A woman’s health depends on a lot of factors.
Every woman should make time for healthy habits, regular exercise, stress management, choosing the right foods as well as scheduling routine health screenings so potential problems can be identified early. In fact, health screenings can make keeping tabs on your health simple.
So what screenings should you, be considering?
1. Blood pressure screening
Starting at age 18, every woman needs to have her blood pressure checked at least every two years. This health screening involves wrapping a cuff around the arm and pumping it up tightly. Ideal blood pressure for women is less than 120/80 mmHg (millimeters of mercury).
2. Cholesterol check
Women should have their cholesterol checked at least every five years starting at about age 20. This screening is important for decreasing the risk of heart disease, the test only involves drawing a blood sample. This can be done as a quick cholesterol screenings, involving nothing but a finger-prick. If you get a high reading on this screening test, you should be referred to your healthcare practitioner for more complete testing. The ideal level is below 200 mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter) for total cholesterol.
3. Cervical smears and pelvic exams
Recommended to commence when a women becomes sexually active, they need to have a pelvic exam and cervical smear every year to check for any abnormalities in the reproductive system. To take the cervical smear, a speculum is placed inside the vagina to widen the vaginal canal, and your healthcare practitioner uses a small spatula to take cells from the cervix to detect any cell changes that can lead to cervical cancer. The cervical smear test is often combined with the CA125 blood test to check for Ovarian Cancer which is often referred to as the silent killer as the symptoms are often misdiagnosed.
4. Mammograms and breast exams
Starting around age 20, women should have a physical breast examination at least every three years until age 40, when this should be done annually, according to most experts. The screening process should include a physical examination and health education as well as an ultrasound or /and mammogram. Current European guidelines recommend 2 yearly breast screening for all women aged 40 plus.
5. Bone density screen
Women should start getting screened for osteoporosis with a bone density test at age 65. Women with risk factors for osteoporosis, such as having a slender frame or a fractured bone, should be screened earlier. For this test, you lie on the table while a scanning machine takes X-ray images of certain bones in your body. Healthy bones show a T-score (the measurement used to describe your bone density) of -1 or higher. The frequency of this health screening varies from woman to woman based on bone density and risk factors.
6. Blood glucose tests
Women should get a blood glucose test every three years starting at age 40 to test for diabetes or pre-diabetes. Before age 45, you may need to have your blood glucose levels tested if you have symptoms of diabetes or several risk factors.
7. Colon cancer screening
Colon cancer screening tests for women generally start’s at the age of 50, but is dependent of many factors, such as family history. Screening for Colon cancer can vary from a simple stool sample to a blood test or the more traditional tests are the flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy.
8. Body mass index
A full yearly physical exam includes measurements of your height and weight and a calculation of your body mass index (BMI). You can also calculate your BMI at home using an online BMI calculator which help’s indicate obesity and the risk of serious health conditions like diabetes and heart disease.
9. Skin examination
Women should examine their skin every month starting at age 18, and by the time they’re 20, a healthcare practitioner should conduct the examination during a routine check-up. Women should carefully inspect the skin all over their bodies, looking for any new moles or changes to existing moles to spot the early signs of skin cancer.
10. Dental check-up
Good dental health is important from the moment your first baby tooth sprouts, and all adult women need twice-yearly dental check-ups and cleaning. Regular dental check-ups, which involve examining the teeth and sometimes taking X-rays, can keep teeth healthy and spot early signs of decay or any problems with the mouth or teeth.
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