Women’s Health: A Guide For Your 20s Thru 50s and Beyond
Previously Posted on KSL.com. Click here to view original article and take a quiz.
Women’s health can often be viewed as something mysterious and multifaceted. In reality, women and men require the same essential things to stay healthy, including eating a balanced diet and getting plenty of sleep and exercise.
Still, women’s anatomy and hormone levels differ and are unique to their sex, resulting in a dedicated field of medical science to treat and prevent specific problems throughout a woman’s life.
Although most women can remain healthy by making smart choices throughout their lives, some may develop gender-specific health problems. While men have developed breast cancer, it’s 100 times less common for a man to get it than a woman. Thus mammograms are just one medical procedure that’s recommended for women of a certain age by the medical community at large.
No matter your age, certain procedures are encouraged to promote a long and healthy life. Read on to learn what specific things the Salt Lake Regional Medical Center recommends now, and in the future:
Women in their 20s:
As most women of this age are sexually active, it’s a good idea to obtain regular or annual STI testing. Certain STIs, such as chlamydia, may go undetected for years and can result in infertility, among other issues. In many cases, STI testing is low-cost or even free, so yearly tests are a good idea for any 20-something woman who has had multiple sexual partners.
Another concern at this age is family planning or birth control, including hormonal and nonhormonal contraception methods. Talk to your doctor or PCP about the brand and dosage of your birth control to find the best kind for you.
Those experiencing pain, itchiness or burning urination could have a normal infection or an STI. Both forms of infection should be treated promptly by a health care professional. This includes fungal, yeast and urinary tract infections.
Twenty-something women who are either pregnant or planning to become pregnant should also consult an OBGYN for anything from a yearly pelvic exam and Pap smear to pregnancy checkups and ultrasounds. Most women only require a Pap smear every three years.
Women in their 30s:
This particular age group can vary, as some women may just be starting to have children while others are finishing up the childbearing stage of life. Either way, 30-something women should receive regular yearly pelvic exams and Pap smear tests every 3-5 years to screen for cervical cancer and other abnormalities.
Some women may also want to look into long-acting reversible contraceptives, which include intrauterine devices. These are t-shaped devices inserted into the uterus to provide long-term contraception and can be hormonal or nonhormonal in nature.
For women who are at a high-risk for breast cancer, a yearly mammogram after age 35 is sometimes appropriate.
Women in their 40s:
At this point, childbearing is over for most women, but other concerns require regular checkups. Although standards recently changed in the medical community regarding mammograms, it’s best to receive one at age 45, and then not again until age 50 if the first mammogram showed no signs of abnormalities. The current standard is one every year between the ages of 50 and 74. Other types of cancer screenings may also be needed, but the regular Pap tests every three years should continue. For women experiencing early menopause, appointments with a physician are usually helpful.
Women in their 50s:
A yearly mammogram is now strongly recommended, as well as a colonoscopy after age 50, although the second test is only needed every 10 years. But if you have a relative who had colon cancer or breast cancer, it’s best to check with your doctor about getting early screenings. Women who already struggle with weakened bones should get a bone density test to assess if they have osteoporosis. Despite many of these tests being inconvenient or even unpleasant, they have greatly increased early diagnosis for certain types of cancer, which in turn increases the survival rate.
Hormone changes are also common at this age, so it’s good to consult your OBGYN or primary care physician about problems you may be experiencing related to menopause.
Women and men of all ages should be exercising regularly, drinking plenty of water, eating a healthy diet and getting about eight hours of sleep each night. Doing all of these things decreases your chances of developing serious health problems and increases your chances of living longer, so it’s a win-win.
For professional advice and appointments for all your women’s health needs, visit saltlakeregional.org today.