October is Women’s Health Month

(U.S. Air Force graphic/Staff Sgt. Alexx Pons)

(U.S. Air Force graphic/Staff Sgt. Alexx Pons)

FALLS CHURCH, Va. -- Each October, women are reminded to put themselves first and make time for their health. Making your health a priority helps you 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 to stay healthy, allowing you to give your all in everything you do for your family and yourself.

Each year, get a well-woman exam. At this exam, you should have your blood pressure checked and talk to your health care provider about what other screenings, immunizations or family planning you might need based on your age, health habits, family and medical history.

The American Cancer Society recommends all women should begin cervical cancer screening at age 21. Women aged 21 to 29, should have a Pap test every 3 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 smear, 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 7-8 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 you are at a higher risk for certain diseases like breast cancer or diabetes. Talk to your health care provider about family, emotions, stress and non-physical 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 your physical health in order to stay or become healthier.

You can visit the Office of Women’s Health web page Your Health at Every Age to get details on what are the important health practices for you to maintain your health based on your age. For more information about TRICARE, visit “Is It Covered?” on the TRICARE website.