Women have their own health issues due to a complex reproductive system that makes them unique from men. A variety of diseases such as heart attack, depression, anxiety, sexually transmitted diseases (STD), osteoarthritis, and urinary tract problems can affect women more severely than men. These problems necessitate them to visit their doctor in timely intervals in order to screen for various diseases. Screening tests can assess the risk for future illnesses and help in their early detection.
Blood Pressure Check
Women with blood pressure between 120-139/80-89 or higher should have their blood pressure checked at least every year. Women with diabetes, heart disease, kidney problems, or other related conditions also need to have their blood pressure checked regularly.
Women at risk for heart disease need to be screened between the ages of 20 and 45. Women aged 44 and above need to be screened every 5 years. Women with diabetes, heart disease, kidney problems, or other conditions need to have their cholesterol levels checked more frequently.
Women aged 45 or above should get tested for diabetes every 3 years. Women with blood pressure above 135/80 will be recommended by their health care provider to check their blood sugar for diabetes.
Colon Cancer Screening
Women between the ages of 50 and 75, need to be screened for colon cancer. A stool test is recommended every year. A flexible sigmoidoscopy and barium enema is recommended every 5 years. A colonoscopy is recommended every 10 years. Additional studies may be scheduled by your doctor if you have a history of ulcerative colitis or any family history of colon cancer.
A dental exam and cleaning is recommended at least once in a year.
An eye examination is recommended every two years for women older than 45 or with vision abnormalities. You may need to be checked for glaucoma once you cross the age of 45.
A flu vaccine is recommended once a year. Women after the age of 19 should have a tetanus-diphtheria and acellular pertussis (TdAP) vaccine and a tetanus-diphtheria booster every 10 years. Human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccination is recommended for women between the ages of 18 and 26. Women born after 1980, who have never had chickenpox, should receive two doses of varicella vaccine. Other vaccinations will be recommended by your health care provider if you are found to be at high risk for other diseases, such as pneumonia and shingles.
At least two physical exams are recommended in your 20s. Your height, weight, and body mass index (BMI) will be checked during each examination. Women over the age of 40 should undergo a physical examination once every 5 years.
Women should perform a monthly self-exam of their breasts. Any lumps or other abnormalities noted in the breasts should immediately be reported to the doctor. Women between the ages of 20 to 40 need to have their breasts examined by a doctor once every 3 years, and a complete breast exam is recommended every year in women aged 40 and above. Depending on their risk factors for breast cancer, women over the age of 40 need to have a mammogram performed every one to two years.
A bone density test should be performed in all postmenopausal women with fractures. Women under the age of 65, depending on their risk factors need to be screened for osteoporosis.
Pap Smear and Pelvic Examination
Screening should begin within 3 years after the first vaginal intercourse or by the age of 21. After the age of 21, women should have both a Pap smear and a pelvic exam performed every 2 years to check for cervical cancer. Women over age 30 or whose Pap smears have been negative three times in a row may only need a Pap smear once every 3 years. Women who are sexually active should be screened for sexually transmitted diseases.
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