It is critical that women receive various health checks at different age ranges as recommended by your doctor. When you break down health screening by age, it can help you to stay on track and take preventative measures.
There are many key reasons to receive regular health check-ups, and by screening for medical issues or assessing your risk for future medical problems, you can maintain a healthy lifestyle at every age.
Women Ages 18-21
- Physical Examination: At this stage of your life, you should have full physical examinations. A physical exam includes blood pressure testing and an assessment of height, weight, and BMI to help determine your need for early diabetes screenings.
The purpose of these screenings is to evaluate risk for future health issues. You will be able to discuss lifestyle habits with your OB/GYN and keep vaccinations up-to-date.
Women Ages 21-35
- Pelvic Examination and Pap Smear: Women should receive a pelvic examination every year and Pap smear every 3 years. A Pap test combined with a screening for HPV will help you and your doctor determine your risk of cervical cancer.
If you are sexually active, you should ask to be screened for chlamydia and gonorrhea to help prevent the spreading to partners. You will also discuss how to take preventive measures against sexually transmitted infections and plan regular testing depending on your lifestyle.
- Cholesterol Screening: Depending on your weight and lifestyle, starting between the ages of 20 to 40, women should receive cholesterol screenings. If you have normal levels, you only need to be tested every 5 years. By treating high/low cholesterol, you can significantly reduce your risk for heart disease.
- Clinical Breast Examination (CBE): A breast cancer screening done by your healthcare provider trained in CBE, will strongly aid in early detection. A CBE should be done every 3 years for the average woman, and more frequently for women over the age of 40.
Women Ages 35-50
- Mammogram: Starting at the age of 40, women should plan to receive mammograms every year to two years. This is an x-ray of the breast, and the results will help your doctor determine if further testing is needed to screen for cancer.
- Diabetes Screening: Within this age range, women should begin getting screened for diabetes. These screenings help to prevent or treat diabetes which is a disorder of the metabolism.
Women are evaluated with a blood glucose test to measure the amount of sugar in the blood. If you are overweight or at a greater risk for diabetes, your screenings may be more often, but typically they are done every 3 years.
Women Ages 50 and older
- Thyroid Testing: If you are at early risk for thyroid issues, you may have already discussed screenings with your doctor. However, if not, you should receive screenings at this age since women over the age of 60 are more likely to have hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism is a condition in which your thyroid does not produce the right quantity of certain critical hormones. Early and regular screenings for an under or overactive thyroid can help to prevent serious conditions that may be caused if left undetected.
- Colon Cancer Screening: At age 50, doctors highly recommended that women begin to receive a colonoscopy every 10 years or more often if at risk due to family history or other factors. Colonoscopies with other tests frequently done, will help you identify early signs of colon cancer so you can remove precancerous polyps.
By using these guidelines listed above for health screenings by age in combination with what your doctor recommends can help resolve and even prevent serious health issues.
If you have not received certain tests as outlined for your age group, call for an appointment to consult with your OB-GYN about setting up additional health screenings.