Because September is World Sexual Health Month, we thought it would be good to go over the health screenings you should get (related to both sexual health and overall health). These screenings can help you keep healthy by preventing certain conditions and detecting other conditions early.
11 Essential Health Screenings for Women
Talk to your doctor about when you should get the following health screenings:
1. Breast Cancer Screening
Breast cancer screenings are an important part of women’s healthcare routines. For younger women under the age of 40, manual clinical exams are performed at annual women’s wellness exams. Self-exams can also be done throughout the year.
For women at average risk of breast cancer, mammograms should be performed every one to two years beginning at age 40 according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Women should be screened by their gynecologists at their annual exam each year to identify patients who are at increased risk such as a family history of breast cancer as those patients may need a mammogram earlier than age 40.
2. Pap Smears
A Pap smear or Pap test is a procedure that is used to screen for precancerous or cancerous changes of the cervix in women. When women have this test regularly, cervical cancer can be prevented. These tests are recommended for health screenings for women beginning at age 21. Pap guidelines vary by patient age, surgical history, family history, and other contributing factors. It is important to have an annual pelvic exam with your health provider or gynecologist every year and they can evaluate the frequency of pap testing needed on an individual basis. Some patients may not need to have a pap test each year.
3. STD Screening
If you are sexually active, it’s important that getting tested for STDs is on your list of health screenings. Not everyone needs to get tested for the same STDs and the frequency of screenings is different for each individual. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), all adults and adolescents from ages 13 to 64 should be tested for HIV at least once in their lives. Click here to see other recommendations based on your age and history.
4. Bone Density Tests
This test screens for osteoporosis and bone loss. Osteoporosis increases the risk of bone fractures. Most women do not need this health screening until they are 65. However, if there are indications that the test should be done earlier, your doctor will probably recommend it based on your risk.
5. Blood Glucose Tests
Around age 45, you should start getting your blood glucose levels tested every three years. This can help detect prediabetes and diabetes early. If you have risk factors that make it more likely you’ll get diabetes, you might need to be screened earlier.
6. Blood Pressure Screening
Blood pressure screenings are an important part of your healthcare routine because high blood pressure can lead to many complications. You are likely used to getting your blood pressure measured at the beginning of most medical appointments. If you don’t go to the doctor regularly, you should make a point of getting your blood pressure checked.
7. Cholesterol Tests
Cholesterol tests are recommended every four to six years for women over 20. After age 45, getting your cholesterol tested becomes more important because the risk of heart disease increases.
8. Colon Cancer Screening
The American Cancer Society recommends that women with an average risk of colorectal cancer start regular screening at age 45. Screening tests for colorectal cancer include colonoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy, virtual colonoscopy with CT, stool tests, and visual exams. How often you need to get tested depends on your health history and the results of previous screening tests.
9. Eye Exams
Having good vision and healthy eyes is an important part of your overall health. You should visit an ophthalmologist or optometrist at least every two years. Many people recommend having an exam every year, especially if you have existing vision problems.
10. Dental Exams
Your oral health is a crucial part of your general wellness. Taking good care of your teeth and gums can possibly prevent issues with your heart and arteries. You should get a dental cleaning and exam every six months.
Talk To An OB/GYN
The team at Triangle Physicians for Women is here for you in all stages of your life and are committed to providing you with comprehensive care during these uncertain times. That includes providing necessary health screenings to our patients. Our top priorities are always the safety and health of our patients and staff. For more information on our policies for COVID-19, call the office at (919) 678-6900 or click here for details.