What’s going on underneath that superhero cape? When discussing women’s health, we need to talk about the physical, mental and emotional aspects that are key to a healthy life.
Physical health refers to how you take care of your body — and all the parts that come with it. An important component is preventive care. This includes various screenings that can detect existing or potential health problems.
- A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast used to detect breast cancer. Your OB-GYN can conduct this test during your annual exam or you can schedule a special appointment.
- Women ages 50 or older should have a mammogram every two years.
- Women of all ages should talk to their doctors about when they should have a mammogram. Those at higher risk for developing breast cancer may need to begin mammograms at an earlier age.
- A colonoscopy detects polyps (abnormal growths) in the colon or rectum before the abnormalities become cancerous.
- Women ages 50 or older should schedule regular screenings for colorectal cancer.
- Women of all ages should talk to their doctors about when and how often they should have a colonoscopy. Some are at a higher risk than others for colorectal cancer.
Cervical Cancer Screening:
- There are two types of cervical cancer screenings: Pap smear and HPV test.
- A Pap smear looks for precancerous cells that could turn into cancer. The HPV test looks for the human papillomavirus, a virus that can cause irregular cells.
- Women between the ages of 21 and 65 should have an annual Pap smear. Women of all ages should talk to their doctors about whether the HPV test is right for them.
- Your doctor can conduct an HPV test by collecting cells during your Pap smear.
- Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. Regular screenings can detect signs of skin cancer at an early, more treatable stage.
- Women of all ages should examine their skin monthly for abnormalities. If you identify changes to the skin, you should report them to your doctor.
- Your dermatologist can conduct full-body skin checks regularly to identify changes to the skin that you may have missed.
- If an abnormality is identified, your doctor can conduct a biopsy to remove the tissue and test for cancerous cells.
Mental and Emotional Health
Your mental and emotional health is just as important as your physical health. In fact, your mind and body are linked and have a direct impact on each other.
Did you know that high stress levels can actually increase your risk of developing a number of serious health conditions?
- Eating disorders
- Skin disorders
- Asthma attacks
- High blood pressure and strokes
- Colds and infections
- Heart attacks
You can reduce your stress levels by incorporating a few stress management techniques into your daily routine. A number of common activities have been proven to lower your blood pressure and cortisol (stress hormone) levels while positively affecting your overall mood and attitude.
- Reading or listening to music
- Walking, jogging or dancing
- Taking baths
- Scheduling a massage
- Stretching and practicing breathing exercises
- Having lunch with a friend
- Keeping a journal
So ladies, just remember that before you can save the world, you must first take care of yourself. Make the time to regularly check your physical, emotional and mental health.
Please remember that health coverage varies, depending on your plan. Always check with your health plan to see if it covers specific services before you make your appointment.