5 Health Screenings All Women Should Have
All women should set aside time to practice healthy habits like exercising, having the right diet, and stress management. As a woman, planning regular health screening sessions with your doctor is another healthy habit that will ensure you remain healthy and might even save your life if you detect diseases early.
Some of the crucial screenings you should have as a woman include1. Pap smear
Regardless of your sexual status, all women should have a pap smear, also known as a pelvic exam, between the ages of 21-65. According to the USPSTF, you should have this exam after every three years.
After the first three exams, your doctor could allow you not to have the exams as frequently. The intervals also depend on your age. During a pap smear, the doctor widens your vaginal canal using a speculum.
The doctor then uses a brush to collect a sample of your cervical cells, which he/she examines for any changes and signs of cervical cancer. If you are 30 years or older, you can have the pelvic exam after five years, and you can also combine it with an HPV test.
After the age of 65, you can stop having pap smears if you have had 3 of them in the last ten years. If you have undergone cervical dysplasia treatment, do not stop having pap smears until you are 65 or 20 for 20 years after you get the treatment.
If you had your cervix and uterus removed and haven’t had cervical cancer, you don’t need to have pap smears.2. Mammograms
Mammograms are tests that doctors do to diagnose breast cancer. Experts recommend that you start having mammograms from the age of 45, and you should have them once or twice every two years.
However, since the risk of getting breast cancer increases as you age, you should increase the mammogram frequency after you reach 50, especially if you have any breast cancer risk factors.
If you have anybody in your family with a breast cancer history, organize with your doctor so that you can start the screening early.
To conduct a mammogram, the doctor compresses your breast, making it possible to capture X-ray pictures. Those X-rays show the inside tissue of your breast, and the doctor uses them to see if there are any unusual cell or tissue growth.3. Blood pressure screening
From the age of 20, you should have your blood pressure examined once every two years. The normal blood pressure reading is 120/80 mmHg.
If the top number of the reading is between 120 and 139, or if the bottom number is between 80 and 89, you should also have it checked around once every two years.
However, suppose you have risk factors like being over 40 years and having conditions like obesity and diabetes that increase your chances of getting high blood pressure. In that case, you should get it checked annually.4. Bone density screening
The United States Preventive Task Force recommends that all women aged 65 or older should undergo osteoporosis screening using a bone density test.
If you have osteoporosis risk factors like a fracture history or low body weight, you should start bone density screening at an earlier age. Your doctor does the bone density screening using a painless DEXA scan.
During that scan, you lay on a table, and a low-dose machine takes images of your bones. The images show the doctor the state of your bones and advice you on some of the things you should do to avoid breaking any of your bones.5. Cholesterol screening
This is a blood test; you have to determine your cholesterol levels to determine if you have heart disease or stroke risk. If you are 20 years and above, you should have these tests after every five years.
According to the National Institutes of Health, your healthy cholesterol levels should be between 239 milligrams per deciliter. If you experience any lifestyle changes before the five-year interval lapses, like your diet and weight gain, you should have the test done soon.
Since the risk of getting heart diseases increases with age, you mustn't miss your cholesterol check appointment after you are 45 years and above.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Margaret Bloom graduated from The University of Florida in 2018; she majored in Communications with a minor in mass media. Currently, she is an Author, a Freelance Internet Writer, and a Blogger.