These tests will prep you for a healthier future.
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 condition.
Get your cholesterol checked every five years. This can also detect progression of heart disease or diabetes. (Here are the foods that 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 live 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 heart disease or cancer now, but your future self may be glad that you did.
Preeti Parikh, MD serves as the Chief Medical Officer of HealthiNation. She is a board-certified pediatrician practicing at Westside Pediatrics, is an Assistant Clinical Professor at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and is an American Academy of Pediatrics spokesperson. She holds degrees from Columbia University and Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and has completed post-graduate training at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine.
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Starting good health habits
in your 30s is so important.
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If you've started having kids, you maybe
a regular at the OB-GYN or pediatrician.
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But now's also the time to find
that internist, dermatologist and
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other doctors you trust, so you can start
developing a good relationship with them.
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Here's a run down of the screenings I wish
all women in their 30s would prioritize.
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You should get your blood
pressure tested every two years,
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if your number is normal,
which is anything less than 120 over 80.
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If your blood pressure is higher,
get tested every year.
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Get your cholesterol
checked every five years.
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If you have risk factors for diabetes,
such as high blood pressure or
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being overweight, you should get
tested for diabetes in your 30s, too.
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If you had gestational
diabetes during a presidency,
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you could be at higher risk of
developing diabetes down the road.
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In your 30s,
you still need regular pap smears and
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pelvic exams, but
you may be able to get them less often.
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Women over 30 with normal paps and
HPV tests can get tested every five years.
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If you have abnormal results,
you may need them more often.
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Most women in their 30's
don't need mammograms or
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other breast cancers screenings, unless
there's a family history of breast cancer,
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or you have genetic mutations
that increase your risk.
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According to the latest research,
breast self-exams are a bit controversial.
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Not all experts agree
on their effectiveness.
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You can do a self-exam monthly, and
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you should definitely talk to your doctor
if you notice any changes in your breast.
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By your 30s,
years of sun damage can accumulate,
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which is why mole checks and
skin cancer screenings are important.
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Melanoma, for example, is one of
the most common cancers in young adults.
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If you're sexually active, you should be
screened for infectious diseases like HIV,
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chlamydia and gonorrhea, if you're
at a high risk of contracting them.
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Remember not to neglect your teeth.
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You should go to the dentist for an exam,
and cleaning, at least once a year.
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Twice a year is even better.
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For your eyes,
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you'll want to be checked every two
years if you have vision problems.
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And your doctor can tell you,
if you may need more frequent visits.
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Finally, don't forget about vaccines.
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Your kids aren't the only
ones who need shots.
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You still need an annual flu shot.
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And if you had never had chicken pox,
and you are born after 1980,
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then you should receive two
doses of the varicella vaccine.
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And at this age,
we recommend a tetanus pertussis vaccine,
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if you've never had one.
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If you've been vaccinated for
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Tdap, you still need a tetanus
booster every ten years.
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Take the time for yourself to book those
doctor appointments, and get tested.
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Your 80 year-old self
will thank you one day.
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Exploring Why Gestational Diabetes Leads to Type 2. Arlington, VA: American Diabetes Association, 2015. (Accessed on May 5, 2017 at http://www.diabetesforecast.org/2015/jan-feb/exploring-gestational-diabetes-leads-type-2.html)
Health screening - women - ages 18 to 39. Bethesda, MD: US National Library of Medicine, 2015. (Accessed on September 27, 2016 at https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/007462.htm.)
Key Statistics for Melanoma Skin Cancer. Atlanta, GA: American Cancer Society, 2017. (Accessed on May 5, 2017 at https://www.cancer.org/cancer/melanoma-skin-cancer/about/key-statistics.html)