Health tests are there to help us keep tabs on our general health condition. For women, it’s especially important to have routine health screenings because there are actually some diseases that occur at a higher rate in women than in men.
Also, by taking your regular health screenings, you increase your chances of living a healthier and longer life. That’s because through health tests, your doctors can find problems earlier when they are also easier to treat.
So now this statement begs the question: what screenings should you be getting?
Although there can be many factors affecting a woman’s health such as family history and lifestyle choices, in general, health tests are based on a woman’s age.
Health Tests for Women Below 40
Also called a Pap test, this exam is for detecting cervical cancer. The procedure will test for the presence of precancerous or cancerous cells on the cervix, which is the opening of the uterus. It can also be used to screen for cell abnormalities caused by the human papillomavirus or HPV, a sexually transmitted virus that causes warts and can lead to cancer.
During a pap smear procedure, your doctor will a speculum to widen the vaginal canal and take cell samples form the cervix. By having a pap smear, you can detect cervical cancer cells early and start treatment immediately before the problem gets worse.
In general, women should get pap smears beginning age 21 and earlier if they are sexually active and have it done every two years. When you get to age 30 and have had three normal tests in a row, you only need a pap smear done every three years.
Even if you are in a monogamous relationship, you should still get your regular pap smear since the HPV virus can remain dormant for years and then suddenly become active.
Body Index Analysis
Keeping an ideal weight is very important to also maintaining good health. That’s because having too much body fat can actually present a lot of health risks especially for serious conditions like diabetes and heart problems.
A reliable way to check if you have too much body fat is through a Body Index or Body Mass Index (BMI) Analysis. BMI is generally an affordable and non-invasive method of screening for weight category—whether you are underweight, normal, overweight, or obese.
You can calculate your BMI using online calculators, but to really be able to use it to determine health risks, your healthcare provider would also couple it with other physical assessment tests such as skinfold thickness measurement, nutrition evaluation, physical activity, family history, and other health screenings. Ideally, when you get your yearly physical exam, you should also include a BMI analysis.
A breast ultrasound is used to check for any cysts and abnormalities in the breast tissues. Because it uses sound waves and not X-rays, it is able to show all areas of the breast that a mammogram alone cannot show. These areas include those that are including the closest to the chest. This type of test is often done together with other breast exams because they can give important information to better diagnose a patient.
During a breast ultrasound, your doctor will use a small handheld device called a transducer and pass it back and forth over your breasts. The scanned images will be shown on a TV monitor.
Clinical breasts exams should be done starting age 20 and at least every three years until you turn 40. If you have relatives who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, you are at a higher risk, so having regular screenings may be a good idea.
Check out our post here on: Warning Signs of Breast Cancer
A pelvis ultrasound exam is a non-invasive procedure used to assess the organs and structures inside the female pelvis. These organs include the uterus, vagina, cervix, fallopian tubes, and ovaries.
Much like a breast ultrasound exam, a pelvis exam uses a transducer to pick up sound waves and transmit those into images on a TV monitor. This type of exam is done on both men and women to detect conditions such as hematuria (blood in urine), check abnormal growths in the pelvis, for biopsy procedures, and for diagnosis of colorectal cancer among others.
A woman should have her first pelvis exam at age 21 and earlier if she has any health conditions. After your first exam, your doctor will inform you when you should have your succeeding tests.
Health Tests for Women Above 40
Women above 40 also need to take the same set of health screenings mentioned above but with the addition of mammograms. A mammogram is basically an X-ray of the breasts and is used to detect breast cancer early sometimes up to three years even before any lump can be felt.
There are varying recommendations as to when and how often women should take mammograms. For example, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) suggests that women between the ages of 50 and 74 start taking mammograms every two years, while The American Cancer Society recommends earlier yearly screenings starting at age 45. However, both organizations acknowledge that if you have a family history of cancer, having mammograms starting at age 40 may have more benefits.
These tests are considered preventive screenings and depending on your doctor’s advice, you may skip one or need a different type or additional test.
You can get yourself and your loved ones screened today. Sincere Medical Specialist Center for Women caters their health screening package to women to help address their needs effectively.