Staying healthy and avoiding illness if oftentimes easier said than done. However, there are many different types of preventive health care for women that can greatly aid in your attempt to stay at the peak of health and wellness. Preventive care can help you heal faster, recover quicker and have happier, longer years ahead.
What Exactly is Preventive Health Care for Women?
Preventive health care for women means managing and maintaining your health before you contract an illness or are diagnosed with a condition. Preventive care can include things like routine tests, screening, vaccines and annual exams by your health care provider. Additionally, for women preventive health care can include things specific to women only. Things like mammography screenings for breast cancer checks, cervical cancer screenings, tests for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and deciding if and which type of contraceptive method is right for you.
Additionally, preventive health care can also be related to pregnancy. These preventive care measures can include things like routine prenatal visits, gestational diabetes screenings and more.
What is My Path To Improved Health and Wellness?
Most women understand the concept of eating right, exercising and avoiding activities like smoking and excessive drinking to keep their bodies in tip top shape. However, there are additional things you can do to keep on the path of improved health.
General Health and Wellness Screening
It is recommended that women over age 18 have regular general health and wellness screenings. Ideally, this preventive check-up should happen yearly. During this appointment, you can expect to have a physical exam, screening for sexually transmitted disease (if applicable), other reproductive screenings if necessary and more. Likely issues regarding vaccinations, forms of contraception, medical history and more will be addressed as well.
As you age, mammogram screenings become more important. Typically, women between 50-74 should have breast screenings every other year. You can begin screenings earlier if and when recommended by your primary care doctor.
Staying on top of your reproductive and sexual health for preventive measures is very important to your overall health and well-being. Typically, Pap smears or a Pap test is performed by your provider as a way to detect cervical cancer and the presence of precancerous cells. During your visit, the doctor will do a pelvic exam and for the Pap smear they will collect cells from your cervix. The cells are then analyzed to detect any abnormalities. The type of test and frequency will be determined by your doctor.
It is recommended by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) to have Pap smears starting after age 21 and have them performed every 3 years. Between the ages of 30-65, Pap smears are recommended every 5 years and none after age 65 you’ve had adequate screening and are not in a high risk category.
At this appointment, sexually transmitted diseases are also typically brought up. You may need to be screened and or educated on your risk level and lifestyle.
Another preventive measure that might be discussed at your annual exam is vaccinations. Your vaccine history and recommendations for current and future vaccinations could be discussed. Some vaccines that might be recommended include the flu shot, tetanus booster and HPV.
Emotional Health and Well-Being
An area that can sometimes go unnoticed or brushed under the rug is your emotional health. Your doctor should also be interested in your emotional health during a preventive wellness exam. When they ask questions about feelings of hopelessness, changes in sleep patterns, changes in appetite, etc they are feeling out your emotional health. It is very important to be honest. It might be a tough conversation to have, but it is definitely an important aspect of preventive health and well-being.
When Should I See a Doctor?
It is important for your preventive health to see your doctor regularly. In most cases that means annually. Your doctor’s office should keep tabs on your visits and let you know when you are due for your next appointment. If you have had sex with a new partner, are feeling different emotionally or have additionally questions, it doesn’t hurt to book an appointment in the moment.
Preventive care for women is vitally important. There are many diseases you can screen early for and your doctor can recommend what is needed for you and your specific situation. It is always important to be open and honest with your doctor to ensure you are receiving the best screening and treatments available.