As a woman, you face many special concerns that call for heightened awareness about your health. At LifeCare Medical Center, we feel being proactive with your health is key to prevention.
Regular medical checkups are essential once you become sexually active, approach the reproductive age or transition into the “middle years” of your life. Contact your local healthcare provider to schedule an appointment.
When meeting with your chosen provider, you’ll be asked to provide health history such as:
- Family History
Weight and Height
Being weighed is a critical part of the physical exam. The risk of heart disease, diabetes, breast cancer, hypertension and osteoporosis, as well as your overall well-being and longevity are all affected by obesity. Checking your weight is performed as a basic screening for osteoporosis in older women.
If your blood pressure is within normal limits, have it checked once a year. If it is high, then it should be checked more frequently, especially if you are being treated for hypertension (high blood pressure) and taking medication.
Your neck will be examined for any abnormalities in the thyroid gland. Thyroid problems can manifest in a wide array of symptoms — unexplained weight gain or loss, feeling too hot or too cold, nervousness or excessive fatigue, depression, diarrhea or constipation and dry or sweaty skin. Screening for thyroid function in women during their mid-life is best assessed with a panel of blood tests.
Breast Health Awareness
Gynecological care begins with the newborn female and continues throughout adolescence, the reproductive years, menopause and finally, the post-menopause and finally, the post-menopausal years. Gynecology covers the care of a women’s reproductive organs. This includes the vagina, uterus, cervix, ovaries, fallopian tubes and vulva.
Pelvic Exam and Pap Smear
A manual check of your reproductive organs will be done. This includes the vagina, uterus, cervix, ovaries and fallopian tubes. The entire area will be examined for any visible abnormalities. Your Provider will perform a Thin Layer Prep Pap Smear (when necessary based on your history), testing the area for abnormalities.
Popular in recent years, HPV is a vaccine developed and released for immunization against the most common HPV viruses that cause genital warts, cervical cancer and pre-cancerous changes in the cervix, vagina and vulva. It is recommended for girls ages 9-26 and is given in three doses.
Testing should be considered in all pregnant women and individuals at risk. Many STD’s have no symptoms and can only be detected with appropriate testing. Ask your healthcare Provider if you have concerns.
A rectal exam allows for a more thorough evaluation of your female pelvic organs. At times, your healthcare professional can detect an abnormality more clearly with a rectal exam rather than with a vaginal exam.
Complete Blood Count
A complete blood count (CBC) or hemoglobin will screen for anemia. White cells will be analyzed for any possible infections, and platelets checked for blood-clotting. Blood sugar levels may also be evaluated. If the blood glucose level is not within normal limits, then a more detailed evaluation may be recommended to further screen for diabetes.
Cholesterol levels may also be obtained during your blood screening. It is necessary for the body to function normally, but too much cholesterol creates a problem. If high, it can lead to hardening of the arteries. As we mature, the risk of heart disease rises dramatically because we lose the safeguarding effects of estrogen and progesterone at menopause. Cholesterol screening should begin at age 20 and be repeated every 5 years if levels are normal. More frequent and thorough evaluation should be carried out if the levels are too high.
Thyroid screening may be done starting at age 50 and every five years thereafter. Certain symptoms may suggest testing earlier or more frequently.
At LifeCare, we offer advanced digital Tomosynthesis (3D) mammography. Mammography provides an x-ray examination of breast tissues. It uses a very low dose of radiation and is considered very safe. Digital Tomosynthesis mammography creates three-dimensional images of the breasts and offers exceptional image clarity and detail by imaging the breast in several “layers.” The results include fewer biopsies and additional callbacks as well as increased accuracy.
The goal of screening mammography is to detect cancer when it is still too small to be felt by a doctor or the patient. Early detection of small breast cancers by screening mammography greatly improves a woman’s chances for successful treatment.
The American College of Radiology currently recommend that a woman of average risk have a mammogram every year starting at age 40. If you have a family history of breast cancer, your doctor may recommend beginning screening mammograms earlier. If you are already experiencing symptoms or notices changes such as nipple discharge or a lump in the breast, a mammogram should be performed.
Need help paying for a mammogram?
Through a grant provided by SAGE screening has funds available to help pay for the cost of a digital mammogram. Applying for the funds is simple because the ultimate goal is to ensure every woman who needs a mammogram gets one as early as possible.
For information about obtaining a free or reduced cost mammogram, contact LifeCare Imaging at 218-463-4753.
Bone Mineral Density: Dexa Scan (Dual Energy X-ray Absorption)
The bone density measurement is to detect osteoporosis or weakening and thinning of bones; ultimately, it measures the density of your bones to estimate their strength. Dexa Scan is used mostly in screening of post-menopausal women but can be used in younger women and men to detect bone loss.
Colon Cancer Screening
Most colon cancers are preceded by polyps which can develop into cancers if not removed. Screening is intended to discover polyps or early cancers which can be cured with surgery. Screening is recommended at age 50 and above, and at an earlier age in individuals who have a strong family history or a previous incident of bowel disease such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns regarding your health, contact your local healthcare provider to schedule an appointment.