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Common Medical Questions

What are the most important medical screening tests for women and at what age should they have them?

While not all medical organizations agree on what you need and when, here’s what the National Women’s Health Information Center suggests:

 

    • Blood pressure test — Every two years beginning at age 18

 

    • Cholesterol test – Start at age 20 and let your doctor suggest frequency.

 

    • Bone mineral density test — Have baseline test around age 65 and let your doctor decide on frequency. You may need early screening if you have certain risk factors.

 

    • Blood sugar test (diabetes) — Get tested if your blood pressure is higher than 135/80 or if you have medication for high blood pressure.

 

    • Mammogram — Talk to your doctor about what schedule is right for you.

 

    • Pap test/Pelvic exam — Every three years if you are sexually active from age 21. After age 65, talk to your doctor about frequency.

 

    • Colorectal health testing — Get screened starting at age 50 with either fecal occult blood testing, sigmoidoscopy, or colonoscopy.

 

Your own screening recommendations may vary depending on your personal risk factors. Talk to your doctor about a screening plan that is best for you.

Do treatments for thinning hair and baldness really work?

If you’re seeing more of your balding scalp every morning in the bathroom mirror — and more of your hair on your hairbrush — treatments can help. But they may not be as simple or foolproof as you want. If your hair loss doesn’t have a specific cause — like illness — you could try medicine. Over-the-counter Rogaine is applied to the scalp. Prescription Propecia is taken as a pill. In some men, they can thicken hair, prevent future hair loss, and cause new hair growth. But don’t expect a miracle. They work slowly. In some men, they don’t work at all. You also have to take them for the long haul. If you ever stop, your hairline will retreat to where it was. While other supplements or herbal remedies may be advertised as baldness cures, there’s no proof that any of them work. The alternative is surgery ranging from transplants to more aggressive procedures. But these methods can be expensive and, like any operation, they do pose some risks.

What are the most important things a woman can do on her own to protect her health?

Keeping a keen eye out for early signs of health problems is important, but there are also things you can do to protect yourself now and in the future. These include:

 

    • Eating a sensible diet – that includes all the major food groups — and watching portion size.

 

    • Try for 30 minutes of exercise or more daily.

 

    • Protect your bones by eating three servings of low-fat dairy every day and performing weight-bearing exercises — like walking, running, aerobics, or dancing — at least three times a week.

 

    • Get regular health screenings.

 

    • Take time out for yourself. Experts say 30 minutes a day is ideal if you can swing it. Make it a time when you do something just for you — reading, taking a bath, working in the garden, chatting online with friends — whatever relieves your stress will add years to your life and life to your years!

 

Once and for all, what’s a normal penis size?

It’s the question that just about every teenage boy asks himself — and may keep asking himself throughout his life: How does my penis measure up? Several recent studies say that the average size is about 5 inches when the penis is “stretched.” (Sounds painful, but it just means extending a flaccid penis out fully — the size of a stretched penis is about the same as it is when erect.) Other surveys found an average closer to 6 inches. While it’s possible that there are racial differences in penis size, there’s little evidence. Regardless, there’s still a great deal of variation within racial groups anyway. Still, a lot of guys are convinced that they’re smaller than everyone else. In one study, researchers interviewed 92 men who considered themselves poorly endowed. Not a single one actually had a small penis. While there are surgeries to enlarge the penis, they are not well studied — and many men are unhappy with the results.

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