The world observes Galentine’s Day generally on February 13, one day before Valentine’s Day! Celebrate this special day by paying tribute to the strong women friendships that make up your life. Cherish the women who have been with you through your ups and downs. Show your best friends, mothers, sisters, aunts, grandmothers, and daughters just how much they mean to you! But at this time, don’t forget that there is a very special person you need to show love to as well – yourself! Ladies, Galentine’s Day 2024 should also be about taking care of yourself and giving yourself gifts. And what’s better than the gift of good health?
A woman has multiple roles to fit in, she needs to be a hardcore multitasker just to manage every day! While prioritizing work, studies, or family responsibilities, you might have forgotten to prioritize your health! Staying healthy should be one of your crucial 2024 goals. This involves regular exercise, stress management, and eating a healthy, balanced diet. Aside from these basics, you need to add one more factor this year – getting regular health screenings! A recent survey by health.com showed that around 50% of women do not schedule or in fact skip preventive health screenings. This includes annual health check-ups, routine vaccinations, or doctor-recommended tests. That’s something you should change in 2024!
In this blog, we’ll look into 6 essential health checks for women that you need to get this year. After reading this blog, Team OZiva hopes you’ll book your very first appointment this very Galentine’s Day!
What Health Problems Do Women Have in 2024?
According to a new report by the World Economic Forum, women spend 25% more of their lives in bad health than men, although women live longer. This equates to 75 million more years of life lost!
These health problems seem to impact working women more than non-working women. It’s also a prevalent problem in India that women take longer to get a diagnosis because a physician or doctor might not recognize the manifestations of a health problem in women that easily.
Key health problems you might be facing, or have noticed your family and friends facing in 2024:
- Pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS)
- Depression and related disorders
- Ovarian cancer
Screening tests become even more critical for women as the anatomical setup of their bodies makes them more susceptible to these health conditions. In addition, there are changes in hormonal and sociological elements according to age, which can increase the risk of development of numerous more diseases.
Now, we share a list of essential health checks you should get in 2024 to combat these common health problems through preventive screening!
Essential Health Check #1 – Breast Cancer
While cancer rates continue to rise around the world, ovarian, cervical, and breast cancer remain the most common forms in women. The risk of getting breast cancer increases as you age.
If your age is between 18 and 39, you should get your first-ever breast cancer check as soon as possible. The screening for breast cancer consists of clinical exams and screening mammograms.
Women aged 40-44 can choose to start screening every year, as breast cancer becomes even more common during those ages. Women aged 45-54 should start scheduling mammograms every year. Women aged 55 or older can reduce it a bit to a mammogram every two years instead.
As a first step, find out if you have a family history of breast cancer. Check with your mother or grandmother. If you have a family history, the risk of you getting it is also increased. Your healthcare provider will run an extra test to check if you are at risk for a type of breast cancer associated with genes such as BRCA1 or BRCA2.
If you are at high risk, your doctor will suggest further actions such as genetic counseling or BRCA testing.
Essential Health Check #2 – Mental Wellbeing
- Around 1 in 10 women suffer from depression each year
- Around 1 in 8 women experience postpartum depression
These statistics were revealed by the Centre for Disease Control & Prevention. Many doctors have started realising that mental and emotional health is just as important as physical health.
Women are much more likely than men to experience situations that trigger or worsen depression, due to societal roles and circumstances. Go through this list and see if it applies to you or a woman you know:
- Caring Roles – More than 2 in 3 women become primary carers for children, siblings, partners and parents. Balancing these caring roles with work and other responsibilities takes a toll on your physical and mental health.
- Violence or abuse – Many women experience violence or abuse by an intimate partner and find it difficult to talk about it to their friends, family, or therapist, further affecting well-being.
- Infertility and miscarriage – Many women experience infertility or miscarriages. These losses are often painful and women feel the need to mourn them privately.
- PCOS – 1 in 5 women have experienced or are experiencing Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). Apart from irregular periods, PCOS includes painful symptoms like hirsutism, acne, and ovarian cysts, and takes a significant toll on well-being.
- Menopause – Hormonal changes and many life transitions around menopause can cause depression and anxiety.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also significantly impacted women’s mental health, with more women than men reporting mental distress. This is because of many factors including work stress and insecurity, and an increase in household responsibilities and caring roles, the majority of which are still done by women.
Visit a doctor to get a mental well-being checkup. Many doctors have different types of tests to check this.
- One test is the patient health questionnaire 9, which screens depression by asking 9 basic questions themed around your mood
- The Generalised Anxiety Disorder Assessment (GAD-7) reveals common signs of an anxiety disorder.
Essential Health Check #3 – Blood Pressure, Blood Sugar & Fat in Blood
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is one of the risk factors for cardiovascular diseases, the leading cause of death in women. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends a few simple blood pressure screenings with a simple test using a cuff around your arm to measure the force of the blood flowing through your vessels.
Women should start getting blood pressure checks at age 20. If your blood pressure is below 120/80 millimeters (the ideal level), you should have it checked at least once in two years till the age of 40, and then every year. If it is higher than the ideal, you should ask to have it checked annually from age 20 itself.
