According to Lambeth Hochwald
There are 10 medical tests every woman ought to have, no matter your age or whether you are currently in good health.
There are more than 28 million Americans with measurable hearing loss and there are steps that you can take to prevent it from getting worse. Hochwald suggests scheduling an appointment “if you have trouble making out what people are saying, hear ringing in your ears, feel a plugged sensation, or have a family history of hearing loss. Otosclerosis, a genetic disorder that prompts abnormal growth of the bone of the middle ear, is more prevalent in women and often surfaces when a woman is pregnant or between 15 and 30.”
2. Bone-Mineral Density Test
This medical test will determine whether or not you are at risk for osteoporosis, the weakening of the bones that affects “nearly 10 million older Americans, 80 percent of whom are women” (National Osteoporosis Foundation).
Hochwald notes that it is recommended “to have the first DXA (dual-energy X-ray) test at age 65 and another every five years. Women can lose up to 30 percent of their bone mass in the five to seven years following menopause. Get tested at menopause if you weigh less than 127 pounds, have ever smoked, have a history of nontraumatic fractures as an adult, or have a family history of osteoporosis.”
3. Clinical Breast Exam and Mammogram
These two types of screening can detect breast cancer when it is confined to that specific area. Studies prove that ninety-seven percent of women diagnosed at this stage survive without a recurrence for at least five years, according to the American Cancer Society.
From the age of 20, every woman should have a doctor perform a breast exam at your regular health check. By age 40, you should have a mammogram (an X-ray of the breasts) once a year. “Schedule your mammogram right after your period,” says Holly Thacker, M.D. “That’s when the breasts are least tender.”
This test is used to detect colorectal cancer before the symptoms occur. In its early stages, this form of cancer is 90% curable. Your first test ought to be performed at age 50, sooner if it runs in your family. If no problems are found and you have no family history, you can test once every 10 years.
5. Comprehensive Eye Exam
From vision changes and sties to cataracts and glaucoma, you will want to catch any eye issue as early as possible. Even if you think your vision is good, have a basic exam performed by age 40 and then every two years until age 65. After age 65, test annually, and should you have a family history or are considered a risk factor (diabetes, using steroids, wear contact lenses, or are African American), then see a doctor annually.
6. Dental Screening
Ruling out oral cancer is always a good idea since it is considered one of the six most common cancers among American adults (Academy of General Dentistry). Also, having a dental screen will treat tooth decay and fight gum disease.
Regular cleanings and checkups should start six months after your baby teeth appear and continue twice a year for the rest of your life. If you’re pregnant or taking contraceptives, you may be more prone to gum inflammation. Smokers and women who have more than a drink or two a day are at a greater risk for gum disease and oral cancers.
7. Heart-Health Test
Heart disease is the number one killer of women and 64% of women who die from sudden cardiac death have no previous symptoms of this disease. Therefore, it is important to start your annual exam at age 20, especially if you have a family history of hypertension or premature heart disease. You should also have an annual exam if you are over age 45, overweight or are a smoker.
8. Lipid Profile
One of the best ways to track your heart-disease risk is to check your cholesterol levels. An elevated cholesterol rate will not only increase your risk for a heart attack or stroke but it has also been linked to gallbladder disease.
At age 20, schedule this test regardless of a family or personal history of heart issues. If your results are normal, get checked at least every five years until you reach age 45. If you are 45 or older, have a family history of heart disease, or have a total cholesterol level of over 200, get an annual screening.
9. Mole Screening
Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is the second most common cancer (after breast) among women in their 30s (American Cancer Society). Melanoma, if caught early, is 100 percent curable.
By age 30 (earlier if you’ve had extensive sun exposure), you should begin to have an annual skin check. Repeat twice a year after that if you’re at high risk (past occurrence of basal-cell or squamous-cell carcinoma, family history, a lot of moles, and any combination of fair skin, red or blond hair or freckles).
10. Pap Smear
This test is the best way to detect cervical cancer in time to treat it effectively. Hochwald states that “According to the American Cancer Society, over the past 50 years, the death rate from this disease has declined by more than 74 percent, thanks to the Pap smear, which was first introduced by the late George Papanicolaou, M.D.”
She also notes that “Beginning at least by age 21, If you’ve had several normal Paps in a row and a negative human-papillomavirus (HPV) test, get tested every other year. If you’re a smoker, have multiple sexual partners, began having intercourse at a young age, are HIV-positive, or have a sexually transmitted disease, have a Pap annually. If you are 30 or older, ask your doctor to test for HPV.”
To read more about these tests and what to expect, click here.