Many women are able to skip through childhood and early adulthood without any real health concerns. You might have had surgery on your wisdom teeth, an appointment with your gyno about painful cramps, or a brief run-in with a yeast infection or UTI, but for the most part, you didn’t need to spend much time in the doctor’s office.
By the time you hit your 30s, though, it’s time to start building a stronger relationship with your doc, and not just your ob-gyn. Keeping a close inventory of your health (from blood pressure readings to STD tests to vision exams) can catch any potential problems early. HealthiNation’s Chief Medical Editor Preeti Parikh, MD, recommends the following screenings for women in their 30s:
Get your blood pressure tested every two years if your results are normal, which is anything less than 120 over 80. If you have higher blood pressure (above 120 over 80), get your blood pressure checked yearly. This can help detect development of conditions such as heart disease and allow you to make lifestyle changes to reverse the progress.
Get your cholesterol checked every five years. This can also detect progression of heart disease or diabetes. (Eating these foods can help lower high cholesterol.)
If you are overweight or have high blood pressure, you should get tested for diabetes in your 30s. You may be at a higher risk for type 2 diabetes if you had gestational diabetes during a pregnancy.
Continue getting Pap smears and pelvic exams regularly. If your Pap and HPV results are normal, you can get these tests less often, like every five years. If you have abnormal results, you may need to be tested more often. Follow these tips for a better gynecologist visit.
Mammograms are not necessarily needed for women in their 30s—unless you have a family history of breast cancer. You can also do breast self-exams monthly to stay afoot of any possible changes.
Get your skin checked for moles and melanoma by a dermatologist yearly. By your 30s, you have accumulated years of possible sun damage, especially if you life in a more tropical climate (or participated in the tanning craze of the 2000s).
Get screened for STDs such as HIV, gonorrhea, and chlamydia if you are sexually active.
Visit the dentist for dental exams once or twice a year.
Get a vision exam from an eye doctor every two years (or more if your doc recommends it).
Get the following vaccines during your 30s: an annual flu shot, the varicella vaccine (if you’ve never had chickenpox and were born after 1980), and the Tdap vaccine, which you need every 10 years.
These recommended health screenings for women in their 30s can make a big impact on your health as you age. It might seem irrelevant to think about, say, heart disease or cancer now, but your future self may be glad that you did.