This is the third post in my 5-part series where I answer “The Top 5 Questions Every Woman in (or near) Her 40s Should Be Asking about Her Hormones and Her Overall Health.”
Today I will be answering the question: “What health screening tests should I be discussing with my doctor now that I’m in my 40s?”
The previous posts explained that perimenopause is a natural, normal phase of life that lasts about 5-10 years before your period ends. And we covered the importance of key lifestyle habits and adrenal health to help set the stage for this hormonal transition. If you missed those, you can read Post 1 Here and Post 2 Here.
An important topic on the minds of many women during this time of life is screening health tests. Whether you are having many perimenopausal symptoms or not, just being in your 40s or 50s can be a great motivator to get a good thorough check-up and a baseline to compare to in the future.
Just like you go to the dentist to get your teeth cleaned or take your car in for service, health screenings are an important part of taking care of your body. Since you will be living in your body for the rest of your life, you do want to check in with it in a deeper way from time to time.
Physical exams and lab testing can provide important insight into what your body needs to stay healthy, and can identify imbalances that you wouldn’t have otherwise known about. And if you are having any symptoms, this might be a way to figure out what is going on, and what to do about it.
Here are some of the tests that you might want to learn more about and discuss with your doctor:
- Blood Testing: screenings for anemia, blood sugar and cholesterol, plus thyroid, nutrients and other more detailed markers for diabetes and heart disease risk factors. A typical panel in my practice might include CBC, CMP, Lipid Panel, TSH, free T4, free T3, reverse T3, TPO Antibody and Thyroglobulin Antibody, Ferritin, 25-OH Vit D, Vit B12, HbA1C and cardi0-CRP.
- Functional Medicine Testing: these tests are not typically ordered by conventional doctors, as they measure the “function” of your body systems, rather than screening for a disease. I often use saliva tests for adrenals and hormones, digestive stool tests for IBS symptoms, and others depending on the specific case.
- Breast Imaging: talk to you doctor about starting at 40 or waiting until 50, but also do self exams and get to know your own body. (See my recent blog post about breast health for more reading.)
- Pap and HPV testing: both should be done, along with a GYN exam, every 1-5 years depending on your risk factors. If you do have an abnormal result, know that natural medicine treatments are extremely effective.
- Colonoscopy: usually starting at 50 unless you have risk factors
- Bone Density (DEXA): usually starting at 65
Unfortunately, many doctors will order a few basic tests and simply tell you everything is normal. That is certainly better than having a test come back showing anything concerning, but most of the women I speak with would prefer “optimal health” over “normal”. It can be frustrating when you go in for help, and you know there’s something off inside, and your doctor tells you there is nothing wrong. Or they just say it’s normal without even showing you the numbers or explaining what any of it means.
This is when it can be so helpful to get more thorough testing and learn more about any imbalances that may be happening. Knowing about your adrenal or thyroid function, your nutrient levels, or your blood sugar and cholesterol can clue you in to what you need to do to feel better fast, and to keep your body healthy going forward.
Because I know how important it is to be informed and to have access to more resources and support, I’m excited to invite you to….
If you are local to the Bay Area and want to go deeper or could use more support, CLICK HERE to learn more about my upcoming 6-month group program, starting in January 2016. I will be guiding you step-by-step as you learn the most effective natural strategies for balancing your hormones and optimizing your overall health. Plus, you will connect with a group of like-minded women who totally get what you are going through, and will be there to support you on your journey.
We’ll meet just once a month, on a Sunday afternoon, for our circle and discussion, plus a special guest activity such as yoga, dance, pilates or art. The rest of the program is flexible so you can get the help you need at a pace that fits into your busy life!
Get all the details and register here ===> www.DrAmyDay.com/perimenopauseprogram
This 5-part series will be answering your top questions about hormones and overall health, and will teach you many tips about taking care of yourself to stay healthy for the years and decades ahead. Keep an eye out for the next post soon!