Throughout her life cycle, a woman has different health concerns from men, and different means of managing them. At each stage of a woman’s life, there are important preventive health care steps to follow in order for early detection of medical problems, or prevent them entirely.
That’s why a doctor who you can talk to freely about your worries can be an invaluable friend.
And these are the critical issues to tackle with your doctor as you move through the various stages of your life:
1. IN YOUR MID TO LATE TEENS
From age 15-21, a young woman is beginning to move on from pediatrician care, and to Obstetrics and Gynaecology (Ob/Gyn) services. We hate to say this, but young women are becoming sexually active at an earlier and earlier age, so fertility management, contraception, and Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination should be on a young woman’s shopping list at a medical clinic.
2. IN YOUR MID 20s TO 30s
From age 22-35, a woman’s need for medical care would primarily revolve around ob/gyn services. Contraception, pregnancy and childbirth issues should dominate a woman’s healthcare concerns at this point.
You may also want contraception and have concerns about sexually transmitted infections. If you are sexually active, you should get yourself screened regularly for sexually transmitted diseases without fear of embarrassment.
During this decade, you’ll need someone to hold your hand as you prepare for the possibility of getting cervical cancer (even if you were vaccinated), sexually transmitted diseases, and other cancers that affect women, such as breast cancers.
3. IN YOUR MID 30s TO 40s
From age 36-45, you should have the same worries as you had in your early 30s. But after that, your menses would start to be a little bit more irregular perhaps, and fertility issues might start to play a bigger role in your 30s to the early 40s.
The 30s to 40s is also when more women start having more complicated Gynecological problems, such as more painful periods, erratic periods, fibroids (growths) or cysts in the ovaries, or endometriosis, an often painful disorder in which the tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus, grows outside of it instead.
In the 30s to 40s, in addition to watching out for abnormal growths, heart disease should begin to become one of your main healthcare concerns.
4. WHEN YOU ARE PREGNANT
And of course, women who get pregnant, whichever age group they are, will need to see a doctor who they can confide in to deal with their various pregnancy issues.
5. IN YOUR MID 40s TO 50s AND BEYOND
From age 45 to 55 and after, you should be on the look out for cancers, heart disease, diabetes, and accidents that can lead to bone fractures or breaks, especially if you have a family history of any of these.
And then there’s breast cancer screening to talk about with your doctor. One of the questions that you might want answered is, should you have a mammogram (basically an x-ray) or an ultrasound?
Mammograms are actually advised every year, from age 40 onwards. The highest risk of breast cancer occurs between 40 to 50.
But if you’re younger than 40 and have no family history and no palpable lumps, you may want to do a screening ultrasound instead. If there’s any visible mass there, or a suspicious lump then you might be advised to move straight on to having a mammogram.