Once a dreaded milestone, turning 40 has become something of a badge of honor. (Ok, I still dreaded it, but you know what I mean.) You’re moving into a stage of your life that you can begin to rediscover who you are. Your children are growing up and becoming more independent. You’re likely established in your career and can relax a bit and focus more on the things that are important to you. There is room in your life for a shift in priorities, putting “taking care of yourself” in a more visible light.
One of these priorities is making sure that you are up-to-date on important health screenings. Though you may feel some days like you are still in your 20s, there are health concerns as we get older that should be watched closely. Here are seven health screenings that you should schedule by your 40th birthday to get baseline readings and ensure that everything falls within normal ranges.
The jury is out on the exact “right” age for a baseline mammogram, as it may be an earlier concern for some women than for others. Talk to your doctor about when it’s best for you to begin mammograms, be sure to have a clinical exam with your physician or gynecologist, and keep doing your monthly self-exams at home to check for changes.
Skin Cancer Checks
In your younger, infallible days, you probably didn’t always take the steps you should have to protect your skin. Make sure to make an appointment with a dermatologist to check any moles or concerning marks on your skin for potential cancer danger. With early detection, most skin cancer is curable so it’s important to be screened early and often for potential issues.
Cholesterol screenings are important for your heart health, especially as you grow older. Those who have a history of heart disease in their family may want to start screenings earlier, but regular checks beginning around age 40 can help you to detect problems that could lead to issues as you grow older.
Many women chalk up symptoms like weight loss or gain, trouble sleeping, and mood shifts to body changes due to age, when in reality it is an issue with their thyroid. A thyroid check can help find issues that may be able to be controlled with medication or treatment.
Though you should be visiting your gynecologist regularly, age 40 is a good time to ensure you have a PAP smear, HPV screening, and potentially STD testing. With multiple clear screenings and low risk factors, your gynecologist may even recommend that you extend time between future tests.
With the prevalence of Type-2 diabetes, a blood sugar check around age 40 is important for every woman. Diabetes can wreak havoc on the entire body, but it can be treated and sometimes reversed with proper care and management.
Mental Health Analysis
Be sure to talk with your physician or gynecologist about mood issues, possible depression, and other mental health concerns to determine if you have any troubling symptoms. Taking care of your mental health is just as important as your physical health.