Ask Dr. Renee: 4 Tips To Good Health
As women we often get caught up in our careers and our families and we neglect the most important thing in life… our health. Without your health you have nothing, no job, no family, no money. These tests will help monitor our health and keep us in the best possible shape. In addition to knowing your test results you have to eat right and exercise to have good health.
1. Pap Smear (Pap Test)
Pap Smear (Pap Test) is a test for precancerous cell changes on the cervix that may become cervical cancer if they are not treated. This test should be performed every 3 years starting at age 21. In the past physicians performed these exams annually. The new guideline suggests that annual testing is not necessary. If your physician finds precancerous cell changes in your pap smear then you will have to receive treatment and will be tested more frequently in the future. Please have a discussion with your doctor about what is best for you. Also make certain if you and your doctor decide to receive this screening annually, that your insurance covers your test. This is also the test that screens for HPV I spoke about Human Papilloma Virus and the vaccine that is available for girls as young as 9 years old.
2. Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Chlamydia and Gonorrhea are tested with a swab in the cervix which is usually performed while the speculum is still in place.
HIV, syphilis and hepatitis are tested with a blood test. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encourages HIV testing, at least once, as a routine part of medical care if you’re an adolescent or adult between the ages of 13 and 64. The CDC advises yearly HIV testing if you are at high risk of infection.
3. Breast Cancer Screening
Self Breast Exam – Is best performed in the shower . Use the pads of 3 fingers to check each breast for lumps. Move your fingers in a row pattern. Up and down all the way across one breast and then the other. Check the outside from armpit to collar bone, and below breast. Check the middle from the breast itself and inside the nipple area. After you leave the shower check for liquid coming from nipples, puckering of the skin, redness, swelling, change in size and/or shape. Self Breast exam can be performed lying down in bed as well.
If you feel any lumps or changes, call your doctor. Remember most lumps are not cancer. It’s not about finding cancer; it’s about knowing what is normal for your breasts. If something does not feel normal, call your doctor. I recommend that you begin these as soon as you have breasts, breast cancer is being diagnosed in 20 year old young women, so the sooner you know how to perform this exam properly the better.
Mammogram – Doctors are performing baseline mammograms between 35-40. If you have a family history of breast cancer your doctor may prescribe this test sooner. If you find a lump during a self breast exam you may also begin having mammograms earlier than 35 years old.
4. General health tests
Theses health tests should be performed regularly: thyroid disease, blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes. Mental health is also very important to your general health so if you are having any feelings of depression please seek medical attention. Depression can be caused by chemical imbalance as well as life circumstances.
Here is a BONUS TIP for child-bearing women
Ovarian Reserve is the capacity of the ovary to provide eggs for fertilization. The blood test to check ovarian reserve is the day 3 Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) Test. For women who are over 30 years that are interested in bearing children should ask their doctor to give them a blood test that checks their hormones so they can find out their ovarian reserve. Normal hormone levels and regular menstrual cycles decreases the likelihood of infertility problems.
It is very important for women to be proactive about their health care. Preventive medicine is the best medicine. Many diseases can go years without exhibiting symptoms, this is why it is important to visit the doctor regularly and be tested. If you have any questions please Ask Dr. Renee.
Dr. Renee Matthews has appeared on television shows such as “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and WGN’s “People to People” where she discussed different health topics. She started her media career with her own radio show on ReachMD, a programming source for health professionals. In addition Dr. Renee has been a featured medical correspondent on Sirius XM’s “Sway in the Morning.”