Preventing Disease and Staying Healthy
Many women want to know what they can do to stay healthy and prevent disease. The best ways to maintain good health include:
- Getting certain screening tests
- Taking preventive medicine, if needed
- Practicing healthy behaviors.
Screening Tests for Healthy Women: What You Need and When
Screening tests, such as mammograms and Pap smears, can detect diseases early, when they are easier to treat. Some women need certain screening tests earlier (or more often) than others. While the following recommended tests are based on scientific evidence, each person's situation is a little different. Talk to your doctor about which of these tests are right for you, when you should have them, and how often they should be done.
- Mammograms: Have a mammogram every one to two years starting at age 40.
- Pap smears: Have a Pap smear every one to three years if you have been sexually active or are older than 21.
- Cholesterol checks: Have your cholesterol checked regularly starting at age 45. If you smoke, have diabetes, or if heart disease runs in your family, start having your cholesterol checked at age 20.
- Blood pressure: Have your blood pressure checked at least every two years.
- Colorectal cancer tests: Have a test for colorectal cancer starting at age 50. Your doctor can help you decide which test is right for you.
- Diabetes tests: Have a test to screen for diabetes if you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
- Depression: If you've felt "down," sad, or hopeless, and have felt little interest or pleasure in doing things for two weeks straight, talk to your doctor about whether he or she can screen you for depression.
- Osteoporosis tests: Have a bone density test at age 65 to screen for osteoporosis (thinning of the bones). If you are between the ages of 60 and 64 and weigh 154 pounds or less, talk to your doctor about whether you should be tested.
- Chlamydia tests and tests for other sexually transmitted diseases: Have a test for Chlamydia if you are 25 or younger and sexually active. If you are older than 25, talk to your doctor to see whether you should be tested. Also, talk to your doctor to see whether you should be tested for other sexually transmitted diseases.