Newswise — CLEVELAND -- You’re exercising on a regular basis, trying to eat right and even reserving some me-time to relax and recharge during your busy day. That’s great. But are you also getting the health screenings that every woman should have?
Health screenings can detect disease when it’s most treatable, and, in many cases, prevent serious health problems that can develop if a medical condition is left unchecked.
Work with your physician to schedule the right screenings, says family medicine specialist Lili Lustig, DO. Your doctor will take into consideration your age, overall health, family history and current medical concerns.
Which Health Screenings to Get
Lili Ann Lustig, DO, recommends women have these 11 tests:
Pap and human papilloma virus (HPV) tests. Between ages 20 to 30, you should have a Pap and HPV screening to look for pre- or early cervical cancer and the HPV virus.
“Women ages 30 to 65 who have a normal Pap test and a negative HPV only need to be re-screened every five years,” Dr. Lustig says.
Sexually transmitted diseases (STD) tests. STDs may be symptomless, meaning you can pass it to your partner or, if pregnant, an unborn child. “All women who are sexually active from age 13 to 65 should be regularly screened for STDs,” she says. “This is especially important for women under age 25, and for other women who have had new or multiple sex partners.”
Pregnancy test. If you suspect you might be pregnant, getting tested early puts you on the path for good prenatal care, including eating well and avoiding drugs and alcohol.
Mammogram. The current recommendation is to get your first mammogram starting at age 40, and to get screened annually after that.
Skin check. At age 18, check your skin monthly for suspicious moles or color changes, especially if you're fair-skinned or exposed to the sun constantly. Full body yearly skin exams with your dermatologist should begin at age 40.
Colonoscopy. This test helps finds and removes symptom-less polyps that can develop into colon cancer. Dr. Lustig recommends getting screened between ages 45 to 50. The results will determine when you will need your next colonoscopy.
Bone density test. The denser your bones, the less likely they are to break. If you have a thin build or other serious risk factor, begin getting tested at age 50. Otherwise, the general guideline is to start by age 65.
Hearing test. Impaired hearing affects your mental processes and can hurt your quality of life. Get your hearing tested every 10 years until age 50, then annually after age 60.
Eye exam. The recommended guidelines for adults are a baseline eye exam at age 18, then every two years until age 60, unless there is a problem such as diabetes. Beginning at age 61, you should get an annual eye exam.
Blood pressure screening. High blood pressure is associated with heart disease, diabetes and an increased potential for heart attack and stroke. Most doctors begin this screening with obese children by age 2, then continue to check annually.
Cholesterol test. The American Heart Association recommends getting a baseline test at age 10, then repeating the test every four to six years for people at average risk of high cholesterol.
“Each test has its own time and place,” Dr. Lustig says. “Generally, the sooner your doctor can identify and treat a medical condition, the better the outcome. That’s why seeing your family medicine doctor regularly is so important.”