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Mother’s Day Special: Tests Every Mom Should Take After The Age of 40

posted on 7/3/2016 Facebook Facebook

Being a mother is not easy. From juggling household, parenting, and work responsibilities our mothers often find very little time for themselves. However, as they age, their risk of certain diseases increases, especially after menopause. 

On an average, a woman reaches the end of her reproductive age (menopause) by the age of 40 to 45. This is marked by a huge physiological transition in the female body especially the function of their hormones and have a huge impact on their overall health and well-being. 

Your 40s are a great time to assess your current health state, correct past indiscretions and prepare your body for many more decades of your life. Don’t let ignorance rob you of your health. Here’s a list of basic tests every woman above the age of 40 should ask for. 

1. Genetic Testing: The newest dogma in the field of preventive healthcare is genetic testing. Diseases like diabetes, heart conditions, cancer, Alzheimer’s—the risk of which increases with age—have been identified to have a strong genetic disposition. Genetic tests can help you determine if you have any variations in your DNA that may be increasing your risk for diseases. 

2. Bone Density Scan (DEXA): Women''''s hormones are constantly fluctuating throughout their lives. Once a woman hits menopause, the risk of osteoporosis increases. This is due to the decrease in the levels of estrogen which is important for bone health. A bone density X-ray test measures for bone mass—the amount of calcium and minerals in the bone, which is a vital indicator of bone health. 
To help bones stay strong, do 30 minutes of weight-bearing and resistance exercises regularly. Include more calcium rich foods like cruciferous greens, salmons, sardines, oranges, almonds etc. in your diet on a regular basis. 

3. Full Gynecological Tests: A full gynecological checkup is extremely important. A pelvic exam, pap smear, and HPV test are all highly recommended annually and will protect you from cancer and other sexually transmitted diseases. While a pelvic exam checks for any abnormal growths or an inflammatory disease, pap smear and HPV are important screenings for cervical cancer. 

4. Thyroid Test: If you’re experiencing unexplained weight gain or loss, fatigue, dry skin and brittle nails then it’s ideal to get your thyroid levels checked. While many of these symptoms are associated with menopause, do not ignore the signs. The American Thyroid Association, in fact, recommends this test as early as the age of 35. 

5. Blood Sugar Test: Diabetes affects more than 30 million people worldwide. Age is one of the biggest risk factor identified for diabetes and hence it is highly recommended to get your blood sugar levels checked frequently after the age of 40. This test determines the levels of your blood glucose and helps in the diagnosis of either pre-diabetes or diabetes. While experts recommend testing for diabetes once every three years after the age of 40, talk to your doctor about testing it earlier, if you’re overweight and have other risk factors like high blood pressure or high cholesterol.  

6. Breast Exam Or Mammogram: While the risk factors are many, age is one of the most important ones when it comes to breast cancer. Most doctors recommend a mammogram every year starting at age 40. Women can start as early as the age of 30 to check for any abnormalities in their breast by undertaking a self-exam on a monthly basis. This not only initiates an early diagnosis but also improves the chances of survival. 

7. Vitamin D Test: Calcium is the most essential bone mineral, however, you require vitamin D for its absorption. Vitamin D also defends against diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers, and improves your body’s ability to fight off infections. Aging can lower the levels of vitamin D in your body and hence it is important to test for it once every two years. 

References:
1. Health Quality Ontario. Screening mammography for women aged 40 to 49 years at average risk for breast cancer: an evidence-based analysis. Ont Health Technol Assess Ser. 2007;7(1):1-32. Epub 2007 Jan 1. PubMed PMID: 23074501; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3377515.
2. Unni J, Garg R, Pawar R. Bone mineral density in women above 40 years. J Midlife Health. 2010 Jan;1(1):19-22. doi: 10.4103/0976-7800.66989. PubMed PMID: 21799633; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3139257.
3. Priya DM, Akhtar N, Ahmad J. Prevalence of hypothyroidism in infertile women and evaluation of response of treatment for hypothyroidism on infertility. Indian J Endocrinol Metab. 2015 Jul-Aug;19(4):504-6. doi: 10.4103/2230-8210.159058. PubMed PMID: 26180766; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4481657.
4. Kmietowicz Z. Women aged over 40 who are at increased risk of breast cancer should get annual mammograms. BMJ. 2004 Jun 26;328(7455):1515. PubMed PMID:15217851; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC437135. 

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