A regular exam should be part of every woman’s medical routine. But not all general checkups get down to specifics. Be sure to ask your doctor if these medical tests should be part of your medical history.
The idea that people of African origin cannot get skin cancer is a myth. While skin cancer is less common in certain groups it is more dangerous when it does strike.
If you think mammograms are a middle-aged woman’s game, you’re wrong. Certain groups of women, African-American women included, are more likely than other women to develop breast cancer before 40. Starting your annual mammograms at 20 is your best bet for early detection.
A Pelvic Floor Test
Squeeze your pelvic floor for 10 seconds and then release. If you can’t do this 15 times in a row, it’s a sign that your pelvic floor is weak. To avoid incontinence (and weaker orgasms) later in life, it might be time to do kegels regularly.
A Comprehensive Eye Test
Even if your vision isn’t blurry, a comprehensive eye test can test for degenerative (but treatable) diseases like glaucoma, which strikes earlier and more aggressively among certain groups like African-Americans or those who have a family history of the disease.
A Dental Screening
In addition to your bi-annual cleaning, you should ask your dentists for a full screening to check for gum disease, oral cancer or any other oral trouble that’s best caught early.
A Heart Health Test
Did you know that heart disease is the number one killer of African-American women? Luckily, regular heart health tests beginning at 20 — especially if you have a family or cultural history of heart disease — can spot and tackle any problems early enough to treat them.
A Cholesterol Test
High cholesterol isn’t just an older person’s problem. If high cholesterol runs in your family, which is highly likely if you’re African-American, your first lipid profile should be at 20. Only if everything is normal can you wait until 45 for regular testing.
An HPV Test
While regular pap smears are part of every woman’s life, some doctors will not administer an HPV test unless requested. Every woman should be tested for this preventable disease as soon as possible.
A Full Body Scan
While these may cost upwards of $1,000 the peace of mind — and ability to detect potential problems early — can be priceless.
A Mental Health Screening
While most of us make sure to check up on our physical health, or psychological health often goes ignored. A few sessions with a professional can help you clear your mind, and move past vices in the way of your physical health.
A myth that flu shots cause the flu stops many people from getting the flu vaccine every year, but it should definitely be on your annual health checklist. So should a tetanus-diptheria booster (once every 10 years) and a varicella vaccine if you’ve never had the chicken pox.
A Fertility Test
Want kids but plan on putting it off for a while? Then an egg age test can tell you exactly how many highly fertile years you have left before the clock starts running out.
Find yourself saying “huh?” more often? Hearing loss is not a normal part of aging before the age of 30. Take this test with your doctor to know if you should avoid cranking up your headphones from now on to preserve your hearing.