10 Tests Every Woman Should Have
Prevention is the key to long-term health and wellness
When it comes to living a healthy life, certain healthy habits are obvious: regular exercise, eating right and managing stress.
Scheduling routine health screenings should also be on that list.
Simply put: health screenings could save your life because they can detect possible issues early. You can also have peace of mind knowing you’re as healthy on the inside as you feel on the outside.
Where to start
If you’re trying to organize all the Pap smears and mammograms dancing in your head, don’t worry. We asked one of our experts for help.
Christopher Buckley, DO, an obstetrics and gynecology specialist at Adena, suggests 10 screenings and tests every woman should have.
1. Pap smear and human papillomavirus (HPV)
Between ages 20-30, women should have both a Pap and HPV screening to look for early signs of cervical cancer and signs of the HPV virus. You can usually receive these tests every five years through age 65 if you have a normal Pap test and negative HPV screening.
Women should have their first colonoscopy between ages 45-50. This test can find and remove pre-cancerous polyps that can later develop into colon cancer. The frequency of this test will depend on your results.
You should have your first mammogram by age 40 and be screened yearly after that. A mammogram uses low-energy X-rays to look for masses or microcalcifications in breast tissue, which can be a sign of breast cancer.
4. DEXA scan
DEXA scans, or bone density tests, look for bone-related health problems like osteoporosis and help determine your risk of breaking a bone. Women 65 years and older with normal bone mass or mild bone loss should have this test every 15 years. Your doctor may recommend a scan starting at age 50 if you have higher risk factors.
5. Lipid profile (or cholesterol test)
A lipid panel is a blood test that measures cholesterol levels – the fats and fatty substances your body uses for energy. The American Heart Association recommends getting a baseline test at age 10, then repeating the test every four to six years for women at average risk of high cholesterol.
6. Hemoglobin A1c test for diabetes
A hemoglobin A1c test shows your average level of blood sugar over the past two to three months. Women should get an A1c test at age 45. If you are overweight or have risk factors for diabetes, you should start earlier than age 45. If your results are normal, you can be retested every three years. If the results show higher levels of blood sugar:
- You’ll probably get tested once a year for prediabetes.
- You may get tested twice each year if you have type 2 diabetes.
- You could get it three or four times each year if you have type 1 diabetes.
7. Dermatology assessment
Skincare starts early. You should start seeing a dermatologist for a full-body skin exam every year starting at age 40, but you should start checking your skin monthly for suspicious moles or color changes around age 18 - especially if you have fair skin or spend a lot of time in the sun.
8. Heredity cancer screening
If you have a strong family history of cancer, a genetic test is a smart decision at any age. Using a blood or saliva sample, a genetic test analyzes genes to see if there are any abnormalities (mutations) that may increase your risk of cancer. Genetic test results can help you and your doctor decide if there are steps you can take to lower your cancer risk.
9. STD screening
Sexually transmitted diseases don’t always show symptoms. That means you could pass it to your partner or an unborn child if you’re pregnant. Sexually active women should be regularly screened for STDs, especially for women under age 25.
10. Hearing tests and eye exams
Your senses have a direct impact on your quality of life. Women should have their hearing tested every 10 years until age 50, then yearly after age 60. You should also have a baseline eye exam at age 18, then every two years until age 60.
Stay on top of your health
No one knows more about women’s health than other women. Talk to your friends about what they’re doing for preventive health. You may just inspire each other to be more proactive about routine screenings and tests.
“Women can empower each other to stay on top of their health,” said Dr. Buckley. “Through word of mouth and explaining to one another the importance of testing, they can prioritize annual exams with a provider to protect themselves from long-term complications.”
To schedule an appointment with one of our Women's Health specialists, call 740-779-7201.