Your work commitments. Your son’s soccer game. Your dog’s vet appointment. Your sister’s birthday. With all the commitments on your calendar, it may feel impossible to find a moment for yourself—let alone for your health care.
Still, the fact remains: There’s no better way to maintain your health and detect illness early than by practicing preventive care. So, just for a few minutes, put yourself first and talk to your doctor about the preventive screenings below.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends women age 40 and older get a mammogram every one to two years. Your doctor may recommend a different schedule depending on your personal medical history.
Because your breasts are typically tender the week before your period, you’ll want to schedule the exam the week following. Also, don’t put on deodorant, talcum powder or lotion under your arms on the day of your mammogram as they may look like calcium spots on the X-ray.
The Pap test is remarkably effective at finding precancerous cells on the cervix, which makes it an invaluable tool for preventing cervical cancer. You should get this exam at least every three years. To get the most accurate results, get your Pap test one to two weeks after your period, refrain from sexual intercourse 24 hours before, and don’t douche at least three days prior.
A bone density test measures how many grams of bone mineral—including calcium—exist in a segment of bone. A higher number is a better result because it indicates your bones are strong. Routine screenings should begin at age 60 for women at increased risk for osteoporotic fractures, according to the USPSTF. Bone density tests are quick and painless, and generally require no preparation on your part.
Heart disease remains the No. 1 killer of women in the U.S. In fact, 43 percent of deaths in women are due to heart disease or stroke, according to the National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease. While there’s no single screening to detect heart disease, getting your blood pressure, cholesterol levels and weight checked regularly can help you and your doctor gauge your risk for developing cardiovascular disease.