Prevention and Wellness

Prevention and Wellness

Premier Health doctors answer frequently asked questions about prevention and wellness for women.

What screenings are included in a woman’s yearly checkup?

At every woman’s annual doctor’s visit, there are a number of screening tests your physician will likely recommend you get to monitor any changing health needs.

Different screenings are important for women during different ages and stages of life.

Recommended Screenings

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the recommended screenings by age group are as follows:

In Your 20’s:

  • Blood pressure – Get tested every 1-2 years, more frequently if at high risk for hypertension
  • Breast Cancer - Self-exam monthly, clinical exam every 3 years
  • Cervical cancer (Pap test) – Pelvic exam annually, pap smear and HPV screening every 3-5 years unless high risk. Consult with your provider.
  • Cholesterol – Every 5 years unless you are at an increased risk for heart disease.
  • Chlamydia – get tested annually up to 24 if you are sexually active or pregnant
  • Diabetes - Get screened if your blood pressure is higher than 135/80 or you take medication for high blood pressure
  • Eye Exam - Once
  • Obesity/Body fat/BMI - Every 1-2 years
  • Oral Health/Dental - Exam 1-2 times a year
  • Sexually transmitted diseases - Get tested if you are sexually active and at increased risk or pregnant. Ages 20-25 get tested annually for Chlamydia

In Your 30’s:

  • Blood pressure - Get tested every 1-2 years, more frequently if at high risk for hypertension
  • Breast Cancer - Self-exam monthly, clinical exam every 3 years. Consult with your provider if you are high risk.
  • Cervical Cancer - Pelvic exam annually, pap smear and HPV screening every 3-5 years unless high risk. Consult with your provider.
  • Cholesterol - Every 5 years unless you are at an increased risk for heart disease
  • Diabetes - Get screened if your blood pressure is higher than 135/80 or you take medication for high blood pressure
  • Eye Exam - Once
  • Obesity/Body fat/BMI - Every 1-2 years
  • Oral Health/Dental - Exam 1-2 times a year
  • Sexually transmitted diseases - Get tested if you are sexually active and at increased risk or pregnant.
  • Thyroid disease - Discuss with your doctor if you are at high risk for thyroid disease

In Your 40’s:

  • Blood pressure – Get tested every 1-2 years, more frequently if at high risk for hypertension
  • Breast cancer – Self-exam monthly, clinical exam and mammogram every year. Consult with your provider.
  • Cervical cancer (Pap test) – Pelvic exam annually, pap smear and HPV screening every 3-5 years unless high risk. Consult with your provider.
  • Cholesterol – Every 5 years unless you are at an increased risk for heart disease
  • Diabetes - Blood sugar test every 3 years
  • Eye Exam - Every 2-4 years
  • Hearing Exam - Every 10 years
  • Obesity/Body fat/BMI - Every 1-2 years
  • Oral Health/Dental - Exam 1-2 times a year
  • Sexually transmitted diseases - Get tested if you are sexually active and at increased risk or pregnant.
  • Thyroid disease - Every 3-5 years

In Your 50’s:

  • Blood pressure – Get tested every 1-2 years, more frequently if at high risk for hypertension
  • Bone density/osteoporosis - Discuss with your doctor if you are at high risk of osteoporosis
  • Breast cancer – Self-exam monthly, clinical exam and mammogram every year. Consult with your provider.
  • Cervical cancer (Pap test) – Pelvic exam annually, pap smear and HPV screening every 3-5 years unless high risk. Consult with your provider.
  • Cholesterol – Every 5 years unless you are at an increased risk for heart disease
  • Colorectal cancer – Starting at age 50, get screened for colorectal cancer. Talk to your doctor about which screening test is best for you and how often you need it.
  • Diabetes - Blood sugar test every 3 years
  • Eye Exam - Every 2-4 years
  • Hearing Exam - Every 10 years
  • Obesity/Body fat/BMI - Every 1-2 years
  • Oral Health/Dental - Exam 1-2 times a year
  • Sexually transmitted diseases - Get tested if you are sexually active and at increased risk.
  • Thyroid disease - Every 3-5 years

In Your 60’s +:

  • Blood pressure – Get tested every 1-2 years, more frequently if at high risk for hypertension
  • Bone density/osteoporosis – Get this test at least once. Talk to your doctor about repeat testing
  • Breast cancer – Self-exam monthly, clinical exam and mammogram every year. Consult with your provider.
  • Cervical Cancer - Pelvic exam annually, pap smear and HPV screening every 3-5 years unless high risk. Consult with your provider.
  • Cholesterol – Every 5 years unless you are at an increased risk for heart disease
  • Colorectal cancer – Get screened for colorectal cancer through age 75
  • Diabetes - Blood sugar test every 3 years
  • Eye Exam - Every 1-2 years
  • Hearing Exam - Every 10 years
  • Obesity/Body fat/BMI - Every 1-2 years
  • Oral Health/Dental - Exam 1-2 times a year
  • Sexually transmitted diseases - Get tested if you are sexually active and at increased risk
  • Thyroid disease - Every 3-5 years

Your physician may recommend certain screenings earlier or later, depending on your personal or family medical history. For more information about what screenings are right for you, talk with your physician.

