Health screenings become increasingly important as women get older and physiological changes start happening. These age transitions could give rise to health conditions that become more prevalent as women approach middle age.
However, many medical issues can be treated or better managed with early detection. Thus, by having routine health screenings, you can identify problems before they become serious and affect overall well-being.
Here are five routine health screenings for every woman in their 40s:
1. Pap Test And HPV test
A pap smear test is a health screening for precancerous or cancerous cells on your cervix at the uterus’s opening. The HPV test checks for the presence of the human papillomavirus, which increases the risk of causing cancer if present. The pap smear and HPV tests are effective screening exams for cervical cancer.
During the procedure, your OB-GYN doctor will scrape a sample of cells from your cervix and send them to a lab for testing. The results can come back either ‘normal,’ meaning no abnormal cells were found, or ‘abnormal,’ where your cells need more testing to determine the type of abnormal cells.
Furthermore, the tests can be taken separately or together at a women’s clinic. In this case, women at 40 are recommended to go for a pap test every three years and an HPV test every five years or every five years for a combined test.
2. Clinical Breast Exam
Since the risk of breast cancer increases, women over 40 with an average risk should go for an annual clinical breast exam. These are breast cancer screenings performed by your doctor to check for signs and symptoms of a disease.
Doing this allows you and your healthcare provider to monitor and find out the health of your breast and detect any conditions as early as possible, making it easier to treat them. The two most common breast screenings are a mammogram which takes an x-ray image of the breast, and a breast MRI or Magnetic Resonance Imaging to check women at high risk of cancer.
3. Osteoporosis Screenings
The risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures increases when women reach closer to the average menopausal age in the mid-40s. This is because the body drastically reduces the amount of the hormone estrogen it produces, making women more prone to bone density loss. This can be more prevalent in women who no longer have menstrual periods or have their ovaries removed before menopause and haven’t undergone hormone replacement therapy or HRT.
Thus, a bone density X-ray test or DEXA scan can be administered by a healthcare professional to measure the calcium and minerals in the bones. The results of these tests can help doctors diagnose bone mass, determine the risk level of getting osteoporosis in the future and inspect whether a bone treatment is working.
4. Blood Sugar Screenings
The blood sugar test measures the glucose levels in your blood to prevent, diagnose and manage diabetes. For women without symptoms of the disease, testing should begin between the ages of 35 and 40 and be conducted every three years. Furthermore, for women who are clinically diagnosed with obesity or are overweight and carry a high-risk factor, tests may need to be done annually.
The tests are conducted by a doctor or at home using a glucometer and taking a small blood sample from your fingertip. Also, pregnant women should undergo a glucose challenge and tolerance test within the 24th and 28th weeks. These are necessary to check for gestational diabetes as women having a baby over 40 carry a higher risk for the disease.
5. Physical Exam
Getting a physical exam should be an annual event for women in their 40s. These are full-body medical tests a primary care doctor conducts to check overall wellness and determine the state of your health. These screenings are used to check for possible diseases or risk factors that may lead to health conditions in the future.
They’re also used to determine whether your nutrition and fitness effectively keep you healthy or whether your lifestyle needs changes. While there’s no set procedure for a physical exam, most doctors inspect your medical history, check your blood pressure and perform a heart, lung, and skin testing exam.
Other screenings include abdominal exams, mental wellness 1https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/basics/productivity/mental-health-and-productivity and neurological checks, eye and dental exams, cholesterol checks, and colorectal cancer screenings. These essential health exams should be taken even when women are generally in good condition.
The most important health screenings for women in their 40s cover healthcare areas most affected by physiological changes brought about by aging. These include breast and cervix screenings, bone health checks, and blood sugar testing.
On top of this is the annual physical exam that examines the rest of the entire body to determine overall health status. Doing this can prevent or manage any medical conditions that may arise, leading to better health and wellness for women approaching middle age.
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