COVID-19 has been stressful for everyone and has unfortunately caused many individuals to neglect their health. This is especially true for females, and mothers specifically, who are oftentimes busy caring for their families and others. Since the pandemic has brought on many challenges to families, we have noted a large decline in preventive health screenings for females, such as breast cancer and cervical cancer screenings. Prolonged delays in screenings can lead to poor health outcomes and delayed diagnoses of preventive and/or curable diseases. Now is the time to take charge of your health and get up-to-date on your screenings.
The majority of women are at average risk of developing breast cancer, but age is an important risk factor, as the incidence of breast cancer increases with age. Talk to your primary care doctor if you are forty years or older to determine how often and what type of screening you should have for breast cancer.
A cervical cancer screening via pap smear by your primary care provider or OBGYN is also crucial. Screenings start at the age of 21 and are usually repeated every 3-5 years depending on age, history and risk factors. Some individuals may need screenings more often and your primary care doctor can discuss that with you.
Physical activity and healthy eating habits are also essential preventive measures, both physically and mentally. If cleared by your primary care provider, aim for 30-45 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity four to five days a week. Also aim for nutrient-dense food groups as much as possible. If you’re approaching menopause, adequate amount of calcium and vitamin D is also important.
To learn more about ways to take care of your health, schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss further.
This article was written by Dr. Nadeen Sweis, family medicine doctor at Mercyhealth Algonquin, in celebration of Women’s Health Week, May 8-14.