Women’s health tips by the decade
January 11, 2017
Sure, you know it’s important to visit the physician’s office on a regular basis, but did you know that caring for your body takes more than just a routine physical? It’s never too early (or late!) to take control of your health. Find out when you should get important medical tests such as a Pap smear, mammogram, colonoscopy, and more, as well as tips on how you can look and feel younger. It’s time to brush up on your health smarts with our guide to women’s health in your 20s, 30s, 40s and beyond.
In Your 20s
Your parents aren’t making your doctors’ appointments anymore, so it’s up to you to take charge of your health. It’s time to find a healthcare team you trust. You should establish a relationship with a primary care provider to get exams and screenings as your doctor recommends, and visit a gynecologist every year.
Women in their 20s who are sexually active should be screened for STDs, and those 26 and under should get the HPV vaccine, if they haven’t been vaccinated already. Your gynecologist will work with you on birth control and STD prevention and screening. Thinking about having kids? Schedule a pre-conception checkup with your OB/GYN to prepare yourself for a healthy pregnancy.
Create Lifelong Healthy Habits
It’s time to ditch the junk food and invest in a healthy eating plan. If fruits and veggies become the norm in your diet, your body will thank you in the years to come. And while fine lines and wrinkles are years away, take steps now to prevent signs of aging later.
In Your 30s
According to Dr. Ladocsi, pelvic and menstrual problems can surface during this decade. Talk to your doctor if your periods have become heavier or more painful than when you were younger. Unfortunately, infertility becomes an issue for many women in their mid-30s. Your gynecologist can help determine if you need to see a fertility specialist.
Watch the Scale
Unfortunately your metabolism isn’t what it used to be. Exercise is probably the first thing to drop off your busy schedule, given that the thirties are typically the time when both your professional and personal lives are thriving. Still, it’s important to find a workout you love and stick to it for 30 minutes a day.
In Your 40s
It’s time to add another health screening to your yearly routine. Dr. Ladocsi says women should have yearly mammogram screenings starting at 40. While breast cancer affects nearly 1 out of every 8 women in the United States, early detection by mammography can reduce the risk of death by up to one-third, according to the American Cancer Society. It also provides a greater range of treatment options should you be diagnosed.
Know Your Bones
Many post-menopausal women will experience rapid bone loss, which can lead to osteoporosis. That’s why it’s important to make bone health a priority long before menopause. Exercises that force your body to work against gravity, such as tennis, dancing and walking are great bone boosters. Your bones will also benefit from a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D. If you’re not getting enough calcium and/or vitamin D through your diet alone, you may need to take supplements.
In Your 50s and Beyond
Women ages 40-64 should continue getting routine physical exams every 1-2 years, and those 65 and up should have them every year. It’s also important to visit the gynecologist for regular exams (and mammograms), as well as perimenopausal and menopausal changes.
This is the decade where screening for colorectal cancer becomes increasingly important. While it’s the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, it’s also one of the most preventable diseases with routine check-ups.
Vaccines aren’t just for kids. As your age increases, so does the risk of life-threatening complications from the flu and pneumonia. Luckily, you can prevent both with vaccinations. Talk to your doctor about the shingles vaccine after you turn 60.
Catch Your ZZZs
According to the National Sleep Foundation, women are more
likely to have problems falling and staying asleep than men.
Not only does sleep help combat memory loss, but it also
reduces stress and helps dieters lose weight.
Love Your Heart
Heart disease is the leading cause of deaths in the US, killing one in four women. Women won’t necessarily experience the classic symptoms of a heart attack such as crushing chest pain or pain radiating down one arm. In fact, many women experience
hard-to-recognize heart attack symptoms such as shortness of breath, jaw pain and nausea. Bottom line: If you experience chest discomfort or one of the above symptoms, head to the emergency room.