In the month of May, women are honored for the many roles they play and are reminded to make time for their own health and wellbeing. National Women’s Health Week kicks off on May 12th, and National Women’s Checkup Day is Monday, May 13, 2013. Schedule a checkup visit with your health care professional and urge other women in your life to get preventative screenings.
The US Department of Health and Human Services offers an interactive health screening tool, where you can view the guidelines by age and area of health.Some important screenings include:
- Healthy weight. Have your height and weight checked to make sure that your Body Mass Index (BMI) is within a healthy range.
- Blood pressure should be tested every 1 to 2 years if your blood pressure is normal (systolic less than 120/diastolic less than 80). If it is not normal, your doctor will recommend how often it should be checked. For a healthy heart, cholesterol should be checked beginning at age 20.
- Get screened for diabetes if your blood pressure is higher than 135/80 or if you take medication for high blood pressure.
- A reproductive health check-up, including a pap test and pelvic exam every 1 to 3 years, starting at age 21, or sooner if you are sexually active, is important.
- Have a breast exam yearly by a health care provider, and perform monthly self examinations. Most women have a baseline mammogram at age 40 and then every 1 to 2 years thereafter. If you have risk factors, such as family history or smoking, your doctor may suggest a baseline earlier. Early detection of breast cancer is critical!
- Thyroid tests help determine whether your thyroid may be under or over active. A baseline should be done at age 35 and, if the result is normal, every 5 years after that.
- Have a bone mineral density screening at age 65 to screen for osteoporosis. If you are younger than 65, talk to your health care provider about risk factors and early testing.
- Colorectal screenings usually begin at age 50. A colonoscopy usually begins between ages 50 and 64 and occurs every 10 years. Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancerrelated deaths among women, after lung and breast cancer.
- Have a dental exam and cleaning at least once a year, preferably every 6 months, to prevent and detect cavities or other problems with your teeth, gums, tongue and mouth.
- Vision exams, if you do not have vision problems, should occur every 2 to 4 years to check for glaucoma or other eye problems. Hearing tests should occur about every 10 years until age 50, when your healthcare provider may recommend more frequent screening.
- Conduct a mole self-exam monthly. Report any changes in mole shape or color to your healthcare provider immediately. Starting at age 20, and every 3 years until age 40, and yearly after 40, have an examination by a doctor to screen for skin cancer.
- Speak with your doctor about immunizations including the flu, pneumonia, tetanus, whooping cough and shingles.
If you have any specific health concerns you may need more frequent screenings. Eat a nutritious diet and get at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate physical activity each week; incorporate strength training for healthy bones. Avoid risky behaviors, such as smoking and not wearing a seatbelt. Pay attention to mental health, including getting enough sleep and managing stress. In other words ladies, take care of your self; you deserve it!