Routine wellness exams are essential for women who want to maintain and/or improve their health. Women may not be familiar with all of the screening options that can keep them on the right track.
Preventative health screenings can shed light on risks for certain diseases and provide insight into patient behaviors that may be harmful. Screenings also may help save a life.
Healthy diets and daily exercise are hallmarks of healthy people, but routine wellness exams are just as important. The following are some screenings women should include in their health and wellness routines.
• Blood pressure: Doctors will typically test blood pressure at every visit. Women whose blood pressure is below 120/80 mmHg can go every two years between blood pressure readings up until age 20, advises The American Heart Association. Adults 40 or older, or those with conditions that put them at risk for hypertension, should go annually or as advised by a doctor.
• Cervical cytology: The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends routine pelvic examinations with cervical testing that includes Pap testing and HPV testing. Consult with an OB-GYN for testing frequency, which depends on age.
• Cholesterol: Cholesterol levels alone are not indicative of one’s overall health. However, a complete cholesterol test can determine a person’s risk for heart disease. If levels are consistently normal, this test may only need to be performed every five years, advises the National Institutes of Health.
• Mammogram: Mammograms screen for breast cancer. Given the risk of false positives, debate continues as to how frequently women need these screenings. The most recent guidelines from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force says mammograms are recommended starting at age 50, and should occur every two years. The American Cancer Society advises starting at age 45 and having a mammogram annually through age 55.
• Blood-glucose test: The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Kidney Diseases says women should be screened regularly for prediabetes or diabetes beginning around age 45. Women can speak with their physicians to determine how often they should receive these screenings.
• Osteoporosis screenings: Bone density can be measured starting at age 65 or earlier if a woman has a high fracture risk, states Regis College.
• Skin examination: The American Academy of Dermatology suggests speaking with a dermatologist about skin exams. Self-examinations should be routine, but dermatologists may recommend more formal tests to women who meet certain criteria.
Women should speak to their doctors about personalized screenings based on family history and other risk factors.