Women are the backbone of our lives. Their contributions are woven into the foundational fabric of our society; they run our world. And yet, more often than not, they tend to neglect their own health in lieu of family or work commitments. They seldom opt for health check-ups and most don’t even consider them until they are post-menopausal. When it comes to health, it is important to be proactive. Active management begins with preventive health check-ups and getting the results corroborated by a specialist. After all, in most cases, it only takes a drop of blood to learn about one’s health condition.
Why should you go for health checks?
Today, there is increased awareness about health conditions that can affect women of different ages and the treatment options for them. However, there are simply too many cases out there that could have easily been prevented or at least detected early. With a health check-up, the doctor is simply going to look for red flags based on lifestyle and family history. These tests not only help in ruling out health issues, but they can also help identify potential problems that you are likely to develop in the future thus enabling preventive measures.
Staying healthy is all about being vigilant and having a balanced lifestyle. Let’s take a look at some important health checks age wise that women should get done to ward off major health problems.
When you are in your 20s and 30s
Wondering if you should get a full body check-up as early as your 20s? There are a few tests that are important when you hit a certain age. There is no harm in getting a test done after all! Most tests are not invasive and some require only simple blood tests. Here are the tests that you should get done in your 20s and 30s.
Blood tests are done to check for hormonal abnormalities such as thyroid problems, insulin resistance, etc. apart from testing for the following:
- Cholesterol (Lipid Profile)
- Serum Calcium
- Serum Creatinine
It is recommended that women in their 20s and 30s should undergo certain screenings such as pap smear, breast exams, and pelvic exams.
Typically, pap smears are done every three years and these are used to look for signs of cancer in the cervix. Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers. Getting a pap smear done is thus extremely beneficial. In case there aren’t any problems, the doctor may increase the frequency between the pap smears.
The Human papillomavirus (HPV) test is carried out in case the pap smear is abnormal or in case the woman is above 30 years. HPV isn’t tested earlier because it is most likely to be positive in sexually active women in their younger years and most infections clear out on their own. Also, for a cell to become cancerous, it could take as long as 10 years. With routine pap smears, there is no need for HPV tests in younger women unless the pap smear is abnormal. The HPV test is similar to a pap smear and can be used to screen for cervical cancer. Certain types of HPV can cause genital warts too and it is important to screen for HPV (post 30).
There is a lot of awareness today about breast cancer and women are increasingly opting for breast cancer screening. Breast exams are routinely done as part of breast cancer screening. In fact, women are encouraged to examine it by themselves and consult a gynecologist in case they notice any changes. The doctor may also recommend genetic testing along with counseling for the BRCA genes. These genes can increase the likelihood of breast cancer when present in their mutated forms. Apart from these, mammograms are recommended in case of a family history of breast cancer.
A pelvic exam lets the doctor examine the reproductive organs and detect any abnormalities. Pap smear is usually done along with a pelvic exam.
Sexual History Based Tests
In the case of an active sexual life, tests for sexually transmitted diseases may be recommended. These are generally based on age and individual risk profiles based on the lifestyles.
There are a few general examinations such as the eye exam, dental exam, urine routine, and physical exams that are also carried out. The doctor may recommend some lifestyle changes in case the BMI is over the normal limit or in case the other tests indicate any risk of developing some condition in the future.
It is important to get your blood pressure checked along with these exams. In case of a normal BP, there is nothing to worry about and it is enough to get it checked once in two years. However, when the BP is elevated or low, you may need regular check-ups along with medications. High BP may be indicative of some other underlying or associated condition and the doctor may recommend diabetes screening and cholesterol tests in such a case.
When you touch 40
If you’ve been religious with your health checks since your 20s or 30s, there may not be new surprises or problems. You would already be handling them. In case you haven’t had a health check until your 40s, its time to get the following done:
- Diabetes screening
- Cholesterol screening
- Blood Pressure Test
- Breast exam, mammogram
- Pelvic exam and pap smear
- Complete Blood Count
- Serum Calcium, creatinine
- Eye check and dental check
Additionally, it is important to look for any moles or suspicious discolorations in the skin. You may not have had adequate protection against UV rays in your youth and that could pose a problem now. It is important to get yourself screened for skin cancer. It is very much curable and as with everything else, early detection can ensure that it is treated completely. Also, when you hit 40, your check-ups maybe become far more frequent depending on your risk indicators and you may have to have breast exams every year. Your mammogram, which may not have been a necessity when you were in your 30s, could be mandatory now.
Health check-ups at 50
Apart from the above, screening for colon cancer is necessary above 50 years of age. Your doctor may advise a colonoscopy every 10 years, yearly stool tests, and flexible sigmoidoscopy once every 5 years. If you are at high risk for colon cancer, you will have to get screenings done regularly until you are 75.
Health checks at 60
With advancing age, you may have to undergo additional tests just to ensure that everything is normal. Here are a few tests apart from the tests discussed above:
- Hearing tests
- Bone density test (to rule out osteoporosis)
Health is wealth
With proactive management, a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle, you can ward off most diseases. By getting yourself screened regularly, you’ll help your doctor detect problems at the very beginning and get you on a treatment program that can prevent the condition from occurring altogether or treat it very early. At mfine, you can consult top gynecologists online from the comfort of your home. Sign up for our health checks and get the best doctors in the city to comb through your reports and help you stay healthy.