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What are some of the top threats to a woman’s health?

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the top health threats facing women in the U.S. are as follows:

  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Stroke

Other top health issues that threaten women’s health include the following:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Depression
  • Osteoporosis

Steps to Prevent Disease

For many health risks, but especially for heart disease and stroke, there are steps women can take to try to prevent these threats to their health:

  • Stay physically active – Studies have shown that having an active lifestyle can lower your risk of heart disease, stroke and other health problems.
  • Eat healthfully – Focus on eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat dairy, fish, beans, peas, nuts and lean meats to help you maintain a healthy weight. Eating healthfully can also improve your arteries, blood pressure and glucose level.
  • Take care of yourself – An increased risk of heart disease has been linked to stress, anxiety, depression and a lack of sleep. Your mind needs to be kept in good shape, just like your body. If you feel overstressed, overtired or overloaded, make sure to make time for yourself.

Talk to your physician for more information about health threats for women and what you can do to help prevent them.

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How do women’s health concerns change as they age?

Dr. Block discusses women’s health concerns as they age. Click play to watch the video or read the video transcript.

 

As women move through the later stages of life, their health concerns also change.

As they get older, women tend to have more health concerns than they did when they were younger. Women change physically, psychologically and emotionally. These changes can affect their daily lifestyle and the way they interact with their environment.

Menopause

Women going through menopause may need to take vitamin supplements, such as calcium, vitamin D and magnesium.

Hormone Therapy is also a treatment many menopausal women are interested in to help balance their hormones and control their emotions.

Post-menopause

As women move into the post-menopausal stages, the risk of cancer and heart disease increases. It is important for women to get screenings for breast and other cancers, as well as heart disease.

Talk to your physician about supplements and screenings that might be right for you as you move through life.

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What diseases are women at a higher risk for than men?

Some diseases are more likely to affect women than men.

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF), women are more likely than men to get osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a bone-weakening disease.

Women are also more likely than men to get Alzheimer’s disease, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This is a disease that causes memory loss and is most common among seniors.

Talk to your physician for more information about diseases that women are at higher risk for than men.

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What is the Tetanus plus Pertussis (also known as DTaP) vaccine?

Tetanus – often called lockjaw – is a disease that causes muscle spasms.

Pertussis - also known as whooping cough - is highly contagious and can cause severe coughing spells that produce a “whooping” sound (sharp intake of breath).

The Tetanus plus Pertussis vaccine provides medication to prevent both diseases.

Booster Vaccines

It is recommended that people get a tetanus booster vaccine every 10 years, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The Tetanus plus Pertussis vaccine can be given instead of a regular tetanus booster. This vaccine can be given earlier than the 10-year mark, if recommended by your physician.

Infants and Pertussis

Infants younger than 6 months are at a higher risk of catching pertussis than adults because they haven’t had enough doses of the vaccine to protect them against it.

An easy solution is for adults – especially new moms and caregivers of young children – to get the vaccine to protect their household.

Check with your physician to find out if the Tetanus plus Pertussis vaccine is right for you.

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What dietary supplements are recommended for women?

Dr. Block discusses dietary supplements. Click play to watch the video or read the video transcript.

 

As women age, their dietary needs change and so does their need for dietary supplements.

Five Key Dietary Supplements

There are five key dietary supplements for women:

  • Iron – helps blood cells carry oxygen (without enough you can feel tired and lack energy)
  • Calcium – helps build strong bones in young people and helps prevent bone loss as you get older
  • Vitamin D – helps maintain strong bones by helping the body absorb calcium
  • Magnesium – also important for good growth and maintenance of bones
  • Folic Acid – needed to prevent a shortage of red blood cells and can help prevent some birth defects

Your physician can recommend which dietary supplements are most important for you at your current life stage.

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What are some of the most common women’s health issues?

Fitness and nutrition – or lack thereof – can lead to many common women’s health issues, including obesity.

Stress can also become a health problem for women because women often get overwhelmed with responsibilities to family, work and more.

Other health concerns women face can include the following:

  • Heart disease
  • Breast cancer
  • Osteoporosis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Alzheimer’s disease

It is important for women to make time to take care of themselves so they can be healthy enough to take care of their families.

Talk to your physician about any health concerns you have, especially those that run in your family.

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What are some risks of using diet pills?

There is a wide variety of diet pills on the market – many of which are available over the counter. Some diet pills suppress appetite by making the brain think the stomach feels full. Others decrease fat absorption.

Side Effects

The side effects of using diet pills can range from bothersome to severe:

  • Diarrhea
  • Gas
  • Oily discharge
  • Hypertension

Before you start any medication to help manage your weight, talk to your physician to find the safest, healthiest option for you.

