Women’s Health Checklist
As women, when it comes to maintaining our health—there are lots of moving parts. Not only do we go through experiences like childbirth and menopause, but many common health problems could potentially impact women more severely than men. An example of this is heart disease.
Heart disease is known to be the number one killer of both males and females in the United States. However, women are more likely to experience a fatal heart attack. Knowing this, it’s absolutely imperative that as women, we prioritize preventative health checks.
It can all be overwhelming, especially with new guidance coming out often. But early detection truly has the power to save lives. It’s imperative that as a woman, you keep up with your women’s health checklist.
That’s why we’ve created this guide that you can use to inform your plan, when scheduling your women’s health check ups:
You should be visiting your primary care physician at least once a year. This is a great time to bring up any concerns, and to identify risk factors and talk about heredity predispositions for different diseases. During your annual check up, it’s also important to have routine blood work performed. It’s a great time to check overall vitals such as:
Staying consistent with your annual health check ups is crucial to detecting diseases early-on.
Breast Examinations / Mammograms
Clinical breast examinations should be done annually by your OBGYN during your well-woman visit. But it’s also imperative you perform regular breast self examinations. We recommend getting to know what our body looks and feels like daily! Start by looking at your chest in the mirror every day and touching under your arms and up to your collar bones, in addition to feeling for and learning what's normal for you in your breast mound area. If you feel any abnormalities, it’s critical you go to your physician and have them examined. Women ages 45 and older should also begin annual mammograms to screen for breast cancer.
In addition to self-checks, provider visits and mammograms, there are new technologies and innovations in the breast diagnostic space. Mammogen is an up and coming way technology to screen for breast cancer. They are a woman-led biotechnology company—focused on improving the detection, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases impacting women. It’s a non-invasive process, focused on detecting breast cancer early-on in women. They’re working to eliminate false positives, and false negatives—and helping make non-invasive screenings available to all. Be sure to learn more about the Mammogen community, and how you can take ownership of your health.
Staying up to date on Pap Smears is another important part of women’s health. It is recommended you have a Pap Test done by your OBGYN once every 3 years. Pap Tests are done to screen your body for cervical cancer.
For women ages 21-25, the risk of having cervical cancer is extremely low. If you have not had the HPV vaccine, screening during the ages of 21-25 should be considered more strongly. Women ages 30-65 should be screened every 3 years for cervical cancer.
Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
If you’re sexually active and under the age of 25, you should be tested for gonorrhea and chlamydia every year. Women over the age of 25 who have new/multiple sex partners, or a sex partner with an STI, should also be tested for gonorrhea and chlamydia annually. Testing for STIs is critical and a really important part of protecting your health.
It’s important you have an open discussion about your sexual health with your doctor, and determine whether or not you should be tested for STIs.
The American Cancer Society recommends beginning colonoscopy screenings at the age of 45. If you have a family history of colon cancer, you may want to start these even earlier. If you do not have a family history of colon cancer, it is recommended you have a colonoscopy performed every 10 years to screen for the disease.
Skin Cancer Screenings
Skin cancer screenings should be performed once a year. This should be performed more frequently if you have a family history of skin cancer or if you have a history of extended sun exposure. Talk to your physician and see what frequency is right for you.
And don't forget, wear your sunscreen. It's such an easy way to reduce your risk!
Women ages 65 and over with a normal bone mass, should test every 15 years to screen for osteoporosis. If you have risk factors, such as smoking, alcoholism, rheumatoid arthritis, or medications that increase bone density loss, it is recommended you are screened more frequently.
Discuss these risk factors with your doctor to see which time frame works best for you.
Healthy digestion and a healthy gut begin in your mouth. Making sure you’re consistent with dental hygiene is critical. Anyone else flossing twice a day?!
It is recommended you visit your dentist at least once every 6 months for a cleaning. Those with more severe dental issues may go more often.
Checking in on your mental health is just as important as the physical health screenings you get done. Making sure you’re regularly talking with your healthcare provider about any mental or emotional concerns is critical.
Suffering from anxiety, depression, addiction, and/or eating disorders are just a few mental health disorders that may impact you. Make sure you’re checking in with yourself regularly, and speaking to a physician when you have mental health concerns. It may be that they can help you learn natural ways to alleviate some of what you’re feeling, and also help you figure out what treatment plan is right for you.
These are a few screenings we recommend including on your women’s health checklist.
It’s important to note, different factors play into women’s health. Factors such as age, race, and income should not be overlooked when creating your own women’s health checklist.
Studies show factors such as race impact hypertension. Specifically, African American women are more severely impacted by illnesses such as heart disease and breast cancer. And one reason is because African American women are more likely to experience hypertension in their lifetime. Factors such as these should be considered to inform and empower women more disposed to illness, to take ownership of their health and develop a checklist that is right for them.
What are some things you have on your women’s health checklist? Be sure to let us know in the comments below.