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    10 Things Women Can Do to LiVe Well With Preventive Care

    10 Things Women Can Do to LiVe Well With Preventive Care

    10 Things Women Can Do to LiVe Well With Preventive Care

    Preventive care for women doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, most of the things you need to do only need to be done once, or not very often.

    “We understand and realize that women have specific health care needs,” says Lori Eining, RN, director of Women & Newborns Services for Intermountain Healthcare’s Salt Lake area hospitals. “We want to partner with you and help you live your healthiest life possible. One of the ways we can do that is through preventive care,”

    Preventive care puts you in charge of your health. It lets you gauge your health today and find out ways to protect it for the future. It helps you:

    • Prevent disease
    • Catch disease early, when more can be done about it
    • Save time, money, and stress in the long run

    What is preventive care?

    Preventive care means taking the steps proactively to keep from getting sick or to keep a sickness from getting worse. It means taking small actions now, when you may not have an illness or symptoms. To get good preventive care, you need to:

    • Know your risk factors for illness or injury
    • Have regular health check-ups
    • Get screened for cancer
    • Get immunized
    • Practice healthy habits

    A preventive care visit with your doctor is typically a separate visit. It’s not done at the same time as a visit for a recent or an ongoing condition.

    According to the American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology, annual preventive assessments provide an excellent opportunity to counsel patients about preventing or minimizing your health risks and to provide or refer for recommended services.

    The National Women's Health Information Center encourages you to take 10 steps to help yourself live longer, live better, and live happier:

    1. Be informed. Learn about health promotion and disease prevention and ask your healthcare provider for specific information about your needs.
    2. Be good to your bones. For healthy bones, replenish your stock of calcium every day with plenty of foods such as milk and other dairy products, tofu, leafy green vegetables, canned salmon or sardines, and calcium-fortified juices or breads. Talk with your healthcare provider about calcium supplements.
    3. Avoid illegal drugs and excessive alcohol. For women, the definition of moderate drinking stops at one drink a day. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines a drink as one five-ounce glass of wine, one 12-ounce bottle of beer or wine cooler, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits. Remember that the alcohol content of each type of drink can vary widely. Where illicit drugs are concerned, there’s no such thing as moderate use.
    4. Take medicine wisely. Read the labels, follow the instructions carefully, and remind your healthcare provider or pharmacist about any other medicines or supplements you might be taking that could interact with your medicines. For your safety — to lower your risk for adverse side-effects or medicine interactions, for instance — you should also let your healthcare provider know if you use any illicit or recreational drugs. If you have any questions about possible side-effects, call your healthcare provider or pharmacist.
    5. Play it safe. Avoid injuries. Buckle up. Wear a bike helmet. Use smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Wear sunscreen and UV-protected sunglasses. Use street smarts and common sense. Practice safe sex by using condoms to protect against sexually transmitted diseases if you have multiple sex partners.
    6. Get checked. Get regular checkups, preventive exams, and immunizations. Don’t forget self-exams, too.
    7. Don't smoke. Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in our country.
    8. Eat smart. That’s the secret to good health. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Enjoy a variety of foods, balance foods from each food group, and eat in moderation.
    9. Get moving. The other secret to good health: Just 30 minutes of physical activity, accumulated over the course of each day, can radically improve the way you look and feel, both physically and mentally.
    10. Be happy. Take time for yourself. Get connected with family, friends, and community. Do things you enjoy!

    Here are some routine activities you can do daily, monthly, and yearly to ensure good health. This chart provides general healthcare guidelines for women, but it isn’t meant to replace any advice and guidance given by your healthcare provider. Please use it as a reminder to take care of your personal health needs, and as a list of topics you may want to discuss with your healthcare provider.





    Exercise 30 minutes a day.

    Perform an oral cavity self-exam; include your gums, teeth, lips, tongue

    Have a dental checkup once or twice a year. Have vision and hearing checked annually.

    Discuss with your healthcare provider whether you need an annual exam.

    Protect yourself from the sun — use sunscreen and dress appropriately.

    Perform a full-body self-exam for unusual moles or other skin conditions. Have your healthcare provider examine moles annually, or immediately if you have suspicious growths.

    Have a pelvic exam and pap test beginning at age 21. Get your healthcare provider’s recommendations for further testing and screening for the human papillomavirus, or HPV.*

    After age 50:

    • Have a fecal occult blood test every year, or have a flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years, OR
    • Have a double contrast barium enema every 5 years, OR
    • Have a colonoscopy every 10 years

    African Americans should begin screening with a colonoscopy at age 45

    Watch your fat intake — fat should comprise no more than 35% of your calorie intake. Most fats should come from sources of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, such as fish, nuts, and vegetable oils.

    Be aware of your weight, check your body mass index

    Have your blood pressure and cholesterol levels checked

    Starting at age 45: every 5 years have a full lipid profile test for cholesterol and triglycerides.

    Earlier screening is recommended if you have risk factors for coronary artery disease.

    Eat sources of protein such as lean or low-fat meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, and nuts.

    Eat 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables daily.

    At least half of all of the grains eaten should be whole-grains.

    Consume 3 cups of fat-free or low-fat milk or equivalent milk products per day.


    Talk with your doctor about when you should have a mammogram.

    Get pneumococcal vaccines.

    After age 65: get the pneumococcal vaccines; also recommended for those younger than 65 who have medical problems that increase the risk for serious complications and death.

    Be aware of your alcohol intake and stress level.


    Get a flu shot.

    Get a tetanus/diphtheria (td) booster every 10 years.

    * The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that women have their first pap test at age 21. Women ages 21 to 29 should have a pap test every three years. Women 30 and older are recommended to have co-testing every five years, and cytology and HPV tests every three years. It's reasonable to discontinue screening for cervical cancer in women age 65 and over after they receive negative prior screening tests if there’s no history of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) 2+ within the last 20 years. After screening has been discontinued, it shouldn’t be resumed, even if a woman has multiple sexual partners.