Women’s health: Take time to get checked

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FALLS CHURCH, VA. (AFNS) — Each October during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, women are reminded to put themselves first and make time for their health. Making health a priority helps people stay in optimum shape and keeps illnesses and disease at bay.

Women often put their families’ needs ahead of their own, ignoring minor symptoms year after year until they affect their health. Using preventive care is one of the best ways for someone to stay healthy.

Each year, women should get a well-woman exam. Typically during the exam, blood pressure is checked and women should talk to their health care provider about what other screenings, immunizations or family planning they might need based on their age, health habits, and family and medical history.

The American Cancer Society recommends all women should begin cervical cancer screening at age 21. Women from ages 21 to 29, should have a Pap test every three years. Thanks to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, most private health plans must cover this and other preventive care services at no cost. TRICARE also covers annual preventive women’s health services that may include a Pap test, pelvic and breast exam, and mammogram at no cost.

There are other actions you can take to live a healthy life:

– Maintain a healthy weight

– Exercise for at least 30 minutes at least five days a week

– Limit alcohol use

– Quit smoking

– Practice safe sex

– Get seven to eight hours of sleep per night

– See your health care provider every year

– Get appropriate screenings as recommended by your health care provider

It’s important to get screenings, especially if someone is at a higher risk for certain diseases like breast cancer or diabetes. Talk to a health care provider about family, emotions, stress and nonphysical concerns as well. Life events can bring higher stress with symptoms of anxiety, depression and sleep difficulties. These concerns are just as important to discuss as physical health in order to stay or become healthier.

For more information on best health practices pertaining to age, visit the Office of Women’s Health website. For more information about TRICARE, visit “Is It Covered?” at www.tricare.mil.