Ask any doctor or health expert and they will tell you that prevention is key to staying healthy. One surefire way to of making you're in good health at every age is to schedule regular check ups. There are a plethora of diseases and conditions that women have a higher risk of contracting and your annual physical check up isn't enough to detect them all.
Here are 10 medical screenings that every woman should get at different stages of life to make sure they're in the best shape possible.
1. Pap Smear
Cervical cancer related deaths have declined by 74% over the last 50 years due to Pap smears according to the American Cancer Society. Administering a Pap smear is the best way for doctors to detect human-papillomavirus (HPV) which causes this specific cancer.
If you're 21 or older, you should be getting Paps at least every other year. If you're HIV positive, have an STI, multiple sexual partners or are a smoker then you should be getting a Pap annually.
2. Breast Examination/Mammogram
Similar to the Pap smear, regular breast examination and mammograms are the best ways to screen for breast cancer. Breast cancer kills about 1 in 37 women in the U.S per the American Cancer Society therefore early detection is key to stopping it in its tracks and prevent it from reoccurring.
Manual clinical breast examinations are recommended during your yearly physical starting at the age of 20. For women aged 40 and up, you should have an annual mammogram (x ray of the breasts). Dr. Holly Thacker suggests scheduling your mammograms right after your period because "that's when the breasts are least tender."
3. Diabetes Screening
Diabetes has many hidden symptoms that don't manifest until it's too late. Even though you may feel and appear healthy, it is important to check your system for signs of the chronic disease. There are currently 8 million Americans with undiagnosed diabetes and to avoid being one of them you should ask your doctor to check your glucose absorption levels through a blood test.
If you don't present any risk factors, then you should get tested every 3 years from the age of 45 onwards. If you're pregnant, overweight or have a family history of diabetes or heart problems, then you should get tested younger. You don't have to visit your doctor to have the test done, most major chain drugstores across the country offer the test free of charge.
4. Thyroid Test
Due to the presence of hormones, women are at a higher risk for thyroid-related diseases such as hypothyroidism, goiter and thyroid cancer. An under or overactive thyroid is the root for many problems including weight fluctuations, fatigue and insomnia.
The American Thyroid Association (ATA) recommends the TSH test, a blood test to measure the level of thyroid-stimulating hormone in the body, to be taken every 3 to 5 years starting at the age of 35 then annually after the age of 60. While some doctors don't agree with the ATA since thyroid problems don't manifest until later in life, if you suspect you have symptoms of hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism then you should bring it up on your next doctor's visit.
Continue on the next page for more screenings every woman should have including a bone density test.