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Milestone medical tests for women in their 50s

Entering the 50s means the menopause for most women, and it is one of life's milestones where it is worth taking stock of your health.

Many important tests are available from the NHS to screen for health conditions and to help prevent others.

Book an appointment with your GP to find out what would be best for you.

Thyroid hormone test

Your thyroid, that innocuous looking gland in your neck, is the body's powerhouse, producing hormones needed for metabolism. Ageing and disease, such as an overactive immune system, can wreak havoc causing the thyroid gland to produce too much or too little of its hormones. Talk to your doctor if you have unexplained symptoms - he or she might recommend a blood test to check your thyroid.

The rectal examination

Dread it, hate it, joke with your friends about it. Just make sure you get one if you have any symptoms suggestive of bowel disease. Bowel disease symptoms include any change in your normal bowel habit such as prolonged constipation, a more frequent or urgent need to go to the toilet, passing blood or mucus, or pain on opening your bowels.

Stepping on the scales

This is the age when most people start gaining weight especially around their middle - the classic ‘middle-aged spread' or apple shaped obesity which is particularly linked to heart disease and diabetes. Watch this weight gain carefully, and fight back with healthier eating and exercise. Being overweight puts you at high risk of developing a number of diseases -- and studies show that weight loss can improve your odds of avoiding these diseases. Central obesity is particularly responsive to exercise rather than simply dieting.

Blood pressure

Untreated high blood pressure is an equal opportunities killer -- it kills your heart, your brain, your eyes and your kidneys. Don't let hypertension sneak up on you. Get your GP, practice nurse or pharmacist to check your blood pressure. It's simple, quick, and painless.

Cholesterol test

Do you have high cholesterol? Find out -- at least once every five years (more frequently if advised to do so). Controlling your cholesterol may add years to your life.

Blood sugar

Untreated diabetes can destroy your health, causing heart disease, kidney failure, and blindness. 3.5 million people are known to have diabetes in the UK and it’s believed around 549,000 more have it but are unaware of the fact. Talk to your doctor about free NHS diabetes tests.

Cervical smear test

You may think you have suffered enough -- at least 20 years of smear tests! However you still need these. Ten minutes of mild discomfort pays big dividends in helping to protect you from cervical cancer.

Breast examination and mammograms

At this age you are entitled to a free NHS mammogram every three years. Early detection of breast cancer can save your breast and your life.

Looking for moles

Love your skin. Check your skin monthly for any unusual spots or moles. Look especially for changes such as increased size, irregular edge, changes in pigmentation or itching or bleeding. If you’re concerned speak with your doctor.

Protecting your eyes

Vision-robbing diseases become more common as you age. Be sure to get your eyes examined regularly -- every one to two years, or more frequently if advised to do so.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on April 19, 2016

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