It’s no secret that women are often more focused on caring for their families or careers than they are in making their own health a priority. Furthermore, there is a common misconception that women’s health mostly relates to childbirth and gynecology. The truth is that women have a wide variety of unique health needs during each decade of their lives.
Jill Bish, RNC, director of Women’s Services at Tempe St. Luke’s Hospital, believes that one of the most important things a woman can do for herself and for her family is to take care of her health by eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and making time for important health screenings. Below Bish answers some important questions about screenings for each stage of a woman’s life.
Q: What screenings are suggested for women in their 20s and 30s?
A: Women more than 20 years of age can use their Body Mass Index (BMI), a simple calculation of weight in relation to height, to determine whether or not their weight is within a normal, healthy range. Starting at 20 years of age, women should begin getting cholesterol screenings every five years. Women should also have their first Pap test and pelvic exam between 18 and 21 years of age, and every three years after their initial check-up. Women with a strong family history of ovarian cancer should also begin screenings for ovarian cancer.
Q: What screenings are suggested for women in their 40s?
A: As women age, the number of recommended screenings increases. Women between 40 and 64 years of age should have their blood pressure checked every two years. After 45 years of age, it’s important to have a blood glucose screening. This may be recommended earlier if women have risk factors for diabetes, such as obesity, family history and hypertension. Starting at 40 years of age, women should also begin having breast exams and mammograms every one to two years for the prevention and early detection of breast cancer.
Q: What screenings are suggested for women in their 50s and 60s?
A: After 50 years of age, women experience an increased likelihood of health conditions so a few more screenings are recommended. In addition to the exams and screenings conducted in their 40s, women should also be screened for colon cancer beginning at 50 years of age and as recommended by a physician after that. All women, but especially those older than 50 years, should notify their doctors of any skin changes, which could be indicative of skin cancer. For women age 65 years and older, or those with risk factors, bone density screenings for osteoporosis become extremely important.
Q: What is the most important thing women should know about health screenings?
Many of the illnesses detected by preventive screenings can be cured if detected and treated early. When women simply make the time to plan their appointments, most will follow through and get the preventive care they need and deserve.
Jill Bish, RNC, is the director of Women’s Services at Tempe St. Luke’s Hospital. For important screening information or to schedule an appointment, call the Women’s Care Clinic at Tempe St. Luke’s at 480-257-2777.
This information is provided by Tempe St. Luke’s Hospital as general information only and is not intended to replace the advice of a physician.