Ten Ways for Women to Keep their Health In Check
As a wife, mom or otherwise caretaker, it’s easy to put your health on the backburner while you worry about everyone else. “Schedule that mammogram? I’ll do it tomorrow. When was the last time I got my blood sugar checked? I’m sure it’s normal, I feel fine!”
As a woman and family practice provider, Lisa Smith, ARNP-C, knows all too well the importance of getting regular checkups and screenings. Many conditions don’t have obvious symptoms such as cervical cancer or high cholesterol, so staying on top of screenings and catching any irregularities early can do the body good!
For women of all ages, here are the top ten health checkups you should consider and when to get them:
- Blood Pressure: High blood pressure often shows no symptoms, so this is a big one! Starting at age 18, you should get yours checked at least once every two years, though more often won’t hurt!
- Blood Glucose: Ah yes, the dreaded blood test. Unless your family history or health risks say otherwise, checking your blood sugar levels every three years starting at age 45 is a best practice.
- Mammograms: You were waiting for this one to pop up, right? Though there’s some mixed information out there, MHP recommends starting yearly at age 40 or earlier if you have a family history, depending on your provider’s recommendations. Luckily, MHP has advanced digital mammography technology that makes the squeeze as pleasant as possible!
- Pelvic exams and pap smears: Everyone’s favorite words, right? These exams check for abnormalities including cervical cancer as well as STDs, both can exist with little or no symptoms. By age 21, women should be getting regular checkups at least once every two years.
- Cholesterol: Another one of those sneaky conditions that can easily be maintained if caught early! A simple blood test should be completed once every five years starting at age 20. And ladies, don’t skip this one, a healthy cholesterol level keeps your heart happy! MHP offers reduced-rate screenings every February, mark your calendars now and get this quick test out of the way.
- Weight: Have you noticed the scale slowly creeping up? Maintaining a healthy weight is essential for overall health. Chat with your primary care provider about diet changes and exercises that can help.
- Skin check: Any new moles or spots show up recently? Keep them on record with your doc and practice safe sun tips year round to maintain that youthful glow!
- Colorectal cancer screening: Another fun topic of conversation, but a vital test indeed! Colorectal cancer is usually slow-growing, so catching it early can truly be life-saving! Starting at age 50, schedule a colonoscopy once every ten years, but share your family history with your provider first in case you need to be seen sooner. MHP offers free Colorectal Cancer screening kits in March for the years in between; take advantage of all that you can!
- Immunizations: Depending on your age, you may be due for some vaccinations. Stay up-to-date on yearly flu vaccinations to keep illness at bay, but also be mindful of other immunizations, such as shingles or pneumonia.
- Bone density test: For women, osteoporosis is common so it’s important to monitor bone density. Talk with your provider about when to start screenings, for most women its around age 65.
Phew, what a list! Luckily, most of these items can be taken care of during a regular visit with your primary care provider. MHP also offers multiple chances to get screenings, such as glucose and blood pressure checks, for free throughout the year. Take advantage of these opportunities and get a handle on your health!
Published Apr 13, 2017
Family Nurse Practitioner Lisa Smith enjoys caring for patients of all ages in a rural setting at New Sharon Medical Center. She prides herself on being a good listener and always wants her patients to feel well-equipped to continue their care at home. As a mother, Lisa understands the value of reliable information from someone you trust. When patients need advanced care, Lisa works closely with specialists on the MHP campus in Oskaloosa.