Living Well: Women’s health — How to make the right choices
Women’s health screenings
The following tests are recommended for women at various stages throughout their lives. Talk to your health provider to tailor these recommendations to you.
- Blood pressure
Have your blood pressured at least every once every two years if it is in the healthy range (under 120/80) or once a year if it is above normal (between 120/80 and 139/89).
- Bone density
Get this test at least once at age 65 or after. Talk to your doctor or nurse about getting tested if you’re younger than 65 and about repeat testing.
- Breast cancer
Mammography every two years for women ages 50-74. If you are 75 or older, ask your doctor or nurse if you need to continue having mammograms.
- Cervical cancer
A Pap test is recommended every three years for women 21-65 who have a cervix. At age 30, a pap test and HPV test every 5 years is an option. If you are 65 or older, ask your doctor or nurse if you need to keep having Pap tests.
- Colorectal cancer
Recommended for women ages 50-75. Talk to your doctor about which screening test (fecal occult blood testing, sigmoidoscopy, or colonoscopy) or combination of tests is best for you, how often you need it/them and if you should continue having these tests after 75.
- Diabetes screening
Get tested for diabetes if your blood pressure is higher than 135/80 or if you take medicine for high blood pressure.
Get tested for HIV/AIDS at least once after age 20 or earlier if you are at high risk for being infected by the human immunodeficiency virus. Discuss further testing with your doctor.
- Lipid profile (total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, and triglycerides)
Starting at age 20, women at increased risk for developing heart disease should have regular cholesterol tests.
- Lung cancer
Annual testing with low-dose computed tomography between ages 55-80 if you have smoked the equivalent of a pack a day for 30 years and currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years.
- Sexually transmitted infections (Chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis)
Get tested for chlamydia yearly through age 24 if you are sexually active or pregnant. After age 25, get tested for chlamydia and other sexually transmitted diseases if you are at increased risk for getting a sexually transmitted infection.
Source: Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School
Women’s Health at MRH
Women’s Health is located in the southwest corner of the hospital. For an appointment, call 970-826-8230.
To improve your physical and mental health, you can:
- Visit a doctor or nurse for a well-woman visit (checkup), preventive screenings and vaccines.
- Get active.
- Eat healthy.
- Pay attention to mental health, including getting enough sleep and managing stress.
- Practice safe behaviors, such as quitting smoking, not texting while driving and taking steps to protect yourself from sexually transmitted infections.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women’s Health.
Every year during National Women’s Health Week, health providers around the country remind women of all ages how to practice healthy habits, both mentally and physically.
The leading causes of death for women in the United States are heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases, stroke and Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Women also have unique health issues such as pregnancy, menopause and conditions of female organs. But health issues that affect both men and women can affect women differently, according to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
- Women are more likely to die following a heart attack than men.
- Women are more likely to show signs of depression and anxiety than men.
- The effects of sexually transmitted diseases can be more serious in women.
- Osteoarthritis affects more women than men.
- Women are more likely to have urinary tract problems.
Women’s Health at MRH
Memorial Regional Health has expanded its Women’s Health Team in recent years to include more choices for local women. The team includes Liz Kilmer-Sterling, RN, MSN, a certified nurse midwife, and OB/GYN physicians Dr. Laura Cieslik and Dr. Scott Ellis.
When women choose a women’s health provider for pregnancy care, labor and delivery or for regular preventive care, MRH wants to make sure women can find a provider who is the right fit for each patient in terms of personality and philosophy.
Cieslik takes a holistic approach to patient care, looking at the whole person in terms of nutrition and health — which is exactly the message that is communicated nationally through National Women’s Health Week.
Holistic health is a lifelong journey that includes daily choices. Womenshealth.gov offers a checklist for women in their 20s through 90s, with each decade suggesting a different set of criteria for healthy living.
Some of these tips include getting at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep, reaching and maintaining a healthy weight, limiting alcohol use, eating healthy and getting at least 30 minutes of daily physical activity.
Should you be doing self breast exams? Is it time for a mammogram? How often should you be getting a Pap test? See factbox for recommendations about various health screenings.