We get it: life gets busy and sometimes taking the time to schedule an appointment for yourself takes a backseat to – well – just about everything else. But it’s important to make your health a priority. Here’s a list of preventive screenings that are important to prioritize for your whole health.
Annual Well Visit
Women of all ages should make a point to keep their annual well-woman visit. In this appointment, your primary care provider screens for a variety of diseases, assesses your risk for future problems, discusses your lifestyle habits and makes sure you’re up-to-date on your vaccinations.
Depending on your risk factors and family history, you’ll likely start annual mammograms sometime between the ages of 40 and 50. (Speak with your primary care provider to determine the screening schedule that’s right for you.) Expect to undergo an annual mammogram until age 75. This test can identify possible early signs of breast cancer.
In most cases, women should undergo regular colonoscopies (once every five to ten years) starting at age 50 (perhaps sooner based on your personal risk factors and/or family history). Performed under sedation in the outpatient setting, a colonoscopy can identify precancerous polyps or early cancerous cells so they can be removed.
Dental Exam and Cleaning
Dental exams are recommended for all individuals every six months, with X-rays once per year. Professional dental cleanings remove plaque and bacteria that may otherwise lead to tooth and gum disease. During a dental exam, your dentist also checks for signs of tongue and mouth cancer. Having regular dental exams is important since problems with your dental health can be an indication of other health problems, such as osteoporosis.
Most women should undergo regular cholesterol screening starting at age 45. However, you should start cholesterol screening at age 20 if you:
- Are a smoker
- Are obese
- Have diabetes, high blood pressure (hypertension) or heart disease
You should expect to undergo cholesterol screening every five years. Identifying and treating a problem with your cholesterol levels can help reduce your risk of developing heart disease.
Pap Test and HPV Test
Most women should undergo annual Pap and HPV tests until age 65. These tests screen for abnormalities that may indicate pre- or early cervical cancer. Testing positive for HPV helps identify women who may be at risk to develop cervical cancer later on in life.
There are many factors that play into the screening schedule for preventive skin exams, so speak with your primary care provider or dermatologist to determine the schedule that’s right for you. Undergoing regular skin exams enables your healthcare provider to track any worrisome moles, lumps or bumps you may have, along with identifying and treating early signs of skin cancer.
Take the Time to Care for Yourself
We urge you to talk to your trusted women’s health provider about scheduling one of the important screenings above. If you need some help, reach out to our Women’s Health Navigator, who can guide you to whatever doctor or specialist you need.