Your 20s is the time to:
- learn your health history
- establish healthy routines
- find a gynecologist and primary care physician
- start thinking about your fertility and sexual health
- start protecting your skin
Children may seem like a long way off, but taking care of your fertility starts now. Screen for and treat any sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) when you become sexually active. Chlamydia, gonorrhea and pelvic infections are linked to female infertility. You should also start Pap tests when you become sexually active or turn 21 to check for the human papillomavirus (HPV), which can be a precursor to cervical cancer.
Also, talk to your mom about any female health problems in your family, such as reproductive cancers, uterine fibroids or endometriosis.
Your 30s is the time to:
- watch for subtle changes in your health
- get your cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure levels checked (recheck your cholesterol every five years)
- continue with breast self-exams, annual Pap tests and cancer screenings, depending on your risk factors
- get preconception counseling if you're thinking about conceiving
Don’t make excuses to get out of routine screenings. Find ways to prioritize what’s best for your life, and keep stress down by saying no to extra demands.
Your 40s is the time to:
- get a baseline mammogram at age 40
- maintain your metabolism and weight through a healthy diet and strength and aerobic training
- keep your eye out for signs of depression
Metabolism slows in your 40s. Women can add pounds around the midsection and lower trunk, raising the risk for heart disease or diabetes. In addition, major life changes can cause depression. Get emotional support from your partner or friends, focus on a new healthy hobby, or join a support group if you think you’re at risk.
Your 50s is the time to:
- get your first colonoscopy at age 50
- schedule a baseline bone density test
- continue routine screenings
You should also talk to your doctor about how changing estrogen levels will affect your overall health (especially your heart) and what you can do about it.
Your 60s and beyond
Your 60s and beyond is the time to:
- maintain your mental and physical health to help ward off depression, dementia and other chronic diseases
- continue screenings for cancer, heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis
- get your hearing and vision tested
- Incorporate simple puzzles, board games or computer activities and follow current events to keep a sharp mind.
- Make exercise, meaningful conversations and social outings a part of each day.