Prevention is Essential
Protecting your health with routine screeningsMay 18, 2023
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, many women got behind on their preventive screenings that are necessary for overall health. While many people have started to catch up, it important to talk to your doctor regarding routine screenings based on age, sex and family medical history.
What can you do to improve health this month?
Visit your doctor.
Annual checkups are one of the most valuable appointments to maintain your health. During a checkup, you can talk to your doctor about new or ongoing issues and schedule preventive screenings to check your health. Depending on age and family history, you may need to schedule a mammogram, colonoscopy, blood tests and more.
Check in on your mental health.
In recent years, doctors have added routine screening for depression to annual checkups — as women have higher rates of depression than men, this is another good reason to get a checkup. If you already have a mental health diagnosis and have been putting off therapy or other mental health treatments, now is the time to make an appointment.
Spring is here, and outdoor activities such as gardening, hiking or walking are great ways to improve your health. Target 150 minutes per week – or 20-30 minutes per day — as these levels are proven to reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes, reduce the risk for many cancers and improve mental health.
Common Health Screenings
Talk with your doctor to clarify the appropriate age to start and stop these screenings, based on your personal medical history, family history and other medical conditions. Suggested screenings and ages include the following:
Starting at age 20, blood tests are used to screen for cholesterol levels, which is a marker of cardiovascular disease risk.
Starting at age 35, blood sugars are checked to screen for diabetes. Screening for blood sugars should be checked earlier for individuals with a history of gestational diabetes or a strong family history of diabetes.
Starting at age 21, pap smears are recommended every 3-5 years for women to screen for cervical cancer.
This is measured during every health visit to identify people with high blood pressure (i.e., hypertension).
Starting between ages 40-50, mammograms are recommended every 1-2 years to screen for breast cancer. The timing to begin screening varies based on family history of breast cancer and other factors.
For adults aged 45 and older, it is important to be screened for colon cancer. The time between tests will vary depending on family history of colon cancer and other factors.
Bone density screening.
Women are at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis after menopause. Starting at age 65, it is important to screen for bone density to prevent osteoporotic fractures.
For more information about preventive care for women that is tailored to specific age groups, visit the Office of Women’s Health website.