Preventative screenings are a cornerstone of public health. Screenings help prevent disease and catch any health problems while they are still in the early stages. As women age, there are more and more screening that are required to ensure that they are in optimal health. Here is a list of some common health screenings, when to start them, and how often you should have them done. Remember, your physician will always have the most up-to-date information as well as the best recommendations for you.
Breast Exam: In addition to the monthly self-exam you perform, a health care provider should do one for you on an yearly basis.
Cholesterol: Have a cholesterol screening test performed on an annual basis. If you have high cholesterol, your doctor may want to begin screening more often.
Skin Checks: You should have a dermatologist check your skin anytime you notice any changes in moles or other markings. These changes can be a sign of skin cancer. If you spend a lot of time in the sun or live in a sunny climate, you should get an annual skin cancer check.
Pap Smear and Pelvic Exams: You should start these tests when you are 18 or become sexually active, whichever comes first. If you have had an abnormal pap smear in the past, your physician may recommend performing this test more often. If you are sexually active, this is also the time to get STI and HIV tests.
Dental Exam: Poor oral health is often a predictor of other health problems. Have a thorough teeth cleaning every year. Your dentist will also screen for other oral health issues based on your family history and risk factors.
Flu Shot: Given once a year, this vaccine is useful for almost everyone. The vaccine typically becomes available in October and provides protection for a year. While it does not guarantee that you will not get the flu, it is the best protection.
Thyroid Tests: This test should be done after you turn 35 and then repeated every five years to ensure that your thyroid is not over- or under-active.
Mammogram: If you have no history of breast cancer in your family, you should have this done on a yearly basis after you turn 40. If your family has a history of breast cancer, you should start at age 30 or earlier, if recommended by a physician.
Blood Sugar Test: This screening helps catch diabetes during the early stages. Have one done at age 45. You physician will then make recommendations for future screenings based on your results and overall health.
Colonoscopy: You should have a colonoscopy done at age 50 and then every five to ten years depending on your risk factors.
For further reading visit the National Women’s Health Information Center.
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