As we celebrate International Women’s Day, it is important to highlight the crucial role that women play in advocating for their own health. According to a report by the World Health Organization, women are more likely to experience health issues than men, with gender inequalities in health ranging from mortality rates to access to healthcare.
In fact, women face unique health challenges throughout their lives, that require proactive and informed advocacy. Regular health screenings are crucial in detecting potential health issues early, allowing for prompt treatment and prevention of serious illnesses. In conjunction with International Women’s Day 2023, we share six essential health tests that women should consider taking in their 20s and 30s for optimum women’s health.
Tests To Do In Your 20s:
1. Pap Smear
A Pap smear is a screening test that checks for cervical cancer. Women should start getting Pap smears at age 21 or within three years of their first sexual activity. The test involves collecting cells from the cervix and examining them for abnormal growth or changes. Pap smears are simple and quick tests that can help detect cervical cancer early when it is most treatable.
2. Breast Exam
Breast exams can help detect breast cancer early when it is most treatable. Women in their 20s should perform breast self-exams regularly and undergo a clinical breast exam by a healthcare professional at least once every three years. During a clinical breast exam, the healthcare professional will examine the breasts and underarms for any lumps or abnormalities.
3. STI Testing
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can have serious consequences if left untreated. Women who are sexually active should get tested for STIs, including chlamydia, gonorrhoea, and HIV. Testing is simple and can be done with a urine sample or blood test. Women should get tested regularly, especially if they have multiple sexual partners or engage in high-risk behaviours.
In Your 30s:
Mammograms are recommended for women starting at age 40, but women in their 30s with a family history of breast cancer or other risk factors may benefit from early screening. A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast tissue that can detect abnormalities, including lumps or calcifications, which may indicate breast cancer. Women should discuss with their healthcare provider whether mammograms are necessary for them in their 30s.
2. Blood Pressure Test
High blood pressure, or hypertension, can lead to serious health problems, including heart disease and stroke. Women should have their blood pressure checked at least once a year. A blood pressure test is simple and quick and can be done during a routine checkup.
3. Thyroid Function Test
The thyroid gland regulates the body’s metabolism, and an underactive or overactive thyroid can cause a range of health issues. Women in their 30s should consider getting a thyroid function test to check for thyroid disorders, especially if they experience symptoms such as fatigue, weight changes, or hair loss. The test involves a simple blood draw and can help detect thyroid issues early.
Regular health screenings are an important part of maintaining women’s health and preventing serious illnesses. Women should discuss with their healthcare providers which tests are appropriate for them based on their age, family history, and other risk factors. By taking a proactive approach to their health, women can live their best lives and enjoy optimal physical and mental well-being.
Aside from the health tests mentioned above, there are other significant aspects of women’s health that women should keep in mind. Here are some tips to maintain a healthy lifestyle and overall well-being:
- Exercise regularly – Exercise is essential for maintaining good health, reducing the risk of chronic diseases, and promoting mental well-being.
- Eat a healthy diet – A balanced diet that includes fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats is essential for maintaining good health. Avoiding processed and sugary foods can also help prevent chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.
- Get enough sleep – Getting adequate sleep is crucial for both physical and mental health. Adults should aim for seven to nine hours of sleep per night.
- Manage stress – Stress can have negative impacts on both physical and mental health. Finding ways to manage stress, such as through meditation or exercise, can help improve overall well-being.
- Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption – Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can have serious health consequences, including an increased risk of cancer and other chronic diseases.
- Practice safe sex – Using protection during sexual activity can help prevent the spread of STIs and unintended pregnancies.
Regular health screenings and a healthy lifestyle can detect potential health issues early, leading to better outcomes and improved quality of life. Women should consult with their healthcare providers to determine which health tests are appropriate for them based on their individual health status and risk factors.