Women’s Wellness Check: Getting to Grips with Health Screenings

woman looking out the window

As we grow older, all women should be taking the right steps to look after their health. As well as living a healthy lifestyle, it is also important to schedule routine health screenings. Not only can they help to detect potential problems early, but they can also be lifesaving.

Today, we will discuss 10 of the essential screenings that all women should undergo as they grow older.

  1. PAP Smears

Your first PAP smear, also known as a PAP test, should take place when you turn 21 years old. The aim of this screening is to detect signs of cervical cancer. During your smear, your doctor or practitioner will collect cells from the cervix using a small brush. The cells are then sent to a laboratory where they are examined for abnormal changes.

Some fear that the test is painful, however it can just bring some slight discomfort and there is nothing to worry about. A PAP smear is recommended every three years. However, you should always discuss this matter with your doctor if you are unsure.

  1. Cholesterol Check

cardiovascular model
Photo by Robina Weermeijer on Unsplash

A cholesterol check involves a blood test. The test can measure the amount of cholesterol in your blood, and it is used to assess your risk for developing serious health conditions like heart disease or stroke. You should take this test at least once every five years.

Your doctor will discuss this with you during your test. To prepare for your cholesterol check, you may be asked to fast. So for nine to twelve hours before your test, you should consume no other food and liquids other than water.

  1. Blood Pressure Screening

A blood pressure screening is crucial for helping you better track your heart health. The test measures the pressure in your arteries as your heart pumps. It allows you to identify whether you have a high blood pressure (hypertension). The test is fairly straightforward.

Typically, you will be asked to sit down with your feet flat on the floor. Then you will rest your arm on a table at the level of your heart. A blood pressure cuff is attached around the top of your arm which will then be inflated with a small hand pump. As it inflates, you will feel a squeezing sensation on your arm.

  1. Mammograms

A mammogram screens for breast cancer. The process involves compressing the breast between plates so that x-ray images can be captured. If you have a family history of breast cancer, it can be a good idea to mention this to your doctor as they may recommend that you have your screening earlier.

If you’re about to undergo your first screening and need advice on how you should be preparing for a mammogram then check out this article from Ezra. They tell you all the important information you need to know to help put your mind at ease.

  1. Colon Cancer Screening

A colon cancer screening can involve one of two methods. You may be required to have a colonoscopy. This is when a long tube is inserted into the anus to examine the entire colon. Or, you may be required to have a sigmoidoscopy. This is a lightened tube and camera that is inserted into the anus to examine the lower colon.

The purpose of these tests is to examine whether you are showing signs of colon cancer. Typically, you would be expected to take these tests every five to ten years. Always consult with your doctor if you are unsure.

  1. Bone Density Screening

skeleton thinking
Photo by Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash

Typically, once any woman reaches the age of 65, they should consider scheduling a bone density screening. The screening is looking for signs of osteoporosis, which is a health condition that weakens bones, which makes them more fragile and easier to break.

The test is not something to be feared. All you will be required to do is lay down on a table. You will then have a DEXA scan which will capture images of the inside of your bones.

  1. Blood Glucose Test

As we get older it is important to check for diabetes and prediabetes. To do this, you will need to schedule a blood glucose test every three years. It’s recommended that you start these around the age of 45.

However, if you have a history of diabetes in your family, you may be required to take one earlier so always consult with your doctor. Blood glucose tests are either random or fasting tests. Fasting tests are more common as they provide more accurate results that can be interpreted easier.

  1. Skin Examination

Skin examinations should be carried out by yourself very frequently. You are looking for any changes in your skin like new moles occurring or changes to existing moles. These could be early signs of skin cancer.

If you’re concerned about any moles on your skin, then it is important to consult with your doctor at your nearest convenience. Not all moles are cancerous, but it is important to get them checked out.

  1. Body Mass Index

Adults should regularly be screened for obesity. On average, one in three adults are obese. To combat this rising figure, it is important that we identify obesity early. The test involves having your body mass index (BMI) calculated.

If your BMI indicates that you are obese, you can start to make lifestyle changes to better your health and decrease your risk of serious health conditions like diabetes and heart disease.

  1. Dental Check-Up

Good dental hygiene is important throughout our life. You should always have regular check-ups to help identify issues such as decay. The earlier you can identify these issues, the quicker you can work to address them. It is worth checking that your insurance plan covers dental tests as they can be expensive.

But it’s important to note that they are hugely important for your health. Typically, you should try to visit your dentist every six months. Without any concerns, you should be able to schedule appointments once a year. However, your dentist should inform you on when you need to schedule your next appointment.

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