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Health Tests & Checks Women Should Have Done Yearly

As a woman, there are a variety of essential screenings that you should complete annually. They help ensure that you’re in great shape, both physically and mentally. In addition, screening tests are performed regularly to catch hidden or easily missed conditions and diseases in those considered otherwise healthy. Typically, catching illnesses and issues early dramatically improves treatment options and outcomes.

Here are the top health tests every woman should regularly complete as advised by their doctor

The Top Health Tests & Checks for Her

Family History Review

Your doctor should be reviewing your family history with you during your yearly physical. While this is necessarily a test per se, it’s still very important. When you provide information about your family member’s health history, it creates a complete picture for your doctor about certain conditions you may be at risk of developing.

Additionally, it can help make early warning signs easier to detect, guide your practitioner to the best treatment options, and highlight which lifestyle changes may be needed to prevent future illnesses. A family history review is especially important for women because many conditions, such as breast cancer BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations, are hereditary.

Mental Health Screening

Health exams aren’t always solely a measure of your physical wellness; mental health is important too. Mental wellbeing screenings are especially vital for pregnant and postpartum women who may be experiencing significant hormonal and lifestyle changes.

However, any female in any stage of womanhood can benefit from a mental health screening. Often these simple tests look for signs of depression, anxiety, or personality disorders. Identifying problems sooner rather than later can help patients get the treatment they need and prevent prolonged suffering.

“People should get a mental health screening at every physician visit! We live in a high stress society, especially in recent times, and anxiety and depression are serious and common issues that should be screened for frequently,” says Brynna Connor, MD and Healthcare Ambassador at NorthWestPharmacy.com.

Breast Cancer Screening

Did you know that the risk of developing breast cancer is 1 in 8 for the average woman? Women have long been advised to complete monthly self-breast exams, which are important, but screenings can help too.

“Early detection for breast cancer is best because it can be treated much more effectively when caught early. Women age 40 should begin getting regular breast screenings. Breast screenings should be conducted earlier if during a self breast exam, there are any issues or concerns, or if someone has a 1st degree relative who was diagnosed with breast cancer at an earlier age,” says Connor.

A breast cancer screening often consists of a mammogram that allows doctors to view the breast tissues and screen them for any mutations such as tumours. In some cases, tissue sampling or thermography may be required.

Colorectal Cancer Screening

Colorectal is one of the least desirable screening tests. However, it’s essential to overcome any fear of discomfort and complete this test as advised by your doctor. Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosis among Americans.

“Women age 45 should be screened. Early screening leads to the best treatment and Cologuard is available for earlier detection (a simple at-home stool test), however, a colonoscopy remains the gold standard in detection of colon cancer,” advises Connor.

Colonoscopies are the most common type of screening test for colorectal cancer. Your doctor can remove any polyps during the screening and take tissue samples if necessary. Less invasive stool tests are options for some women, depending on their health and family history.

Pap and HPV Tests

Do you have an annual exam with your gynecologist? Your doctor can complete a routine pap and HPV test during this appointment. These tests look for cancerous and precancerous abnormalities in the cervix, anus, vagina, vulva, and uterus.

Your gynecologist will collect a small sampling of cells during the test. The testing results are vital for monitoring infections and cancer and to see how well treatment is working. In addition, this screening is essential for women of all ages as some types of human papillomaviruses can cause almost all cases of cervical cancer.

Pregnancy Test

While not every woman needs a pregnancy test, it can be beneficial for those who are sexually active. Get a pregnancy test as soon as you suspect you could be pregnant. These simple urine tests can identify pregnancy with nearly 99% accuracy when taken on the first day of your missed period.

Identifying pregnancy early sets you and the developing embryo up for the healthiest pregnancy possible. Alternatively, an early pregnancy diagnosis allows you to discuss options with your doctor sooner.

Skin Cancer Check

We all typically enjoy relaxing in the sun from time to time. Some of us love a golden tan, while others may be too busy applying sunscreen to our kids to lather ourselves. This is why it’s essential to conduct regular skin cancer checks.

If any spots or moles look or feel suspicious, you should have them checked out. However, an annual skin check can identify problem areas you may have missed. Therefore, you should complete a self-exam every few months and receive a screening from a board-certified dermatologist every year.

Eye Exam

It’s easy to be tricked into believing the myth that you don’t need to have an eye exam if you can see clearly. However, regular eye checks can identify more than just vision problems. For example, an eye doctor will look for glaucoma, macular degeneration, and cataracts.

Seeing an eye doctor early on in your life helps to establish a baseline for your vision allowing doctors to identify issues more readily in the future. In addition, eye exams are an important part of caring for your overall health, especially considering that vision is a huge factor in our daily lives.

Hearing Test

We’re often guilty of treating hearing tests like eye exams; as long as everything seems to be working, we see no need for screening. Although, that’s not always the case. Hearing ability typically decreases with age. A hearing test can check how well you can detect pitch and range.

Often an at-home questionnaire can help you decide if you should be tested by a professional. In addition, your doctor may advise a test every few years to ensure your hearing is at optimal levels.

Bone Density Test

As women age, their bones are at risk of becoming less dense, leading to fractures. In addition, hormonal changes, such as pregnancy and menopause, can result in heightened bone loss, making a bone density screening imperative.

A bone density scan, completed with a simple x-ray, looks at the strength and thickness of our bones. Women aged sixty-five and older usually require a bone density scan to monitor fracture risk and check for osteoporosis.

Cholesterol Test

In addition to high blood pressure, high cholesterol is the other most common condition doctors regularly watch out for. This blood test helps doctors understand your risk of plaques, or fatty build-up, in your arteries. Too many fatty deposits can lead to narrowed or blocked arteries in your body, heightening your risk of heart attack or stroke. Cholesterol screenings are essential for everyone, even women who appear healthy. However, the necessity for screening is higher if there is a family history of high cholesterol or heart attack.

STDs

Your need for sexually transmitted disease (STD) screening can vary with age. National guidelines state that screenings should be completed annually for sexually active women under the age of twenty-five. You should have a test if you’re older than twenty-five or have a new sexual partner or multiple partners.

You also need to be screened if you’re pregnant, as some STDs can harm unborn babies. Additionally, untreated STDs or STIs can cause health problems if left unchecked. Finally, if you don’t fit the above recommendations but have symptoms, you should get tested.

Dental Exam

Did you know that your dentist can gain insight into your overall health by looking at your gums, teeth, and tongue? For example, they may be able to spot diabetes, cancer, or heart disease. This is why dental exams are so important, along with repairing teeth and checking for cavities.

You should schedule a dental cleaning every six months. At your cleaning, your dentist will perform a routine exam. Keeping unhealthy bacteria in check and catching health concerns early are the two biggest reasons to schedule your bi-annual check-up.

Vaccines

Everyone’s free to develop their own opinion regarding vaccines. But it is vital to know that the CDC recommends certain vaccines to increase your immunity and keep the population safe from specific diseases.

Depending on your age, job conditions, and lifestyle, you may need more than the standard recommended adult immunizations, including influenza, Covid-19, and Tdap. Pregnant women especially should consider getting vaccinated for their health and transferring some immunity to their developing baby.

If you are interested in speaking to a health professional to have these tests done, speak to your family doctor or find a walk-in clinic nearby. 

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