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Most of our to-do lists are growing longer by the day, but taking care of yourself — and protecting your long-term health — should always be a priority. Your body deserves your time and attention, and we’re here to help you feel healthier for longer.
Regular screenings are essential for maintaining your overall health. Some can help identify concerns early, and others allow you to work with your doctor on a customized care plan to help you stay well and feel whole.
D. Ashley Hill, MD helps explain the health screenings women should never skip. If you’ve delayed care, be sure to schedule these important appointments as soon as possible.
“A well-woman exam is a yearly checkup performed by either your primary care physician or your OB/GYN,” says Hill. “This annual screening is a great time to catch up with your care provider to review your medical and family history and share any changes with your body over the last year.”
During the well-woman exam, your provider may perform a clinical breast exam, a pelvic examination and a Pap test (also called a Pap smear). Additional testing may be suggested. If you’ve had a hysterectomy, it's still recommended that you have a pelvic exam every three to five years, even if you’ve never had an abnormal result.
A mammogram is a screening used to look for signs of breast cancer, like tumors. Mammogram technology has come a long way in recent years and is now available in 3D. The 3D mammograms and other imaging techniques like ultrasound and MRI are generally only required if your care provider needs to further investigate a tumor, cysts or dense breast tissue.
“After you turn 40, you should start getting a screening mammogram once a year,” says Hill. “But it’s also important to do self-exams regularly at any age after puberty.”
Colorectal screening is used to determine the presence of any cancerous or precancerous cells in your lower digestive tract. It generally involves a colonoscopy and the use of sedatives to help you comfortable during the process.
Typically, regular colorectal screenings should begin at age 45, but may be recommended sooner if you have risk factors such as a family history of colorectal cancer.
“The screening usually takes less than an hour and is not anywhere near as uncomfortable as you might think,” says Hill. “Your doctor will provide some level of anesthesia, whether conscious sedation or Monitored Anesthesia Care, which has a rapid onset and a quick recovery time."
Blood Pressure: Know Your Numbers
“Knowing your numbers is essential for maintaining good heart health because it allows you to know what changes you need to make or what to keep doing right,” explains Hill.
It’s recommended that you start checking your blood pressure regularly starting at age 18. Tracking your lipid panel is also important; this includes your total cholesterol, HDL, LDL and lipids.
"If your blood pressure is elevated, you should seek medical care and contact your provider. If you don’t have an established provider, we can assist you in getting established with a primary care physician or specialist,” says Hill.
“Many things that are discussed with your provider are personal and private, which is why it’s so important to have an established physician that you feel comfortable with."
Taking Charge of Your Whole-Person Health
When it comes to your health, don’t wait to get care. We’re dedicated to providing women with the highest possible level of care, including offering a trusted team for your unique health journey.