As women, we’re the experts on our own bodies. We know what does and doesn’t feel normal, but we don’t always feel empowered to speak up to get the care we need. Each year during National Women’s Health Week, millions of women take steps to improve their health. The week serves as a reminder for women to make their health a priority and build positive health habits for life.
What stops you?
The “what ifs”. You may think, “Maybe it’s better not to know”. Putting off any form of bad news only means getting it when it’s worse. And who says it cannot be good news? Opt for peace of mind rather than not knowing.
Even if you are in good physical shape, completing your recommend preventive health screenings helps you stay healthier during the course of your lifetime. Many diseases have no symptoms and it is better to detect them sooner, not later.
Health screenings: 5 ways to help you live a healthier life
Annual well-woman visit
It’s a time to check in on how you’re doing, how you’d like to be doing, and what changes you can make to reach your health goals. In addition to talking with your primary health care provider about your health, you may also need certain vaccines and medical tests depending on your age. At your visit, report any changes in skin, new moles, or changes to existing moles that can be early signs of skin cancer.
The American Cancer Society endorses a woman’s choice to start yearly mammograms at ages 40-44, unquestionably by 45. Certain factors, such as a family history or changes in your breasts, could shift that earlier. Talk to you doctor or OB-GYN about when is right for you.
Cervical Cancer Screening
Health care providers recommend a pap smear every three years beginning at age 21. Between 30 and 65 you can go to every five years and “co-testing” is recommended. If you are over the age of 65 talk, to your doctor about what is right for you.
Starting at age 50, most women should start screening for colorectal cancer and polyps. If colon cancer runs in your family speak to your doctor about what age is right for you to start.
Colonoscopies are not your only choice anymore! Fecal occult blood testing, CT colonography, flexible sigmoidoscopy (FIT), double contrast barium enema, or the stool DNA (sDNA) test are all tests that can screen for cancer. The best test you can do is one that screens for cancer and polyps. Talk to you doctor about which one is right for you.
Bone density screening
Bone density is recommended at age 65, unless you have risk factors or obvious signs or risk factors for osteoporosis, such as fractures or low body weight. A low dose x-ray machine, called a DEXA scan, will capture images of your bones. The results of this test will determine how often you will need this screening.
These steps are the foundation for a lifetime of good health. They can help you be as healthy as possible, whether you’re 20 or over 100! Get screened today — for better health, and for a better life!