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HealthLiving

A Comprehensive Guide to Health Screenings for Women at Every Age

By  Dr Farah Ingale, Director-Internal Medicine, Fortis Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi 

Staying healthy is not a difficult task, especially if you are ready to make small changes to your daily lifestyle. While eating right and exercising are pillars for a good and healthy lifestyle, getting yourself screened for any potential health problems is also very important. This is because health screenings are lifesavers as they can help a doctor/expert detect any disease you might be suffering from and manage it better so that the outcomes are positive. This is particularly true for women who generally ignore their health due to a lack of time and energy. Further, since women have unique health needs, screenings for various issues are critical as it will help them maintain their overall well-being at every stage of their age.

PS – Details shared herein are not comprehensive and might vary on individual basis. Its recommended that women consult their primary care physician to determine additional appointments that they might need.  

Mentioned are a few tests that women should take undergo every ten years  of  their life.

Tests You Need In Your 20s 

Cervical Cancer Screenings: In India, cervical cancer is a significant public health problem as almost 122,844 women are diagnosed with the condition, and for 67,477, it proves fatal. That is why screening for cervical cancer through pap tests is highly recommended for women from a young age, starting from their twenties, regardless of sexual history. Cervical cancer screenings look for pre-cancers or changes in the cervix cells so that any signs of the disease are recognised and treated appropriately.

Further, it is essential that women also monitor their period cycle, especially as they are about to begin the reproductive period of their life. Menstrual history is a critical part of a woman’s overall health and well-being, and excessive bleeding can lead to other conditions, including anaemia and fibroids, which need to be treated by a medical expert.  

Tests You Need In Your 30s

Check Your Iron Levels And Reproductive Health: Iron is an essential mineral that helps produce healthy red blood cells. In women, iron deficiency or anaemia is quite common especially in pregnant women and new mothers. Since this is the decade in which most women plan their pregnancy, women must visit a gynaecologist or specialised expert so that they can guide them towards a safe and healthy pregnancy.

If you’re experiencing shortness of breath and unexplained fatigue, a blood test to check your iron levels is highly recommended. Do not take any dietary supplements without consulting a doctor.

Tests You Need In Your 40s

Mammograms: Breast cancer accounts for 14 per cent of cancers and is quite common in Indian women. It is reported that an Indian woman is diagnosed with breast cancer every four minutes. While breast cancer can prove fatal, it is curable and treatable, especially if it is diagnosed early.

Since the risk of breast cancer is relatively higher as a woman gets older, it is recommended that mammographs are done after the age of 40. If you have any symptoms of breast cancer or have a family history of the condition, you must get tested as early as possible. The simplest way to breast cancer prevention is through a self-breast examination. Women should be doing this regularly after they turn 30, and if you notice anything concerning, please head to a specialist at the earliest.  

Tests you need in your 50s

Menopause Treatment and Relief: While menopause generally occurs in the 50s for most women, the time can vary depending on the number of pregnancies, body mass index, and physical activity, among others.

Menopause is defined as 12 months without a period. Women must track their menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes, mood changes and sexual dysfunction. While we understand that discussing these topics might be embarrassing, and there is not a lot of awareness about the same, a specialised doctor is in the best position to help women figure out their symptoms and concerns.

Tests You Need in Your 60s

Bone Density Scans: With age, normal bones and muscles undergo a lot of wear and tear. Also, as women have lower bone marrow density than men, they are more likely to develop osteoporosis, leading to fractures and other related complications. That is why women above the age of 60 must always get their bone density tested, especially if they have a family history. To keep bones in good condition for an extended period, the focus should be on good healthy food and exercises like walking and stretching to reduce bone complications.

Tests You Need After 65+ 

Health screenings change as a woman grows older as frequency needs to be increased. For example, your blood pressure should now be checked yearly and more frequently if you have shown high/low blood pressure symptoms. In addition, cholesterol levels should also be checked every year. Other health tests/screenings that women over 65 should sign up for include:

  • Hearing and vision screenings
  • Depression screening
  • Diabetes test
  • Heart Health

The above four tests must be done annually for women above 60. However, this is not a standard procedure, and situations can vary according to each specific patient. Irrespective of your age, it is best to visit a doctor every six months, even if you do not have any health condition, so that they can monitor your health condition and flag off any concerns with relevant screenings. Remember that prevention is a step away from a cure, and it is better to get yourself screened early for any health condition as it will help you stay healthy for a long time.

Reference:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4404964/#:~:text=Every%20year%20in%20India%2C%20122%2C844,67%2C477%20die%20from%20the%20disease.&text=India%20has%20a%20population%20of,at%20risk%20of%20developing%20cancer.&text=It%20is%20the%20second%20most,women%20aged%2015%E2%80%9344%20years
  2. https://cytecare.com/blog/statistics-of-breast-cancer/
Dr Farah_Ingale

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