It’s no secret that everyone can benefit from regular screenings. But if you’re a woman, you will need certain tests that men don’t. Simply being female can also increase your risk for specific diseases. A big part of prevention depends on routine check-ups, after all! Do your body a favor by getting these 10 important medical tests.
10 Medical Tests For Women
1. Bone Mineral Density Test
Simply being a woman gives you a higher risk for developing osteoporosis. Your body also stops growing bone at age 30. From here, bone mass slowly deteriorates.1 And while adequate exercise and calcium intake can offer protection, a bone mineral density test will show your risk. This is recommended for women ages 65 and older.2
A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast and is used to find tumors. If you have a strong family history of breast cancer, your doctor might ask you to get a mammogram before age 50. Otherwise, you should get one every two years starting at 50. It’s the best way to detect breast cancer early and successfully treat it.3
3. Pap Smear
Thanks to Pap smears, cervical cancer is the second most preventable cancer in women. This test checks for abnormal cells in the cervix and can catch them before they turn cancerous. You can also get a test for human papillomavirus (HPV), the virus that causes these changes. You’ll need to get these tests every 3 to 5 years, depending on your age and sexual activity.4
4. Colorectal Screening
At age 50, your risk of colon cancer begins to increase.5 Regular colorectal screenings can detect it early, though. The frequency will depend on your risks. And since there are multiple types of tests, your doctor will let you know which one is best for you.6
5. Diabetes Screening
If you have high blood pressure or are overweight, it’s a good idea to get a diabetes screening. 7 This will help you detect prediabetes or type 2 diabetes in the early stages. But if you don’t have any risk factors, you should still get routine blood tests.8 This will check if your blood sugar levels are within normal range.
6. Skin Examination
While you can do a skin exam yourself, it doesn’t hurt to have a pro help you out. This is useful if you have a family history of skin cancer or get a lot of sun exposure. A doctor can also tell you if any suspicious moles need more tests.9
7. STD Tests
Aside from HIV screening, STD tests are important for your sexual health. If you’re sexually active, get screened for chlamydia and gonorrhea every year.10 These diseases don’t always have symptoms, so getting it tested is the only way to know.
8. Blood Pressure Test
In the United States, heart disease kills 1 in 4 women.11 One of the biggest risk factors is high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. But since it doesn’t always cause symptoms, it’s hard to catch without testing.12 Protect yourself by getting a blood test every two years and keeping your weight in check. If you have hypertension, you should get tested yearly. It’s a painless test that can be done in seconds.13
9. Cholesterol Test
Like hypertension, high cholesterol can lead to heart disease. This can be caused by factors like poor eating habits, weight gain, and physical inactivity. However, cholesterol often rises with age.14 A yearly blood test that includes your lipid profile is the best way to keep it in control.
10. HIV Test
If you’re sexually active, it is a good idea to get an HIV test at least once in your life. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a high risk – it can happen to anyone. Plus, catching HIV early will improve your chances of living a long and healthy life. It can also limit the chances of spreading the virus to your partner.15
It’s up to you to schedule these tests as needed. Remember, the earlier you catch a problem, the sooner you can get it treated. Your future self will thank you!