Your future self will be glad you had these health screenings.
If you’re a 40-something woman, you’ve ideally already established a relationship with your primary care doctor. It’s best to start consistent checkups for common conditions in even earlier (here are the health tests all women in their 30s need); however, if you’ve been too busy—or procrastinated—it’s time to book those appointments.
TBH, there’s a good chance you’re already doing many of these health screenings, especially if you visit the doctor for an annual wellness exam. To make sure you’re covering all your bases, here are the health screenings all women in their 40s need, according to Preeti Parikh, MD.
Get your blood pressure checked every two years if it’s normal, which is anything less than 120 over 80. For high blood pressure results, get tested every year. It’s important to remember that pregnancy, birth control, and menopause can all raise the risk of high blood pressure.
Check your cholesterol every five years if you have a risk of heart disease.
Women who are 44 years or older should get tested for diabetes every three years. Get tested sooner if you have risk factors such as high blood pressure and being overweight. For anyone with a history of gestational diabetes, the likelihood of diabetes later in life increases.
For many women, mammograms should begin in the 40s, especially if you have risk factors or a family history of breast cancer. Some groups and experts recommend waiting until age 50 to start getting mammograms depending on your breast cancer risk factors, so talk to your doctor to decide what’s right for you personally.
Get tested for colon cancer in your 40s only if you have a family history of the condition or have risk factors such as polyps or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Yep—you still need to get Pap smears and pelvic exams, especially if you are sexually active. Get these every three years—unless your Pap and HPV tests come back negative, in which case, every five years is just fine. (Here’s how to prepare for a gyno visit.)
Get skin and mole checks by a dermatologist every year. Remember that women under age 45 are disproportionately affected by skin cancer. If you spend a lot of time in the sun, these screenings are crucial.
Get a vision exam every two years or more (yes, even if you think you have perfect vision). For many women in their 40s, it becomes harder to see things up close (a condition known as presbyopia) so your glasses prescription may need to be adjusted.
Visit the dentist for a dental exam and cleaning once or twice a year.
Stay vaccinated! Get an annual flu shot and—if you’ve never had one—a Tdap vaccine. Continue getting a Td booster every 10 years.
You probably have a busy schedule, but it’s better to invest in your health now and catch potential issues before they worsen.
Health screening - women - ages 40 to 64. Bethesda, MD: US National Library of Medicine, 2015. (Accessed on September 27, 2016 at https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/007467.htm.)