol and tobacco use.”
This procedure is non-invasive and painless, and involves nothing more than a few x-ray beams being passed through the body to measure the mineral density in your bones. It is recommended that all women between the ages of 40 and 70 take this test as early diagnosis can help treat or prevent osteoporosis-related issues with lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise. Additionally, women who are at risk due to family history, external or environmental factors should consider taking this test annually or as recommended by their healthcare provider.
6. Cholesterol Test
Cholesterol tests help to identify whether or not there are high levels of cholesterol circulating in the body. A simple blood test can detect unhealthy levels and can help prevent serious heart problems or stroke in the long run. It is highly recommended that women get their cholesterol level checked every two years so they can stay on top of their cardiovascular health and take proactive measures when needed.
Part of having good heart health involves monitoring the cholesterol level in your body so you can make sure it stays within the recommended numbers. Although age, gender and family history are risk factors for high cholesterol levels, maintaining healthy lifestyle habits like eating balanced meals, exercising regularly and avoiding smoking can help control it.
Colonoscopy is a minimally invasive way to detect any abnormalities in the colon or rectum, such as tumors or polyps. During this procedure, a doctor will use a special scope to check for any signs of an issue, and if anything unusual is found, it can help prevent development into a more serious condition.
The American Cancer Society recommends that adults begin receiving colonoscopies at age 45 but older women may need to start them earlier depending on current health or risk factors. It is especially important for those over 50 or women with a family history that puts them at an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer. Additionally, certain kinds of polyps may need to be monitored or removed more frequently than once every ten years. Be sure to speak with your healthcare provider about what plan fits your personal needs for optimal prevention.
8. Diabetes Screening Tests
A diabetes screening test is a way of measuring the amount of glucose (sugar) in your body. This helps detect whether someone may have diabetes, or if pre-diabetes (high blood sugar levels) could be an issue. There are three different tests to detect diabetes: an A1C test, a blood sugar test, and a urine test. The A1C test determines your average level of glucose over the past 3 months and provides reliable results without fasting. It doesn't require a dietary adjustment and can be taken any time throughout the day.
A blood sugar test measures your glucose levels at that particular moment, so you'll need to fast 12-14 hours before taking this type of test. Lastly, a urine test isn't as accurate as the other two methods; however, it's still useful for monitoring your medications or catching signs of diabetic ketoacidosis. Overall, regular diabetes testing should be already integrated into all women's self-care routines since diabetes can have far-reaching effects on overall body systems if left unchecked.
Most women should know that HIV/AIDS is a serious and incurable sexually transmitted disease. Knowing the risk factors, preventing transmission, and being tested regularly are all important to protect your health. To determine if a woman has HIV/AIDS, she can receive an antibody test called ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) or an oral swab test.
During these screening tests, the level of HIV antibodies in the blood will be detected - taking only a few minutes but providing potentially lifesaving information. Women in high-risk groups may need to consult with their healthcare provider about more frequent testing depending on their lifestyle and other risk factors. If a woman does contract the virus, proper treatment with antiretroviral therapy can ensure that she lives a full life with minimal symptoms even without finding a cure for this physical ailment.
10 Sexually Transmitted Infections
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can have serious consequences for women's long-term health, so it is crucial that women understand the importance of regular screening tests. Common STIs can easily go unnoticed, so the only way to detect and treat them is to have a professional test.
The most common STI tests include urine samples and swab tests that examine the blood or genitalia directly. Some doctors may also do an additional physical examination if they suspect that a person has an infection. Women should visit their doctor at least once a year to get tested, or more frequently if they are sexually active with multiple partners. Regular testing is essential not just for personal health but also to protect partners from unknowingly contracting an infection.
11. Lung cancer
Did you know that lung cancer is the second most common form of cancer among women? That's why it's so important to be aware of the screenings available to detect the illness at an early stage. For lung cancer, a low-dose computed tomography or CT scan is recommended by U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) for individuals between 55–80 years old, who are current or former smokers and have smoked one pack of cigarettes daily for 30 years.
If a woman falls into this risk category, then she should consider consulting with her doctor about arranging a screening as soon as possible. Anyone experiencing symptoms such as persistent coughing, wheezing, chest pain or recurrent infections should contact their doctor right away, as they may be a sign of underlying issues like lung cancer. Regular screenings and routine examinations could save lives by catching any potential health issues in their early stages.
These are only a few of the health screenings that every woman should be aware of. It’s important for women to be proactive about their health and get regular screenings to detect any early signs of disease. Be sure to talk to your doctor about which tests are right for you, based on your age, family history, and other factors. And don't forget the self-exams you can do at home! By being familiar with your body and knowing what is normal for you, you'll be more likely to notice changes that could signal a problem.