"If you check the health of a woman, you check the health of society." - Rebecca Milner
Women tend to suffer from a number of health issues as they grow older. Some factors that contribute to increased health problems with age include:
- Menopause: Women usually undergo menopause between the ages of 48 and 55 years. The level of estrogen reduces during this period, resulting in a loss of its protective effect on various systems. Estrogen increases HDL or “good cholesterol” and reduces LDL or “bad cholesterol.” It also has a protective effect on the heart and blood vessels. It protects women from high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. It also helps to make bones stronger. Loss of estrogen makes the woman increasingly susceptible to heart disease and osteoporosis.
- Cancers: Cancers are more common in older women. Breast cancer and cervical cancer commonly affect women.
- Other Age – Related Changes: Like men, age also increases the chances of women developing conditions like diabetes and Alzheimer disease.
Though many of the above ailments may occur after the woman crosses 60 years, early changes may occur in the age-group of 40 to 60 years. Early detection through
Recommended Screening Tests
Detailed examinations as well as several screening tests are recommended for women between 40 and 60 years of age.
Though recommendations for different tests vary in different countries and ethnic groups, some screening tests that women between 40 and 60 years of age should undergo are listed below:
- Routine Examination by a Doctor
A routine examination should be done preferably yearly. It should also include a breast and pelvic examination and a skin check for skin cancers. Women should be advised to do monthly self – breast examination. They should also be advised about healthy lifestyle changes like avoiding smoking and alcohol and controlling weight.
- Dental Examination
Women should undergo annual dental examinations.
- Eye Testing
- Eye examination should be carried out every 2 years above the age of 40 years.
- Testing for glaucoma should be done every 2 years over the age of 45.
- Blood Pressure
Blood pressure should be checked once every 2 years and more often if it is above normal level.
- Lipid profile
- Colon Cancer Screening
Colon cancer screening is advised in women over 50 years of age with a stool test every year and a flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years or a colonoscopy every 10 years.
Mammogram to check for
- Pap Smear
Pap smears are recommended after the age of 21 whenever the woman becomes sexually active. It is recommended every 2 to 3 years above the age of 40 years
- DEXA Scan
A DEXA scan to check for bone density should be carried out in women at a high risk for osteoporosis
- Blood sugar Testing
A fasting and postprandial
- HIV Testing
Women with multiple sexual partners or at high risk for developing HIV may need to undergo screening for the disease.
- Disease Prevention in Women - (http://www.medicinenet.com/disease_prevention_in_women/article.htm)
Latest Publications and Research on Health Screening for Women
- Treatment and Management of Depression Symptoms in Pregnant Veterans: Varying Experiences of Mental Health Care in the Prenatal Period. - Published by PubMed
- Mortality impact of achieving WHO cervical cancer elimination targets: a comparative modelling analysis in 78 low-income and lower-middle-income countries. - Published by PubMed
- Impact of HPV vaccination and cervical screening on cervical cancer elimination: a comparative modelling analysis in 78 low-income and lower-middle-income countries. - Published by PubMed
- Challenges and advances in cervix cancer treatment in elder women. - Published by PubMed
- Implementation status of household contact tuberculosis screening by health extension workers: assessment findings from programme implementation in Tigray region, northern Ethiopia. - Published by PubMed