Aside from blood pressure, you need to be concerned about blood sugar. Doctors suggest that women start screenings for prediabetes and diabetes from age 35 rather than 45. If you are planning to conceive, you should get screened before you conceive or at your first prenatal visit. If you are pregnant, you need to screen for gestational diabetes between 24 and 28 weeks. Diabetes tests are often done as blood tests. There are three such tests:
One is a nonfasting test called hemoglobin A1C, or A1C, which measures your average blood sugar over the past two to three months. Other screens involve testing blood sugar after an overnight fast or a glucose test that measures blood sugar after you drink a sugary substance.
Lastly, when it comes to blood, women should also be concerned about fat. A lipid panel is a fasting blood test used to assess levels of cholesterol and triglyceride, which can increase the risk of a stroke.
You can get your total cholesterol score by adding two numbers – HDL (healthier cholesterol) and LDL (lower cholesterol) along with 20 percent of triglyceride levels.
If you’re aged 20 to 65, you should have your cholesterol measured at least once every five years, says the National Institutes of Health — more often if you are at high risk of heart disease. Those 65 and older should test their cholesterol annually.
Essential Health Check #4 – Pap Smears
Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women annually. In 2024, around 602,000 cases were seen in India. In India, the age-standardized incidence rate is 14.7 per 100,000 women, and the age-standardized mortality rate is 9.2 per 100,000 women. Cervical cancer is associated with sexual behaviors such as poor genital hygiene, early age of marriage, multiple sexual partners, and repeated pregnancies
Earlier, it was super important to get pap smears annually. In a pap smear, a small brush is used to check the cells around the cervix to assess cancer growth. As research has progressed, doctors have gained a better understanding of how cervical cancer develops. Now, a pap smear is no longer necessary annually. However, it is still an essential test for you to take this year!
Guidelines recommend that you get your first pap smear at the age of 21, with a basic screening done every three years after that till the age of 30. Until age 65, you can continue that schedule.
Essential Health Check #5- Thyroid Functions
Your thyroid gland produces two main hormones – thyroxin (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), both fo which help regulate your metabolism. In adults, a normal total T4 level ranges from 5.0 to 12.0 μg/dL and a normal total T3 level in adults ranges from 80-220 ng/dL.
Women are much more likely to be affected by thyroid disorders than men. Thyroid disorders and effects include the following:
- Hyperthyroidism (which can lead to Graves’ disease)
- Hypothyroidism (which can lead to serious autoimmune disorders including lupus and vitiligo)
- Thyroid tumors (this can lead to Hashimoto’s disease and cause goiters)
Other thyroid diseases in women can affect your hormonal balance and cause problems in puberty, menstruation, fertility, pregnancy and the postpartum period. Low levels of thyroid hormones or hypothyroidism slow your metabolism and can cause symptoms like fatigue, dry skin, weight gain, and irregularity in menstrual cycles whereas high levels of thyroid or hyperthyroidism can cause increased heartbeat, anxiety, weight loss, difficulty sleeping, etc.
Your doctor will get you tested for a thyroid function test if you are experiencing these above-mentioned symptoms and can prescribe a simple schedule of medicines to control the thyroid levels for normalcy.
Essential Health Check #6- Tests for Vitamin Deficiency
2024 is the year of noticing vitamin deficiencies! The recent National Family Health Survey showed some shocking facts about vitamin and mineral deficiencies:
- Around 50% of Indian women suffer from anaemia (iron deficiency)
- 72% Indian women face Vitamin D deficiency
- Indian women face high levels of Vitamin B12 deficiency and cannot find good food sources to add it to their diet
These are just some of the vitamin deficiencies lurking in plain sight! Dr. Ravi Duggal states that anaemia is much more likely in women than men because of the socio-economic strata and divide.
Getting 100% of recommended vitamins and minerals for women daily is extremely important for good health. Essential vitamins for women include Iron, Zinc, Calcium, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D and more. Evidence has revealed that a deficiency of Vitamin B12 for women who are planning for a pregnancy or are pregnant can cause serious consequences.
Besides, levels of vitamin D are critical to bone health and calcium absorption. It has been observed that bone disorders are more common in older women, who are more likely to have vitamin D deficiency. Therefore, your doctor can advise you to get your vitamin levels checked to prevent its consequences.
You can do a vitamin deficiency test by going for a simple blood test in your closest hospital or healthcare venue.
Besides the health check ups we’ve mentioned above, you need to watch out for any new symptoms or changes in your skin like new warts and moles. If you are post-menopausal, you might be at increased risk of osteoarthritis or fragile bones. The need for a health screening remains the same as you age!
To maintain optimum health, keep in touch with your doctor as you age and discuss your issues and health related screening tests. Some need to be done routinely, and some are necessary based on your risk factors and symptoms. Proper screening does not always prevent a disease, but it can definitely detect it early enough to provide you the opportunity of overcoming it!
If you are healthy, you can take excellent care of your loved ones too! On that note, Team OZiva once again wishes you a very happy Galentine’s Day 2024! Get your health checkup now!
Last modified: February 12, 2024