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What guidelines should women know before taking on a new diet and exercise routine?

Dr. Block discusses guidelines for a new diet and exercise routine. Click play to watch the video or read the video transcript.

 

Every woman has different needs when it comes to diet and exercise. Before taking on a new diet and exercise routine, it’s important to talk with your physician.

Women with health conditions need to take precautions to ensure they don’t injure themselves during exercise. Health conditions can include anything from pregnancy to heart disease.

Keep these health conditions in mind also when changing your eating habits to make sure you meet your nutritional needs.

Guidelines

Here are some basic guidelines to keep in mind when making diet and exercise decisions:

  • Strive to reach and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Have realistic goals.
  • Rather than eliminating certain foods, try eating everything in moderation.
  • Losing weight takes time. Looking for a quick fix can be unhealthy.
  • Eat a balanced diet with a variety of foods.
  • A little exercise is better than no exercise, so do what you can to start out.
  • Mix up your exercise routine so it doesn’t get boring to you or your body.

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In addition to diet and exercise, what other lifestyle habits should women practice to stay healthy?

Sleep, relaxation and downtime can be as important to a healthy lifestyle as diet and exercise.

Sleep

The following are some tips for better sleep:

  • Have a regular sleep schedule so you go to bed and get up at the same time every day.
  • Exercise regularly, but complete your exercise at least two to four hours before bedtime.
  • Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol.
  • Use your bed primarily for sleep rather than making it a catch-all location to pay bills, watch TV, surf the web and more.

Relaxing

Here are some tips to help you relax:

  • Calm your mind by finding a quiet place.
  • Focus on peaceful thoughts, images or words.
  • Stretch and breathe slowly before returning to your daily routine.
  • Use body-calming exercise by mentally focusing on relaxing your body one part at a time.
  • Take a mental vacation using visualization to free your mind by picturing yourself someplace calm, warm and relaxing

Talk to your physician for more ideas about how to improve your personal health.

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What are some strategies that women can use to put their health higher on their priority list?

Women often serve as the caregiver of their families. They tend to put the needs of their partners, children and other family members before their own, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Because of this, a woman’s health and well-being often get overlooked as she focuses on other people’s needs.

Tips to Prioritize Your Health

Here are a few ideas to help you prioritize your health:

  • Mark your calendar – Schedule time in your calendar for exercise, doctor’s appointments and even for downtime/alone time – just like you would schedule time for all the other important things in your life.
  • Follow through – Don’t skip an appointment with yourself or for yourself.
  • Plan ahead and don’t overbook – Schedule your personal needs far enough in advance that you’ll know you’re already busy if an additional responsibility is asked of you. The PTA might need another volunteer, but don’t ignore your own needs to meet someone else’s.
  • Ask for help – Don’t feel bad to ask for help managing some of your responsibilities in order to make time for your health.

It is important for women to be fit, healthy and well rested. The better health a woman is in, the more she will have to give to those she cares for.

For more tips about what you can do to put your health higher on your priority list, talk to your physician.

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What are three things women can do to improve their health?

Making steps to better your health doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Taking small steps in a variety of areas can add up to big improvements.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), three things women can do to improve their health include:

  • Eat healthfully – Eat a diet full of fruits and vegetables, grains, fat-free or low-fat dairy, fish, lean meats and beans. Limit the amount of saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium and added sugars.
  • Be active – Start with activities like cleaning your house and parking farther from your office so that you have an opportunity to walk more. Seek to do a variety of physical activities: aerobic activities, strength training and stretching.
  • Take care – Be committed to regular wellness visits with your doctor and to getting the screenings needed for early detection of health conditions.

For more information about things women can do to improve their health, talk with your physician.

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What is the hormone cortisol, and how does an imbalance affect women?

Cortisol is a hormone frequently known as the stress hormone, according to the American Osteopathic AssociationOff Site Icon (AOA).

When people become stressed, the body reacts by producing and releasing cortisol, according to the AOA. Studies have shown that if you have a chronic imbalance of cortisol, the increased levels can put you at risk for health issues, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Difficulty recovering from exercise
  • Digestive problems
  • Fatigue
  • High blood pressure
  • Irritability
  • Low libido
  • Memory problems
  • Sleeping issues
  • Weight gain

Not all cortisol is bad. It is normal for cortisol levels to increase slightly in the morning as you get revved up for the day, but they should lower as the day goes on, according to the AOA.

For more information about cortisol and the effects of an imbalance, talk with your doctor.

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Schedule an appointment

To schedule an appointment with a OB/GYN or midwife, call (866) 608-FIND(866) 608-FIND or complete the form below to receive a call from our scheduling department to make an appointment.

 

Source content: Michael Chunn, MD, Michael A. Chunn, MD Family Practice; Dale Block, MD, CPE, Premier Family Care of Mason; Tracie Bolden, MD, Fairfield Road Physician Offices; Rashmi Bolinjkar, MD, Upper Valley Womens Center

Content Updated: July 17, 2018

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