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7 Women’s Health Screening Musts That Should Go on Your Medical To-Do List

Women’s Health. Text on tablet device on a wooden table

Psychiatrist, Dr. Gail Saltz, talks about how women don’t look after themselves. She says there is a difference between being selfish in a good way and being selfish in a bad way. It’s healthy to put your oxygen mask on first so you can look after others rather than take everybody in the airplane down with you.

Women’s health screening for common conditions that affect women is an integral part of maintaining one’s health. Read this list to make sure you’re covered!

What’s Included?

It’s important to understand what your Medicare or Medicare Supplemental Insurance policy covers. There are some tests that are important if you have risk factors and others that you may want so you can act sooner rather than later to prevent health problems. These are the tests you should check for.

1. Cervical Cancer Screening

From the age of 21 women should have a Pap smear test every three years according to the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force. Between the ages of 30 and 65, this can reduce to every five years with the addition of an HPV screening. This is a screening test for cervical cancer.

During the examination, your doctor will widen the vagina using a special instrument called a speculum. The doctor will remove a small number of cells from your cervix to test. You will receive the results of the test later.

2. Bone Density Test

After the age of 30 women can lose bone density. The loss of bone mass can lead to weaknesses in the bones and osteoporosis. Load bearing exercises and a balanced diet can help reduce this.

Early identification of risk factors is advisable. If required, a scan of your bones can identify problems. Treatments can then reduce the likelihood of bone fractures.

3. Breast Examination and Mammogram

A regular self-administered breast examination should be part of every woman’s regular routine of self-care and breast cancer prevention. A health screening for women between the ages of 20 and 39 should include a breast examination for any abnormalities every one to three years.

After the age of 40, risk factors for cancer increase and so should the frequency of examinations. Annual examinations are recommended.

Mammograms should also start from the age of 40. This may be earlier for higher risk women.

A mammogram is an X-ray of your breasts. You will remove the clothes that cover your breasts and position each breast on the x-ray machine. Your flattened breast may feel a little uncomfortable for a short time.

The x-ray pictures identify any early signs of breast cancer.

4. Sexually Transmitted Disease Tests

Women between the ages of 13 and 64 should be screened for HIV and if you have exposure to possible infection this should be annual. An HIV screening is part of routine health examination for pregnant women.

Screening for chlamydia and gonorrhea is recommended if you are sexually active under the age of 25. Screening after this age depends on risk factors. Have a chat with your healthcare professional about your needs.

5. Blood Pressure and Cholesterol

A healthy heart is important for both men and women but heart health should be part of a women’s health check-up. Both blood pressure and cholesterol checks are recommended.

A blood pressure test is carried out using a simple medical instrument. You will bare your upper arm and a cuff is put on your arm. It is inflated and then deflated slowly.

The instrument shows a reading. The results are available immediately. You will be able to discuss whether your blood pressure is normal or if there is a problem, what you might do about it.

Blood pressure below 120/80 than a check every two years is all you need. If it is higher, more frequent checks are desirable.

If you have a risk of heart disease then a cholesterol check may need to be done more often than every four years. Otherwise, this frequency is fine.

A cholesterol test involves giving a small amount of blood. This is tested and the results are available later.

6. Diabetes and Obesity

Obesity is a risk factor for diabetes. A test of your body mass index or BMI is a simple one. It involves measuring your weight and height.

Being overweight is a risk factor for many diseases. You can have a discussion at a screening about your weight and discuss strategies for managing it. This can prevent problems later in life, including diabetes.

There are two main types of diabetes. Type 1 and Type 2. Both are serious conditions where the level of blood glucose is too high.

Although you need to have glucose in your blood to give your body energy you also need to regulate the amount of glucose. Your pancreas does this by releasing an enzyme called insulin into your bloodstream to do this.

If you have Type 1 diabetes your body doesn’t make insulin. If you have Type 2 diabetes your insulin either doesn’t work properly or you don’t make enough. Too much unregulated glucose in your blood creates many problems including extreme tiredness, kidney problems and more.

You may be at risk of diabetes if you are overweight, have high blood pressure, have high cholesterol or a history of high blood sugar levels when pregnant. If you are at greater than normal risk you may start screening earlier than 45 years old. Otherwise, screening for blood glucose levels starts at 45 and should be every three years.

You may discover you are pre-diabetic or have full-blown diabetes. The test is a simple blood test. If you are pre-diabetic you may be able to avoid developing diabetes by following some lifestyle changes and treatment.

7. Colonoscopy

Women over 50 should have a colonoscopy. This should be repeated every 10 years. If you have any risk factors for colorectal cancer then a colonoscopy may be advisable earlier.

If you are to have a colonoscopy you will be given instructions to follow before the procedure. During the examination, a doctor inserts a flexible tube into your rectum.

The doctor can manipulate the tube through the curves of your colon. A little air is blown into your colon to help the process.

The tube has a small camera at the end. This sends images of your colon lining to a screen. If the doctor feels that it is necessary a small amount of tissue can be removed from the colon for testing later.

Additions to Women’s Health Screening

In addition to the screening tests already described everybody should have a regular vision, hearing, and dental check. It’s important to check that you receive the proper immunizations too. Any changes in your skin such as moles should also be checked out.

Physical health checks are an important part of women’s health screening but psychological health is important too. It should form part of any regular review of your health.

For more information about how to be happy and healthy too, read this guide.

About the author

Susan Paige

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