With most medical conditions, it’s best to catch problems early before they develop into larger issues. Many problems are silent in their early stages and show no symptoms, so regular health screenings and annual exams are vital for remaining proactive about your health. The following guide will help you determine when it’s time to schedule an appointment with your physician:
- Prenatal Screening
- As soon as you suspect you’re pregnant, schedule an appointment with your AOA physician or midwife. It’s important to start taking prenatal vitamins and modifying your lifestyle to promote and protect the health of your baby. Through prenatal screening, genetic testing and ultrasounds, you can find out if your pregnancy is high risk so you can get the appropriate level of care for you and your baby.
- Cervical, Uterine and Ovarian Cancer Screenings
- Cervical, ovarian and uterine cancers can be detected and handled quickly in the beginning stages. However, if left untreated, they can be deadly. Pelvic exams, blood tests and Pap smears may be used to detect these types of cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, all women should begin cervical cancer screening at age 21.
- Women aged 21 to 29 should have a Pap test every three years. HPV testing can also be done if there are abnormal results.
- Women between 30 and 65 should have a Pap test combined with an HPV test every five years. It’s ok, however, to choose to have a Pap smear only every 3 years.
- Your risk of breast cancer increases with age. Mammograms are recommended annually for high-risk women aged 40 and older. Women with an average risk of breast cancer may wait until age 50 and schedule follow-up tests every two years. Regular mammograms are important since breast cancer treatment is much more effective when the cancer is detected at an early stage.
- A bone density test detects osteoporosis, a disease that causes your bones to become fragile and break. A bone density test uses X-rays to measure how many grams of calcium and other bone minerals are within your bones.
- Your doctor may recommend a bone density test if you’ve lost height, fractured a bone, taken certain steroid medications, received a transplant or had a drop in hormone levels. All postmenopausal women under age 65 and all women age 65 and older should receive bone density testing.
- Women 50 years of age and older should have a colonoscopy to check for colon cancer and screen for precancerous polyps. Early detection leads to a more positive outcome, so being proactive is very important. The results of your first colonoscopy will determine how often you will need subsequent tests.
- Healthy women aged 40 and older should have lipid profiles done annually. Additionally, high cholesterol, high blood pressure or a high BMI should be proactively monitored and managed to avoid heart problems.
- American Cancer Society
- Mayo Clinic
- National Osteoporosis Foundation
To learn more about women’s health screenings, call Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com.