There is no shortage of online stories that declare the 30s as the best years of a woman’s life. Statistically, those in their 30s are more likely to be established in a job they enjoy, reports metro.co.uk.
Many women in this age group say they feel sexier and more in tune with their bodies—and therefore enjoy a better sex life—than they did in their 20s, says huffpost.com. You stress less over the small stuff, you’re brave enough to go after what you want, and you’re smart enough to know better, notes a listicle from bolde.com.
But as invincible as women feel in their 30s, the decade marks the start of significant changes in their health. As metabolism starts to slow down, the numbers on the scale gradually creep up. Skin cell production isn’t as fast, prompting the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. The 30s are also the beginning of bone density loss, making women vulnerable to osteoporosis in their later years.
In celebration of National Women’s Month this March, top hospital in the Philippines, Makati Medical Center (MakatiMed), through the MMC HealthHub, identify the health screening women in their 30s should consider taking.
Physical exam. “Though you don’t need to undergo a physical exam annually, having at least one or two during your 30s gives you a general idea of your overall health and what to look out for in case you have risk factors for heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension,” says MMC HealthHub head Minerva M. Laconico, MD.
Blood works. Blood pressure screening makes use of a sphygmomanometer, a device that is cuffed to your upper arm. With a handheld pump, your doctor inflates the cuff, preventing blood from flowing. When the cuff is deflated, blood flows again and with a stethoscope, your doctor listens to the blood flow in an artery at your inner elbow. The first “thump” represents the systolic pressure (blood pressure when the heart contracts), and the last “thump” is the diastolic pressure (the lowest amount of pressure between heartbeats). “Any blood pressure of 120/80 mmHg and below is considered normal,” Dr. Laconico explains. “A figure higher than that means you may have hypertension, which puts you at risk for a host of complications, including stroke and heart attack.”
To check your cholesterol (high levels of which make you a candidate for heart disease), you’ll need to take a blood test that requires 10-12 hours of fasting. The recommended numbers: total cholesterol of less than 200 mg/dL
(milligrams per deciliter); high density lipoprotein (HDL) or “good” cholesterol of 60 mg/dL or more; low density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol of 100 mg/dL or less; and triglycerides (a type of fat found in the blood that is used for energy) of 149 mg/dL or less. “Discuss your options with your health practitioner if your tests do not yield the recommended numbers,” says Dr. Laconico.
Breast cancer screening. “Mammograms and ultrasounds aren’t needed for women in their 30s unless they have a history of breast cancer in their family,” says Dr. Laconico. Instead, women of this age can ask a doctor or nurse to perform a clinical breast exam every three years; women can also do a breast self-exam every month at home. “Early detection allows you to address any suspicious findings right away,” Dr. Laconico points out. “With early detection, you can either rule out a symptom or take care of it before it progresses.”
Pelvic exam. The pelvic exam involves the examination of the vagina, cervix, fallopian tubes, vulva, ovaries, and uterus for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or other conditions. The exam includes a Pap smear, which tests for cervical cancer. A speculum holds the walls of the vagina apart so your doctor can see the cervix and take samples from it using a soft brush and a spatula.
“Women usually have their first pelvic exam at 21 or when they want to be prescribed with birth control,” says Dr. Laconico. “Thereafter, women in their 30s can undergo a Pap smear every five years.”
Eye check-up. As women get older, their risk of developing eye problems gets higher. If they have a strong family history of Glaucoma, an eye condition that can lead to loss of vision, they should be diagnosed and treated early. Even if their vision seems normal, Dr. Laconico nonetheless advises women in their 30’s and who are at risk to make an appointment with an eye doctor. “Everyday activities, such as looking at your phone for a prolonged period, can cause eye strain, and this tends to worsen with age. It is always better to get screened early once symptoms begin to prevent its progression.”
For more information, please contact MakatiMed On-Call at +632.8888 8999, email [email protected], or visit www.makatimed.net.ph.