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The 5 Most Important Health Tests for Women

By HERWriter
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The 5 Health Tests That Are Most Important for Women darunechka/Fotolia

I hate going to the doctor. However, I understand that visiting my doctors for annual check-ups result in a long healthy life. I make a different appointment every quarter to avoid feeling stressed out.

I spread out my physical, my eye exam, dental and OB/GYN appointments over the year.

For example, every May I make my way to the doctor’s office for my physical exam. At my exam, my doctor conducts a full body skin check.

He literally checks my skin from head to toe. This test is important to check for non-cancerous and cancerous skin lesions. If you have family history of skin cancer and avoid wearing sunscreen, you really need to have you skin accessed annually by a physician or dermatologist.

When you are showering, check your body for any changes in your skin. Look at mole size, new moles, skin tags and general changes in your skin.

At your appointment, alert your doctor to any changes in your skin. Take a picture with your phone of any moles or any skin changes. Take pictures once a month and compare to the previous month for possible changes. You can also show the photos to your doctor or dermatologist.

After my physical, I usually leave with several doctor’s notes for a mammogram and blood tests.

Mammograms are covered under preventative care by your insurance company. Women under 40 should have a mammogram every one to two years, and women over 50 should continue to have them once every year or two years. Different organizations currently have different recommendations on the frequency.

According to the American Cancer Society, "Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women. (Only lung cancer kills more women each year.) The chance that a woman will die from breast cancer is about 1 in 36 (about 3 percent)."

The American Cancer Society website goes on to say, "Death rates from breast cancer have been dropping since about 1989, with larger decreases in women younger than 50. These decreases are believed to be the result of finding breast cancer earlier through screening and increased awareness, as well as better treatments."

The third test you will need checked is the blood glucose and hemoglobin A1c test to check for diabetes. Diabetes can cause serious health issues.

You will need to fast for the blood glucose and hemoglobin A1c test. To prepare for the test, I stop eating at 6 p.m. and take the test early the next morning. I can drink water during the fasting period and take my high blood pressure medication.

Check with your doctor to see if you can take your medications.

According to Dr. Carrie Jones, "Normal blood glucose should be between 75-99mg/dL while pre-diabetes falls between 100-125 mg/dL, and 126 mg/dL and above is considered diabetes. A pre-diabetic hemoglobin A1c is between 5.7-6.4 percent while 6.5 percent and above, on two separate tests, is considered diabetic."

If you are over 50, you will need to get a colonoscopy to check for polyps and colon cancer. If you have a family history of colon cancer, your doctor may recommend the test sooner.

There is some serious prep required for this test which you will have to begin the day before. You will have to take the time off work the day of your colonoscopy and someone will have to drive you home from the test.

If you have a normal test, you won't need another one for 10 years. However, if you have polyps or a history of colon cancer in the family, you may have to take the test in two years.

Currently the American Cancer Society recommends that starting at age 50, both men and women should have one of these colon screening tests:

Colonoscopy should be done every 10 years OR one the following three tests:

- Flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years
- Double-contrast barium enema every 5 years
- CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy) every 5 years

If any of these three tests are positive, then a colonoscopy needs to be done.

The final test is a complete eye exam.

I have my eyes checked every year and treat myself to a new pair of glasses. During the exam, the doctor conducts a full eye exam to check for cataracts, glaucoma, visual fields, etc. The exam usually requires dilation.

These five tests are relatively inexpensive and are covered by insurance preventative care. The tests are an investment in your health, but also provide peace of mind.

Reviewed May 12, 2016
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

American Cancer Society. Breast Cancer Survival Rate by Stage. Web.  11 May, 2016.

 "Updates." EmpowHER. Web. 11 May 2016. Please put in your email address and download the guide. Web.  11 May, 2016.

5 Tests To Request in The New Year. EmpowHer.com. Web.  11 May, 2016.

 American Cancer Society. American Cancer Society Recommendations for Colorectal Cancer and Early Detection. Web. 12 May, 2016.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Prediabetes. Web. 12 May, 2016.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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