Tip #1: Well Women Gynecology
Women should see their midwife or physician routinely for a Pap smear, pelvic exam, pelvic sonogram, breast exam, STD screening, pregnancy planning and birth control. In addition, blood pressure and weight should be recorded at each visit.
For many women, their gynecology provider is also their primary care provider. This visit should include a complete interval history, which is the history from previous visits to the current visit. This includes medical problems, medications including over-the-counter medications and herbs, sexual activity and lifestyle, which includes smoking, drinking, drugs and exercise.
Tip #2: Breast Health
Ladies, this is a big one. A breast self-exam should be done every month for a woman's entire life. Mammograms should start at age 40, and should be scheduled earlier, if you have a close family member with breast cancer.
Tip #3: Cervical and STD Screening
These screenings may not be standard, but they are still very important. So remember to get an HPV test, which should be done in combination with the Pap smear. STD cultures include gonorrhea, Chlamydia and trichomonas. Other cultures include bacterial vaginosis (BV), yeast and group B strep. STD blood screenings include HIV, syphilis, hepatitis B, and herpes 1 and 2.
Tip #4: Heart Health
It's true: Heart disease is the number one cause of death among older women in the United States. Blood pressure, weight, nutrition, activity level, lipid profile (cholesterol, triglycerides, HDL, LDL) and diabetes screening are all factors that affect heart health and should be discussed regularly.
Obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. As a result, some women may want to consider taking a baby aspirin (81 mg) daily to decrease their risk of heart attack and stroke.
Tip #5: Colon Health
Women should have their first colonoscopy at age 50 and continue to have one every 10 years. Women with a personal history may start screening earlier and more frequently than every 10 years.
Tip #6: Bone Health
Osteoporosis is a condition that causes bone deterioration and mainly affects women. Women should have a bone density test near the onset of menopause. Also, try to incorporate weight-bearing exercises into your daily routine and eat a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, which will help to keep your bones strong and healthy.
Tip # 7: Perimenopause Health
The transition into menopause can last anywhere from two to eight years. Menstrual history should be reviewed because the first symptoms of menopause are often changes in the menstrual cycle followed by hot flashes. Hormone tests can also determine if a woman has entered perimenopause and include follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), estrogen and thyroid levels.
Tip #8: Postmenopausal Health
The average age for menopause is 51+ years. The average lifespan for women is nearly 80 years old. Women may want to discuss a wellness plan with their provider as most will live another 25 to 30 years in the postmenopausal period.
Tip #9 Vaccinations
An HPV vaccine (Gardasil) is available and strongly recommended. Women should also consider a flu vaccine annually.
Tip #10: Other Annual Screenings
Make sure you also see your dentist — at least every six months — and see your eye doctor on a annual basis.
Tip #11 Be Proactive
Do your research and be informed! Review all results and make a health care plan with your provider.
About Elizabeth Stein
Elizabeth Stein, CNM, MSN, MPH, is a well known midwife. Through her practice, Ask Your Midwife, PC, Elizabeth works closely with her patients to educate, encourage, and empower them to make choices that enhance their overall health, pregnancy experience and strengthens their family. She combines current medical knowledge and modern technology with the caring inherent in midwifery.
From breast health to bone health and post-menopausal health — there is a ton of medical information out there that women need to keep track of. But how do you know what to get checked and when? Elizabeth Stein, a women's health expert and head of the New York City practice 'Ask Your Midwife,' has some tips every women should know