Expert: Important health screening milestones for women

It’s never too late to begin building a strong foundation to protect your health now and in the future.

Each section below provides suggestions of what to expect throughout the years of female health care. It’s important to note that personal factors may help determine the timing of each test or screening to meet your or a loved one’s specific health care needs.

Any Age
Every year, you should see your primary care provider for a general health examination. This will include a height, weight, and blood pressure screening, an annual immunization check, and notifying your care team of any updates to your medical history. This appointment is meant to review preventative health screenings and chronic medical problems; if you have additional issues don’t wait for your physical to schedule an appointment. In addition to seeing a primary care physician, it is suggested that you schedule a dental and eye exam annually.

It is also suggested that any person 18 years of age or older is screened for Hepatitis C once in their lifetime. People born between 1945 to 1965 are at greatest risk and should be screened due to potential accidental infection during medical procedures or receiving blood products.

21
This is the recommended age for starting cervical cancer screenings which are every three years through age 29. This changes to every five years starting at age 30. Repeat screenings may happen more frequently for abnormal results or your personal situation.

40s-60s
Now is the time to turn your awareness of good health into action. The screenings that began in your 20s will still be completed as you age. The following screenings and tests will be added to the list of exams mentioned before.

  • Mammograms are breast x-ray exams that screen breast tissue for abnormalities or variations that could indicate breast cancer or other breast diseases. Women should start getting mammograms at age 40. If there is a history of breast cancer in your family, you may need to be examined sooner.
  • Colonoscopies are diagnostic procedures that examine the lining of the large intestine (colon) for abnormalities (polyps). This procedure is recommended to start at age 45 instead of 50, but like mammograms, they may be suggested to you at an earlier age if there is a family history of colorectal cancer.

65+
This age range is the time for you to nurture your health and possibly mentor or motivate the next generation. Not only can you give help, but you can accept the additional tests that are suggested for this period of life.

  • A bone densitometry, or bone density scan, is a low dose examination x-ray that determines if you have osteoporosis, or fragile bones. Bone loss often accelerates at this time in life.
  • Over time, it is common for both women and men to experience loss of hearing. It is important to have hearing tests so that your older loved ones do not struggle with conversating with friends and family. This will help you to feel generally more connected.
  • Finally, it is advised that women around this age receive the pneumococcal and shingles vaccines. The pneumococcal vaccine helps mitigate diseases such as meningitis and pneumonia. The shingles or herpes zoster vaccine helps prevent shingles and shingles associated chronic pain syndrome.

No matter your age, if you have questions about your health, reach out to your primary care provider. They will listen to your concerns and offer you a personalized treatment plan if necessary. 

Stephanie Paulhamus, PA-C, is with UPMC Primary Care and sees patients at 175 Pine St., Williamsport. To schedule an appointment with Stephanie, call 570-326-2447. For more information, visit UPMC.com/PrimaryCareNCPA.

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  • On the PULSE is an online media outlet in Northcentral, Pennsylvania. We specialize in in-depth journalism, human interest content and video features. Our mission is to build engagement in community through local news.

On the PULSE

On the PULSE is an online media outlet in Northcentral, Pennsylvania. We specialize in in-depth journalism, human interest content and video features. Our mission is to build engagement in community through local news.