Women face unique health challenges during their lifetime. Medical conditions concerning the female reproductive system and pregnancy are some of the most prominent examples, which are undoubtedly experienced only by the women population. Also, women aren’t exempted from less evident chronic health conditions, like diabetes, heart diseases, cancer, and more.
Knowing Your Health Through Health Screenings
Understanding your own health is more complex than you’d imagine. While you may not be feeling sick right now, thanks to your healthy and active lifestyle, you won’t actually know if something’s wrong unless noticeable signs and symptoms will show.
Thankfully, medical research and technology led to more awareness of an individual’s health through a set of routine examinations called health screenings. By obtaining regular health screening, you can detect medical conditions as early as possible, allowing better treatment and management. Overall, health screenings give you a better understanding of the status of your health.
With various health dangers surrounding women of different ages, race, color, and origin, here are six essential health screenings that every woman should regularly undergo:
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Scan
The human body is such a complex network that’s composed of different anatomies. But did you know that there’s a specific type of screening procedure that can take images in various parts of the body? This is called magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), an essential imaging technique that women should never ignore.
MRI is superior to other image scanning methods, like X-ray and CT scans, as it can accurately differentiate muscle, fat, and water in the body. Also, an MRI can detect abnormal masses and calcifications in the breasts, which helps diagnose breast cancer in women. Compared to preferred breast cancer diagnosis methods like mammograms and ultrasounds, the MRI Accuracy is actually higher.
However, routine imaging tests are only recommended for people with higher risks of developing a disease, such as unhealthy lifestyle and genetic history. If you’re experiencing the signs and symptoms of an unknown condition, your health professional will advise you if you’ll need an MRI.
- Lipid Blood Test
With one in three deaths occurring annually, heart diseases are the leading cause of death in the global women population. Since this condition is experienced by both men and women, everyone should allot equal attention to cardiovascular diseases through preventative health screenings, such as a lipid blood test.
Abnormally high cholesterol levels are responsible for developing heart diseases. By performing a lipid blood test, you’ll be able to identify the number of different lipids or fats present in your blood, which include:
- High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol: The “good” cholesterol helps eliminate LDL cholesterol in the blood.
- Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol: The “bad” cholesterol is linked to many chronic conditions, like stroke, heart diseases, and atherosclerosis.
- Triglycerides: These are stored in your fat cells when your body doesn’t use extra calories.
- Total cholesterol: The total amount of cholesterol found in your blood, as the name implies.
Preferably, you should get a lipid blood test once every five to six years. However, your physician may suggest screening more often if you possess certain risk factors for heart diseases, stroke, and diabetes.
- Skin Examination
A person’s skin doesn’t get any better with age, but it’s not an excuse to neglect it. As the largest organ in your body, your skin goes through a lot–sun exposure, environmental stress, lifestyle concerns, and more.
Due to the accumulated UV exposure as women age, it can increase their risks of developing skin cancer and other skin-related health issues. To take a look at your skin’s condition, it’s paramount to have a full-body, professional skin examination annually with your dermatologist.
From your scalp down to the toenails, your entire body will be examined for any abnormal growth, moles, and skin changes as these are the typical signs of early skin cancer. Fortunately, detrimental skin cancers have a 100% cure rate if they’re discovered early while still sitting superficially on your skin.
- Pap Smear
Identifying cancer in its premature stages is your best chance of taking it out root and stem. This is indeed true in the case of cervical cancer.
Before Pap smear was discovered, cervical cancer was the deadliest type of cancer in American women. Thanks to Dr. George Papanicolaou, the inventor of the procedure (thus the name “Pap” smear), cervical cancer deaths plummeted by 70%.
Health professionals recommend getting a Pap smear to check the cells found in your cervix for any changes and abnormalities every three years. If you’re taking the Pap test along with an HPV test, which is a health screening performed to detect the human papillomavirus (HPV)–another cause of cervical cancer–you can take the Pap test every five years.
- Bone Density Screening
As women reach their menopausal stage, the decrease in estrogen levels directly affects their bone health. Since only women experience menopause, they’re at higher risks of developing bone-related diseases, like osteoporosis.
Women approaching their menopausal stage at 45 to 55 years old are recommended to undergo a bone density screening, which is a health screening for assessing the density and strength of your bones, every two years. If you’re under osteoporosis medication, you should have more frequent bone density tests every year.
A bone density test typically focuses on bones that have higher chances to break due to osteoporosis, including your thighbone (femur), bones in the lower back (lumbar vertebrae), and bones in the forearm (radius and ulna).
- Eye Examination
Being one of your essential sensory organs, you should take good care of your eyes regardless of your age. Therefore, it’s paramount to have an eye examination to maintain your healthy vision and identify threats to your eye health.
Depending on your age, the frequency of your routine eye tests should ideally be:
- 20 to 39 years old: Every five to 10 years
- 40 to 54 years old: Every two to four years
- 55 to 64 years old: Every one to three years
- 65 years and older: Every one to two years
Additionally, did you know that two-thirds of the visual impairment and blindness population worldwide involve women? Women are also more likely to develop cataracts, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) than men.
There’s no doubt that women have been living busier lifestyles today, but they shouldn’t neglect taking care of themselves. After all, your health is your biggest life investment, and not paying enough attention to it can cost you more than your medical expenses.
To live a happy, healthy, and comfortable life as an independent woman, take note of these health screenings and tests so you rest assured that you’re not missing your regular appointment with your health professionals.